Authors: Irene Preston and Liv Rancourt
Length: 319 Pages
Category: Contemporary, Paranormal/Urban Fantasy
At a Glance: As book one of a series goes, Vespers excelled at doing what it was meant to do—drawing me into the world the authors have created, hooking me on its characters, and it succeeded at getting me excited for book two.
Reviewed By: Lisa
Blurb: Thaddeus Dupont has had over eighty years to forget…
The vampire spends his nights chanting the Liturgy of the Hours and ruthlessly disciplines those unnatural urges he’s vowed never again to indulge. He is at the command of the White Monks, who summon him at will to destroy demons. In return, the monks provide for his sustenance and promise the return of his immortal soul.
Sarasija Mishra’s most compelling job qualification might be his type O blood…
The 22-year-old college grad just moved across the country to work for some recluse he can’t even find on the internet. Sounds sketchy, but the salary is awesome and he can’t afford to be picky. On arrival he discovers a few details his contract neglected to mention, like the alligator-infested swamp, the demon attacks, and the nature of his employer’s “special diet”. A smart guy would leave, but after one look into Dupont’s mesmerizing eyes, Sarasija can’t seem to walk away. Too bad his boss expected “Sara” to be a girl.
Falling in love is hard at any age…
The vampire can’t fight his hungers forever, especially since Sara’s brought him light, laughter and a very masculine heat. After yielding to temptation, Thaddeus must make a choice. Killing demons may save his soul, but keeping the faith will cost him his heart.
Review: It’s been a long time since I’ve read a vampire romance. It’s been an even longer time since I’ve read a really good vampire romance. Irene Preston and Liv Rancourt’s collaborative efforts on Vespers, book one in their new Hours of the Night series, isn’t just good. I think it’s pretty exceptional.
In the genre, it seems the Dracula mythos is either adhered to as canon, avoided altogether in an effort to give a fresh spin to the archetype, or is a blend of something old and something new to make the familiar original and interesting. Preston and Rancourt have given life to their own version of vampire lore, set in the one place where the supernatural is as much a part of the city as beignets and jazz—New Orleans. The opening of the story in a remote Louisiana bayou setting was a great way to introduce Sara and to separate the city boy from his known element. And, of course, to introduce some of the things that go bump in the night when a hermitic vampire is also a demon hunter bent upon absolving his immortal soul of its monstrous stain. The internal battle Thaddeus Dupont wages is on two fronts as he wars with which is the greater of his abominations—being vampire, or desiring men.
Thaddeus is a devout Catholic at the mercy of his belief that abject servitude, mortification of the flesh, and celibacy are a small price to pay if it will bring him absolution and deliver his lost soul from an eternity in Hell. He self-flagellates not only physically but mentally too, and that along with the ennui of more than a century of existence made him a character I didn’t connect with on a deeper emotional level as much as it made him a character I pitied for his adherence to a set of dogmatic codes that made him feel unworthy of existing let alone finding any sort of peace within the space he takes up in this world.
The contrast between Sara and Dupont is as pronounced as the difference between life and death, and the case of mistaken identity, the assumption that Sara was a woman and therefore safe for Thaddeus to employ, was a nice little device to begin building the internal and external conflict between them. Sara is the technicolor to Thaddeus’ monotone, and the temptation Sara signifies is absolute. What, after all, would the fight for a man’s soul be without the lure of the one sin he’s sworn to deny himself of—the sin of desiring male flesh? It makes for some great sexual tension between them, but that’s not Sara’s only role in this story. It’s Sara’s very essence that draws Thaddeus out and makes him feel some version of alive again, even as Sara works to make himself useful and worthy of the ridiculous, and necessary, salary he’s being paid as part of the Dupont staff.
Apart from the building of the relationship between Sara and Thaddeus are dark magic, demons and a ghost, and the White Monks—who are not opposed to making Thad promises and striking a bargain with the vampire if it means they can use (manipulate?) him to suit their purposes. The danger and mystery of the demon hunt, the cat and mouse game of it, and the ways in which Thaddeus’ involvement began to cost him both physically and emotionally added some great adrenaline pumping moments to the piquancy of his growing feelings for Sara. Added to the mix of characters is Thaddeus’ paladin (for lack of a better word), Nohea Alves. I liked her introduction into the story a lot—it’s always great to get strong secondary characters who can hold their own in scenes with the MCs—and I’m looking forward to her getting more page time in the upcoming novels in the series.
Writing the story in alternating third and first person (Thad’s) POV was an interesting style choice, and one I bought into from the start because Thad’s is, for obvious reasons, the deeper and more interesting point of view. Because he lacks the allure of emotional warmth for readers to make that sort of visceral connection with him, it was important to get his thoughts and feelings from a firsthand account rather than relying solely on how Sara and Nohea see him. It made his story more intimate, as personal as it needed to be to support his belief system and give weight to why he does what he does.
As book one of a series goes, Vespers excelled at doing what it was meant to do—drawing me into the world the authors have created, hooking me on its characters, and it succeeded at getting me excited for book two.
You can buy Vespers here: