Wicked Game (WVMP Radio Series #1)

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Recovering con artist Ciara Griffin is trying to live the straight life, even if it means finding a (shudder!) real job. She takes an internship at a local radio station, whose late-night time-warp format features 1940s blues, '60s psychedelia, '80s goth, and more, all with an uncannily authentic flair. Ciara soon discovers just...

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Wicked Game (WVMP Radio Series #1)

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Recovering con artist Ciara Griffin is trying to live the straight life, even if it means finding a (shudder!) real job. She takes an internship at a local radio station, whose late-night time-warp format features 1940s blues, '60s psychedelia, '80s goth, and more, all with an uncannily authentic flair. Ciara soon discovers just how the DJs maintain their cred: they're vampires, stuck forever in the eras in which they were turned.

Ciara's first instinct, as always, is to cut and run. But communications giant Skywave wants to buy WVMP and turn it into just another hit-playing clone. Without the station — and the link it provides to their original Life Times — the vampires would "fade," becoming little more than mindless ghosts of the past. Suddenly a routine corporate takeover is a matter of life and undeath.

To boost ratings and save the lives of her strange new friends, Ciara rebrands the station as "WVMP, the Lifeblood of Rock 'n' Roll." In the ultimate con, she hides the DJs' vampire nature in plain sight, disguising the bloody truth as a marketing gimmick. WVMP becomes the hottest thing around — next to Ciara's complicated affair with grunge vamp Shane McAllister. But the "gimmick" enrages a posse of ancient and powerful vampires who aren't so eager to be brought into the light. Soon the stakes are higher — and the perils graver — than any con game Ciara's ever played....

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Newbie marketing intern Ciara Griffin lands a job at WMMP, a station threatened with being sold to Skyware, a giant communications conglomerate, unless ad revenue picks up. A former con artist with a canny way with people, Ciara soon learns that the DJs are undead and specialists in the musical eras in which they were turned into vampires. One of them, Shane McAllister (turned in 1995), is really hot and dangerously tempting. In order to attract more listeners, Ciara promotes a new marketing strategy and the Sherwood, Md., station becomes 94.3 WVMP, the "Lifeblood of Rock and Roll," exploiting the fang factor (which no listener takes seriously) for profit. It works, until an ancient vampire cult wants to pull the plug. Also playing in is "The Control," an equally ancient paramilitary group created to protect good vampires and kill bad ones. Smith-Ready's musical references are spot on, as is her take on corporate radio's creeping airwave hegemony. Add in the irrepressible Ciara, who grew up in a family of grifters, and the results rock. (May)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
School Library Journal

Ciara Griffin, desperate for a job, becomes marketing director at a local money-losing radio station facing a possible sale to a large corporation. Her task is problematic because the DJs, who only work at night, want to keep their true vampiric nature a secret; however, Ciara, who grew up in a family of con artists and has sworn to stay honest, comes up with a plan-change the station call letters, create a new slogan, "WVMP, the Lifeblood of Rock n' Roll," and tell the public the truth. It would be great publicity, and no one would believe it, anyway. Her tactics work but lead to unforeseen problems. On the plus side for Ciara is the attention of Shane, the good-looking, undead DJ specializing in Nineties grunge music. A colorful premise and engaging characters make the author's ("Aspect of Crow" trilogy; Requiem for the Devil) latest a fun read. Recommended for all urban fantasy and paranormal romance collections.

—Patricia Altner

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From the Publisher
"Sharp and smart and definitely not flavor of the month, Wicked Game is wicked good." — Laura Anne Gilman, bestselling author of Free Fall

"Jeri Smith-Ready blends fantasy and romance in an organic, unpredictable way, deftly weaving stories to enhance the power of her take-no-prisoners style." — C. E. Murphy, bestselling author of Urban Shaman

"An addictive page-turner revving with red-hot sex, truly cool vampires, and rock 'n' roll soul. " — Kresley Cole, New York Times bestselling author of Dark Needs at Night's Edge

"Smith-Ready's musical references are spot-on, as is her take on corporate radio's creeping hegemony. Add in the irrepressible Ciara, who grew up in a family of grifters, and the results rock." — Publishers Weekly

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781439101346
  • Publisher: Pocket Books
  • Publication date: 3/31/2009
  • Series: WVMP Radio Series , #1
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 432
  • Product dimensions: 6.78 (w) x 4.18 (h) x 1.15 (d)

Meet the Author

Jeri Smith-Ready is the award-winning author of the Shade trilogy, the WVMP Radio series, and the Aspect of Crow trilogy. She lives in Maryland with her husband and two cats. Like many of her characters, Jeri loves music, movies, and staying up very, very late. Visit her at JeriSmithReady.com or follow her on Twitter at @jsmithready.

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Read an Excerpt


It's Only Rock 'n' Roll (But I Like It)

Family curses never die, they just mutate. In Greek mythology, the curse of the House of Atreus began with some smart-ass making soup du jour for the gods out of his own son's meaty bits. Things went downhill from there. These days, though, the curse probably just makes the Atreus family forget to send each other birthday cards.

The curse of the House of Griffin, whatever sinister form it may have taken in the Old World, has left me with a gift for the persuasive arts. In the straight world, this means sales and marketing — or as I like to call it, S&M.

The slim, thirtyish dude across the desk scans my skimpy resume. Short dark hair flops over his forehead as he nods along with the blues squawking from a wall speaker. His fingers tap the wooden surface between us in unconscious synchronicity.

The tiny office's clutter of memorabilia would shame the Hard Rock Cafe. Near one boarded-up window, a life-size cardboard John Lennon peers into my soul; near the other, Jerry Lee Lewis peers through my blouse.

"So, Ciara..." David slips me an earnest glance. "Why do you — "

"It's keer-ah, not see-air-ah." I rattle off the pronunciation as politely as I can. "Not like the mountains."

"Sorry. I bet you get that all the time." He flips my resume to look at the other side. Blank. He lifts my portfolio folder, probably searching for another page. "Where's the rest of your job experience?"

I give him a wide-open smile. "In the future, I hope."

He blinks, then looks back at the resume. His eyebrows pop up. "Well, it's very readable."

Due, no doubt, to the sixteen-point font I used to fill up the page.

He inspects it again, green eyes flitting back and forth in a desperate search for an interview kickoff. "Ciara. Interesting spelling."

"It's Irish. It means 'dark and mysterious.'" I point to my tawny hair and studiously guileless eyes. "Even though I'm neither."

David's lips twitch up briefly, then he puts the resume aside and opens my portfolio. While he examines it, his thumb pumps the plunger on his ballpoint, creating a staccato of clicks that wears my nerves down to the nub. I resist the urge to wipe my clammy hands on my only interview suit.

The air-conditioning clunks on. Above my head, backstage passes begin to flutter in the breeze, hanging like Christmas decorations from the antlers of a peeved-eyed deer.

"This first project's dated six years ago," David says. "I take it you go to Sherwood College part-time?"

My shoulders tense. "I take sabbaticals." Oops, this was supposed to be an exercise in honesty. "I mean, I take breaks so I can earn tuition."

He nods in sympathy. "It's expensive. I gave the army four years of my life in exchange for a degree."

"The army, wow. Did you kill anyone?"

His gaze sharpens, and I wince at my nerve-induced idiocy. Usually when I botch an interview, it's on purpose. The fact that I actually want this job makes my stomach ache.

David's mouth relaxes into a smirk. "Shouldn't I be asking you questions?"

"Sorry. Ask anything." As long as it's not about me.

"Why do you want to work at WMMP?"

I knew that one was coming, and I've been working on a convincing answer ever since David found me through my college's job-match program.

"I love rock 'n' roll." Damn, that was cheesy. I rub my nose and look away. "I wasn't allowed to listen to it growing up, but I did anyway. I'd lie under the covers at night with my Walkman, listening to tapes I'd stolen — I mean, borrowed — uh, stolen." This truth thing is harder than I expected. "Anyway, I figured a radio station might suck my soul less than a corporation would. Plus it's already June tomorrow, and I'm desperate. I can't graduate without a summer internship, and if I don't get out of this town soon, I'll — " My mouth shuts, about three sentences too late.

David blinks, and blinks, until I wonder if the airconditioning has dried out his contact lenses. He sighs through his nose, making a sound that says, Why am I wasting my time with this girl? I scramble for something else to discuss.

On the desk between us, a photo of a beribboned Chihuahua sits next to a calendar of 365 Oscar Wilde quotes. I squint to read, I like persons better than principles, and I like persons with no principles better than anything else in the world.

I glance up at David, then back to the photo and calendar. "Cute dog."

"Oh. This isn't my desk." He pushes his chair back a few

inches. "This is Frank's desk, the sales and marketing director." He shifts the Chihuahua photo's heart-shaped frame. "I'm not, you know..."

I think the word he's looking for is "gay."

"Are you the owner?"

"I'm the general manager. The owner is — " David glances past my shoulder at a closed office door. " — absent."

I wait for him to elaborate, but he just tugs the cuffs of his sport coat and changes the subject.

"I'm also the program director. As I'm sure you're aware, WMMP broadcasts syndicated talk shows and paid programming during the day. But at night — " He gazes at the wall speaker like it's a holy relic. "That's when WMMP comes alive."

Huh. "Will Frank interview me, too?"

"I make all the personnel decisions. Frank would have joined us, but he hates the — " David's glance flicks to the stairway behind me. "He hates to work at night."

