Wicked Game (WVMP Radio Series #1)

Wicked Game (WVMP Radio Series #1)

by Jeri Smith-Ready

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Overview


LATE NIGHT RADIO YOU CAN SINK YOUR TEETH INTO

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....

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781416551768
Publisher: Gallery Books
Publication date: 05/13/2008
Series: WVMP Radio Series , #1
Edition description: Original
Pages: 384
Sales rank: 1,292,611
Product dimensions: 5.30(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.10(d)

About 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.

Read an Excerpt

1

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 —

Freaks.

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 — "

"Musically."

"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."

"No."

"Why not?"

I shrug. "Too many commercials."

"And?"

"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:

ARE YOU LISTENING?

"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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Wicked Game (WVMP Radio Series #1) 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 80 reviews.
RHRH319 More than 1 year ago
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).
Jeff_Y More than 1 year ago
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.
alexia561 More than 1 year ago
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!
Carpathianvirginnomore More than 1 year ago
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!!
vampiregirl76 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
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.
rhrh319 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
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).
stephxsu on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
In order to put her con artist days behind her, twenty-something-year-old Ciara Griffin takes a marketing internship at the local radio station. She soon discovers, however, that the DJs are all vampires! Vampires are trapped in the time at which they died and so need to be immersed in the culture of that particular era in order to stay sane. Unfortunately, the owner of the struggling radio station is considering selling it to the generically commercial Skywave megacorporation, which would mean the end of ¿life¿ for the vampires.Ciara comes up with the bold and daring idea of ¿outing¿ the vampire DJs to increase the station¿s revenue. After all, no one is going to truly believe that the DJs are vampires¿it will just make a great marketing ploy. Ciara¿s idea is a success, and she even begins to get close to one of the vampire DJs, the hot and sensitive Shane McAllister.There are some vampires, however, who don¿t like what Ciara has done to WVMP and the safe anonymity of the vampires¿Calling all fans of smoldering romance, sassy heroines, and badass vampires: this brilliant series by Jeri Smith-Ready is sure to make your year! Not since Richelle Mead¿s Vampire Academy series have I read a vampire book that¿s so hot, funny, intelligent, and well written.If you like your protagonists bold and witty, look no further than Ciara Griffin. Her irreverent narration makes WICKED GAME a nonstop entertaining and mindblowing read. Ciara is a remarkably well-developed heroine: not only is she an original thinker who exudes appeal in the here and now, she also has a tender family history that is almost always subconsciously at odds with the woman she has turned herself into after her complicated childhood. This balance of present-day confidence and psychoanalytical complexities ensures that readers will never tire of learning about Ciara and following her around.Fans of the HBO hit show True Blood will LOVE Jeri Smith-Ready¿s vampires. No more are they impeccably perfect and sparkly. These vampires are dangerous: the risks that Ciara takes on with her job and romantic pursuits are almost deliciously tangible. At the same time, the vampires are also flawed, neurotic in their compulsions and need of staying connected with their era. It is this weakness, this humanity in these vampires that make them appealing and all the more ¿realistic¿ to paranormal fans. I don¿t think I speak only for myself when I say that I¿m bored by perfect paranormal creatures and naively ¿innocent¿ romances between humans and supernaturals. Toss in a hint of danger¿that lethal combination of supernatural superstrength and human vulnerabilities¿and you really crank the heat up in the romance and action departments.I could say more about the sexy but not offensively purely erotic romance, or the complex vampire bad guys, or the phenomenally brilliant writing, or the number of times I cracked up reading the dialogue or evidence of Ciara¿s con artist background¿but I think I¿ll leave off here. Suffice it to say that it is highly unlikely that a more well researched, smart, and supremely enjoyable paranormal read is currently out there. Jeri Smith-Ready has sated my demands for excellence in this genre, and has left me wanting much more from Ciara and her unforgettable vampires.
ylin.0621 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Ciara Griffin is a con artist trying to go the straight path, but old habits die heard and turning WVMP into a vampire radio show maybe the biggest con of all. Because it¿s true. But the truth is deadly and the stakes have been raised¿literally and figuratively. Wicked Game was a different sort of paranormal romance than I have read in my time. Why? Because of the novel had a surprising strong plotline and focused on that plot and characters. One most occasions there would be a heavy dose of sexual tension and dragged-out scenes of releasing that tension that the reader loses track of what is the actual book about. Or the plot can be overly simplified and the sexual tension is the main focal point of the entire novel.With Wicked Game there are several layers to the plot: the big picture, the radio show, the multiple relationships (inner/external), etc. With Ciara, there were layers that I think she didn¿t even know she had and that like Shane, I am interested in peeling back those layers.However I felt that the build-up, slower than I wanted, to the grand finale was better than the actual climax. It was understated and big twist had me cringing just a tad. And I have to admit, when this is my second attempt reading Wicked Game because the first time it was boring that I had to stop.
ShelleyJax on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Plot Summary: 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 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 WMMP 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 becomes a matter of life and un-death.To boost ratings and save the lives of her strange new friends, Ciara re-brands 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¿Review> My thoughts about a PNR series centered around a radio station was; how freaking cool! Since I spent the late part of the 1980's as a Traffic Manager, DJ, and Sales Person for a TV station and a combination radio station, how could I refuse? I remember several Saturday night with fellow DJ's sitting around playing cards, eating pizza and subs, and generally causing mischief. I'm very glad I decided to read this book. The primary character Ciara, is alot like me in that she was struggling to make it thru college. I, actually, worked several jobs while working. I love the fact that the writer uses actual songs in the storyline, and several of the chapters, if not all, are musical numbers which one way or the other, I've either listened to or owned myself. Having vampires as radio DJ's that are stuck in the period of time that they were turned, was pretty crazy, but it works! If you've never met a DJ in person, they are quikier than a 3 dollar bill. There are several plot lines:1 - Ciara goes to work for WMMP, what the radio station was called before she started working there, as a marketing/sales intern. They have a huge conglomerate called Skywave (Think Clear Channel Communications) that wants to gobble up the station. Ciara's job, simple really, change the course and revenue of the station. Why should anyone care about a station full of vampire DJ's? Because they have absolutely no where else to go, and if they leave, they will lose focus and die. Ciara is stunned to learn from David that the DJ's are all vampires. The only humans are David, Lawrence and Ciara herself.2 - After finally accepting, she also has to stop a very old vampire named Gideon, from interferring in the stations business. When the station changes it's call letters to WVMP, the Lifeblood of Rock and Roll, and does an on spot meet and greet with the DJ, Gideon vows to stop Ciara and friends from embarrasing the vampires. She in turn, is kidnapped, and nearly killed while the owner of the station Elizabeth, who is also a vampire, is killed because Gideon thought she was responsible for his son's death. She wasn't. In fact, she was actually turned into a vamp by him. I was actually surprised that she was offed, as it were, and not given more opportunities as a member of Control. 3 - She has to deal with her feelings, as they are, for the mysterious Shane McAllister. Shane and Ciara's relationship goes from 0 to OMG, in 30 seconds. Of course, Shane biting her in the Owzers zone, didn't do anything to help Shane's reputation. This is definite material for anyone who loves PNR novels.
mmillet on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Ciara is an artist. A con artist that is. It's in her blood even - she started 'helping' her not-so-honest parents run cons while practically in diapers. Little Ciara is all grown up now and is trying to put herself through school and is trying to stay straight. That is until she's offered an internship as a marketing intern at a struggling radio station who's DJs are vampires. Not your average vampires even -- these guys 'live' in the time period they 'died' and each specialize in the music from said time period. But the owner is threatening to sell the station and it's up to Ciara to find a way to bring in enough money to keep it going. Hmmmm. I could see this story going in so many ways and it didn't disappoint. I liked each individual character and I loved all the great music references. The ending was satisfying without being too obvious.However, unfortunate amounts of racy scenes and/or language, so beware.
