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Utah resident's vampire romance novel is surprisingly tolerable

"DISSENSION," by Adrienne Monson, Jolly Fish Press, 289 pages, $17.99 (f) (16 and up)

Amid the hoard of paranormal romances that have stormed the nation's bookstores and movie theaters and sunk their predictable plots into the American entertainment vein, there are a select few that provide just enough variation to be branded with the description of "tolerable."

For a book involving vampires and cross-species love interests, that is quite a compliment.

Adrienne Monson's recent release, "Dissension," is the first of a planned Blood Inheritance Trilogy, and is, actually, surprisingly tolerable.

As the winner of the 2009 Oquirrh’s Writer’s Contest and the Utah RWA’s Great Beginnings, Monson has proven that she has the experience to take a relentlessly beaten horse and make it her own kind of dead.

At first glance, "Dissension" has all the makings of any other paranormal romance: A forbidden love between a vampire and a member of the eternal enemy of the vampires, the Immortals. It has a tragic and altogether tiring inner-battle between love and the need to feed and the third member of a seemingly essential love triangle.

But this love story has enough variation to keep a reader's blood pumping. The couple was once happily married and had a child before choices were made and identities were transformed. There was once trust, love and closeness — all replaced by betrayal, hatred and abandonment — a satisfyingly different story than the myopic, young love that stains the pages of most vampire novels.

Also, thankfully, the other member of the love triangle does not force a tragic choice between love and lust for the heroine vampire. It turns out this love interest is just a very sick, demented and powerful megalomaniac that she basically hates and isn't interested in at all.

Having moved past the cliches just enough to be somewhat original, Monson also introduces to the plot a young 16-year-old girl named Samantha who has the power to see the future in visions and who finds a friend and sister in the self-loathing, tragic heroine Leisha. Monson manages, with some dramatic escapes, bloody superhuman battles and cleverly placed plot twists, to keep even the most skeptical of readers thinking, "I wonder what happens next?"

Which makes all the difference.

Parents wanting to keep their children away from any blood-sucking descriptions, vampiric violence or sensual elements would do well to limit "Dissension" to children over the age of 16.

Adrienne Monson is a wife and mother of two. She is a resident of American Fork.

If you go ...

What: Adrienne Monson book signing

When: Saturday, April 13, 1 p.m.

Where: Barnes and Noble, McIntyre Center, 1104 E. 2100 South, Salt Lake City


Nathan Sorensen is an editorial assistant at the Deseret News.