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Undead and Unwed by MaryJanice Davidson
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Undead and Unwed (2004)

by MaryJanice Davidson

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Queen Betsy (1)

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When some people have a bad week, they really have a bad week. In the case of former model and now executive secretary Betsy Taylor, being laid off is actually the bottom of her list of concerns. When Betsy is run over by a car and wakes up in a morgue, she immediately believes that she somehow missed the bright light. After trying to kill herself in several different ways and talking to clergy about the state of her soul, Betsy decides to try and pick up the pieces of her life. Unfortunately for Betsy, this means getting involved in vampire politics and dealing with telling her family that she's actually not dead. What's a girl to do when she finds herself jobless, dead and without her precious designer shoes? Luckily for Betsy, it turns out she a vampire queen and so perhaps her death might be more interesting than the life she left behind.

Betsy Taylor is easily one of the most unlikable protagonists that I have discovered recently. Betsy is shallow, with no impulse control, collects marginalized people as BFF's and has a little problem with Kellie Independence. Originally, Betsy wants to stay far away from vampire politics, convinced that she has to worry about getting a job and finding regular people to feed from. Even when she learns that Nostradamus, the ancient vampire who has been responsible for several massacres might possibly be gearing up for yet another power grab, thus endangering vulnerable humans, Betsy simply wants no part of it. What finally pushes her over the edge is a bribe of designer shoes. Really? I'm supposed to root for this person?

Even if I could get over that, the fact that Betsy's favorite movie is Gone With the freaking Wind, her justification for the book and film are something I simply could not embrace. Betsy absolutely refuses to acknowledge that this nasty plantation story is not some wonderful antebellum romance but actually a glorification of White supremacy and slavery, even when told so directly by a character of colour. That little factoid almost made me slam the book closed.
"It's a book that glorifies white people at the expense of blacks."

"The vain white people who ended up alone and unhappy, or the white people who got the shit kicked out of them by the Union Army? Or the white people who starved to death during Reconstruction? Or-"

"All right."

"You know, for somebody who could buy London. you're awfully touchy about slavery. I mean, no one in your family was ever a slave."

She sniffed. "You can never know my pain."

"The pain of being the first kid on the block to have her own Patek Philippe watch? You poor oppressed creature."

She giggled. "Thank God you understand. This is of course, why I tolerate your bigotry and snobbishness." (pg 178-179)
Seriously WTF? Who argues that a black person who has never been enslaved is overly touchy about slavery? This is supposed to be funny but instead I found it to be horribly racist. Defending the racist Gone With The Wind, is one thing but absolutely ignoring the connection between slaves and the lives of modern African-American is simply beyond the pale.

I suppose this moves us onto marginalized characters. Jessica is an extremely wealthy Black woman who has been BFF's with Betsy since they were children. Yes, this puts her straight into the sidekick category, a label which Jessica actively identifies as. Jessica buys Betsy's home, thus providing Betsy with a place to live after her untimely death and is more than willing to support Betsy for the rest of her life. Jessica's characterisation is so absolutely problematic that it makes me wonder if Davidson has interacted with a WOC at anytime or just believes that she can write our experiences from watching some crappy television portrayals. Davidson actually has Jessica call Betsy's father, "honky". It's clear that Davison simply planned on making Jessica a female George Jefferson with her her own Moving on Up theme song except in this version, Jessica is there to see to every conceivable need that Betsy has.

If only Betsy's interactions with Jessica were the sum total of Betsy's interactions with women of colour but I suppose, in for a penny, in for a pound. The first time Betsy sees Mitzi, Mitzi is having sex with Sinclair ( Betsy's love interest) and allowing him to feed off of her. Betsy asks Mitizi where the bathroom is and Mitzi lets her have it.
Her nostrils flared, Since she had a - shall we say - heroic nose, the effect was startling. I nearly took a step back. When she spoke, her voice was surprisingly deep and throaty. "Oh so because I'm a sister I know where the kitchen is?"

"I thought - "

"You thought because I'm a black woman in my bathroom at eight o'clock at night, I must be kitchen help? Because you've got that all wrong. For your information, I don't know a frying pan from my own ass."

"Er - I'm sorry to hear that?"

"I'm not the help, I'm the boss's right-hand lady, and I know you know that shit because I know you watched us and got your jollies."

I was flabbergasted. I don't think I'd ever been accused of prejudice before. I mean everybody who knows me knows Jessica's my best friend. And anybody who knows Jessica knows she's smarter, prettier, thinner, and richer than I am. There's just no comparison. If anything, I tended to assume blacks ("Never African Americans," Jessica had schooled me. "Shit my grandparents were from Jamaica.") were smarter and more successful than I was because the ones I knew were. (163-163)
Do you see what happened there? First, Mitzi the Black woman has a big nose - so large that it is shocking when she flares her nostrils. If that isn't a racialized description of Black features, I don't know what is. Naturally, Jessica cannot be racist because she has a black best friend. Everyone knows that having one black friend gives you a lifetime pass on all racist actions. Then there's the characterization of Mitzi being a sapphire juxtaposed to Betsy's situational calm politeness. Here's the thing, being thought of as the "help," regardless of what one is wearing, is a normal commonplace occurrence for a WOC. Mitzi, despite her abruptness, is not outline though she is very much portrayed as the uppity Black lady who needs to be taken down a peg. Thanks for that Davidson. Finally, what makes a white lady think that she gets to announce whether we are called Blacks or African-Americans? Just the absolute never of this author is galling.

