It had been a well-kept secret for centuries, but now the existence of vampires is all over the news, thanks to Betsy Taylor’s half sister (and the frustrated former Antichrist), Laura. Life for the undead will never be the same, and it’s up to Betsy to do some damage control. But her interview on the local news doesn’t exactly put out the fire. It more or less pours kerosene on it.
With all the added attention on supernatural beings, the werewolves are more than a little agitated (never a good thing) and demand that Betsy gets her interview skills, and her family, in order. And while things go from bad to worse in the world, Hell continues to be hell—especially when Betsy’s new parole program becomes about as complicated as you’d expect.
With a PR team launching a vampire-friendly campaign, the devil at large and out to make trouble, and mermaids on hand to see who falls—and how hard—the end isn’t just near. It’s here. And if anyone knows how to go out with a bang, it’s the queen of Hell.
About the Author
Date of Birth:1969
Place of Birth:Minot, North Dakota
Read an Excerpt
(My Book, My Rules)
You know the clich about your life flashing before your eyes just before you die? It's true, and it's terrible. In those moments before death, you don't see loved ones or birthday parties or graduation or falling in love or your wedding day or your best vacation or anything, anything good.
No, you see your mistakes. All of them. Every missed chance, every bungled opportunity, every wrong choice, every consequence, every error in judgment, every left when you should have taken a right. In an endless parade, right before your eyes, right at the end, and it should take years, but it doesn't; it takes only a few seconds. And it pretty much guarantees that when you die, you'll go out regretful and deeply depressed.
That's what happened to me, anyway: my well-deserved, miserable death.
I hung up on the bitchy mermaid and waited for the gate to slide back. That was new. The reporters huddled on the sidewalk, though? They'd been there for three weeks. Long enough for me to remember their names, if I were the type to remember names. There was Needs Highlights, and Enough with the Aftershave, and This Isn't My Real Job, and It's Not Like I Stepped on You on Purpose, and Seriously with That Hair? Oh, and my personal favorite: Those Shoes Aren't Terrible. I referred to all the camera personnel by the same name: Get That Thing Out of My Face.
I parked in the garage, which was also new. Before the deluge
("Onslaught," my assistant/friend/devoted vodka guzzler, Tina, corrected. "Deluge means flood."
"Have you been out there? I'm sticking with deluge.")
we'd had an outside, unconnected garage that was really long and weirdly deep (it used to be a stable that held the carriages and the horses). It was too vulnerable to Enough with the Aftershave and his ilk, though, so Tina had pulled a zillion strings and gotten a modern, safe, connected, impenetrable garage put up in less than a week. Luckily, the mansion sat on a corner lot and almost took up the block by itself; our yard was still big enough for Fur and Burr and smoothie picnics. Ah, the carefree days of smoothie picnics, before vampires went viral.
I made my way into the mansion, waking up Fur and Burr when I passed through the mudroom. I had to amuse them for only a minute; given the yawns and round bellies and bad breath, they'd just eaten, and I'd interrupted nap time. (Fur and Burr were not reporters. They were black Lab puppies.)
What was waiting for me inside the mansion was almost as scary as what was lurking on the sidewalk, though: a jittery zombie, a pissed-off Southern belle, the guy who saw dead guys (Bill? Sam? Something short, anyway), and a vampire king, all under siege.
I'd gotten no farther than a single step into the kitchen when I was seized, backed into a wall, and kissed so hard my feet left the tile. I wiggled my toes so my left shoe didn't fall off and clop to the floor. That sound was so distracting. "Finally," Sinclair murmured against my lips. "I loathe your interminable shopping trips."
"I filled up the tank and got ice, jackass; I was gone maybe twenty minutes mmmpphhh."
Should have said a vampire queen under siege.
I managed to fight off my husband (not without regret, but time and place, man, time and place) and put away the ice. This took, subjectively speaking, about five years, since the freezer was crammed with flavored vodkas
(Sriracha-flavored vodka, Tina? PB&J vodka? WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?)
and dead mice stuffed into neatly labeled Ziplocs. Only in this place would the mouse population go down after the cat died.
"Yes, but I missed you this morning as well. I dislike rising alone." Don't worry-the king of the vampires definitely wasn't pouting. I'm not pouting, he'd correct while I tried not to giggle at his protruding lower lip. I'm concentrating. Not even a little tiny bit. Borderline pout at most.
"Yeah, well, I haven't seen Jess and her weird babies in over a week. Unacceptable! I'm still getting used to not living with her." And it sucked. It sucked rocks. It sucked like Trump's hair.
