- Shopping Bag ( 0 items )
The young mother had been by her child’s bed throughout the night. Her face was stained with tears too numerous to count. Someone, though, had carefully noted each one. Her knees were raw from the hours she had spent in prayer. Gently, she kissed her little boy’s brow. His fever seemed to have increased even more. The darkness intensified, heralding the coming of the dawn. February 4 had arrived. Fresh tears had started in her eyes. They had made it through the night, but it hadn’t been enough. Her son would die today, exactly one year after his father had been killed overseas.
David had been sick for days and the doctors had no answers. All they could tell her was there was some kind of infection raging in his blood that they couldn’t fight. The only thing they knew was that it would kill him. Every day had seen him grow weaker and now she knew it was the end. She turned her face to heaven in a silent cry for mercy, for understanding.
Nothing. No images of hope. No claps of thunder. Had God forgotten the widow and the orphan? That went against all that she had been raised to believe. The woman who had had to be so very strong felt her spirit fall. Her body drooped, though she was scarcely aware of it. Was it over? She looked down and was surprised to see two small gray eyes open into hers. The breath caught in her throat in a half-strangled sob.
Mommy, a little mouth formed the word without being able to verbalize it. Her heart broke. Then with a great effort the little vocal cords forced the words into audibility. “Mommy, the angel told me to tell you it will be okay.”
Then his eyelids slid shut again and he slept. She looked all around her. Was her baby hallucinating? She saw no angel, but did that mean one wasn’t there? She shuddered again and turned back to him. For the first time in a long while he looked at peace. So beautiful, so still. Slowly the same sort of peace seemed to fill her, and moments later she yielded to sweet slumber.
Outside the building a woman stood, her hand touching the bricks and her head bent in prayer. Constance knew the child inside was dying and so she prayed for him, though she had never seen the child or his mother before. She had been sent with a special mission, her prayers were needed and she had come. At last she pulled her hand away. The child would live. Constance turned and melted back into the night. She knew she was not the only one keeping watch and the presence of the other made her cautious. The other did not move from his silent post, though, but stood cloaked in mist, staring up at the building. A new day was indeed dawning.
And almost all things are by the law purged with blood;
and without shedding of blood is no remission.
The blood. It’s all about the blood. Susan Lambert sank to her knees with tears streaming down her cheeks. Her city map of Prague slipped from her fingers unnoticed. She clutched her grandmother’s antique silver cross and her hand tingled where skin touched metal. The floor around her was a crimson pool of light that was streaming from one of the stained-glass panels high overhead.
The panel showed the crucifixion and the light seemed to come from it instead of through it. That light painted the floor and pillars with brilliant colors. Her eyes fell back down to the bloodred light shining on the stone floor around her. The blood of Christ, she thought in awe.
She had been a long time coming to this city. She wished she could have come before it was too late, but at least she had made it. She tried to pray but was too overwhelmed by the beauty that surrounded her and the loss that tore at her heart.
She had come to the cathedral desperately needing to connect with God, to find the strength to survive the next few days. She had hoped to sense a bit of her grandmother’s presence there as well. Her grandmother had spoken of the beauty of the cathedral she had often visited as a child and Susan had hoped to feel a connection with her one last time before the funeral. Then it would be too late. The cold, harsh reality would be undeniable and she’d be left with only her memories and her grief.
It seemed like all those she loved were taken from her so quickly. God and death were the only two constants in life, both unwavering. In the cathedral, though, she could focus on God and for a few precious moments forget about death.
She closed her eyes and thought about the blood of Christ, her grandmother’s laugh, and a thousand other things. There was power and peace in St. Vitus Cathedral and she let them wash over her.
When at last she stood the colored light had retreated and the cathedral was being plunged bit by bit into darkness. It’s as though all the light in the world is being extinguished, she thought. For some reason it unnerved her, watching as the light faded from all the windows and the shadows gathered, thick and deep and menacing in the corners. With the loss of the light all warmth seemed to flee as well and she could feel a deep cold settling into her bones. Like the grave, she thought with a shiver. She was exhausted and her grief was playing on the darker parts of her imagination. It would do her no good to dwell on the darkness.