I check the wooden mantel clock above the bricked-up fireplace. 9:30. "Why interview me so late?"

"I wanted any potential intern to meet the DJs. This is the only time they're all...here."

Hmmm. My first act as marketing intern would be to suggest playing music when people are actually awake to hear it.

He shuffles my resume and portfolio, rapping their edges against the desk. The motion has a finality about it, as if he's about to thank me for stopping by.

Panic jump-starts my mouth. "I know my resume is a little thin, but I can explain."

"No need." He folds his hands, steepling his fingers and tapping his thumbs together. "Do you know why I called you for this job?"

I've been afraid to ask, and I hesitate to guess.

David continues. "Your history indicates that you're sympathetic to — how shall I put this — the outsider's point of view."

My gut plummets. He did a background check.

"What kind of outsider?" I ask innocently.

"The kind with a lack of regard for — " He spreads his thumbs. " — conventional morality."

I sit back in my chair, moving slowly, as if from a poisonous snake. "I've never been charged with anything."

"I know you haven't." David extends his hands palm down, as if to hold me in my seat. "My point is — "

"Thanks for your time." I stand and grab my purse from the back of the chair. "I've really enjoyed our chat, but I think another opportunity would fit me better." I head for the exit.

"Wait." He intercepts me, placing his hand on the door before I can open it. "What I'm saying is, I don't care about your past. Neither would anyone else here."

My mind calculates how much he could know. A legal background check wouldn't reveal anything too incriminating. My juvey record cleared when I turned eighteen, and in the six years since I've never been caught. Sort of.

"We couldn't pay you a lot, I'm afraid." He gestures toward my resume. "But judging by your address, you don't need much."

Did he just insult my neighborhood? Doesn't he realize I live above the best pawnshop in town?

"You'd work over there." He points to a smaller desk next to the fireplace, on the opposite wall from Frank's. Beyond it sits a copier so old I expect it to have a hand crank.

"Come." David moves past me so suddenly it makes me jump.

He descends a creaky wooden staircase between the two closed office doors. I follow him, trying not to get my hopes up. Maybe his hiring talk was hypothetical, as in, you'd work at that desk if all the other intern candidates got eaten by a giant cockroach. I force my mind away from the things I'll have to do if I don't get a summer job. Things I can't put on a resume.

At the bottom of the stairs, David rests his hand on the knob of a closed door. He takes in a quick, deep breath as if to say something momentous. The words don't make it out before he shakes his head.

"Probably best if you meet them without preconceptions. If they like you, the job's yours."

I nod. No pressure or anything.

David opens the door to let me pass into a small, dim lounge. A pervasive cloud of cigarette smoke gathers over the halogen lamp in the far left corner, muting the room's lurid shadows.

My stinging eyes take a moment to adjust. I strain to see a group of —


Exquisite freaks, to be sure, so soul-shatteringly beautiful, it's a tragedy that radio is for ears only. But they each look like they stepped out of a different time machine.

David squeezes past me through the doorway, where my feet have stopped. "Ciara Griffin, meet the pride of WMMP."

Three men and a woman are playing poker around a table scattered with plastic chips and open bottles. They examine me with a palpable distrust. Maybe it's the interview suit: navy blue makes me look like a fed.

"Spencer, Jim, Noah, Regina." David points from left to right. "And back there is Shane."

On the love seat at the foot of the lamp, a young man in faded ripped jeans appears to sleep, right arm draped over his face. One leg is bent, foot resting on the cushion, and the other stretches beyond the end of the sofa.

David touches my elbow to urge me forward a few steps. "I'm hoping Ciara will be our new intern."

The hostility fades from the faces of the four awake DJs, replaced with a patronizing politeness. I attempt a smile, encouraged by the slight thaw.

"Spencer does our fifties show," David says. "Birth of rock 'n' roll and all that."

A man in a white dress shirt and black pants stands to greet me, unfurling endless legs from under the table. His dark red hair is slicked back into a ducktail. He squeezes the hand I offer.

"Hey, baby, what's shakin'?" Spencer's southern drawl and impeccable clothes give him a gentlemanly façade, which doesn't quite gel with the feral look in his eyes.

"Not much, Daddy-o." It just comes out. Rather than take offense, Spencer smiles and nods approvingly.

The next guy springs out of his chair, and I force myself not to retreat from his approach.

"This is Jim," David says.

"Man, I really dug your portfolio." Jim hugs me. His long brown curls and tie-dyed shirt reek of marijuana and patchouli. "I used to go to art school, too."

"Thanks, but I'm not an artist." Is he sniffing me?

Jim pulls back and regards me at arm's length. "Then how'd you get all those layouts to look so groovy?"

"For my class projects? I used the computer, of course."

His eyes crinkle with confusion. "The...?"