Jessica had been my best friend since our training-bra days. We'd lived together since college. But since I'd accidentally changed the timeline, she was stuck with blessed with a boyfriend and baby twins. It was a measure of her loyalty that she was willing to put up with her friend rising as a vampire queen and eventually taking over Hell, willing to put up with vampire roommates and werewolves who loved the pop-in, willing to put up with a zombie doctor and a perpetual shortage of ice . . . it was all fine, until the Antichrist outed vampires.
No one-least of all me-knew what would happen now. There was constant news coverage. The block was infested with reporters and had been for weeks. We were also hearing from a lot of vampires who were super pissed to rise one night and discover that, while they were sleeping, their queen had confirmed to the world that they exist.
So: exit Jessica, Dick, and their twins, Elizabeth and Eric. Also, I totally didn't cry like a wimp when I realized she'd named her babies after my husband and me.
It was for their own good. That's what I kept telling myself. When I weakened and started to call to beg her to move back in, Sinclair and Tina reminded me.
("Darling, must I confiscate your phone?"
"Try it. You ever gotten a fang in the testicle?")
Laura Goodman, the Antichrist-dumbest name for the Omen ever, by the way-motivated by a combo of spite and bitchiness, had used YouTube and social media and her legions of pathetic devil worshippers to expose vampires. And the vampires, under my direction, hadn't denied it. In fact, we'd done the opposite of denying it. Specifically, I had gone on live television and admitted that, yep, vampires were a thing and, yep, we weren't going anywhere.
Cue the deluge. Or the onslaught, if you like that word better. The interview went viral. Everything vampire-ish went viral. We were the goddamned swine flu of the Internet. That was a virus, right? Anyway, people were pretty evenly divided between two schools of thought: "That bimbo is lying!" and "That bimbo is a vampire!" The worst part? Nobody called the Antichrist a bimbo. Must have been the angel pin she wore on the lapel of the hideous blazer (corduroy!) she liked to wear on air.
"Stop that." Eric Sinclair, king of the pouters vampires, was once again trying to corner me for some more five-star smoochin'. "I can hear all your exposition."
"I can't help it," I protested. "Also, Fred called again."
"As I told you she would."
"Yeah, yeah, you're freakin' Nostradamus. Is it any wonder I can't help thinking about all this junk? It's what's on my mind."
"Easily fixed." Eric Sinclair's smile, slow and dark like a stream of chocolate ganache, lit me from the inside out. Better than sunshine, even. And that was saying something. He made a grab for me and I let him, and he pulled me straight to him, up against his broad chest, and oh my God the shoulders on the man! He'd been a farmer's son in life, a hard worker who had loved his family. His family was long dead, and so was the farm boy he'd once been. Only the muscular frame and the keen, deadly mind remained. I sometimes wondered how much more terrifying a vampire Sinclair would have been if he hadn't been raised by loving parents.
"Darling, I meant it-stop narrating."
"You stop narrating," I retorted, because he was now pressing soft kisses to the slope of my throat and it was really, really hard to think. "I'm doing just flehhh burble menh mmmm." The man's mouth was the textbook definition of sinful, and the sexy baritone was the cherry on the oofta sundae. (Hmm. Maybe he was right; maybe there was such a thing as too much exposition.)
But never mind! It was time-past time-to slip upstairs and try to break our fourth bed in two years. The Slumberland rep loved our asses.
Sinclair was now nibbling-very, very gently-on my lower lip, and I lightly bit him back and mumbled hopefully, "Upstairs?"
Oh yes! The upside to a telepathic link with your husband: you couldn't fake anything in or out of bed. The downside: you couldn't fake anything in or out of bed. But this time it was all good.
Then he did that corny thing I loved: bent and scooped me into his arms and literally swept me off my feet. He was an undead Rhett, and I was his bitchy Scarlett, with better shoes! Oh, it was glorious, and I-
"Hey!" A familiar skidding sound followed by a thud. When he had news, Marc liked to sprint for the kitchen, nearly always misjudged the distance, and bounced off the swinging kitchen door like a Super Ball. I'd blame this on his zombie-ness, but he'd been exactly like that in life.
Sinclair closed his eyes, likely mustering patience, or reminding himself that zombies taste terrible and thus must never be chowed upon. We could hear Marc righting himself before shoving the door open and darting into the kitchen. It was really, really hard not to snicker. "Betsy, it's almost time for your- Again? God, you two are like rabbits."
"We are not!" Rabbits did it at least a dozen times a week, right? Sinclair and I were both so busy that we'd only managed half of that, and it was Friday already.
"It's odd that you frequently feel compelled to comment on our sex life," Sinclair pointed out with admirable calm.
