The Vampire Shrink (Kismet Knight, Vampire Psychologist Series #1)by Lynda Hilburn, Hillary Huber
Kismet Knight, a brainy Denver-based psychologist with a predictable career and a dismal track record when it comes to her personal relationships, is about to have her world rocked. Kismet’s newest patient, Midnight, longs to become a vampire, and the teenager insists that a coven of the undead hangs out at a downtown goth club. The always-rational Kismet… See more details below
Kismet Knight, a brainy Denver-based psychologist with a predictable career and a dismal track record when it comes to her personal relationships, is about to have her world rocked. Kismet’s newest patient, Midnight, longs to become a vampire, and the teenager insists that a coven of the undead hangs out at a downtown goth club. The always-rational Kismet dismisses Midnight’s claims as the delusions of an attention-starved girl, but sees an opportunity to make the modern obsession with vampires the most exciting research project of her professional life. Then Devereux, the unbelievably hot club owner, walks into her office professing that he is a vampire. Kismet finds herself uncontrollably drawn to him, but she can’t believe he is what he claims to be. Or can she?
As inexplicable events and erotic encounters pile upas well as corpses drained of bloodKismet is caught up in a whirlwind of passion, mystery, and danger. But this fearless heroine, who doesn’t do damsel-in-distress, is about to turn the vampire-meets-girl convention on its head in this exhilarating urban fantasy.
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The Vampire Shrink
By Lynda Hilburn
Medallion Press, Inc.Copyright © 2007 Lynda Hilburn
All right reserved.
Chapter OneMy involvement with vampires began innocently enough. Long before the blood hit the fan, so to speak.
Like most psychologists, I'd been trained to view the world through a diagnostic lens, hearing my clients' stories through my metaphorical ears, searching out the deeper meanings. Thankfully, my tendency to reduce each person to a prevailing neurosis was tempered by my irreverent, dark sense of humor, which kept me from taking myself and the world too seriously.
While I never was as bad as some of my colleagues about believing only in what I could prove-if you couldn't quantify it, it wasn't there-I had seen enough bizarre stuff in my private psychotherapy practice over the years to make me more skeptical than I was comfortable admitting.
My private practice had its share of UFO abductees, demonic possessions, satanic cult survivors, religious cultists, attached entities-all the newest selections on the menu of emotional and mental pain. Plus, all the "regular" therapy issues.
So, when I opened the door separating my reception area from my office that fateful Friday to welcome my new client, I was only momentarily surprised. Waiting for me was a young woman wearing a long, black dress covered by a dark purple velvet cape. Rings adorned all ten fingers, and a long snake bracelet, with sparkling ruby eyes, wound its way up her arm from wrist to elbow. She had waist-length, light brown hair with multi-colored streaks, and she wore white theatrical makeup, dark red lipstick, and remarkably lifelike, high-quality, removable fangs.
My mind began to pick out the various category boxes I could put her into. Hmmm, Goth? Vampire wannabe? Acting-out teenager?
"Please come in and have a seat." I gave my warmest therapy smile and waved my hand in the general direction of the couch and chairs in the center of my office. "I'm Dr. Knight. Please call me Kismet."
That's quite an outfit. Spectacular, really. This sweet, young thing has a flair for the dramatic. What's that delicious fragrance? Sandalwood?
She walked in silently, handed me the packet of paperwork she'd filled out in the waiting room, and sat down in the chair farthest from where I was standing. Scanning the information, I noticed she'd listed her name as Midnight.
"Midnight? That's a lovely name. Is there a last name?"
"No. I have no need of anything from my human past," she said, with exaggerated seriousness.
Okay. Let's not assume the obvious. I chose a chair across from her and picked up my note pad and pen. "Tell me how I can help you."
"I'm only here because my family made me come. They can't accept my choices and they're hoping you'll talk me out of wanting to be a vampire. They want you to fix me." Her voice separated each angry word like little staccato notes.
She gave me the once-over I'd come to recognize from my younger clients: the smirking scan that evaluated my tailored, light blue suit and sensible, black heels and found them hopelessly conventional. Then, inevitably, her eyes moved to my hair, which was very long, curly, and often had a mind of its own. The dissonance between my conservative suit and unintentional rock-star hair disrupted the inner picture she was constructing of me. I always enjoy the flash of confusion that washes over their faces at that point. My inner trickster is never far away.
She hiked her dress up until the hem rested on her knees and crossed her legs dramatically. "You're not what I expected."
I smiled. "What did you expect?"
"Someone old, with her hair in a bun and no makeup. You're not that much older than me. And you're pretty. You remind me of that singer my mother listens to all the time. Sarah Brightman. The one with the long, dark hair and blue eyes."
