Dearly Departed

Ok, I admit I am a sucker for vampire romances. (With the notable exception of the - haha - deadly dull Twilight series.) And I've even started to enjoy the werewolf romances, though I can't say they have quite the willing-suspension-of-disbelief factor going for them - after all, getting nibbled on the neck is one thing, getting gnawed like an old bone is another; we girls have to have our standards, right?

Now comes a new romance - a zombie romance. It's called Dearly Departed, a little play on names as you will see, by Lia Habel.

Our heroine, Miss Dearly, Miss Nora Dearly, lives in 2195 New Victoria in the underground, post-apocalyptic Elysian Fields. Her father, a doctor, has died, and Nora is winding up the school year at her boarding school for young ladies. She and her best friend, Pam (who is poor but plucky) are returning home.

What they do know is that a plague has struck the world, which has divided itself into the New Victorians - who long for the order, the peace, beauty and serenity that era evokes - and the Punks, who, as far as Nora and her crowd are concerned, are just slightly above wild beasts.

When Nora is kidnapped by Bram Griswold and his men, soldiers, teenage boys, and oh-my-gosh zombies, Nora's life take a decided turn.

Habel has a lot of fun imagining a world in which cell phones and parasols, computers and tea parties co-exist, and in which young ladies won't show their "limbs," but will express their opinions.

And, as it turns out, Bram is the perfect demon lover. Handsome, gentle, intelligent, and kind, he takes one look at Nora and if he weren't already gone he'd be a goner.

As it happens, becoming a zombie is a disease, and one that Dr. Dearly - who is dead but not gone - has been working to avert, if not cure. And the bad guys (the bad zombies, that is) are out to capture Nora as they have captured her father. Bram is not going to let that, or anything, happen to Nora.

Believe it or not, this is an enchanting story from start to finish. Habel has fun with her alternating characters (we even get into the mind of the villain), and imagines a world that offers the delightful details that make you go with the flow of the story rather than half-laughing your way through. And in Bram she has created such a perfect hero - unlike the crowd of preening vamp-boys who seem to think about nothing but sex-sex-sex and more sex in the typical paranormal romance of today - I'll go back for more simply to spend more time with this charming young man.


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