Read my reasoning for this recommendation first before you go jumping to hasty conclusions.
The Anita Blake series by L.K. Hamilton (including Guilty Pleasures through Cerulean Sins*). It’s a horror series (titles are derived from fictional placenames. Guilty Pleasures is a vampire-owned strip club).
The author is as accurate about vampirism as she is about vauduun. By that I mean that she uses accurate voodoo rituals that have the fictional components attached (ex., raising the dead). Likewise, some of her vampires feed from sex, fear, other psychic things as well as blood; have something of a hierarchy with elders; have willing donors that are cared for; elemental shielding, and so forth; with the typical fictional components attached (being dead, crosses are bad, hypnosis, etc… no garlic and her vampires sleep in beds like normal folk).
Oh, and there are werewolves, too.
In the third book, according to the author, the main vampire character was supposed to be murdered… but the author became too attached to him and he became this odd love interest (and later revealed as an incubus).
In the first three books, the protagonist, Anita Blake, is strongly against vampires and is the state-appointed executioner for vampires convicted of serious crimes (interesting legal system by the way…), but she changes radically as the series progresses to be a true friend, lover and protector.
I recommend this series for the character development, and the author’s skill, with her craft and research both. And at least the vampires don’t act like “B-movie Draculas”.
She calls a group of vampires a “Kiss” as opposed to a coven. It’s cute. I was amused.
Oh, and the series is fairly gory as the protagonist works for the preternatural crimes investigation unit. Lots of people torn up by zombies and werewolves, etc.
It’s best to read in order. Do not start at the end because, well, for reasons I will not explain but are well-justified, the protagonist gets an interesting sex life.
The Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter series, by Laurell K. Hamilton
Sangi Note: I don’t usually go for vampire hunter type stories, but I’ve read the first five or six books in the series, and I must say that I found them quite enjoyable. I like Laurell K. Hamilton’s style, too. You do need to read the books in order, because, though each book does have a self-contained plot, there is a greater progression of events and relationships that occurs throughout the series as a whole.
* I’ve updated this review with the complete series to date, as of October 23, 2014.
Click on a link below for more information on or to purchase a book. (This would be a good time to fill in your series. *wink*) Books below are generally in paperback, but may also be available in a variety of other formats, such as audio book or a Kindle edition. There is also the Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter comic book series by Marvel, featuring the books from the series as well as new tales.Strange Candy (Book 0.5) (Couple of Anita Blake short stories included) Guilty Pleasures (Book 1) The Laughing Corpse (Book 2) Circus of the Damned (Book 3) The Lunatic Cafe (Book 4) Bloody Bones (Book 5) The Killing Dance (Book 6) Burnt Offerings (Book 7) Blue Moon (Book 8) Obsidian Butterfly (Book 9) Narcissus in Chains (Book 10) Cerulean Sins (Book 11) Incubus Dreams (Book 12) Micah (Book 13) Danse Macabre (Book 14) The Harlequin (Book 15) Blood Noir (Book 16) Skin Trade (Book 17) Flirt (Book 18) Bullet (Book 19) Hit List (Book 20) Beauty (eSpecial 1) Kiss the Dead (Book 21) Dancing (eSpecial 2) Affliction (Book 22) Jason (Book 23) Dead Ice (Book 24) (hardcover; coming out in the Summer of 2015!)
Anita Blake comic book series info (from Laurell K. Hamilton’s Official Site)