Midnight Brunch (Casa Dracula Series #2)

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Overview

What's a girl to do when she discovers she's the main course on the menu?

Hip, funny Milagro de los Santos thinks she's finally found love and a home at the California ranch of fabulous Oswald Grant and his urbane relatives, who have a rare genetic disorder that some call vampirism. But Milagro is bewildered when she's excluded from an ancient and mysterious midnight ceremony whose participants include Oswald's unfriendly parents, a creepy family elder, and Milagro's ex-lover, ...

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Overview

What's a girl to do when she discovers she's the main course on the menu?

Hip, funny Milagro de los Santos thinks she's finally found love and a home at the California ranch of fabulous Oswald Grant and his urbane relatives, who have a rare genetic disorder that some call vampirism. But Milagro is bewildered when she's excluded from an ancient and mysterious midnight ceremony whose participants include Oswald's unfriendly parents, a creepy family elder, and Milagro's ex-lover, the powerful and decadent Ian Ducharme. What skeletons are the vampires keeping in their designer closets?

When Milagro's life is threatened by a rogue family member, she flees to the desert to hide. Instead of solitude, she encounters an egomaniacal actor, a partying heiress, a sly tabloid reporter, and a lavish spa full of dark secrets — all of which might help her find a way home.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Acosta shines... sexy, sardonic...Milagro will continue to amaze readers in Acosta's terrific new adventure." —Booklist

"For a book that's ultra-hip and very now, look no further than Marta Acosta's Midnight Brunch...The delight is in Acosta's clever, fresh voice, which moves the narrative at a rollicking pace." —Bookpage

"An addictive combo plate of romance and vamp satire." — Publishers Weekly

Publishers Weekly

When last seen in Acosta's debut, Happy Hour at Casa Dracula(2006), aspiring writer Milagro De Los Santos had fallen for wealthy, dashingly handsome Dr. Oswald Grant, a board-certified plastic surgeon and part of a vampire dynasty whose members refer to their condition as a "genetic autosomal recessive disorder." In this amusing sequel, Milagro has recovered from a vampirism infection and is living on Oswald's California ranch when she's informed she won't be allowed to attend the naming ceremony for his cousin's baby. While Oswald takes off on a humanitarian medical mission, Milagro must escape the subversive clutches of clan weirdo Willem Dunlop and Silas, Willem's "aide de corpse," whose terrifying Project for a New Vampire Century features a juicy sacrificial role for Milagro. Acosta doesn't spare the cilantro or the jalapeño in this addictive combo plate of romance and vamp satire. (May)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781416520399
  • Publisher: Gallery Books
  • Publication date: 4/28/2007
  • Series: Casa Dracula Series , #2
  • Edition description: Original
  • Pages: 336
  • Product dimensions: 5.31 (w) x 8.25 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Marta Acosta received a degree in English literature and creative writing from Stanford University. She is a regular contributor to The San Francisco Chronicle and the Contra Costa Newspapers. Her debut novel, Happy Hour at Casa Dracula, was a Book Sense Pick.

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Read an Excerpt

one

snappily ever after

I was sitting on the edge of the claw-foot bathtub, blow-drying the insides of my sodden work boots and conducting a state-of-the-chica analysis. My dwindling bank account had a disturbing inverse relationship to my increased efforts to sell my stories.

Oswald poked his head into the bathroom and asked, "What's that funny smell?" Looking at him made me feel as ebullient as champagne fizzing over the top of a glass.

Floating over the smell of my cooked leather boots was the faintly herbal scent of multispectrum sunblock. Oswald had to wear sunblock every day because he had a genetic autosomal recessive disorder that made him highly sensitive to sunlight and subject to unusual food cravings. On the plus side, he never got sick and healed rapidly from injuries.

Otherwise, he was perfectly normal. It was ridiculous that people harbored primitive superstitions against anyone with a medical anomaly.

I flicked off the blow-dryer. "That's the smell of my botas cooking. Your grandmother told me I can't put them in the dryer anymore because the thump-thump-thump sounds like a body. Which begs the question: how does she know what a body in a dryer sounds like?"

"Why are your boots wet?"

"I fell into the pond when I was checking on my planting of native wetland grasses. They're doing great, by the way."

"You should buy an extra pair of boots."

"Of more critical importance is something to wear to Nancy's wedding. Like Thoreau, I'm wary of all enterprises that require new clothes."

