Madeleine Drake's Favorite Vampires
I've been a fan of science fiction and fantasy since I was fourteen, and naturally vampires have been a big part of my fascination with the Otherworld. Here are some of my personal favorites:
The Count St. Germain series, by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro (www.chelseaquinnyarbro.net)
Yarbro's St. Germain is based on a enigmatic real-life alchemist, and she follows him through his very long life: the stories range from ancient Egypt to the present day and take place at pivotal moments in history. Lush prose, vivid historical settings, and explosive political intrigue make every one of her books a delight; the romance between St. Germain and his beloved Madelaine is not to be missed.
Books in the series: Hotel Transylvania, The Palace, Blood Games, Path of the Eclipse, Tempting Fate, The Saint-Germain Chronicles, Darker Jewels, Better in the Dark, Mansions of Darkness, Writ in Blood, Blood Roses, Communion Blood, Come Twilight, A Feast in Exile, Night Blooming, Midnight Harvest, Dark of the Sun, States of Grace, Roman Dusk, Borne in Blood, A Dangerous Climate, Burning Shadows
I read most of this series in the order of publication, but you may prefer to read them in chronological (historical) order; see Ms. Yarbro's website for both bibliographies.
The Dresden Files, by Jim Butcher (jim-butcher.com)
Although the Dresden Files series doesn't focus exclusively on vampires, I love what he's done with the vampire courts, separating three of the traditional vampire traits--literal blood-sucking vampirism, emotional vampirism, and sexual vampirism--and setting up three vampire courts, each of which specializes in one of these traits. Plus, Jim Butcher is a fabulous writer; each of his books is better than the last. If you like paranormal romance or urban fantasy, chances are you'll enjoy the Dresden Files. (And btw, if you didn't like the TV show, try the books anyway; the Sci Fi channel changed a lot when they adapted Harry Dresden to the screen.
Books in the series: Storm Front, Fool Moon, Grave Peril, Summer Knight, Death Masks, Blood Rites, Dead Beat, Proven Guilty, White Night, Small Favor, Turn Coat, Changes
The Vickie Nelson "Blood" books, by Tanya Huff (www.booksnbytes.com/authors/huff_tanya.html)
This is one of the first vampire books I read where the vampire was the hero instead of the villain. Vickie Nelson, former cop turned private investigator, and Henry Fitzroy, bastard son of Henry VIII turned romance writer, are a fun teamup in spite of the seriousness of the mysteries they must solve, and the love triangle between Vicki, Henry, and Vicki's boyfriend Mike is wonderful. There's also a wonderful TV show based on the Blood books, called Blood Ties, also highly recommended.
Books in the series: Blood Price, Blood Trail, Blood Lines, Blood Pact, Blood Debt
Children of the Night, by Mercedes Lackey (www.mercedeslackey.com)
Wiccan Guardian Diana Tregarde is a feisty, down-to-earth heroine, and her vampire lover Andre is the perfect counterpoint, with his witty, understated sense of humor. I think these books suffered, popularity-wise, from Ms. Lackey simply being ahead of her time, writing these before Laurell K. Hamilton and Jim Butcher lead the urban fantasy explosion. Oh how I would love to see more of Diana and Andre!
Books in the series: Children of the Night, Burning Water, Jinx High
The Sookie Stackhouse/Southern Vampire series, by Charlaine Harris (charlaineharris.com
A wonderful series, focused heavily on vampires but also featuring a variety of weres and witches. Set in a small town in Louisiana, the Southern Vampire series has been turned into a TV show called True Blood by HBO. Even if you didn't like True Blood, you may still love the books they are based on, as HBO changed a lot when the translated Harris' stories to the small screen.
Books in the series: Dead Until Dark, Living Dead in Dallas, Club Dead, Dead to the World, Dead as a Doornail, Definitely Dead, All Together Dead, From Dead to Worse, Deada and Gone, Dead in the Family
The Anita Blake books, by Laurell K. Hamilton (http://www.laurellkhamilton.org)
So popular that I probably don't even have to mention them. But if you are new to vampires and have not read her books yet, Anita Blake is the toughest vampire executioner ever. My favorite character from this series is Edward, another vampire hunter that occasionally helps (and occasionally hinders) Anita.
Books in the series: Guilty Pleasures, The Laughing Corpse, Circus of the Damned, The Lunatic Cafe, Bloody Bones, The Killing Dance, Burnt Offerings, Blue Moon, Obsidian Butterfly, Narcissus in Chains, Cerulean Sins, Incubus Dreams, Micah, Danse Macabre, The Harlequin, Blood Noir, Skin Trade, Flirt
Bite me!, by Dylan Meconis (www.bitemecomic.com)
A charming, witty, tongue-in-cheek love story set in the midst of the French Revolution. Sweet, funny, it affectionately skewers the vampire genre while still sucking you into a fast-paced adventure. The artist has made this graphic novel available for free online, but you may fall so deeply in love with Lucien and Claire that you'll want to buy the print version.
Dracula, by Bram Stoker (http://www.gutenberg.org/etext/345) -- If you like vampires but haven't read the book that popularized them in modern literature, you're missing out! Sexy, angsty, gothic, what's not to love?
The Blood Hero Mythos