If you're going to have a Black BFF, why not pair it with another popular token like the Gay BFF? Betsy first meet Marc when she finds him standing on top of a roof considering suicide. Betsy comes racing to the rescue and manages to talk him out of killing himself. Marc is a doctor who is sick of kids dying, is in debt from med school, dealing with a father who has cancer, has General Anxiety Disorder, hasn't had sex in two months and is gay. The aforementioned, pretty much sums up the characterisation of Marc, excluding however the over excited utterances whenever Sinclair is around. After allowing Betsy to feed off him once, Marc quickly moves into Betsy's home and it becomes apparent that he is more than willing to sacrifice himself on her behalf. This is weird because Betsy's vampire mojo apparently shouldn't have worked on Marc because he is not attracted to women.

Read More ( )
  FangsfortheFantasy | Aug 17, 2015 |
Vampire chick-lit at its very, very best. Outrageous story, eccentric characters, a cuddly kooky heroine, and a constant stream of sparkling verbal and visual humour.

Betsy Taylor is mugged by a bunch of hairy critters outside a Mongolian restaurant and sustains some scratches. Two months and one job later, she’s hit by a garbage truck and hurled against a tree. Crushed skull — R.I.P. Betsy. Sometime later she wakes up inside a casket, mysteriously undead. And undead she remains even though she tries to finish off what the garbage truck started by jumping off buildings and bridges, impaling herself on knives, drinking bleach and electrocuting herself.

The pompous boss of the local vampire clan wants to welcome her into his fold, but Betsy tells him to get lost, and in her anger demonstrates some surprising talents such as immunity to crosses, holy water, and sunshine. Oh, and the strength to hurl macho vampires across mausoleum floors.

A cute lesbian vampire reveals that Betsy seems to be fulfilling an ancient prophesy about an ass-kicking vampire queen who will appear and rule the world of the undead with her drop-dead handsome consort.

The publisher’s blurb and trade reviews go on to summarise far more of the story, but I enjoyed this book so much that I’ll leave the rest for readers with tastes similar to mine.

Yet again, I find myself discovering a writer who’s already earned the NYT Bestselling Author cachet. Shame on me, but better late than never. There are more volumes in the Undead series, of which this is the first, and apparently Ms Davidson does other genres as well.

Lots of great reading to look forward to. ( )
  skirret | Jan 2, 2015 |
silly and didnt require much attention ( )
  sraedi | Aug 24, 2014 |
I gave this 2 stars when I read it, but it's 3.4 in the audio book format. The reader, Nancy Wu, did a wonderful job of doing Betsy's voice. The valley girl turned vampire really came through as the funny character she is. Where the humor fell flat for me before, now it had me chuckling out loud.

It's a cute story, a true candy read. I will listen to the next book, but I won't try to read any more. ( )
  jimmaclachlan | Aug 18, 2014 |
MJ is just so bloody hilarious. If you ever need a pick me up, pick her books. Unless you are a stone robot her stuff shouldn't fail to give you a lot of lols or at the very least some wide grinning :D
This review covers most of her books in my opinion. I would however say that when it come to the romance- or should I say physical side of things she does tend to lay it out heavy. I completely skip her more um..shall we say erotic stuff. Hilarious as she is, I do have a line!
If you like Betsy series definitely check out the Alaskan Royals trilogy, & the Fred trilogy. ( )
  JazMinderr | Jul 31, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 110 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
MaryJanice Davidsonprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Jaber, PamelaCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Long,ChrisCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Spier, NanaNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wu, NancyNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Zeller, StefanieTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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This book is dedicated to Anthony Alongi, my editor, my partner, my bearded nemesis, and my friend. All praise to my darling husband.
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The day I died started out bad and got worse in a hurry.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 042519485X, Mass Market Paperback)

First Betsy Taylor loses her job, then she's killed in a car accident.  But what really bites is that she can't seem to stay dead.  And now her new friends have the ridiculous idea that Betsy is the prophesied vampire queen, and they want her help in overthrowing the most obnoxious power-hungry vampire in five centuries.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:18:06 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

After being killed in a car accident, fashion savvy Betsy Taylor becomes one of the undead and, with the help of her newfound friends, the lure of designer shoes, and a sexy vampire, must destroy a dark enemy and fulfill her destiny as the prophesied vampire queen.… (more)

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