She wiped her tears and turned to go. Her steps echoed loud on the stone floors and the sound pierced the fog of her pain. The cathedral looked empty, but it didn’t feel that way. She half expected to hear some tired voice call out to her that it was time to leave, they were locking up for the night. Did they lock the cathedral or was it always open for those who needed a place to think and pray? She would have to ask. After the funeral she was sure she’d need a quiet retreat to pray. She took another half-dozen steps before the hair on the back of her neck stood on end.
Something was watching her. She could feel it just as she had felt the overwhelming sense of peace before. Susan turned her head slowly, trying to pierce the gathering shadows, but could see nothing.
“Hello?” she called tentatively, suddenly afraid that someone might answer.
There was only silence. She took a deep breath, trying to steady her frayed nerves. She let it out slowly as she forced her tense muscles to relax. Nothing was going to hurt her. There was no one there but her.
You’re not alone. The still, quiet voice deep inside had never lied and it had saved her life twice before. The familiar icy hand of fear coiled itself around her and she spun back to the front of the cathedral, terrified that something might be behind her.
There was no one there. Her eyes caught a splash of color, her forgotten city map on the ground. She quickly retrieved it. When she straightened up and turned back to the entrance she jerked to a halt with a startled gasp.
A man was standing there, in the exact spot she had been a moment before. He was tall. His hair was fair but in the light she couldn’t determine the exact color. He wore a long black trench coat over black pants and shirt. If it weren’t for his eyes she might have thought of him as just another of the shadows rapidly filling the room. His eyes were a brilliant blue that seemed to glow just as the stained-glass windows had. They looked at her, seemed to pierce her very soul.
He was standing between her and the exit. Her mind reeled, wondering why he was staring at her that way, and why the rest of his expression was impossible to read.
She blinked and he was gone. She turned in a quick circle but saw only shadows. Her left hand gripped her cross necklace, squeezing hard.
Susan realized she was taking shallow, rapid breaths and her heart began to pound even harder until she began to be light-headed.
You’re bleeding. This time she couldn’t tell if the voice was inside her head or outside. She glanced down and saw she had squeezed the cross so tightly that it had cut her skin. Drops of blood coated her grandmother’s necklace and slowly dripped onto the floor. Where before there had been only colored light now there was actual blood.
She began to walk toward the exit, every step moving faster until she was running. She didn’t care how foolish it might be, she just knew there was someone inside the cathedral with her and he terrified her more than she had ever dreamed possible.
Her boots made a hollow clopping sound against the stone. A dozen steps from the exit she could swear she felt a hand brush her shoulder. She screamed and, twisting, she shot through the open doorway and outside.
She came up short in the cold night air with a gasp. A couple walking nearby hurried past her, clearly thinking her crazy.
She paused a moment, two. No dark figure lunged out of the cathedral to grab her, and even as she tried to fix his face in her memory she could feel it slipping, as though it had been only a dream the dawn chased away.
It’s just my imagination. Too much has happened in the last few days, she told herself. She walked a few steps away from the door, thought about hailing a taxi, and then decided against it. Her hotel wasn’t that far away and the walk might help clear her head.
And if there had been a man and he meant her harm, hopefully she could lose him on the streets. If she hailed a taxi then he might somehow overhear the address and she didn’t want to wait here alone trying to flag one down. She was being paranoid and she knew it, but all the brochures she had read before departing had been emphatic that young women traveling alone should use extreme caution. That, coupled with all her grandmother’s stories about gypsies who stole children in the middle of the night, had served to make her a basket case.
She had taken a half-dozen self-defense courses in college. That was little comfort at the moment, though, since she’d never had to apply any of what she’d learned to the real world. Mentally she rehearsed a few moves just in case.