"Thank you. I enjoy her, too. Are you comfortable with someone who isn't old and who doesn't have her hair in a bun?"
She frowned. "I guess so."
I could see that her need to connect was struggling with her automatic protective defenses, and the jury was out about which one would continue the session.
"Well, tell me about your desire to be a vampire. How long have you wanted to be one?"
She tilted her head, pursed her lips and sat silently for a few seconds. Quick flashes of emotion danced across her face as fear, disappointment, and resentment gave way to hope.
"Ever since I met Devereux-or Dev, as we call him-about a year ago," she said, dreamily.
Ah, connection won. Maybe she'll let me in.
"Why would meeting Dev make you want to be a vampire?"
"Well, duh, because he is one." She rolled her chocolate-brown eyes, and made that "tsk" sound with her tongue against her teeth.
I kept the warm smile on my face, and ignored the teenage angst. "Can you tell me about Dev?"
She hesitated, staring down at the floor, using the tip of her tongue to play with the fake fangs. "I don't think I'm supposed to talk about him. He wouldn't want me to. He says it's better if no one believes vampires really exist."
Oh, I see. Her sharp little fangs fit perfectly over her own canines, with an almost-invisible band holding them-similar to braces. How clever.
"Do you believe that vampires really exist?" I tried not to sound as if there was only one right answer to the question.
"Oh, yes. You wouldn't believe what I've seen. Denver has tons of vampires," she enthused.
"Really? Midnight, I want you to know that anything we talk about in here is completely confidential. You can feel free to tell me anything you want and it will go no further. I'd really like to hear about all these vampires."
Vampires. Well, that certainly is a change of pace from aliens and demon possessions.
She raised an eyebrow. "How do I know you won't tell my parents?"
"Unless you're going to hurt yourself or someone else, I will never tell anyone anything that we discuss," I explained, giving her my ethically-required disclaimer.
She paused a moment, studying me. "Well, I guess it's okay then, since you can't tell anybody."
She uncrossed her legs and shifted forward in the chair. "So, what do you want to know?"
"Why don't you just start at the beginning?"
She nodded. "I met the vampires right after I graduated from high school last year. My friends all went down to that cool club that used to be a huge, old church in the funky section of downtown-it's called The Crypt. We've got the best fake IDs so we just slide right in. But it's weird. Even though we've got the perfect IDs and they let us in, they never let us buy alcohol. If we go up to the bar, the bartender just laughs at us. Pisses me off. What's up with that?"
I scribbled notes on my pad. It was a delicate dance to get the words on paper without letting my clients feel abandoned by my split attention. I always wound up with a cramp in my hand after each session from all the fast writing.
Interesting that the club wouldn't sell drinks to her. Maybe they'd gotten in trouble for serving minors before?
She worried her bottom lip with the tip of one of her fangs, as if it gave her time to think before speaking again.
"Anyway, there are several levels to the club and one of them, down in the basement-we call it the dungeon-is private. There were curtains over the doorway, but my friend, Emerald and I, we waited 'til the guy who guarded the door left for a minute, and then we sneaked down and peeked in through the crack and saw all these amazing people," she reported, with an expression of awe on her face from the memory.
"Yeah, two different kinds, really. A whole bunch of kids around my age, maybe a few years older, all dressed up sorta Goth, but not really, wearing white paint on their faces and red on their lips. Then there were the other ones. So beautiful. They were wearing regular stuff like leather, and didn't have the white makeup on, but they were totally awesome. They were a little older, maybe in their 20s or 30s, and they all had gorgeous, long hair ..."
She stared off for a moment, her mouth hanging loosely open, having gotten lost in the vision.
"So, they were totally awesome?"
Nodding her head gently, she said, "Totally."
"And then what happened?"
"We were just standing there, scoping out the room, and a hand came through the curtains, opened them, and the hottest guy I've ever seen asked if we wanted to come in. Emerald didn't want to go in-she's afraid of everything-but I really wanted to check out all those people, so I said yes. The hot guy reached out, took my hand and actually kissed the back of it and said his name was Devereux. I thought I was going to pass out just from looking at him. There was something about his eyes." She paused and glanced over at me, trying to gauge my reaction before she shared any more details.
I felt the muscles in my neck and back tighten, which happened sometimes when I worked too hard at holding in all the opinions that wanted to tumble out of my mouth. Often, having to remain silent was the hardest part of my job.
She met a strange man in a bar. A man dressed in leather, who invited her into a private room. What's wrong with this picture?
I smiled. "And then?"
