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REVIEW

"Squires heralds the return of the true Gothic with this Regency Vampire Romance"

SACRAMENT is a tale of a young woman's search for her soul's true reflection. She discovers it through sacrifice and love for a man who supposedly has neither soul nor reflection.

Soul searching isn't foremost on Lady Sarah Ashton's mind at this particular moment. She had finally stabilized her finances from the ruin her in which her late father had left them. Now she finds that her long absent neighbor, Julien Davinoff, has returned to establish a prior claim to Clershing, her primary estate in Bath. To make matters worse, her own deed is nowhere to be found. She travels to London to meet with her solicitor in hopes of finding a solution to her dilemma. On the way, her personal concerns briefly take a back seat when she and her companions happen upon a murder scene. The victim is the thirteenth in a string of serial killings in which the victims had been drained of their blood. It is then that Sara gets her first glimpse of her persecutor, Julian Davinoff, standing amidst the gathered crowd. The man exudes, beauty and power. He is clearly angry, and Sarah surmises that he could easily commit murder.

It is later that evening, at a grand social event, that Sarah is introduced to the notorious rake who intends to relieve her of her property. Julien has personal reasons for wishing to reclaim the property. He is a vampire. Because he no longer aged, periodically it had been necessary to disappear for long periods, returning later as his own descendant. Over the centuries he had stored priceless treasures beneath Thornbury Abbey which was connected by underground passages to the ruined Roman villa on Sarah's adjacent property. He is in London due to the careless nature of the murders, perpetrated by one of his own kind. Magda had been his own creation, his mistake. Creating another of his kind was forbidden, but he'd been young then, imagining himself in love. As a vampire, Magda's smallness of her spirit had only been magnified.

Unfortunately Magda is not the only female predator in London, demanding his attention. Also attending the evenings social event is Corina Nadalay, Sarah's oldest, and sometimes best friend. The two women truly had little in common. Corina is wealthy, spoiled, and exceptionally beautiful. She drew men like moths to the flame. Those who captured her interest often got their more than their wings singed, as Sara knew well. Sarah had learned years ago in Sienna that how sadistic Corina was in her passions. She was self centered and manipulative, but there were times when Sarah wished she could be as bold and daring as her friend. Corina always got what she wanted. Sarah both envied her, and feared deep down that they might be a good deal alike. Sarah had learned more than she wanted to know of her own nature in Sienna as well. She had never been sure whether the Corina's mind altering mushrooms had been responsible for her scandalous behavior, or had only magnified her own shameful inclinations. As a result she had buried her own passions, and had remained loyal to her friend over the years.

The dark and dangerous Davinoff naturally becomes Corina's latest obsession. When all parties converge in Bath, she throws all her energies into obtaining him. When he does not show sufficient interest, making her look foolish, she plots revenge. The opportunity comes when Sarah inadvertently delivers him into her hands. Using her usual methods of persuasion, Corina accidentally hits upon the only thing which can subdue both him and the Companion he carries in his blood. It is the Companion that which gives him his strength, speed, and the ability to heal instantaneously. Thus begins Julian's nightmare. Imprisoned, delirious, weak and deprived of the blood the Companion requires for nourishment, he is subjected to ritual torture, until Corina sees fit to dispose of him. He begins to see death as a positive alternative, but vows that if he ever escapes he will have his revenge on Corina, and the woman who delivered him into her evil clutches, Sarah.

But it is Sara who discovers his plight. At last she sees Corina for what she is and knows she is nothing like her. She alone is Julien's only hope for escape and recovery. By caring for him in his hours of great need, she discovers the truth about him, and herself. By loving him and accepting his nature, she also learns to accept her own. To make a life with Julien would require permanent changes. Does she have the strength to go through with them? Does he?

Ms. Squires has thrown caution to the wind, making SACRAMENT everything a true gothic should be. It delves into, and reveals the dark side of human nature, that part of ourselves that we don't want to examine too closely. The dark nature of the vampire hero pales in comparison. Magda's stereotypical vampire behavior stems from her own lacks as a human being. Though through the eyes of Sarah as a young woman, we might momentarily see Corina as a victim, she has perpetuated a sad cycle, and is utterly without redeeming qualities. Julien, who is among the last to be born with the Companion, is more jaded than anything else when the tale begins. He is a powerful, compelling, man who knows how to get what he wants, but there is no evil in him. Sarah is a wonderful heroine, intelligent, resourceful, compassionate, as well as passionate. She is introspective as only the truly pure of heart can be, hard on her own shortcomings, forgiving of others. Once she sets upon a course, she follows through regardless of the consequences. The novel itself was gripping, packed with plot on every page, impossible to put down, as the reader runs the gauntlet of emotions this tale inspires.

Ms. Squires' debut novel DANEGELD garnered considerable critical acclaim. SACRAMENT demonstrated her versatility. I predict it will earn her a place among the genre's best sellers. I look forward to her next novel, BODY ELECTRIC, which is already getting raves in advance of its August ('02) release. A recommended read for lovers of regency, gothic, and dark paranormal romance.

Copyright 2002

Reviewed by Leslie Tramposch
Posted April 15, 2002

SUMMARY

What if the man you loved was a vampire? How would you find the courage to embrace the darkness? Sarah Ashton, Lady Clevancy, is sure she is a very ordinary person in a very ordinary Regency England. When her life is invaded by a mysterious stranger, the long lost owner of the ruined abbey adjacent to her ancestral lands now accused of serial murder, she should be appalled, rather than fascinated. But she finds herself saving the devil himself from danger, and falling in love in the process. Her love will lead her across Europe, to the edge of eternity.

Read an Excerpt

 

Sacrament
(The Companion: Prequel)
by Susan Squires

Love Spell
March 1, 2002
Available: March 1, 2002
ISBN #0505524724
EAN #9780505524720
368 pages
Paperback
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Other Books by
Susan Squires

The Mists of Time
A Twist In Time
Time for Eternity
Dead After Dark
One With the Darkness
One With the Shadows
One With The Night
Love At First Bite
The Burning
The Hunger
The Companion
No More Lies
The Only One
Danelaw
Body Electric
Danegeld


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