As she began to walk, though, her fear began to ebb. Maybe the man had been a dream, or a hallucination brought on by extreme jet lag and grief. She forced her thoughts outward and she really began looking around her as she walked.
The city glistened like a jewel beneath the full moon. Its beauty was haunting, and Susan struggled to make herself focus on it. It was real. All of it. She was finally in Prague. Even as she marveled at some of the ancient buildings, though, she turned to glance over her shoulder every few steps, unable to shake the feeling that someone or something had followed her from the cathedral.
Every time she looked, though, there was nothing out of the ordinary. The shadows stayed where they should and the only people she saw were those going about their own business. If anything, she must look odd to them. After a few minutes she admitted to herself that she kept expecting to turn around and see him again, a hairsbreadth away, and have no idea how he had moved so close without her noticing.
She shivered. She tried to tell herself it was because she was in a strange city, one that had been given life in her imagination by what her grandmother had told her about growing up in Prague.
Susan had listened for hours as her grandmother spun tales of romance and mystery, mysticism and terror. They had gotten into her head. That was all that had happened back at the church. Nothing strange had occurred. The truth was she had probably frightened the poor man off with her screaming. If there even was a man. She touched her grandmother’s cross and grimaced as she felt the dried blood on it.
As hard as she tried, though, she couldn’t shake the feeling that someone was watching her, and so it was with relief that she arrived back at the Grand Hotel Praha and ducked inside. She was meeting family in a half hour for dinner at U Zlaté konviceon, a Czech restaurant in the hotel’s cellars. She hurried upstairs to the room she was going to be sharing with her cousin Wendy, when she arrived the next morning.
The room was nothing like she had expected, but given her grandmother’s stories she shouldn’t have been surprised. All the furniture was antique and beautiful. The ceiling was ornately carved. The bathroom was all marble and glistened beneath the lights. Out the window she had a view of Old Town Square including the Týn Church and the Astronomical Clock, Prague’s most famous sight.
As though compelled, she moved again to the window and looked out on the city, now awash with lights beneath the night sky. Her grandmother had been right. It was a magical place. She could feel it deep inside, like a singing in her blood or a quickening in her soul.
“Anything can happen here,” she whispered to herself.
She turned and moved to her suitcase, which she hadn’t taken the time to unpack when she had gotten in. She had been too eager to see the cathedral her grandmother had always told her about. It had been her moment of solitude, peace, before everything that was coming.
She remembered what it had been like at her parents’ funeral when she was twelve. There had been so many people and so much chaos and she had longed to be allowed to go to her room and find some quiet to try and pray and understand what had happened. Her family members had had other plans, though, and they made it their mission to keep her from being alone. Now she couldn’t help but wonder what the next few days were going to bring, since her grandmother had raised her from that point forward.
She squared her shoulders. She was twenty-three now and she would just have to make her own needs clear. And if people wouldn’t listen, well, she was going home three days after everyone else.
It was plenty of time to see the things she wanted to and to pay homage to her grandmother and bid her farewell in her own way. She wanted to return to the cathedral before she left.
And as she thought of the cathedral, she couldn’t help but think about him. Who had he been that he had appeared and disappeared so quickly, without saying a word? She shivered slightly. There was something dangerous about him; how she knew that was a mystery to her, but she just knew.
Susan changed quickly into a simple blue sweater and black slacks, wishing she had brought a different dress beyond the one she would wear at the funeral. Then she made her way downstairs to the restaurant.
The restaurant was underground with vaulted ceilings and arches. Its rough rock walls were decorated with weapons, coats of arms, and murals of beheaded Czech lords. Wooden tables with simple wooden chairs reminded her that she was in a fourteenth-century alehouse.
One long table had been reserved for her family and she discovered she was not the first to arrive as Aunt Jane and Uncle Bob waved her over. They exchanged brief hugs and then settled back into their chairs to wait for the others.
“How are you holding up?” Jane asked.
“I’m okay,” Susan said. “And you?”