"Then he sorta led me inside and Emerald followed us. There must have been fifty people in that room and they were all incredible. Dev walked us over to a table, and he was so polite. He pulled out the chairs for us, like in the old movies, and asked if we wanted anything to drink. We both ordered beers-we had to try-but he brought us Cokes, and we just sat there, staring at him. He wasn't drinking anything and I asked why not, and he said he'd already had his fill for the night, and he just kept smiling and giving us those psychedelic eyes. I didn't know what he meant back then, but I do now."
"What do you mean?"
"Are you sure you won't tell this to anyone? I don't want to piss Dev off," she said, reading my face for signs of deception.
"I promise," I assured her.
She nodded. I'd evidently passed the test.
"Well, he drinks blood, ya know? That's what vampires do. So, when he said he was full, he meant he had already 'eaten' for the night," she explained, her voice light and casual, as if we were talking about the weather.
Yuck. He drinks blood. Can you say mental illness?
"Do you drink blood?"
That, obviously, was a loaded question, because Midnight started scraping her lower lip against her upper teeth. She twisted the edge of her cape nervously in her hands and stared down into her lap.
"Midnight? Are you all right?"
Squirming in the chair, she said, "Yeah. It just feels creepy to be talking about this."
"Do you mean because of what your family would think?"
She hesitated. "No, because of what Dev would do if he found out," she said, softly. "We're not allowed to drink blood."
Thank heavens for that.
"We'll come back to the blood in a minute. What's your relationship with Dev?" I was becoming more and more suspicious of this seemingly charismatic character.
Catching the drift of my concern, Midnight shook her head. "He's just a friend. All the girls are after him, but he said we're too young and that he's into older women. We all hit on him but he never goes out with any of us. He's in charge-the boss, I guess."
The vampire Bruce Springsteen? "The boss of what?"
"The vampires. And the apprentices."
"The apprentices?" I had a sudden vision of several vampire wannabes sitting around a conference table in New York with Donald Trump. A vampire Donald Trump. I fought to keep the amusement from creeping onto my face. My sense of humor is such a challenge.
"That's what we call ourselves."
"Let's go back to the drinking blood part. You seemed to have a strong reaction when I asked you about that. Why?"
She lowered her eyes and started chewing her bottom lip again. "Dev lets us hang around with him and the other vampires, but he won't let anyone take blood from us and he won't let us drink blood, either. He said that only real vampires can use blood the way it was meant to be used. Since we're officially still human, we could get diseases that vampires can't get. He has lots of rules about what we can and can't do if we want to be with them."
Okay, so maybe the guy isn't totally whacked if he keeps them from the blood thing.
"So, what is it you don't want him to know?"
I waited silently and watched waves of conflicting emotions flow across her face as she decided what, if anything, she was going to tell me.
"There's this one guy, Eric, who wants to be a vampire real bad. Dev told him that he wasn't ready, that he needed to go out and learn about life before becoming the undead, but Eric doesn't listen. He set up all these rituals at his apartment, where the apprentices drink each other's blood. He gave us all these neat little necklaces with tiny knives on them, so we can make little cuts in each other's necks and drink," she said, her voice breathy. "It would be really bad if Dev found out because he'd be totally angry, and I don't want to do anything to make Dev mad at me."
My eyebrows crawled up toward my hairline.
The apprentices drink each other's blood?
I hoped she was simply acting out and all this blood stuff was imaginary. I needed to find a non-threatening way to convince her the entire vampire thing was a fantasy.
"Are you afraid of Dev?"
"No. Not the way you mean."
"But, despite Dev's disapproval you go to the rituals at Eric's apartment?"
She scooted forward excitedly in her chair. "Well, yeah. It's so much fun. I never would have thought that drinking blood could be so sexual-so romantic," she gushed.
I tried very hard to keep the neutral expression on my face.
"Sexual? Romantic? What happens at these rituals?"
AIDS! Not to mention viruses, bacteria, and things I can't even comprehend. What about infections from the cuts? Red alert, Kismet.
"Well, first we order a pizza or something and drink some wine-maybe get high-just the same as any other night. Then we pick a partner, and after we take turns drinking a little blood-not much, just a couple of teaspoons-we have sex. It's the most amazing feeling. I let Eric cut my boob last week and suck on it. It was so hot."
Is this what she thinks intimacy is? Where did all this come from?
"Are you having safe sex?"
She nodded vigorously. "Don't worry about that. I've got a purse full of rubbers!"
I tried to visualize a rubber big enough to fit over Eric's entire body. I didn't want to come off as sermonizing or lecturing because she wouldn't come back, but I had to find a way to get across to her how dangerous all this was.
"Midnight, what about diseases you can get through blood transmission? What about AIDS? Drinking blood is very dangerous."