"I thought you liked clothes," he said, and leaned against the door frame. He was dressed for work in a slate-gray suit of lightweight wool, a shirt the color of forget-me-nots, and a tie in a diamond-pattern silk.

I surreptitiously brushed dirt off the knee of my worn jeans. "I do like clothes. It's the enterprises that worry me. On the flip side, are you sure my old skirt and blouse are fine for the baby's christening tomorrow?"

"It's not a christening," he said. "It's a naming ceremony, very dull, and you still can't go to it because it's only for family."

"That seems rather churlish," I said. "If my niece was getting baptized, I'd invite your whole family to both the ceremony and the party afterward, and it wouldn't even be BYOB."

"You don't have a niece."

"She's a theoretical niece. Her name is Elena and she adores me."

He sighed. "A skirt and blouse are fine for our get-together after the ceremony. You can use the card I gave you to buy something for Nancy's wedding."

The shiny new credit card lay hidden beneath my favorite lace chones at the bottom of my underwear drawer. I had no intention of ever using it. "I dread going to the wedding alone."

"You'll be fine. You'll like seeing your old college pals."

Nancy and I had met at a Fancy University, but we'd run in different circles. Her snobby F.U. friends had a way of looking past me and talking around me that made me yearn to stick gum in their shiny rich-girl hair.

I decided that my boots were dry enough and shoved my feet into the damp, smelly things. "I find this whole family situation very perturbing. I'm beyond perturbed."

"Let it go, babe. Besides, once you meet them you might be glad you don't have to spend much time with them."

"But your parents are nice, right? I mean, they raised you."

Oswald shrugged. "They take a little time to warm up, but once they get to know you, they'll love you."

I hoped so, even though I was not one of them. I was just an underemployed girl who'd grappled romantically with their son after a party and been accidentally contaminated by their condition. His people were stunned that I had survived. I had a freakishly efficient immune system. Perhaps I was born with this immune system; perhaps it had developed as a result of my mother Regina's malignant neglect.

I stood and went to the mirror. Using my fingers, I parted my hair into three sections and plaited it into a braid. When I'd lived in the City, I'd been used to a hectic social schedule. But after months of calm routine in the countryside, the prospect of three events within a week — Oswald's family visiting, Oswald's departure, and Nancy's wedding — seemed overwhelming.

Oswald stood behind me. He was just above medium height, but he was tall enough to rest his chin atop my head.

His lovely pale, creamy skin contrasted nicely against my black hair. I admired his gray eyes, high brow, rich brown hair, and the smooth line of his cheekbones.

"You're beautiful," he said as he pulled me close.

I always appreciated him saying this, even though I had a look common to Latinas: black hair, brown eyes, olive skin, and a curvy figure. Whenever I saw a girl who resembled me, I secretly fantasized that she was a long-lost relative and that when the connection was discovered, we'd become loving primas.

"Why are you making that face at me?" Oswald asked.

"I'm raising one eyebrow cynically at your ploy to divert me from the issue at hand."

"Keep trying. Focus on isolating the occipitofrontalis muscle on the right side of your face."

That's why I so treasured him: he thought any problem could be solved by exercising the old gray matter. I said, "Dr. Grant, I'm going to miss you while you're gone."

"I can cancel my trip, stick around for Nancy's wedding if you need me."

"Yes, I'm so pathetically insecure that I would take you away from children who need surgery."

"That's not what I meant. But you don't always have to put yourself at the bottom of every list."

"You spend your time around too many spoiled, self-involved women."

"Yes, I do." He kissed my neck and I tingled all the way down to my popsicle toes.

"Hasta, babe," I said. "See you tonight."

I went to the hall of our love shack. It was a charming one-bedroom cottage tastefully decorated in classic blues and whites. My friend Nancy had once told me, "Taste is not style." I'd been using this aphorism to justify cluttering up the cottage with rural treasures, like old signs and vintage kitchenware and smooth stream rocks.

I picked up my stack of envelopes to be mailed. I had written a duo of novellas, titled Uno, Dos, Terror!, about brave young women who encounter diabolical creatures: genetic crop engineers, fascists, and a poltergeist. These novellas were a homage to the political writings of Mary Wollstonecraft and her daughter's classic political horror story, Frankenstein.

My shaggy dog, Daisy, gamboled with excitement when she saw me preparing to go outside. I had never had pets before, and I still marveled at how happy they could make me feel. Four other dogs lived at the ranch, but Daisy had latched onto me from the moment I'd arrived. She looked like a cross between a herding dog and a caterpillar, with luxuriant fur in many colors and golden eyes.