“I’m going to miss Mom terribly, but at least she’s in a better place.”
“Although I’m sure she would have liked to see us all here,” Bob said gruffly. “She loved this city.”
Susan nodded. “I was always surprised she didn’t ever try to move back, or at least take an extended trip.”
“She was too concerned with her responsibilities at home,” Jane said.
Responsibilities. As in me. Susan shook her head, unwilling to believe that she had kept her grandmother from returning to the home she loved, especially since she had left for college at eighteen and had lived on her own since.
Before she could say anything, the others began to arrive and soon she was hugging friends and family, some of whom she hadn’t seen since that last funeral.
Her grandmother had managed her own funeral arrangements so that not only could she be buried in Prague but also all those close to her would have airfare paid for. Prague had been important to her. Family had been even more important.
When everyone was settled Susan had a chance to look at the menu. She was surprised at the number of choices, running the gamut from roast duck to schnitzel. She finally settled on the sirloin in cream sauce with cranberries and dumplings.
“How would you like your sirloin?” the waitress asked.
“Bloody,” she heard herself saying then stopped, blinking. Why had she said that? She liked her steaks medium. She picked up her water and took a long drink. She was definitely suffering from jet lag and it must be affecting her more than she suspected.
When she put her water glass down she glanced across the room and gasped. The man from earlier was standing in the doorway, watching her. She blinked and he vanished. She sat for a moment, stunned. Had she imagined it? She was filled with an overwhelming need to know who he was or if he was even real and not some figment of her imagination.
She bolted up from the table and ran to where he had been standing, then looked up and down the hallway but saw no sign of him. Frustration filled her, but also a trickling of relief. Maybe she was seeing things. She shook her head hard and turned away.
When she rejoined her family they were regarding her with open curiosity.
“Sorry,” she muttered. “I thought I saw…never mind.”
Her uncle patted her on the shoulder and then conversation around the table resumed. The food was delicious and she found that she actually liked the steak rare. As the meal went on, though, she struggled to focus on the people and conversations around her. She yawned all the way through dessert and by then had completely convinced herself that her overtired brain was indeed playing tricks on her.
After they toasted Grandma Constance at the end, no one seemed inclined to leave, and everyone lingered around the table telling stories about Constance and sharing tears.
“I have to get some sleep,” Susan said, finally standing up.
“I’ll walk with you,” her great-uncle Clarence said.
Susan tried to protest, but he held up a hand. Clarence was her grandmother’s youngest brother and had just turned sixty three months before. His birthday was the last time the family had been together, to celebrate. Now they were gathered to mourn.
As soon as they left the restaurant he turned to her. “You mustn’t let them bother you, my dear. She was a great spirit, and she will be missed, but especially by those of us who knew her well.”
“Yes, she will.”
“Most didn’t understand her. She’d drive a hundred miles if she thought a stranger needed her prayers. She’d look at things completely different than other people and sometimes when the whole world, when every logical thought said to turn right she’d turn left.”
“I remember. It always ended up being the best thing.”
“I think you’re a lot like her in that regard,” he said, looking shrewdly at her. “I remember that day when, for no apparent reason, you refused to leave Constance’s house. Your parents let you spend the night…”
He didn’t have to continue. They both knew very well what had happened. Her parents had been killed in a car crash on the way home. She had spent untold sleepless nights wishing she could have gotten them to stay with her that night. But they had left and she was alive because they had let her stay.
Susan nodded, not sure what to say. They arrived at her room and she hugged him good night. He put a hand on her shoulder and looked her in the eyes. “She did come back here. I’m the only one who knows, but she did come back to Prague, twice.”
Startled, she looked at him. “When? Why didn’t she tell people?”
He smiled at her. “Those are stories for another time. For tonight, sleep well.”
He turned and walked away leaving her with burning questions and a deep sense of relief that her grandmother had been able to see the city she loved before she died.
She entered her room, locking the door behind her. When she turned around, she started as her eyes fell on the bed. In the middle of her pillow was a single red rose.