"Vampires can't get diseases."
"Eric and the other apprentices are just regular guys, aren't they? Human?"
She stared into her lap, silent.
"Will you consider holding off on any more cutting and drinking blood activities until we explore the consequences more thoroughly?"
She stayed silent for so long that I feared she might leap up and flee the office, but she finally gave a loud sigh. "I guess."
I let out the breath I'd been unconsciously holding. Whew. Talk about a pregnant pause. Even if she's just humoring me, it's a start.
"Thank you, Midnight. I appreciate your open mind and your willingness to trust in our work together.
"So, outside of the rituals at Eric's apartment, the apprentices mostly just get all dressed up and hang around with Dev and his vampire friends at the club downtown?"
"Tell me more about Dev."
She got that faraway look in her eyes again and lifted out of the subdued mood she'd retreated into.
"He really rocks. So hot. He's over six feet tall. I am so into tall guys. Gorgeous, long blond hair, aqua-not blue, not green, but aqua-eyes, and a killer bod. He's always wearing some kind of tight, dark leather." She sighed and drifted off again for a moment.
Hmmm. That does sound interesting.
Chuckling, I said, "I get the picture. But what's his story? Why is he hanging out at a bar in downtown Denver? What does he do? Who is he?"
"He doesn't talk much about that. He told me once that he's been a vampire for eight hundred years and that he really loves Colorado because the mountains remind him of some place in Europe he lived before he died. But he seems to have a ton of money. He has this amazing loft down the street from the bar, which, by the way, he owns, and the loft is so cool. Sometimes he lets us come over and blast some tunes, and he always keeps lots of food around, even though he doesn't eat any of it."
Why does this supposedly gorgeous, wealthy man hang around with teenagers? He has lots of rules for them. Does he see himself as a father figure? Or is he a clever predator?
Excerpted from The Vampire Shrink by Lynda Hilburn Copyright © 2007 by Lynda Hilburn. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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Enjoyed reading this book!
This is a well written and intuitively observed story here. It has the right elements of chracterization, plot, dialogue, narrative and it is fast paced. It is certain to strike to chord with its target readership and even beyond; so promoting it is a good idea. I started reading these genres after reading The Verdict of Hades. But now, irrespective of the genre I am ardent about, I will always go for well-crafted stories that are enjoyable.
I enjoyed this book. I liked the way she began with life going on as usual and then worked the vampires into it so skillfully that I hardly noticed. It was another page turner. I think anyone would like it who likes to read fantasy love stories. I would also recommend it for book club discussions. There is a lot to talk about in this book.
There are no other words to describe this book but, the word exceptional. Lynda writes in such a way, that I haven't seen before. It takes alot for me to open a book, so I was surprised by how much I liked it! My friend gave this to me to read, because she wanted me to get into Vampires. Surprise! Surprise I am now a vampire fan!! Kismet Knight,PhD , is a scientist smart girl that doesn't believe in the paranormal. She especially doesn't believe in vampires, so when she begins talking to this young girl "midnight" who can't stop talking about vampires. Kismet it is some strange fantasy the girl has made up to cover up other problems in her life, however Kismet soon begins to wise up and learns a thing or two when she meets a, very handsome man named Devereux who is an old man. (800 years old) BUT gorgeous!
4 stars Worth Reading... Book 1 in the "Kismet Knight, Vampire Psychologist" series. This is a really good series!
Ok, the Dev is a freaking hot vampire. This is no Bella and Edward story. Kismet is hard core and not stupid. If you are looking for a vampire book with enough kick a$$ this is the book for you. READ IT. Dev will love you forever. The author has a good writing style too. I read it in one day.
I read a book or two weekly and this book is one that I really enjoyed. The Mental Health Expert gets more than she asked for after advertising to help vampires in need of counseling. The story continues with a "can't put the book down" pace all the way through the book.
OMG one of the best book's I have read in a long time can't wait for the third book Crimson Psyche. Hope it come out soon !
