There are some key adjectives to describe this book: Dark, very dark, and did I mention dark? Seriously, anyone with an aversion to rape, torture, blood, violence and evil will need to avoid this book. I have a pretty high tolerance for violence, etc., and even I was a bit taken aback by some of the happenings here.
Beatrix Lisse was born with the Companion in her blood – in other words, she was born a vampire. She might have been the last vampire child born, as it is very rare for vampires to have children. Her mother was not the nurturing type and left Beatrix on her own at fourteen just as her Companion was making itself known. Since Beatrix had no one to teach her what to do, she violently killed her victims when she was hungry. Since this was Amsterdam, 1087, there weren’t many around to investigate the deaths of the people from the dregs of society that she chose for her victims. She lived this way for years until Stephan Sincai saved her. Stephan taught her and Asharti, a girl from Jerusalem who was made a vampire by another, how to survive as a vampire and the Rules that governed their kind.
The young and impressionable Beatrix loved Stephan deeply. When he betrayed her emotionally, Asharti saw her chance to remove Beatrix from Stephan. Asharti always had a twisted streak, but Beatrix lived with her for many years until her soul cried out in agony and she broke away from Asharti.
Fast forward to London 1811. Beatrix is disillusioned, and even her love for the arts cannot keep the horrible memories of her previous life from her mind. She lives as a famous courtesan, although she has not mixed blood and sex together for centuries, since Asharti. Beatrix has not killed since then, either, but the memories haunt her still. When John Staunton, Earl of Langley, visits her salon two days late for an invitation, he piques her interest. He is somehow different, and anything different is good.
Langley has his own secrets as a spy for England against Napoleon. Against his better judgment, he finds himself drawn to Beatrix, but wonders if she herself is spy. They share a magical night together, but John is draw away from Beatrix due to a mission. When she recovers from her shock at being abandoned, she realizes something is terribly wrong. She discovers John has been drawn into a web he can never foresee and will not escape. Only Beatrix can save him, but perhaps not in the way either of them could have imagined.
As I mentioned, a strong stomach is needed for this book. This author truly does not soften any blow for these characters. Still, the author writes a compelling story, and Beatrix and John are a strong couple who go through hell for each other. I admired Beatrix for standing up for what she knew was right, instead of what was easy, which is never as simple a choice as it sounds. I am glad I spent time with these characters, although I probably will not read the book again because it is so dark and painful.
I can recommend it to fans of Squires’ vampires, and those who like a walk on the dark side, but probably not for the casual vampire/paranormal reader. I’m still not certain if I will journey into her vampire world again; I think I might have come away with some scars, just like the characters.