pacey1927 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
"Wicked Game" is a fairly unique entry in the Vampire fiction genre. Smith-Ready puts her own spin on the vampire tale. Here, Ceira Griffin is trying to get a job...a straight, legitmate job. She comes from a shady past where her whole life has been built around playing 'cons'. She thinks she wants to come clean, and is glad to accept a sales and marketing job with a local radio station. Then she finds that the station is in some serious jeopardy. A huge corporation wants to buy the station out and the owner seems all too eager to make the sale. Ciera has gotten 'friendly' with the night d.j's. Each a vampire stuck in his/her 'life' time... She immediately falls for mysterious, quiet Shane, who is a fairly recent vampire stuck in the grunge music period of the 90's. He, like the other vampires, use the music they spin to stay connected to their human lifetimes. Without something to use as an anchor, the vampire becomes confused by the modern times and begins a slow decline into nothingness, or the 'fade'. Knowing these vampires could 'fade' without the station Ciera embarks upon her biggest con of all time. This story was very interesting and different. I enjoyed the way Smith-Ready wove songs throughout the tale. Sometimes there was a lot of double meaning in the songs, which I enjoyed also. The only slight drawback to me was the character of Ciera. I didn't care for the idea that she was a con artist and no one could really trust her. She didn't even trust herself. At some parts it was difficult to feel empathy for her. I don't wonder if some of that will different in the next volume and I really do look forward to reading "Bad to The Bone". The positives of this tale far outweigh any piddly misgivings I may have had and I can say that I truly enjoyed reading this story. There was enough humor, romance, and action to keep the pace moving right along. Definitely a keeper for those who enjoy a good vampire story.
bgale11 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Wicked Game had me pulled in from the first chapter. The main character Ciara is looking for an internship for her school. She finds an internship at Radio station WVMP. There she meets a group of Djs like no others. each DJ is dressed in period clothing that matches the music they play. Odd? Ciara thinks so. She is also given a manual to read on her first night to help familiarize herself with the station and also give her information about the DJs. What she doesn't realize is that like herself they have something to hide.Ciara reads the pamphlets given to her and read that the DJs all play the music from the time that they were turned to a vampire. As the story progresses we see that the DJs need to fight to keep their radio station. This is where Ciara comes in. she develops a marketing plan to play on the truth of the DJs which to the world will not be believed. She lets people know the DJs are vampires and that is why they know so much about the music that they play.Along with the fight to keep the radio station Ciara falls in love is reunited with her father and is kept hostage by another group of vampires.What happens in the end? Well that is something you can find out reading the book. I don't want to give the whole story away. =)
Wrighty on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Ciara Griffin is a former con artist who takes a job at a small radio station as an intern. The late night format features different eras in rock and roll with DJ to match. Her first impression is that the DJs are in character but actually they each represent a time period because they are vampires that are stuck. That was the time when they were each turned and the station provides them with a home. Ciara decides to stay on and help when a buyout threat comes from a large corporation that would mean the end of the vamps. She comes up with a campaign that would bring the vampires into the public eye without revealing the truth giving the station more attention and listeners. Someone is not happy with this attention and the potential for their secrets to come out and everyones' lives are now threatened in a different way. I love the idea for this book, how it ties in rock and roll and vampires. I did want to know more about all of these characters and their pasts.