David clears his throat loudly enough for my bullshit alert system to creep into Code Yellow. What the hell's going on?

Comprehension crosses Jim's face, and he snaps his fingers. "Right. Back in my day, we had to do it all by hand."

I squint at him. He looks just a few years older than I am. They all do.

"Back in your day?"

The third man scrapes his chair against the floor as he rises.

I turn to him, relieved to slide out of Jim's personal space, which seems to lack boundaries.

"I am Noah." The man's voice rolls over me like a warm Jamaican breeze. "It is a pleasure to meet you, sweet lady." He reaches across the table, takes my hand, and draws it to his full lips. My eyes go all moony and unprofessional under his gaze, which is softened by a pair of dark-rimmed glasses lying low on the bridge of his nose. Noah's green, gold, and red knit cap perches atop a fetching set of chest-length dreadlocks. I'm relieved the seventies are represented by reggae instead of disco.

"Oh, please. Get the fuck off her, you wanker." Despite the Briticism, the punk/Goth woman — Regina, I presume — has a flat midwestern accent. Beneath a shower of spiky black hair, her face is a study in monochrome, with black eyeliner and lipstick setting off her skin's porcelain perfection.

Regina gives me a chin tilt and a "yo," before turning to Shane. "You can pretend to wake up now."

He slides his flannel-shirted arm from his face, then turns his head. I take my first full breath of the evening. His warm eyes and crooked smile make me feel like I'm really here and not just a stain someone left on the rug.

"Hey." Shane drags his battered Doc Martens off the couch and stands up slowly. Even with the grunge-cool slouch, he's taller than the others. As he approaches, he flicks his head to sweep a tangle of nape-length, pale brown hair out of his eyes.

When our hands touch, he starts as if I've shocked him. He pronounces my name perfectly, and so softly I wonder if someone else in the room is still sleeping. Then his gaze cools, and he half-turns away, hands in his pockets.

Aw, he's shy. How lovable, huggable, stuff-in-a-bag-andtake-home-able.

Or not, as I look at Regina, whose eyes are slicing me in half. Shane must be her boy. She could probably weaponize any of those six facial piercings in seconds.

An enormous stack of chips sits in front of her next to an open bottle of tequila. "Who's winning?" I ask, in an effort to get on her good side.

"I have two hundred ninety-two dollars," Regina says. "Jim has forty-six, Noah one hundred sixty-seven, and Spencer, ninety-eight. No, wait — ninety-nine."

"Shane bombed early," Jim says, "not that he had much to start with."

The flannel-clad man in question turns to David. "She'll be fine. Can I go now?"

"Sure. Thanks for coming in."

Jim fishes a set of keys from his pocket and tosses them to Shane. "Happy hunting. And remember, none of that lowoctane shit this time."

Shane heads for the door, sparing me a cool glance of acknowledgment. My eyes shift to follow him, but not my head. I congratulate myself on my restraint.

"What do the rest of you guys think?" David says. "Should we hire her?"

They examine me like I'm a cow at a 4-H auction. I try not to moo.

The four DJs exchange looks, then nod, more or less in unison. David rubs his hands together and starts to make a declaration.

"Wait," Spencer says. "What about Monroe?"

David shifts his weight from foot to foot, then shakes his head. "I don't want to interrupt his program."

"Who's Monroe?" I ask David.

He points to a closed door in the corner with a glowing on the air sign above it. "He plays the Midnight Blues show."

"But it's only 9:30."

"It starts at nine, ends at midnight. That's when Spencer takes over, then Jim from three to six, on alternating nights. The other nights feature Noah, Regina, and Shane, same schedule."

The DJs make a point of picking up their cards again, dismissing us. David beckons me to the bottom of the stairs.

He shuts the door behind us and jerks a thumb over his shoulder. "Do you know what they are?" he whispers.

It seems like a trick question, so I shake my head.

"A revolution." David's eyes are googly with fanaticism. "They each dwell in a time when a new sound embodied the zeitgeist of a generation and knocked the world on its ass."

Code Yellow again. "When you say they dwell in that time — "


"So what's with the costumes? Was that for my benefit, or are they on their way to a cliché convention?"

David sends me a sly smile that says he thinks his name should mean "dark and mysterious."

"All will become clear." He trots up the stairs. "What's important is that you understand the music they live for and the history behind it."

I hurry up after him, my hand flaking white paint off the banister as I go. "I'm not exactly a rockologist, but — "

"Don't worry. Ignorance is the world's most curable affliction." He turns right at the top of the stairs and opens the door of a tiny corner office. A light flickers on.

When I join him, David is running his hands over a wallsize bookshelf. He yanks out one tome after another and stacks them on a small round table until the pile stands as high as my head.

"Oh." He puts his hand on the stack. "You never said yes. To the job."

