Title: Southern Fried Christmas
Author: Poppy Dennison
Publisher: MLR Press
Length: 7k words
Genre: m/m Paranormal Romance
Heat: 1 – Sweet/None
Sex Frequency: 1 – None
Keywords/Tags: Short Story, Christmas, Vampires, Unusual Creatures, Chefs, Food, Southern Men
Rating: Not Feelin’ It
When vampire William’s minions kidnap his cooking show host crush Ricky Joe, will it be the season for love, or a recipe for disaster?
Master Vampire William loathes the holidays. He spends the season pining for the one man he can never have–television chef Ricky Joe Dash. William’s minions are tired of his foul mood and concoct a scheme to turn William’s frown upside-down: they kidnap Ricky Joe and deliver him to William for Christmas. Ricky Joe enjoys his cooking show Simply Southern, but works too much to truly enjoy the rest of life. When he’s kidnapped and left in a room with a vampire, will it be the season for holiday bliss–or a recipe for disaster?
William is a master vampire, surrounded by his minions that he created. They constantly frustrate him and never give him peace, especially during the one night a week when the love of his life is on television — Ricky Joe Dash, a southern chef. Ricky Joe doesn’t know he’s the love of William’s life, he’s just trying to make his local show the best it can be, while trying to sidestep the innumerable advances of his boss. When William’s minions get the idea that Ricky Joe would make the perfect Christmas present to cheer up their Sire, they’ll go to any lengths — including kidnapping — to present William with their gift.
This story gave me a bit of whiplash and may be my most severe change in how I felt about a story in a while. It was a bit disappointing for me because I truly love Poppy Dennison and I look forward to everything she writes and releases. This won’t change that, but I felt very different about this story than her others. Actually, I loved the story right to the very end (which is where the whiplash comes in). The tone of the story is great, it’s so light and funny. The vampires are the least scary paranormal predators I’ve ever seen, in a completely tongue-in-cheek way. They’re so over the top, I really took to it. It’s a story to have fun with and not take seriously. Despite the lack of sex, i really felt a connection between Ricky Joe and William.
The problem came for me at the climax. It starts with the beginning of the story as the pace is set. It moves at a moderately fast clip because this is a rather short story, but there is somewhat of a buildup to the climax as William and his minions make plans. I don’t know exactly what I expected, but I found the reveal to be a bit lackluster, and then a bomb was dropped that I wasn’t expecting. And not only that, but it was a little confusing for me — then, the story ended. I know that the very long list of information MLR includes at the back of every story didn’t help, because I thought the story was far from over at that point (that has happened to me a lot actually, with MLR and Samhain), but it just exacerbated the problem in my opinion. And, I felt like it really could have been fixed in just a couple paragraphs, or at least a tiny epilogue or something. But, it just felt like the ending fell of a cliff somewhere and went completely missing. I even went back and read it several times to make sure I didn’t miss something, but, I never really understood it or what the point was.
Sadly, the fact that I really enjoyed the first half of the story got lost in the ending as well, or I would have rated this much higher. Still, it won’t stop me from being a big fan of Poppy’s writing and I eagerly look forward to everything she writes. But, this one didn’t work for me and I can’t recommend it.