It wasn't apparent to me when I requested Stakes & Stilettos that it was the fourth book in a series. So this review will need to be taken with a grain of salt. For at least the first third of the book I was keeping up with the very busy life of Sarah Dearly, chick vampire. There was enough information built into the book for a reader to make sense of what was going on, but there were a hell of a lot of "as you know, Bob" statements to fill in the gaps.
Essentially the book is about Sarah, her master vampire boyfriend Thierry, and lots of surrounding secondary characters. At about the middle of the book the story coalesces into a discernible plot involving a witch who curses Sarah based on an old high school grudge, and a mysterious vampire hero of legend called the Red Devil. Sarah is an amusing, glib character and her first person account really draws the reader to identify with her. By the end of the book I was finding it entertaining and engaging and seriously considering buying subsequent books. However the meat of the story did seem to be squished into the later parts of the book with one heart wrenching plot twist thrown in and completely resolved within the three, short final chapters--which seemed something of waste given how whole chapters early in the book were devoted to such thrilling activities as borrowing a dress to wear to a party.
Ultimately I would suggest that readers considering this series start at the beginning, because a proper introduction might make the uncomfortable and uneven melange of themes work better. I mean the first chapter is fully serious third person account of Thierry in the verge of suicide, and he also has a lump of similar serious-boarding-on-melodramatic chapters in the middle of the book. There is a large subplot that is unashamedly Scarlet Pimpernel with a dash of Zorro. The rest is first person chick lit.
And my problem with some chick lit did rear its far-too-pretty head. That is that the chick lit heroine has a tendency to resemble the most shallow and nasty girls form high school, meaning that if one was, lets say a late bloomer, seeing such a character become more gorgeous, more successful, more beloved and more supernaturally powerful is not 100% gratifying. And Sarah is an ex-cheerleader who publicly humiliated a girl in a fit of pique and forgot about it by the end of the day. Personally, despite the witty first person, I was at least a s sympathetic with the "villain" and ultimately unhappy to see her meet a grisly end.
I felt that Sarah was a shallow character who, despite her boyfriends repeated warnings, behaves foolishly and is regularly almost killed. She starts the book as a cross between Buffy and a vampire Cynthia Nixon (Sex in the City) and ends up the same but with an extra dose of super powers. I think Michelle Rowen writes well, but ultimately having her heroine rewarded for a combination of sarcasm and stupidity (with true love as her only real redeeming feature) didn't sit well with me. Now a story of the high school pariah learning black magic and getting her own back through a series of curses before being redeemed by true love, that I would like to read.