I can't afford to suspect why they want to hire me after such a perfunctory interview. But the weirdness begs one question.

"What about the future?" I point to the framed handbill of a '69 Dead concert at the Fillmore West. "This place is like a museum. What about now? What about tomorrow?"

David sighs. "Have you listened to the radio lately? Honestly."


"Why not?"

I shrug. "Too many commercials."


"The music is boring." I pull my MP3 player from my purse. "At least with this, I know I'll hear something good."

"Exactly. All the music sounds the same, because big corporations take over stations and make everyone play the same vanilla-flavored crap." He leans forward, voice low and calm. "You won't find crap of any flavor at WMMP. Here the DJs play what they want, not what some CEO or record promoter tells them to play. Do you know how rare that is?"

"I'll take a guess: extremely?"

He slides the top book from the stack — The Rock Snob's Dictionary — and caresses the worn edge of the spine. "This place is a gift to people who love music. I don't take credit for it. It's all them." He points to the floor. "But people don't know about them — yet. The owner just spent a fortune boosting our signal strength to reach listening areas in D.C., Baltimore, and Harrisburg."

"That's good, right?"

"Maybe not." He taps the spine of the book against the table. "She did it to make the station more attractive to buyers. A communications conglomerate called Skywave has spent the last decade gobbling up hundreds of radio stations."

"And WMMP is next."

He nods. "Our owner says if ad revenue doesn't quadruple by Labor Day, she'll sell to Skywave. And we'll all be out of work." He tosses the book back on the stack. "Frank needs another set of legs for our last-ditch marketing campaign. Based on your course work, your portfolio, and your energy, I think you'd be perfect."

Again, no pressure. I glance at the books. "Those are for me?"

"You have to know your product." He says the last word with a twist of his lips. It must pain him to speak of music as a commodity.

"You never answered my question about the future."

He looks away, face pinched. "If Skywave is the future, maybe we're all better off in the past."

Dubious but desperate, I reach for the stack of books. "Get the door."

"Wait." He holds out his hand. I reach for it to seal the deal, but he brushes my hand aside. "Uh-uh. Give me that." He points to the MP3 player protruding from my purse.

"Are you kidding?"

"Spend two weeks listening to the radio instead. With your first paycheck I'll give you a bigger player, with more memory and more songs, courtesy of the station."

I hand it over. "One with video would be great."

He laughs and slides the player into an empty slot on the bookshelf. "See you at eight-thirty tomorrow morning."

I lug the books out to the parking lot, trying not to stagger too much.

"And lose the suit," David calls after me. "This is a radio station, not a savings and loan."

I send him a grateful grin as he waves and shuts the door.

The parking lot's tiny pebbles crunch under my feet, loud in the summer-night stillness. No traffic noise reaches me, since the station lies ten minutes outside the small town of Sherwood, Maryland, separated from the highway by a quarter mile of dense woods.

I balance the books against the fender of my worn-out car and fish for my keys. My purse feels light and roomy without the player, which I already miss. Maybe I could borrow my friend Lori's —

Footsteps scrape the gravel behind me. David with more books, no doubt.

"Honestly," I tell him as I turn around, "this is more than — "

The word enough dies in my throat.

No one's there. The only light bleeds from an orange porch lamp near the station's front door, turning my half of the parking lot a dull amber. The radio tower looms above, its winking red eye too high to provide illumination.

The other side of the parking lot lies in shadow, and that's where I look — muscles frozen, eyes darting, like a baby rabbit hoping the predator won't see me if I just stand still.

Yeah, right. Anyone stalking me might think I've been replaced by a mannequin. Good strategy.

Since there are no other buildings within yelling distance, I should either drive away or run back into the station. The thought of whimpering to my new boss about a scratchy noise in the parking lot makes my decision easy.

Without turning toward the car, I fumble for the trunk lock, then insert the key. The trunk pops, and I shove the books inside before slamming it shut. My feet stumble backward to the driver's-side door.

A breath at my ear, too cold for a summer breeze. I spin to face —

Nothing again.

I stifle a squeak, open the car, and slip inside with a quick check of the backseat. My elbow mashes down the door lock as I start the car and slam it into reverse. Gravel spins from under my tires and clatters against the undercarriage.

The driveway forms a long, headlight-bright tunnel in the leafy darkness, and it's not until I reach the main road that my lungs release their pent-up breath.

No wonder Frank hates working at night.

My hands have stopped shaking by the time I arrive in downtown Sherwood. After checking my side street for suspicious characters — more than the usual, anyway — I grab half of David's books from my trunk and head up to my apartment, over Dean's Pawn Shop. It really is the best in town, as evidenced by the large red-and-white sign in the window: no stolen goods. Dean might as well have written wink wink at the bottom of the sign.