RuthiesBookReviews on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I looked and I waited and look some more and waited some more, before I got this book in my hands. Then it sat on my shelf begging me to read it. So when I finished the last I quickly scooped this one up and started reading.First sentence:Family curses never die, they just mutate. How true this is. Well, in the story we meet Ciara (keer-rah), she is an ex-con artist looking for an internship for school. She comes upon a radio station full of vampires DJs and takes on the duty of helping save the station from getting sold. Unbelieving at first about the whole vampire thing, but she gets an idea to use it for publicity to draw interest. Of course, everyone thought it was the coolest thing, except for a nearby group of vamps who thought it was wrong to exploit their kind. Jeri Smith-Ready has certainly put a different spin on vampires in the real world. People can certainly become involved with all the characters and their feelings! There is lots of music, lots of sex, and the plot twists are AMAZING! She keeps you loving all of the characters throughout the story. I can't wait for the sequel!
dulcibelle on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
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.
goth_huntress on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I had high hopes for this novel. The premise sounded like so much fun, and being a fan of the musical periods the vampires represent made it even more tempting. I will confess that I am frequently disappointed with Urban Fantasy that tips into the romance end of the scale, but the relationship between Ciara and Shane, the youngest of the vampires from the 90s, is not the main plot.Keeping sleepy privately owned WWMP afloat is. A giant radio station eating corporation wants WWMP, and Ciara steps up out of the box and comes up with the gimmick that will save the station. The reactions of the various DJs are hysterical about her plan.Smith-Ready¿s vampire model is quite original. I¿d never heard of anyone using the trapped in time situation for their fanged ones. Having the vampires fighting to stay solid by clinging to their eras and adjusting to the ever changing world is a great take on the mythos.The evil vampire cult leader is as creepy as they come. Smith-Ready paints a vivid and believable picture of the big bad and his followers ¿ both fanged and human. No his logic doesn¿t always make sense, but he¿s crazy so that¿s ok.I¿m very much looking forward to more books in this series. It is well written. Although being told in present tense makes it a bit jarring at first, but I think I understand why it¿s told that way. It¿s to keep the reader locked in the present, not the past like the vampires are. (But I could be wrong.) The pacing is good, and I never found myself skimming over filler sections. All in all it was a great read.And the website for WVMP ¿ the life blood of rock and roll might be the greatest tie-in site ever created. There are playlists from each of the DJs, station merchandise and soon there will be DJ blogs too. Be sure to check it out.
Liviania on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Ciara Griffin's parents raised her to be a con artist, but she wants to go straight. She pulled one big job to help her survive awhile, but she needs a job if she wants to keep paying her bills. Her best opportunity? Interning at local station WMMP. Of course, it seems prudent to quit once she learns the station believes the DJs are vampires. She learns her potential coworkers aren't insane when she takes the scruffy Shane home and he bites her. Eventually, Ciara decides to continue working for the station and designs a brilliant marketing strategy. Reveal the DJs are vampires because no one will believe the gimmick is true. The station needs the money the increased popularity will bring because the owner is threatening to sell to the conglomerate Skywave. Luckily, WVMP, the Liveblood of Rock `n' Roll is a hit. Unluckily, other vampires are not pleased with the marketing strategy. WICKED GAME moves quickly, combining business, cons, and more traditional fantasy action to create a truly satisfying urban fantasy. People complain about the glut of vampire novels, but Smith-Ready's showcases their best aspects. She's created an interesting mythology: vampires are stuck in the time they changed and must maintain ties both to their Life Time and the present. WVMP combines the music of the vampires' times with modern technology, a perfect solution. Especially since Smith-Ready has the musical chops to pull it off. I also appreciate that Ciara doesn't instantly want Shane to bite her. In fact, she starts to fight him when he accidentally does it. It shows a level of sense that most urban fantasy heroines seem to lack. Ciara is not a traditional BA type - when the violence breaks out, she's not in the center breaking skulls, she's trying to get out of the fray. I respect that. She's a tough woman, but her strengths aren't physical. Refreshing.
BookWhisperer on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is the first book I read by this author. I really enjoyed it, finishing in about one day. I was taken back, by the resurrection of her dad in the later story. I found myself unable to put the book down. Being a music person myself I like how the author uses music that you can really here to help set a mood for the reader. Ciara and Shane are not like most romance couples in books i've read. I like the idea of two individuals that have had hard lives, finding one another making them strive to both be better people. As well as, Ciara finding the family that she has never had in a vampire family. I would recommend this story.