"Because it's always in my face! Everyone's faces! All the time!"
Er. Not really, I was pretty sure. I think this had more to do with Bill Lesser, or whatever the guy's name was. When the "Vampires are, like, real! Whoa!" story broke, Marc ended up hanging out with one of the bloggers covering the story. Sparks flew, apparently? But Marc had this nutty idea that live people didn't want to date zombies. His old-fashioned prejudices were so quaint.
"Now you're just exaggerating and being shrill," I said, keeping the reproach out of my tone. "Besides, I already told you guys about the stuff I said in the interview."
"This isn't a lame YouTube video like your useless sister came up with; it's an actual interview on an actual news channel."
"Aw. You're so cute when you're disparaging the Antichrist to stick up for me."
"I've seen Hell and I've been audited. The Antichrist doesn't scare me."
Even Sinclair had to laugh at that.
"Though why you settled for Diana Pierce when you prob'ly could have gone on Larry King-"
"King creeps me out. It'd be like talking to a giant grumpy cigarette. Besides, I like Pierce." She looked great, her hair was always nice, pleasant voice, and she didn't make the sign of the cross at me when I came to the studio. Sadly, the same couldn't be said of her sound guy.
"So let's go watch it!"
"More exposition," Sinclair muttered, and got an elbow to the ribs for his pains, which was tricky since he still hadn't put me down.
Still, an excited zombie was hard to deny, and anything that got his mind off pining for the blogger was good. So Sinclair set me back on my feet and we followed Marc to the TV room, formerly one of the mansion's many parlors. No one needed five parlors-honestly, no one needed one-so Marc had taken this one over and modernized it with a vengeance: wide-screen TV, stereo sound, a bar with a blender (the entire household was a bit smoothie obsessed), easy chairs, a sectional sofa that five of us could slump on at a time, new plush carpeting, soundproofing, et cetera.
("It's definitely not a man cave," Marc had insisted as we stared at it a month ago, startled into silence, "so don't ever call it that. God, I hate that word. Hate it.")
Tina was already there, curled up at the end of the sectional, her short legs tucked beneath her, but she immediately unfolded and stood when she saw us. She'd known Sinclair all his long, long life-she'd been an honorary aunt to the entire Sinclair family for generations, had turned him at his request, then stuck by his side like a blond barnacle with exquisite manners.
Years. Years of my life wasted, asking the woman to just call me Betsy already. "Seriously, Tina?"
She was too deep into her tablet to respond. "Ah, this is excellent; we're all here . . . once we're finished watching, I would like to discuss hiring a PR firm to handle more things like this."
Yawn. Which wasn't out loud, but apparently my poker face sucked, because she followed up with, "I know it sounds unnecessarily dull, Majesty, but the vampire nation has never needed public relations before. We were rather more invested in the reverse."
"What, you think I'll have to do more of those?" Well, going on TV wasn't so bad. I'd gotten to debut my new navy pumps, at least.
"Nothing to sweat," Marc assured me. "You said yourself you thought it went fine."
"Oh, you bet. At first I was worried the Casadei sling-backs would be too much for daytime, but then I realized they were appropriate, but now it's occurring to me that's not what you meant." I shrugged. "It was, what? Two days ago, maybe? It was fine."
Sinclair sat on the far end of the sofa, pulling me into his lap as he got comfy. In retrospect, I'm glad I didn't kick up a fuss like calling him Handsy McGrabass and maybe dumping ice down his back, because that was the last bit of fun we had for a long, long time.
Two days ago, maybe?
Green rooms aren't really green, proving once again that much of life was a lie. But it was a decent enough room to cool your high heels in, with comfortable chairs, a sofa, a full-length mirror, a fridge full of snacks and pop, and a TV.
