2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Another very interesting vampire Regency from Susan Squires,
This review is from: Sacrament (Candleglow) (Mass Market Paperback)
I've read "The Companion", "The Burning" and "The Hunger" by Susan Squires, three books set in the Regency period about vampires that feature some of the same characters. I bought "Sacrament", thinking it was from a different series as it had a different publisher, but it in fact uses the same setting as her other books. As in those books, The Companion is a parasite that lives in the blood and gives the human host some unusual characteristics - the ability to heal, excessive strength and long lifespan.
There is a dedication at the beginning of this book that mentions Georgette Heyer. Now if a keen reader of Heyer read this book expecting something similar they'd get rather a shock - although set in the Regency period the whole tone of this book is completely different. Of course a vampire book is, of necessity, not strictly historical but I did find myself irritated by one or two historical anachronisms - for example, our heroine is Lady Clevancy; who is her father? Presumably the Earl of Clevancy, but then she would be Lady Sarah, not Lady Clevancy; and when her father died, where was his heir, and we know she hasn't been married before - there's a lack of accuracy in English titles here. There are also some Americanisms in speech ("drug" for the past participle "dragged") and "gotten" and other common errors. But I liked the setting and particularly the detail of things like a journey on a mail coach from London to Bath (which took several days, unlike many authors' journeys from London to Gretna Green in 3 hours!) and on the food available in a house around Christmas time when foraging and travelling around Europe.
Our hero, Julien Davinoff, is a vampire and an old one at that - there's a lovely little scene where he discusses events in history that he's witnessed and people he knew - there are lots of famous names mentioned and historical allusions which are great fun. We don't actually find out a great deal about him personally until halfway through the book - before that point he's just a baddie who is laying claim to Sarah, Lady Clevancy's property and against whom she is fighting. Her friend Corina is trying to fascinate Mr Davinoff and it is slowly revealed to us that Corina isn't all that good news and that she persuaded Sarah into an indiscretion many years ago. Susan Squires' books seem to have rather nasty female characters in them who torture our heroes - Davinoff gets off more lightly than some in this book but he still has a bad time. But Sarah shows herself to be a brave heroine - until she is given the offer of a lifetime when her courage fails. She soon regrets it and has to set out on a quest to be given another chance - but is it too late.
This is a very enjoyable book with great settings in Bath, Vienna and Transylvania as well as different characters, some of whom are historical (we meet William Wilberforce, for example). The story is interesting and the characters are engaging, as is the author's take on history (we meet the inspiration for Satan in Dante's Paradise Lost) and the overall theme that love is the only thing that can make life worthwhile is one that probably a lot of us feel sympathy with. It's a good read and a great introduction to Susan Squires' Companion novels.