I love vampire stories, but it has been some time since I read a good one. Vespers has changed that. It’s a good vampire story and an engaging romance, too.
Sarasija Mishra (Sara) travels three thousand miles across the States to Louisiana to meet his contact Ms. Alves, and then start work as a very well paid assistant to a certain Mr. Dupont. Unfortunately, Ms. Alves is not at the agreed meeting point and cannot be contacted. Sara is taken by a friendly grocer’s daughter on a boat to a house in the middle of a swamp. Here he meets his new boss and neither is what the other expected.
Sara is Indian by descent and is also described as ‘too pretty for his own good’. Thaddeus Dupont is younger than Sara imagined and the fact that Sara is not female threatens to end his employment before he begins.
Although, he has signed a contract binding him to the mysterious Mr. Dupont for a year, Sara has no idea what is expected of him. Ms. Alves’ absence bothers Thaddeus, as much as the error regarding his new assistant’s gender, and when he starts shooting ‘beings’ in the swamp, things become more hectic and dangerous for Sara.
Thaddeus Dupont is bound to an order called the White Monks and can be heard reciting catholic chants known as the Hours throughout the night, most notably Vespers. He seems to be a devout Catholic but his links with the monks both confuse and intrigue Sara who slowly finds out about his employer and what he – Sara – has been contracted to do.
I don’t want to give away too many spoilers in this review, as part of the enjoyment is learning about the vampire / demon situation at the same time as Sara does in the book. The other important secondary character is the feisty Ms. Alves who is definitely in a bit of trouble in the first section of the novel.
Thaddeus is a brooding vampire with all the prerequisites for paranormal thrills. Reminiscent of ‘Angel’ in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel TV series, he is fighting his own ‘monstrous’ urges for – he believes – the sake of his soul. As Thaddeus has been a devout Catholic and lived among monks for longer than most of us live, it makes sense that he is ruled by Catholic theology. However, I particularly liked that, unlike the television show mentioned above, Sara’s Hindu heritage is given equal sway over demons and evil. I always thought it strange that despite being a Jewish character in BtVS, Willow would hold crosses and/or use holy water to combat vampires.
So to the romance, and there is most assuredly a romance between Sara and Thaddeus. The unresolved sexual tension between these two is sky high and their attraction to each other is fraught with obstacles. Those obstacles, apart from being in mortal danger, are emotional and mental ones, really. A brooding vampire, Thaddeus believes he must protect everyone from evil, in which category he includes himself. He sees himself as a monster due to his obvious dietary requirements and due to the reason why he always chooses female ‘assistants’. This, he also believes will condemn his soul to hell. This kind of conflict cannot be overcome easily. Plus, Sara, although intensely attracted to his boss, is also quite understandably freaked out both by his situation and by the things being kept from him.
Luckily there is nothing like a little mortal – or immortal – peril to overcome reluctance in the romance department. Thaddeus and Sara are fabulous together and Ms. Alves is a great third in this evil-fighting team. There is almost another character of note in this novel – the city of New Orleans. The descriptions, post-Katrina, are evocative, creepy and full of atmospheric emotion. I wanted to visit the clubs, restaurants, specialist shops and bars. I wanted to see the faded architecture and cypress trees draped in moss. Most of all I want to read the next book in the series – I am hooked and I think anyone who loves a brooding vampire will be too.