So I sat there and guzzled my third Coke in five minutes and tried not to fidget and politely returned the stare of the cookbook author who had the segment before mine. She was a pretty, curvy woman who looked to be in her early forties, with short, fluffy brown hair, pale blue eyes, and big glasses with brown rims that made her look like a cute owl. She was clutching her book so hard her knuckles were white.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Betsy’s plate is full: now the new boss in Hell after taking over from half-sister Laura, she’s still dealing with the inevitable fallout and learning curve when yet another task is thrown in her lap. And she does it with her usual mix of clever thinking outside the box, happy and not so coincidences, and plenty of interior (mostly) narration that leads to shoes, smoothies, more shoes and, wait for it, fashion sense or lack of it. What is a wonderful addition here is the footnotes, either notating where a particular scene or series of scenes can be found, a snarky comment from Betsy, a few notes from the author and even a bit of backstory, readers couldn’t completely jump into the story without having read some of the earlier books in the series – but as I can attest, there are plenty of new elements and predicaments to keep you engaged as long as you are familiar with the major players. Eric Sinclair is still around and he is the perfect sensible, mostly calm balance to Betsy’s outrageousness. Tina, the vampire assistant is there with a penchant for oddly flavored vodka is as organized and rather humorless as possible. We revisit with the Wyndham Pack, have Marc the former ER doc now in residence, BabyJon is growing and they’ve added 2 lab puppies to the mix. What’s missing is Jessica in residence with her husband and twins – moved out when Laura, the Antichrist and Betsy’s half sister decided to out the vampires in hopes that Betsy would be shamed into silence and disappear. Davidson uses humor, a fascination with shoes, fashion and smoothies, and the entrance to hell in the food court just like the one at the Mall of America to set her story… Yep. It’s silly and snarky and has moments of danger and pure on goofy fun, completely refreshing and wholly different than the angst ridden battles between good and evil, where guilt and self-obsession rule the day. It’s a lighthearted (mostly) story full of the Betsy that has grown into her position, dragging iit into a form of her own shape and making. The perfect ending for the series proper, with opportunities for ‘cameo appearances’ from the characters that have been so integral and loved. I received an eArc copy of the title from the publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.
I'm so sad it's over!! But it was a great way to end it. Thanks for the memories and the laughs Betsy!
What can I say except I love the Betsy series and where can I find my Sinclair.
I don't often write reviews, but I wanted to on this last in the series. I have read them all. Some really good, some just okay, but this one was very good. It left a little bit out there for the possibility of some odds and ends to come our way in some other stories/novellas from maybe another series. But, I was very satisfied with this ending.
Wonderful way to wrap everything up. I think my favorite character in this one was Lara. I just love the Wyndham werewolves, and when Fred Bimm showed up, that was killer. I loved the parole system. It was just a really fun book.
UNDEAD AND DONE is the fifteenth! and last book in the Queen Betsy series, and while I hadn’t read any of the previous instalments, I had no problem keeping up with the story, and believe me, that’s no mean feat! I can hardly imagine the giddiness of long-time fans as it was obvious that some loose ends were wrapped up. And in spite of my gross ignorance of the previous events in this series, I enjoyed myself immensely! When Satan – in fact, Betsy Taylor’s half-sister Laura Goodman – outed the vampires, Betsy and her husband Eric Sinclair’s mansion was assaulted by reporters. Damage control was needed, and diplomacy not being Betsy’s strong suit, it would not be an easy task. Especially since those pesky werewolves don’t want their own secret revealed. So now smoothie-drinking, shoe addict Betsy, is now Satan 2.0, and the head of a committee to manage Hell, and she intends to make changes! Is Hell about to freeze over? If you’ve never read any of the Queen Betsy books, think of it as the Marx Brothers doing a paranormal romance with a dash of Albert Camus thrown in! Betsy’s world is completely over-the-top madness, and perpetual chaos seems to follow Betsy wherever she goes, and no matter how hard she tries to make things work. Somewhat tries. For the most part, UNDEAD AND DONE unfolds at a frantic pace; and the tone often feels like stream of consciousness, which suits the type of story perfectly. The characters are well-defined and colourful, to say the least, but quite endearing – when they are the good guys, that is. Readers for whom mentions of suicide constitutes a trigger should probably abstain from reading this book, as Ms. Davidson herself points out. While the first half is mostly utter mayhem, hilarious mayhem, the second half where the suicide issue occurs is positively riveting, and it is in my opinion the strongest part of the book, strangely enough. Ms. Davidson demonstrates a profound and insightful understanding of the issue, and the hysterically funny chaos slips into a philosophical discourse, without missing a beat or sounding preachy, Far from being dark and depressing, or worse saccharine-sweet and fake, this segment felt liberating and real; I imagine this is how things would go, should we come back from the dead. It is very beautiful in a very understated way, and unforgettable, really. It’s a very important component of the underlying story – what Hell is and what it should be – and it touched me deeply. I really love MaryJanice Davidson’s take on the paranormal. Besides the hilarity, there are some very original touches: I found Dr. Bimm, the mermaid, particularly appealing, and the twins were simply marvellous, or rather their growth spurs (wink, nudge!). Neophyte to this series that I am, I very much appreciated the footnotes – funny, but also quite instructive – as they point out in which book to read for backstories or more information on certain characters or events. And what do you know, my to-be-read pile just grew by several books! I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I give 4 ½ stars
Perfect as always