I enter through a double-locked, street-level door next to the shop, then clomp up a dark stairwell — I've been bugging Dean for weeks to change the unreachable lightbulb — to another door, also double-locked, leading to my apartment.

The stale hot air chokes me. I hurry three steps down the hall to the bedroom, where my only air conditioner perches in the window. Soon my suit lies crumpled in the corner and I'm standing before the AC in my underwear, letting the frigid breeze dry every drop of fear-infused sweat.

Once cooled to the point of shivering, I switch on my computer and connect to the Internet, then run to the kitchen to avoid the modem's eviscerated-android screech.

I open the fridge to see one lonely beer looking for company. It finds its ideal mate in a piece of leftover pizza.

Back in my bedroom, my e-mail has finished downloading. At the top of my in-box sits a message from David, sent a few minutes ago:


"Yeah yeah yeah." I switch my alarm clock to the radio function and search for WMMP's frequency. (Do they know that their call letters sort of spell wimp?) I scan the dial until a harmonica purrs from the tiny speaker.

Returning to my e-mail, I notice that one of the in-box's subfolders is bolded. It looks like this: "M (1)," which means I have one message from a person who gets filtered into her own subfolder "M." She must have convinced the guards to give her computer access again.

The message crouches safely behind a wall of mouse clicks. After a few moments of stomach-churning hesitation, I leave it there.

Just before midnight, I send my last "I finally got a Job!" e-mail, this one to my former foster parents. Stretching to crack my vertebrae over the back of the chair, I notice the radio's gone silent. Did the signal die? I grab my beer and cross the room to make sure the plug hasn't slipped out of the ancient, fire-code-violating outlet.

Then a voice, soft and low, says, "I'll never...never get out of these blues alive." For a moment I wonder if the voice belongs to Monroe the DJ — I haven't paid enough attention to know what he sounds like. Then a guitar eases in, followed by light applause. The words must have been the name of the song.

A slow, insistent drumbeat joins the hushed guitar, mesmerizing me even before I hear the first lyrics. I sit on the bed, gingerly, as if an abrupt movement could break the spell.

His voice sweeps over me, crooning of black coffee, cigarettes, and the futility of trying to sleep in the face of heartache.

An impassioned piano joins in, defying the lyrics' doom. I close my eyes and I'm there, in a dim, smoky bar where loners sway, heavy-lidded, wrapped in thoughts of those they've lost. I swallow the last warm sip of beer and wish I had another.

The song ends. Applause erupts. I click off the radio before another voice can take the singer's place. His contagious restlessness prickles my skin and shatters my sleepiness. I can't lie down. Even the soft cool sheets would scour my nerves.

I draw up the shade and peer out my window. The quiet streets of Sherwood beckon, begging me to make one last run before this normal life tightens like a straitjacket.

I tap my nails against the wooden sill in a quickening rhythm and wait for someone, anyone. But in a small town at this hour, the sidewalks and alleys are empty of prey.

Besides, I always hunt far from home. Copyright © 2008 by Jeri Smith-Ready

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 65 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 65 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 15, 2010

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    I Also Recommend:

    Vampire radio!

    I picked this up as a bargain book just because I loved the concept -- a vampire radio station! Ciara is far from the typical vampire novel girl. Her background is sketchy and she really needs the job at the radio station. Each vampire is so unique and their story so enjoyable that I found this hard to put down. There is a great mystery to the story as well. It is not 'just another vampire story'. Unique concept, unique characters and a unique writing style make it a great read for anyone into the paranormal fiction genre. My only warning is please note it is an adult book, not teen. There are some pretty graphic scenes (both sexual and violence).

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 28, 2009

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    I Also Recommend:

    The Time of Your Life - Is it the Time of Your Afterlife?

    The time of your life can set the tone of your undeath. But that's the last thing on Ciara's mind as she applies for an internship at the radio station WMMP. She doesn't expect the station has something to hide, because she's desperate to hide her own past. But the DJ's of the station have history darker than grifter religious parents and a skill with con artistry that have led Ciara astray. They maybe the immortal vampires who found a way to survive in the modern world - but they have a difficult secret as well that binds them as tightly as Ciara's past. Six ageless beings with a thirst for blood have come to a halt, each frozen in their own time period at the moment of their death. But the triumph of their home, WMMP is that the station celebrates these periods by their music. That victory is short lived because now the very thing that is their sanctuary maybe up for sale. But the staid are about to be rocked by the unexpected in Ciara who always finds an angle and this one will shock even her- why not tell the truth for a change. So WVMP, the Lifeblood of Rock and Roll is born...

    Jeri takes the tropes for vampirism and turns them around. Lots of interesting ideas, snappy dialog and characters that you want to follow. Perfect for a late night read or a guilty pleasure at the beach.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 24, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Rock & Roll Vampires!

