In Whittam’s debut novel, a teenage girl rushes into marriage with her best guy friend after a brief romance with a vampire leaves her pregnant.
Kara moves with her family from Phoenix to a small Arizona town after graduating from high school in 1963. On the first night in her new home, she meets devilishly handsome Nate, who saves her from a javelina as she searches for her dog. The attraction between Kara and Nate is immediate, and the two begin to date, but their relationship quickly hits a few snags: Nate won’t go to church with Kara on Sundays, and he wants her to stay with him instead of going to college in the fall. And he happens to be a vampire. Shocked, Kara asks for time to think over their future together, to which he concedes. Nate’s hotheaded brother, Josh, however, flies into a rage at the news and attacks Kara, sending her to the hospital. Kara decides to end her relationship with Nate but not before making love to him. Kara’s Bible in hand, Nate leaves on a journey of redemption, while Kara moves on and begins college. The novel seems to subscribe to the same message of abstinence found in genre heavy-hitter Twilight because Kara soon realizes her first and only night of passion left her pregnant. But unlike Bella, Kara has enough sense to forgo the life of murderous urges that Nate would offer her. She writes to her friend Fred for advice, and he proposes marriage to avoid a scandal. Their newlywed bliss is cut short when Fred is shipped off to Vietnam, and the two are forced to deal with the very human stress of being separated by war. The novel certainly recycles many recent vampire themes: Stalking is considered a romantic gesture when committed by an undead hunk. But in a healthy twist, Nate finds motivation to stay clean that isn’t Kara, even if that plotline comes off a bit bland or preachy at times.
A religious, slightly more grounded take on the teenage vampire love story.