DamarisGCR on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book was a fun read! I found it to be very funny and entertaining. I need to go out now and get the rest of the book in the series hehe. :-)
amberic on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book is going to be one of my guilty pleasures. Nothing I am going to overly recommend to my friends or brag about. But something I am keeping to myself. Why? I am not sure. For some reason I found myself totally captivated in this series for no good reason. I didn't really like how they made the vampires stuck in there time and ready to fade. But there was something about the book that I just couldn't get enough of. I can't call it a typical vamp story or one thats totally out there and made its own path. Its somewhere inbetween. Its great, its corny, and it kept me wanting more!!
ABookwormsHaven on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I was first introduced to Jeri Smith-Ready¿s books through her YA title Shade, which I loved. I went to BEA and was so excited when I got a chance to meet Jeri in person and get Shade signed by her. Then, when I was at ALA, Jeri was there again and she was signing Shade as well as her adult series involving Ciara Griffin and the vampires of WVMP. I thought if I loved the YA stuff I should give the adult books a try, so I got a signed copy of the first book, Wicked Game and book two Bad to the Bone. Plus I got to talk to Jeri some more, which is always fun :)Well, I am so glad I picked up this series because I am loving it so far. I have learned that when a female character is the main focus of the book I prefer the tough, stubborn, independent women and Ciara fits that description well. Ciara was raised by parents who were con artists and she has inherited that gift or curse depending on how you look at it. As an adult she finds it very easy to con people to get what she needs. As a result she usually keeps people at a distance and does not get close to anyone or stay in one place very long. There is actually one point in the book where she does a trick with $20.00 that I had to go back and re-read once or twice just to see how she had done it and I am still not 100% sure I understood. I know, you are probably thinking, how could you like a character that is a con artist? Trust me, it is really easy with Ciara and you fall right in step with her.Ciara is currently working her way through college and is looking for a job that can help her bring in some money for her student loans. She ends up applying for an intern position at WVMP radio to do some of their PR work. She gets the job and then promptly quits when she discovers her boss trying to convince her that the dj¿s are all vampires. You see, Ciara does not believe in the supernatural, she actually does not believe in anything religious either. Her parents helped nudge her in that direction since they scammed people in to thinking they could perform miracles, when really they were robbing them blind. As a result Ciara has a hard time believing in things unless she is seeing it for herself.Enter Shane, one of the dj¿s who has an interesting encounter with Ciara that leaves her no choice but to believe in vampires. The vamps in this world have some different rules laid out that I have not read about in other series which I found interesting. One of the rules is that they are socially ¿stuck¿ in the time they were changed. Shane was changed mid 90¿s, so he has that Nirvana vibe to him, which I personally love. Jeri has done an aweomse job of working music into this book that fits each of the characters perfectly. People¿s musical preferences can really speak volumes about who they are and I liked getting to see that side of the characters.The sparks between Shane and Ciara are definitely there, but it is yet to be seen if the con artist in her will make her run or if she will be brave enough to stick it out and follow her heart. Problems arise when Ciara discovers that the station is set to be sold soon and if that happens the dj¿s will be out of a job and a home. You see, another condition of being a vamp in this world is that you have to always have ties to the year you were changed or you begin to forget yourself and go crazy. Vampires in this world do not live forever, but they live even shorter lives if they cannot remember who they are. So to help save the station Ciara decides that the marketing campaign should be to tell people that the dj¿s are vampires. Put the truth out there, no one is going to believe it right? Well, someone out there does not like the truth being spread around and that is where the real trouble in this book begins.Jeri Smith-Ready has done a wonderful job of putting a new spin on vampires that will keep you coming back for more. I have already started reading the second book, Bad to the Bone, and the third book, Bri
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LeeHyat More than 1 year ago
A fun, interesting read!
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