One With The Night
Although I haven’t read one of her books before, I’ve always heard that author Susan Squires is an intelligent, unusual writer. The blandly titled One With the Night did not prove me wrong, but I was dismayed when misunderstandings marred a quite original and engrossing vampire story.
Jane Blundell became a vampire six months ago because of contact with the blood of a vampire. She has hopes, though, that she will not remain one for long since her father, a doctor, is working on a cure. One night a man viciously attacks her father at their remote home. He wants to kill the doctor to destroy the cure. Another man rushes into the fight, and Jane realizes that both are vampires. She aids the second one, who, after a violent battle, kills the first one. When the survivor then collapses from his severe wounds, Jane tends to him.
The wounded vampire is Callan Kilkenny, who has been searching for Jane’s father for weeks because he desperately wants the cure for vampirism. However, the doctor hasn’t found it yet. Callan accepts their offer to stay with them to wait, even though it means big trouble for him. Vampirism causes heightened sexual drive, so that Callan and Jane are literally “in heat” by being near each other, which was interesting at first, but the descriptions of their physical manifestations in these episodes got a bit repetitious after a while. Both try to fight their overwhelming physical urges as they work to help her father, and although Callan killed the vampire assailant, it’s a certainty that more with the same intent will come.
This is an exciting, dark, violent, definitely not-for-the-squeamish book. Fortunately, flashes of humor lighten up the darkness. Squires does an inventive spin on the rather simple and overused I-am-a-Vampire-and-I-am-the-Hero character, which I really appreciated given the plethora of vampire books out there now. Squires’ vampires have a parasite in their blood, referred to as the “Companion.” Possessing of a strong urge to live, it constantly rebuilds its host, which is why a vampire heals quickly and never ages. It even prevents its host from killing himself.
The secondary characters are quite memorable. One character is so dense and selfish that I seriously wanted to slap him upside his head. And there are not one, but two villains. I can’t decide which one is nastier, but they’re both truly heinous and worthy contenders in the annual AAR’s Reader Poll. They are that vividly evil.
In addition, the recipient of both villains’ mistreatment is poor Callan, who could definitely vie for the Most Tortured Hero title this year. Enslaved to the female vampire who turned him into a vampire, Callan suffered abuse in every way imaginable before he escaped her. He doesn’t want anything to do with Jane because he feels his experiences have destroyed his soul and his belief in love. However, he shows he’s still a caring person when he feels anger for a man who treated Jane callously in the past. Callan tries to be aloof with her, but she gradually coaxes out his dormant sense of humor and charm.
Jane is an appealingly smart heroine. She wanted to be a doctor but because she’s a woman, had to settle on being a midwife. She doesn’t know anything about being a vampire because she encountered the vampire blood in her father’s lab. When she learns from Callan of the ability to transport, she cleverly expands on that power.
The elevated sexual impulse is the only connection between Callan and Jane at the beginning of the book, but Squires does a good job of showing them falling in love, although Jane’s falling for Callan was more believable and developed.
All those superlatives aside, however, there are repeated and big misunderstandings throughout the story. Jane misunderstands Callan and Callan misunderstands Jane. Again and again. And of course, that neither of them bothers to talk to the other about their thoughts really frustrated me. I also never found a reason for the vampires to be eating food along with needing blood to survive. What’s the point?
But after much thought, the strong storytelling, exciting action sequences, and original, creative take on vampires in One With The Night squeezed a qualified recommendation out of me. I like dark tales like these for I find the HEA to be so much more rewarding. Squires is a talented writer; I hope there are fewer bad plot devices as the Big Misunderstanding in her next book.