OBSESSION, by Lori Herter, was one of the first vampire novels, if not THE first, marketed as romance, explicitly sold as such by the publisher and so positioned on bookstore shelves (although I stumbled upon it at a supermarket checkout counter). This book deserves far more recognition than it’s had. For readers who’ve “grown up with” the recent embarrassment of riches in this subgenre, it’s probably hard to imagine the thrill of first seeing a romance (not horror) paperback with a ravishing, cape-clad hero on the cover and a little bat in the upper corner. Herter’s novel predates the Silhouette Shadows line and the works of such later bestsellers as Linda Lael Miller, Amanda Ashley, Nancy Gideon, and Maggie Shayne.
OBSESSION (Berkley, 1991), with its irresistible lonely, tap-dancing hero, pioneered the vampire romance and established many of its dominant motifs. Reclusive playwright David de Morrissey sleeps by day and spends his nights dancing along with Fred Astaire videos. Journalist Veronica Ames, fascinated by David’s dramas about romantic vampires, persuades him to agree to an interview. After they fall in love, he reveals his true nature to her. Rob, a jealous suitor of hers, and Darienne, a former vampire lover of David's, complicate the plot. At the end of the novel, David sends Veronica away for ten years, refusing to transform her into a vampire until she has the maturity to make an informed decision. OBSESSION thus differs from the standard romance template in not concluding with a permanent union between the lovers. Instead, the trilogy of OBSESSION, POSSESSION (Berkley, 1992), and CONFESSION (Berkley, 1992) actually forms a single continuing story (not unlike Tolkien’s LORD OF THE RINGS, which was originally intended as one book, not three), climaxing in the fulfillment of their love.
In POSSESSION, estranged from Veronica by his own choice, David engages in an affair with another human female. A subplot involves Darienne’s reluctant passion for a mortal man, Matthew. Her quandary continues into CONFESSION, as she turns to David in an attempt to forget Matthew. A friend of Veronica’s learns the truth about David and unearths rumors of a gypsy potion that cures vampires. The fourth and last novel, ETERNITY (Berkley, 1993), explores a later stage in David and Veronica’s relationship. (I don’t want to give away too many spoilers.) Also, Darienne and Matthew permanently reunite, their love story providing a counterpoint to the lead couple’s.
Unfortunately, Herter hasn’t published anything new in a long time, and the books are out of print. Thanks to the wonders of the Internet, though, Amazon.com has many copies available. Sellers are asking collectible prices for the copies labeled “new,” but under the “used” category you can find rock-bottom bargains. Don’t pass up the chance to get acquainted with the ravishing hero of these inexplicably neglected stories.
Margaret L. Carter