Now that so many immortals have been paired with their lifemates, they need time off from their roles as enforcers to take their honeymoons. That means that the enforcers will be down a few hunters. Cue Aunt Marguerite, who never seems to miss an opportunity to set immortals up with their lifemates. Marguerite decides to arrange to send Drina Argenis (from the Spanish side of the Argeneau family) to help guard the young edentate Stephanie. Drina is eager to meet Harper but nervous because he is in still deep mourning after losing his last lifemate less than two years ago. Somehow, Drina has to convince Harper that they are meant to be together while protecting Stephanie from the evil no fanger Leonius.
If I had to use only one word to describe The Reluctant Vampire it would be forced. The whole thing just felt crammed together and at times awkward and uncomfortable. Stephanie and Drina decide to trick Harper into a little shopping trip to Walmart. There they set about tempting Harper by showing him the bra and panties Drina is buying and naturally picturing his lifemate in these things causes him to have to take deep breathes and gulp. Then there's his whole astonishment regarding FM shoes. Really? No, really? It all just felt forced. Considering how young Stephanie is, I can understand that this is her version of helping the two lovers get it on, but it does not make sense that Trina played along.
Trina has had a long interesting history which completely captivated me. She is quite different than the modern working women who have been featured as lifemates for the Argeneau men. Trina has been a gladiator, a pirate, a madam and even controlled a small country by controlling its leader for a time. Trina has spent all of her life pushing back against the limitations women have faced throughout history, determined to live her life freely. The problem however ensues when she meets Harper. I learned about what kind of woman Trina is from her backstory but somehow it all got lost in her relationship with Harper. Instead, Trina is decidedly motherly towards Stephanie with no hint of the hardness it must have taken to dress as a man and become a pirate.
In terms of Harper, I found him to be extremely unlikeable. Too much of his thought pattern seemed to be about avoiding being emasculated which for him meant being thought of as one of the girls.
"I’m sorry,” Drina said suddenly, and patted his shoulder as if he might need soothing.
“I guess we need to try to remember that this is all alien to you. I’m afraid we just keep forgetting you’re a guy and have been thinking of you as one of the girls.”
“One of the girls,” Harper muttered, as she moved off to join Stephanie again. The thought was rather dismaying. It wasn’t that he was interested in Drina and wanted her to think of him in that way, but—
“Christ.” He breathed with disgust. Being considered one of the girls was damned lowering. (pg37)
This is time number one where Harper reveals that being though of as a girl is "lowering."
Tiny nodded again, and then explained, “My best friend most of my adult life has been a female . . . and, come to think of it, she’s probably treated me more like a girlfriend than a guy friend,” he admitted with an unconcerned chuckle.
“Hmm.” Harper shook his head. “Well, I’ve never been treated like a girlfriend in all my life. It was a bit lowering.”
“Nah.” Tiny shook his head. “It’s a compliment. It means they don’t see you as sexually threatening. You’re a friend rather than a man friend.”
“And that’s a compliment?” Harper asked doubtfully.
“It is if you’re only interested in being a friend,” he reasoned, and then shrugged, and added, “But I suppose if your interests lie in a more sexual relationship, then it’s probably less flattering. Fortunately, I never had that kind of interest in my friend, Jackie. She’s more like a combination buddy and sister type for me.”
“Jackie? Vincent’s wife? The one who is flying in at the end of the week to help oversee your turn?” Harper asked. The big man had called Jackie last night to tell her he would be turning soon . (pg 79)
Yes, that's time number two of Harper declaring that being thought of as one of the girls as "lowering." Someone only thinks that way if that which is feminine is thought of as a negative or somehow less than someone is masculine. Then there was the comment about Trina making good breeding stock. Yep, this love interest is a winner all right.