I opened the door and lifted my face to the cloudless sky. The air smelled damp and clean. Petunia, my chicken, was scratching in the dirt path by the garden fence.

In our little shack, I could pretend that Oswald and I were equals, but in the bigger world, Oswald Kevin Grant, board certified plastic surgeon, was a Big Enchilada. He earned a fortune nipping and tucking, slicing and dicing, plumping and sucking, sewing and gluing people into new, improved versions.

He owned the large house across the field. He owned the animals, the tractor, the trucks, the small vineyard of cabernet grapes, and the fields that spread out past the creek and the pond to the rise of the hills. He had other properties and investments that kept the money rolling in.

Oswald resided in the shack on a whim, and sometimes I worried that I was also a whim. He brushed aside our class differences, but I was always keenly aware of them.

I raced with Daisy across the green field to the car park by the main house. We hopped into my little green truck. After I went to the post office, I would visit shops in town and try to get a few more gardening clients.

I hadn't planned on gardening professionally, but my F.U. degree had not trained me to do anything other than write unmarketable fiction and say gins and tonic, not gin and tonics, a distinction that impressed no one.

My mother Regina would be disgusted that I was laboring "like an immigrant in the dirt." After I'd gone off to F.U., my father's landscaping business had thrived. He'd started with a humble residential service and had expanded Jerry D-Lightful Landscaping to corporate campuses and shopping malls. My mother Regina equated my proximity with her miserable days as a member of the lower classes.

As I drove round the impressive pale sandstone house, I honked my horn. Edna, Oswald's grandmother, appeared at a window. I couldn't tell if she was waving me good-bye or flipping her wrist in dismissal, but I decided to stop and check.

I went to the Big House through the back entrance. I pried off my damp boots and left them in the mudroom by the cupboard with the hats and sunblock lotions.

Everything in the capacious kitchen was coordinated in clear yellows and blues, very Monet-meets-restaurant-quality-appliances. Something deliciously cinnamon was baking, and I remembered those weeks when I'd lived in the cozy maid's room adjacent to the kitchen. The family had grudgingly taken me in after Sebastian, my Lunatic Incensed Megalomaniac Ex-boyfriend (SLIME) tried to kidnap me. According to SLIME's delusional rantings, I'd been infected with vampirism. SLIME's group, Corporate Americans for the Conservation of America (CACA), had planned to extradite my friends offshore and experiment with their DNA for fun and profit.

Yes, I had been dreadfully ill and perhaps I'd had a yen for uncooked meat, and I won't argue that I'd reacted negatively to sunlight, but I was fully recovered now. I did have a few felicitous side effects from the infection. My eyesight had improved, especially my night vision, and I healed immediately from minor cuts and scratches, a handy trait for someone who liked to grow roses.

Besides, as the family frequently reminded me, there was no such thing as vampires.

Edna came into the kitchen, her espresso-brown boots clicking on the terra-cotta tiles. She was sleek and petite, wearing a deep chocolate sweater and a moss-green skirt. I despaired that I would never be as elegant.

"Young Lady," she said curtly, "we need you to give Winnie a hand with the baby this morning and help me get the guest rooms ready."

"I have a full agenda, which includes stopping by the post office, doing some garden stuff, and writing."

"You don't have time for that nonsense today."

"So I'm expected to help with the chores even though I'm still not invited to the christening?"

"Yes," she said. "It's ridiculous that you don't have your own phone and I have to wave you down like a fishwife."

Because the cottage was a retreat, not a real residence, a phone line had never been put in. "I am loath to get a phone because psychopaths will harass me." Although SLIME was far away, I still got the uneasy feeling that he would come after me again someday.

"It's possible that the non-insane would occasionally like to contact you, Young Lady. Perhaps your mother Regina might even want to talk to you."

The family called me "Young Lady." Edna said that she was still hoping that I'd become one. I called my mother Regina "my mother Regina" because it kept me at a safe emotional distance from the woman who had unwillingly borne me and even more unwillingly lived with me.

"Possible, but unlikely, Edna. If you need me tout de suite you can call Oswald and he can tell me."

"My grandson has more important things to do than to relay messages to you." She had stunning, exotic green eyes, and now she lifted her left eyebrow almost to her hairline.