    Rock and roll. Vampires. Sexy DJs. What's not to love about this book?

    Ciara wants to go straight after growing up in a family of grifters, and has a chance at a "real job" as a marketing intern for an independent radio station. Little does she know what she's getting into...as the DJs are all vampires, stuck in the past. The radio station gives them the opportunity to survive, by blending their past realities with acceptable doses of the present.

    Thought that this was a great start to an interesting series, and loved how Jeri included a playlist at the beginning of the book. The DJs are all intriguing, either in spite of or because of being stuck in a past era. The humans are also very relatable. Especially enjoyed Franklin, the marketing director who has his own unique salesmanship methods.

    This was a well written book with a good plot that stood on it's own and didn't get bogged down in details. The characters were all believable, and most of them were likable. Lots of good music thrown into the mix as well, some of which I had to look up online. Gave this one a solid 4/5 rating, as I really enjoyed everything about the book! Looking forward to reading the rest of the series, as I can't wait to see what happens next at WVMP!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 14, 2008

    I Also Recommend:

    The only thing I didn't like about this book is that it ended!

    I have to tell you that this book satisfies on EVERY level! I have been SERIOUSLY obsessed with the vampire genre since reading the Twilight series in June... read the series THREE times, and have since been trying to find another author/plot that offers the same level of satisfaction. Ms. Smith-Ready has hit the nail on the head! She offers a new twist to the genre and keeps true to the "all vampires aren't bad" theme... in fact HERS are darned good ;) I cannot WAIT for the next installment of this series!!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 10, 2012

    A fun, interesting read!

    A fun, interesting read!

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  • Posted October 3, 2011

    more from this reviewer


    It was funny. Well it was to me any way but i have a really weird sense of hummor...so yeah. Even if it wasnt funny it still has a few twists and the writing was good was well. Over all i liked it and will be reading the next book, Bad to the Bone. *-*

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  • Posted September 13, 2010

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    I Also Recommend:

    Unique Outlook on Vampires

    It's hard to find a really good book, let alone a really good vampire series. Most vampire book are all the same basic setup just different scenarios, not the case in Wicked Game. The vampires in this series are forever stuck in the era in which they died. Could you imagine forever being stuck in the 80's? blah! Ciara finds a job at the local radio station only to find out that the DJ's are anything but human. Why are they so knowledgeable about the music they play? Because they lived through that time. Vampires. She cooks up a scheme to announce to the public that "Hey our radio station has vampires as DJ's" as an marketing tool to generate more business, the public loves this and the station is booming, until Gideon, an older vampire, causes trouble. Although the public doesn't actually believe that the DJ's are vampires, Gideon still doesn't like that Ciara has brought attention to their DJ's. Another Plus is the love interest Shane, he's a younger vampire and Ciara has hope that she can get him out of his 90's era and into the now. The only thing i found i didn't like was that the vampires aren't able to learn new things, to be up to date i guess and supposedly only live around 80 years. A very different outlook on vampires. I really enjoyed this book though and would recommend it to anyone who loves vampires!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 11, 2009

    Wicked Game

    Vampires isn't particularly my thing, so this was not a favorite!

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 1, 2009

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  • Posted September 19, 2009

    more from this reviewer


    Based on writing style I'd assume this book targeted young readers (early- to mid-teens) but with sexual content I don't feel is quite appropriate to that age group. So I must conclude the author was actually targeting adult readers and, therefore, the writing's a bit weak.

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  • Posted August 11, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    That was totally Wicked!!

    I'm a big vampire fan (in literature, anyway), so I was excited when I found this one. It sounded unlike any other vampire book I'd ever read before. And it was. It was fairly fast paced, with several unexpected twists, and complete orginality.
    While some of my fellow vamp geeks found the Radio Station theme to be a little cheesey, I was amused and endeared by it. Anouther problem my f.v.g.'s had was the total lack of clich-ness of today's vamp books. (Sexy vampire, sexy vampire, she can't resist him because he's a sexy vampire.)Don't expect to find any mystical obsessions, perfect ideals, or otherwise in this book. DO expect to find a sweet love story, kick butt save-the-day routines, and a super suprise ending.

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  • Posted July 25, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Hellah COOL!

    What a SUPERB premise for a book! Excellent music and excellent vamps and humans.
    I swear, I could not read this book fast enough. I knew I needed to go to bed and actually sleep. Kept saying, "One more page, oh, one more chapter." Tired as could be the next day, but well worth it. I can't wait to read more of this series and see what happens to Ciara and Shane and the rest of WVMP, the Lifeblood of Rock'n'Roll gang. I added a few tunes to the mp3 player and my 'Tunes for the Funeral and Wake' list I keep going as a word doc. You can never be too ready for it to be a party at any time.

