The Struggle (The Vampire Diaries #2) by L.J. Smith (1991; HarperCollins, 2010, 304pp.)
Caught in a battle of wills between two vampire brothers, willful mortal Elena struggles to support Stefan after he’s accused of murder, while at the same time fighting off the affections of Damon, Stefan’s devious and devilishly attractive older sibling. As if she doesn’t have enough trouble on her hands, rival and former friend Caroline steals her diary and plans to use its contents against her. After the slow, plodding pace of The Awakening, The Struggle proves to be a major improvement. Now that Stefan and Elena’s relationship has been established, the story is free to move forward to more interesting things--such as fleshing out the supporting cast and building character development. Elena’s devotion to Stefan is touching and brings strength to her character, while Damon’s pursuit of Elena--alternately tormenting her and wooing her--makes him both villainous and sexy. The Caroline subplot entwines nicely with the Damon/Stefan subplot, creating enough momentum to keep the story speeding forward to its cliff-hanger conclusion. Recommended for Ages 15-Up.