But if the watchman see the sword come, and blow not the trumpet, and the people be not warned; if the sword come, and take any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at the watchman’s hand.
David Trent sat in the first-class lounge at Heathrow, waiting for his next flight and trying to find a calm place inside himself. He was embarking on a new adventure, one he had volunteered for. But now that he had stepped foot on the path a great uncertainty seemed to weigh him down. When he’d left Boston the night before he couldn’t shake the feeling that his life was about to change. He only wished he knew whether it was for the better or the worse.
He had no idea what waited for him in Prague and even though he had bought and read three different guidebooks, he still felt like he didn’t have a grasp of the place. You’ll just have to figure it all out as you go, he told himself.
He glanced around at the other passengers in an attempt to play his favorite kill-time game, Who are you? He looked at each of them in turn and asked the question and then tried to answer it based on what he observed. He had been a fan of Sherlock Holmes since he was a little boy, but unlike the fictional detective he had never dared to posit his guesses out loud.
There was a gentleman in his fifties with well-defined muscles and an equally well-defined air of boredom. David guessed him to be a business owner, one to whom money was no new thing. The young woman sitting next to him wearing the micro minidress and strappy heels who was trying but failing to reflect his boredom would be his newest trophy wife.
Across the room another man sat incredibly still, spine rigid, eyes closed. David decided after watching the unchanging nature of the man’s posture for a minute that he was either terrified of planes or dead.
A third man posed no challenge as his collar declared him a priest. David turned his attention to the last two but was again denied his opportunity to guess who they were as soon as he realized they were discussing a series of lectures and astronomy conferences they were attending that would culminate with a group viewing of the coming solar eclipse in a couple of weeks. Apparently, for both, the highlight of the event was going to be getting a look at Prague’s famed Astronomical Clock, built in 1410. The clock was on David’s list of sights to see when he wasn’t busy working.
He sighed and closed his eyes, wondering what the other passengers saw when they looked at him. Six feet tall with blond hair and hazel eyes, average build, twenty-six, briefcase. They probably saw a businessman, which was close enough to the truth. Then again, he’d never been very good at fooling people into believing that he was more than he was.
A minute later he opened his eyes again and noticed that two new passengers had entered the lounge—a man and a young woman, who were clearly not together. The man was tall, with slicked back hair and a cheesy smile. His suit was expensive and he was quick to shake hands with the older man and his trophy wife.
Politician. Has to be. David continued to stare. The man had incredibly pale skin in sharp contrast to his dark hair. Politician or vampire, either way a bloodsucker, he joked with himself.
He turned his eyes to the young woman, who sat down next to him and busied herself in digging through her purse. Tears were sparkling in her eyes.
She probably just wants to be left alone, he thought. Just give her space.
He tried to look away, but he couldn’t. She was clearly in pain. “I’m sorry, but are you okay?” he asked.
She turned to look at him and the tears that had been threatening began to streak down her face. “No, I’m not,” she squeaked. “My boyfriend has been cheating on me.”
As she poured her heart out to him he listened patiently, offered comfort or advice where he could, and then realized if she was seated next to him, it was going to be a long flight.
When it was time to board, David led the way out of the lounge, the other passengers following behind him. Another first-class passenger was already ahead of them, though, at the gate. The man was slightly shorter than David with dark red hair cropped close to his head. He turned and regarded the rest of them with a look of such amused superiority David was floored. Even more surprising, the politician, who had been standing next to him, seemed to shrink back. Guess he found the one person on the plane he doesn’t want to schmooze.
The newcomer turned and boarded the plane. David tried to take a step forward, but his feet refused to obey him.
“What’s wrong?” he heard one of the scientists ask him.
“I’m afraid,” he whispered.
“Me, too,” he heard a shaky voice say. That would be the man who had been sitting so rigidly in the lounge.
“It’s okay, planes are perfectly safe,” someone else tried to reassure them.