    I know I will read more of Jeri's series of which she has two and a stand alone (fantasticfiction.co.uk list)

    Five bloody rockin' good beans.....

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  • Posted March 19, 2009

    rock on, WVMP!

    i never, ever thought anyone would combine my two biggest loves : music and vampires. but JSR did it, and BRILIANTLY. i was hooked from the moment i opened the book and saw the playlist on the first page, to the very ending. the story is incredibly engaging and engrossing, and keeps you wildly involved at every single juncture. it's defintely not one of those "work your way through" books, it's a one-sitting read for sure.

    the premise? trying-to-reform-herself Ciara Griffn interviews for a summertime marketing internship at the local radio station. what she doesn't know is that all the DJ's are vampires, each stuck in their own "time", IE : the time period they died in. along with getting used to this idea, she's also got the mega-conglomerate Skywave breathing down her neck to buy out the station and turn it into one of their drudge outlets of crappiness, thus displacing the vampires, who consider the station their only link to the "current" world and their home. It also doesn't help that one of the vampires, Shane, is devilishly attractive, and Ciara is drawn to him from the start.

    action packed, witty, snarky, and with a cast of characters that are immediately loveable (and hateable in some cases) from start to finish, "Wicked Game" is a must-read for anyone with a deep seeded love in music, a deep seeded love in vampires, and especially for anyone who loves BOTH as much as i do. JSR's plays on the vampire mythos are interesting (especially what happens to a vampire once you stake them!). Overall, i give the book five stars out of a possible five, and am anxiously awaiting it's sequel (s)! (Bad to the Bone comes out May 16th!)

    (review by Jennzah, http://ohkamikaze.net)

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  • Posted January 21, 2009

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    I Also Recommend:

    An Original, Off-beat Concept on Vampires

    I regret waiting so long to read this book. It was fantastic! Ciara Griffin is a con artist who has taken her first honest job at a local radio station. Little does she know, the station is run by vampires who are on the verge of losing their radio station/crypt. For the first time in her life, she actually cares about a cause other than herself, and sets about to try and save the station. Being a con artist/thief, Ciara is use to stealing/duping others out of their possessions. Little does she know, the jokes on her this time, because her heart is about to be stolen. This was a creative story full off-the-wall humor with a side of action. I highly recommend this book and looked forward to the sequel Bad to the Bone May 2009.

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  • Posted December 29, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Loved this book

    I can't wait for her next book! I read this in one sitting and loved it. Yes, it's a vampire story, but there's just enough of a twist in these vampires to keep it interesting. And Ciara is such a cool heroine. She's a good girl with bad roots and finding out about her past is half the fun. Highly recommended.

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  • Posted November 12, 2008



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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 31, 2008

    Rock Music & Vampires!

    Rock Music & Vampires, two of my favorite things! Former con artist Ciara takes a job at a rock radio station WVMP. She's hired as a marketing intern. She's there to help the station, so it doesn't get bought by big corp Skywave. The DJ's are vampires that are stuck in their era. It's the music and radio station, that is the staple to their world. To survive and Not Fade Away. I found Jeri's vampire mythology very intriguing. Not only are they stuck in the era/year they died in but alot of them seem to have Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, which I find very interesting. I don't think I have ever read about vampires like these ones. Another thing I found cool about this book is that each chapter is named for a rock song. Such songs as It's Only Rock N' Roll(But I like it), Everybody Wants to Rule the World, Come As You Are. The book was fast, fun and sexy. I highly recommend it. So far it's one of my favorite book of 2008.

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  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    a brilliant vampire thriller

    Con artist Ciara Griffin has decided to leave behind the life of a cheat and become legal and morally above board. To accomplish her objective, Ciara obtains work at small radio station WWMP where no one cares about your résumé, your past, and your lack of conventional morality as long as you accept the stinky pay.--------------- However, she soon learns a fascinating sidebar about her new place of work all the night DJs are vampires who are expert musicologists on the era of their respective conversion. However, a huge conglomerate tries to buy the station with plans to change the format. Ciara worries about her night friends losing their link to humanity, especially she is concerned about grunge rocker hunk Shane who she desires. Trying to save her pals by saving the station, Ciara tells everyone listening that the night DJs are bloodsuckers knowing no one would believe her. She was thinking about human disbelief on the subject, something she is familiar with Ciara failed to consider an ancient vampire might object to her exposure in daylight scheme.--------------------- WICKED GAME is a brilliant vampire thriller in which readers will believe in magic of the supernatural as Jeri Smith-Ready makes everyone seem genuine. The concept of vampires stuck in a time warp is ingenious leading to quite a variety in music. Fans will enjoy this fun tale even if ¿It¿s Only Rock and Roll¿, blood dining, the infamous Griffin curse that rivals Greek mythology and sex, but we like it.---------- Harriet Klausner

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 10, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted December 3, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

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