She was my role model for all facial gymnastics, and I sighed with envy. "Okay, once I get paid for my last gardening gig, I'll get a phone. ¿Donde está la niña?"

"Winnie was in the study with her," she said. "That infant is not a toy for your amusement."

"Let us agree to disagree on this point."

The Big House was a solid two-story structure with beamed ceilings, white plaster walls, random plank floors, and Mission-style furniture. I went through the dining room to the entry hall, which led to the living room, study, family room, and reading parlor. A staircase with a graceful wrought-iron railing led to the bedrooms upstairs.

The study was very macho, all wood, leather, and hefty nonfiction volumes. So many books, yet nothing to read. When I'd suggested a few vintage chintz pillows and a collection of novels to Oswald, he'd looked at me as if I'd thrown holy water in his face.

The bassinet sat atop the large desk, and Winnie dangled one hand to the baby's fingers while talking on the phone. By her affectionate tone, I could tell she was talking to Sam, her husband and Oswald's cousin.

Sam and Oswald were as close as brothers. Things had been a little messy when Sam and Winnie fell in love while she was still engaged to Oswald. But we were all so fantastically mature and sophisticated that we were able to live happily at the ranch together.

Prebaby, Winnie had always been flawlessly groomed. She was a doc at a community clinic and had a wall full of diplomas from hoity-toity European universities. Now her polished cotton blouse had a wet splotch at the shoulder, and wisps of her cornsilk hair fell from a ponytail.

She put down the phone and said, "Hi, Young Lady."

"Hey, Winsome." I peered into the bassinet and said, "Hey, baby girl." The baby looked at me with her father's serious brown eyes and made some delightful infant sound. "Winnie, I can't believe you haven't named her yet."

"It's tradition to wait for the ceremony. It gives me more time to think about names, too. I'm thinking of Tabitha, but Sam says that sounds like a cat's name. He likes Elizabeth."

"I like Elizabeth, too." I picked the baby up and cradled her across my generous bazooms, which probably gave her the false impression of an impending feast. "I can take care of Baby now if you have anything else you want to do."

"Would you?" she asked. Before I could answer, she had rattled off a list of instructions and was out the door so fast she left a draft.

"When you learn to talk, we will have witty and insightful conversations," I told the baby. I brushed my lips against the soft fuzz of flaxen hair on her head.

We did all the baby activities, some exciting like dressing her in a cute gingham jumper, and some not so exciting like changing her diaper. Then I set the infant in a custom baby pack with a UV filtering fabric screen, and we left the house for a walk.

After checking to see that no one was around, I stopped at my truck and got out a sheet of sandpaper that was hidden under the seat.

The horses were a pretty sight as they grazed in the green fields. I took a path that skirted the barn, to establish the location of Ernie, the ranch hand and family confidant. The dark, compact man was hammering away at some wood and wire fencing, being all manly. I waved to him, and he waved to me, but he was engrossed in his project. This was my window of opportunity.

I la-di-da'd along my usual route beside the narrow creek that bisected the property. I talked to the baby, describing the oak-covered hills that ringed the valley, the beauty of the gray-blue rocks in the creek, the red, black, and white markings of a woodpecker.

Then I casually swerved forty-five degrees to a path that led behind the barnlike structure that housed the swimming pool. Because of the family's skin disorder, the pool was enclosed, but the sliding roof was usually opened at night.

The family had told me the pool was off-limits due to an accidental spill of cleaning chemicals. Although I hadn't studied chemistry at F.U., I was highly skeptical of the toxic pool story, especially since I'd spied Ernesto hauling lumber into the enclosure.

Once out of view of the Big House and the barn, I looked for the knothole in the redwood fence that I'd noticed before. Using a nail file, I worked at the knot until I could pry the chunk of wood out. I peeked inside.

To one side of the pool was a square platform with a canopy of dark red velvet. In the center of the platform was a rectangular table that held a large marble basin. Two rows of wooden chairs, ornately carved and black, faced the platform.

Whatever they were planning, it was more than a simple naming ceremony.

While the baby slept, I rubbed the sandpaper around the perimeter of the knot until it was smooth, and I did the same with the hole in the fence. Then I placed the knot halfway in the hole. When I pulled, it slid out easily.

I wasn't going to miss the show just because no one would give me a ticket.

Copyright © 2007 by Marta Acosta

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 26 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 26 Customer Reviews
  • Posted April 7, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    If you like a story with bite, you'll like this book.