David finally was able to make himself move forward. What’s wrong with me? he wondered as he walked down the ramp. Am I really that freaked out about this move? It’s only temporary. A few months and I’ll be back.
The redheaded man was already seated in the first row when David entered the plane. He faltered and then forced himself to hurry past as he realized he wasn’t terrified of the move. He was terrified of the man.
Wendy’s plane arrived in the morning and Susan was up and ready to greet her cousin. When Wendy finally made it to the room she gave Susan a quick hug and then sprawled on the bed. “Mom and Dad wouldn’t stop asking me questions about school the entire way from the airport,” Wendy moaned.
Susan bit her lip. She guessed that those questions had revolved around asking her why she had changed her major yet again. It had been a topic discussed at length at the dinner table the night before. With her white blond hair the girl looked more like her father than the rest of the family, but she hadn’t inherited his sense of discipline.
“I’m sorry,” Susan said out loud.
Wendy burst into tears and Susan moved quickly to sit beside her.
“Are you okay?”
“No! I’m tired and I’m hungry and I can’t believe Grandma’s gone and all they could do is ride me for switching from political science to theater studies.”
Susan rubbed Wendy’s back while she cried. “I think they’re just not ready to deal with the fact that she’s gone, so they’re focusing on anything else that they can.”
Wendy rolled onto her back and stared up at her with her amber eyes awash with tears. “Why do they have to pick on me? Why can’t they start in on when are you going to find a husband?”
“Don’t you dare bring that up in front of them,” Susan warned. “I don’t want to deal with that this week.”
“When are you going to find a guy?” Wendy asked, her words somewhat slurred.
“When I find a man who I’d want to be my husband,” Susan said.
“It’s that stupid list of yours. You have to throw it away,” Wendy said with a yawn. “No guy is going to fit all those criteria. Not in this world.”
Susan stood up abruptly, but Wendy grabbed at her hand. “I’m sorry. I’m just tired and sad. Why aren’t you crying about Grandma?”
“Because I’m not ready to.”
Wendy yawned again and her eyes drifted shut. “I think that’s why you haven’t found a guy.”
Susan bit back a harsh retort, realizing that Wendy was practically asleep. She stayed silent for about a minute and her cousin was out cold. Being able to fall asleep quickly had been one of Wendy’s traits she’d always admired and been irritated by at the same time.
Susan sighed and covered her with an extra blanket. She then walked into the bathroom and splashed some cold water on her face. She pulled her long, chestnut hair into a ponytail and tried not to let what Wendy had said bother her. Too many women she knew had settled or were about to settle for guys who would ultimately make them miserable. That was because they were never clear in defining what it was they wanted in a man.
Susan had actually written down the things she was looking for the summer before she started college. She’d made the mistake of sharing it with Wendy who enjoyed mocking her over it. She put on some lipstick to add color to her face. It looked pale and strained to her critical eye. From the other room she could hear Wendy snoring. She was going to be out for a while. Susan wasn’t in the mood to spend time with family and with Wendy asleep it freed her up to do some more sightseeing.
She walked back into the bedroom and her eyes fell on the rose in a water glass on the table next to her guide map. Her first crazy thought the night before had been that it had been the mystery man who left it, but she had soon dismissed that as ridiculous. More likely it was part of the hotel’s welcome or turn-down service. Either way her instinct had been to throw it out, but for some reason she couldn’t bring herself to do it. It was the first time someone had ever given her a rose, no matter who or what the reason. She smiled. Maybe she could keep Wendy guessing about it later, at least for a little while.
There was no formal dinner scheduled for that evening, so she theorized she could do as she pleased. She scrawled a hasty note to Wendy and left it on the bathroom counter where her cousin would be sure to see it. Then she grabbed the guide map and her purse and headed out the door.