2013 has only just started and yet I have already found a book that I believe will make my top reads of 2013! The Vampire Shrink was flat out amazing! I enjoyed this so much and I am so happy to report that! Lately the paranormal (urban fantasy) genre has been..meh for me, it's just a genre I can't get myself into lately, but Vampire Shrink completely flipped that around! If you're someone that loves vampires, a steamy romance, hot men, hilarious dialogue, and action then this is a book you need to pick up! Lets start off with the characters...I freakin loved each and every one of them! Very often when I read a book the characters will come off as sharing way too many personality traits, but not with Vampire Shrink! Everyone has their very own distinct personality, and I loved each of them! Even the bad guys in this novel I found myself liking just because their personalities differed SO much from everyone elses.(They were CRAZY!!) I don't even know if I should start on the romance...it was perfect. You have Alan who is the sweet, sexy, funny, FBI agent...then you have Devereux who is the old school, sexy, mysterious vampire that believes Kismet and him are soul mates. I just loved every second of the romance in this book, it had the perfect amount of everything, there weren't too many steamy scenes, there weren't too many over lovey scenes, everything just flowed so smoothly with the romance and I can definitely understand why Kismet is confused! Last but certainly not least I have to talk about the authors writing, it was another thing among many things that I loved. I flew through this book within (less than) 24 hours, anytime I could find a spare minute I was reading this book. Last night I was literally sitting in a Burger King drive threw with my car light on reading while I waiting for my food...seriously any minute I found to read more of the Vampire Shrink, I took! I did not want to put it down, I was so curious about what was going to happen and what was going on! The author wrote amazing characters, an amazing romance, and made the mystery very suspenseful! This is a book I really believe people will have a hard time putting down! Overall the Vampire Shrink is a book that any paranormal/urban fantasy lover should pick up! I have nothing bad to say about this book and I really just loved it, Lynda Hilburn has officially gained a new forever fan!
Lynda Hilburn has one imagination, The Vampire Shrink was intense, full of passion, drama, and adventure. There was never a dull moment reading this story. I couldn't get enough, after ever turn of the page there was something going on. Dr. Kismet Knight is a shy girl, not really good with relationships and follows the line of logic completely. Then Midnight shows up in her office claiming she hangs with Vampires and wants to become one herself, she fears this girls is completely delusional but lets her tell her stories of interacting with Vampires. Then she finds there is lots of people in Midnights same boat wanting to be Vampires and believing they are real, which Dr. Knight knows is so not true. She decides this is just the break she has been looking for and becomes a Vampire Therapist over night. Now Dr. Knight is receiving threats, murders are popping up all over Denver and she is having trouble distinguishing the difference between reality and fantasy. She fears she's lost it just as much as her own clients has. Especially with Mr. Devereoux and the hot FBI agent, Alan both believing in this same babel and here she finds herself acting completely different with two hot guys vying for her attention and she is at a complete loss of what she is doing anymore.
Really enjoyed this story. Author did a great job with the characters. Story well written and funny in parts.
Another love triangle with a vampire.
It was an interesting book to read. The first half was a great vampire story. The female lead was a sarcastic and imdependant woman who didnt have the best love life, something alot of women can relate to im sure. Sadly the male vampire had no personality and seemed really creepy to me because he always carries Kismet everywhere, She never really walks when they are together. Anyway, i wont spoil the book but the second half gets a bit weird and then nothing gets explained. All in all though i did enjoy the book and look forward to reading the next one. It was a fun book to read and it passed the time which was what i got it for and it did its job well.
Fast paced, fun characters!
VERY PLEASED. I really enjoyed this book. I love vampire stories and it was a gratifying read. I liked how the main character Kismet had feelings for Devereux and Alan and the temptation it brought. It was intoxicating.
I was a bit apprehensive when I started this book because I have tried to read a couple other books that had a psychiatrist and supernaturals and they did not jive with me, but this one was actually pretty good. Some parts were quite predictable, like Kismet falling for a vampire even though she did not believe in them; while others were not, like the magic aspect of the story. I did have a bit of a problem with how quickly Kismet and Devereux fell in love with each other and how she just allowed Devereux to tell her what to do having only known him a couple days. I also felt like I was cheated when it came to her “relationship” with Alan. It just seemed like the author wanted a good sex scene and Alan was the character available. It is almost like he is mentioned in passing because there is this high between Kismet and Alan but them it just ends and the slight conclusion you get seems like an afterthought. The plot was interesting and kept me intrigued but the writing seemed lacking and in need of some work, even though this is a rewrite of an older book with additional plot added. I will probably read the next book in the series when it comes out because the story had me hooked, but this book is not at the top of my list of vampire books. This is not due to the overall plot but rather more to the confusion in the story and the lack of continuity in the writing. Some things just do not seem to connect and felt as though they were just added later to close up loose ends. This book is not appropriate for kids or teenagers because there are sex scenes in it that are graphic. For adults, this is a quick read and the plot is pretty entertaining and worth a look if you like to read a lot. If you read slowly or do not have much time to read, I would pass on this book and look for something a bit more polished. I received this book as an ARC. I do not get paid to review books; I do so in order to assist you in recognizing books that you might enjoy. Please read more of my reviews on my blog: sarahereads(dot)wordpress(dot)com