    Midnight Brunch at Casa Dracula is the second book of the Vampires of Casa Dracula trilogy. This book is not only one of the most unique books I have ever read, but if you're a vampire fan, like myself (fanpire), and you've already read all the Anne Rice and Stephenie Meyer books, this is a great transitional book into the real world. It's not all, like, "I vant to suck your blood" and such, but it still has that dark, sexy edge that comes with the vampire territory, and it's a lot of fun. The main character, Milagro De Los Santos, is a sassy, saucy latino chick that has some of the best one liners I've ever read in a book, while still showing intelligence. Milagro is your typical, struggling writer who has met with some not-so-typical situations, like being infected with Vampirism and meeting one of the hottest guys ever. Now, in the second book, she must continue with this odd lifestyle she's found herself wound up in, and she finds even more trouble and such in this cool sequel. I highly recommend it. Enjoy!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 10, 2008

    A Fun Vampire Story!

    I bought the first book 'Happy Hour at Casa Dracula' off a clearance rack because it sounded interesting. I couldn't wait to get this one. I don't like 'horror' stories or movies, however, it seems people get the idea that 'vampire' stories must be graphic and scarey. This is just a fun, vampire story. The characters are interesting, well-developed and have an edge of suspense and humor that keeps you reading to the last page. My friends have also enjoyed reading this two-book series.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 26, 2007

    Highly-Entertaining Fast-Paced Book for Your Summer Reading List!

    MIDNIGHT BRUNCH is the sequel to HAPPY HOUR AT CASA DRACULA and events in this book take place a year after Milagro first met Oswald. MIDNIGHT BRUNCH starts with Milagro living very happily with Oswald but feeling excluded from his vampire family. When they argue before Oswald goes on a business trip it leaves Milagro with plenty of chances to get into new trouble without him. The writing style of MIDNIGHT BRUNCH is slightly different to HAPPY HOUR AT CASA DRACULA. Milagro¿s antics and observations are still laugh-out-loud funny but the emphasis in the book has shifted from romantic comedy of manners to vampire comedy mystery with romance elements. This means that Milagro no longer speaks like a Latina Jane Austen character (and yes, I know that Jane Austen didn¿t write about Latina vampires!) The result of the style change is a story with both dialogue that flows beautifully and a plot that keeps the reader hooked. The story is told in first person by Milagro. Throughout the novel the reader sees her character develop from being someone who is like a ¿beach-read¿ to being someone much more ¿serious and sincere.¿ Which is a relief - because there is only so many times that I can laugh at a character making the same mistakes over and over again in a book series without getting irritated. It will be interesting to see how Milagro¿s character develops further if the author writes another book in this series. (Fingers crossed that she will!) The vampires in MIDNIGHT BRUNCH are still more natural than supernatural, passing quiet lives living as humans and generally satisfying their cravings by drinking only animal blood. Paranormal romance readers looking for sex, blood and death may be disappointed by the almost mundane lives that these vampires lead but the well written characters - who manage to be realistic, comic and appealing - have a lot more going for them than just supernatural thrills, which should make Midnight Brunch appeal to a wider audience. Summing up - MIDNIGHT BRUNCH is a highly entertaining, fast-paced read and definitely a book to add to your summer reading list.

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  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    A reviewer

    In California wannabe writer Milagro de los Santos has moved into the ranch house of her beloved plastic surgeon Dr. Oswald Grant in spite of his family¿s delicate condition Oswald and the rest of the Grants suffer from 'genetic autosomal recessive disorder¿ also called vampirism. Besides Oswald, Milagro and his grandmother seem to get along so she feels more like a princess.-------------- However word of a purebred human living and loving their son has staked horror into the hearts of Oswald's concerned parents. They arrive for a clan naming ceremony as well as to drive out the evil human. They exclude Milagro from attending a family rite involving a midnight blood curdling ceremony for his cousin's newborn. When Oswald leaves on a medical mission, two other vampires Willem Dunlop and Silas, decide they need a human sacrifice to launch the Project for a New Vampire Century Milagro as a vampire lover is perfect.-------------------- The sequel to HAPPY HOUR AT CASA DRACULA is a delightful satire that lampoons the vampire romance sub-genre. Milagro is wonderful with her hot saucy observations on life and death amidst the vampire horde. Fans will enjoy her latest zany escapades as she tries to stay one bite away from the screaming mob.--------------- Harriet Klausner

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