As magical as the city had been the evening before it was no less breathtaking in the cold light of day. The blend of ancient and modern, coming together in a kaleidoscope of architectural styles was enchanting. The Astronomical Clock, with its history and beauty, was stunning. And at the heart of everything was Prague Castle, the largest castle in the world. It had seen so much history that, as she made her way through it, she could close her eyes and practically feel it. As she explored the castle she soon found herself completely lost in the massive complex that was made up of several cathedrals, palaces, museums, and gardens.
After a while she found herself in a long corridor lined with closed doors. She drifted down it and a sense of cold began to pierce her bones. She had read of some of the terrible events that had occurred in the castle including fires and looting by enemy armies. During World War II the Nazi occupiers had used it as a headquarters. She glanced at the doors as she passed them and couldn’t help but wonder what secrets were behind them.
As warm and welcoming as the cathedral had been the night before, this part of the castle felt cold and hostile. I shouldn’t be here, she thought. It made sense. She had gotten herself thoroughly lost and she knew parts of the castle were off-limits for various reasons. Some were still in need of repair and others were being used by the current government. She must have wandered into one of those sections. It would explain all the closed doors.
While drawing abreast of a dark red door she made her decision, turned, and retraced her steps out of the hallway. A few minutes later she found herself back out in the gardens and she breathed a sigh of relief. Her stomach growled and she relaxed as she went in search of someone who could direct her to a place to eat.
After lunch she continued to explore the city. With the help of half a dozen friendly locals she managed to find the house her grandmother had been born in. She stood and took in the beauty and the age of the building with its heavily ornamented windows and crumbling façade. It had such an ancient, romantic feel to it. It helped explain why her grandmother, so quick to believe in the whimsical and the mysterious, had been so out of place in her adopted California, where most buildings were austere and only a few decades old.
“Grandma, I wish I could have come here with you, seen this place through your eyes,” she whispered.
Finally, she forced herself to leave before anyone decided to interrupt her private moment by asking her what she was doing standing on the sidewalk ogling somebody’s home. As she walked through the city, taking it all in, she let her mind drift.
It seemed too terrible to contemplate that they were actually burying her in the morning. Trying to fight back the pain, Susan’s thoughts turned to what Clarence had told her the night before.
When had her grandmother come back to Prague? What had she done? What had she seen? She began to make a game of it, wondering if she was walking on stones her grandmother had walked upon. As she encountered each new sight she tried to remember what her grandmother had said about it, if anything, and tried to hear her speaking in her memory.
There were a couple of moments where it was almost like her grandmother was there with her. The sunset was a blaze of colors and it filled her with awe. She snapped a few pictures with her phone, wishing she hadn’t forgotten her camera at home. When the last color faded from the sky she turned her steps back toward the hotel, planning to stop and eat along the way. It was then that she began to feel like someone was walking in her footsteps, watching her.
David woke up as the taxi driver screeched to a halt in front of his hotel. He glanced at his watch and yawned. It was a little after eight at night Prague time but the jet lag made it feel like four in the morning. He paid the driver, collected his luggage, and staggered into the hotel where he was going to be spending his first few nights in the city.
He walked up to the front desk and a young woman cheerfully accepted his printed-out hotel confirmation.
“Are you in Prague on business or pleasure?” she asked.
“And you will be staying for three nights?”
“Three months,” he answered.
Her eyes widened and she looked at the piece of paper. He grimaced. “No, sorry. I’ll be here for three nights; I’ll be in the city for three months. My company rented me an apartment, but it won’t be ready until Friday.” He hid a yawn behind his hand.
“Oh, I see. You will be in room twelve,” she said, handing him his key. “Breakfast is served every morning in the café, you will find the information here as well as a city map,” she said, handing him a neat packet of documents.
She hailed a porter who hurried over and took charge of David’s bags.
The room was nice, with a large bed, writing area, and a view of the Astronomical Clock out his window that he was sure would make the scientists on his plane jealous. As soon as the porter moved his luggage into the room and left, David locked the door, shuffled over to the bed, and fell full-length on it. He was asleep in moments.
Susan breathed a sigh of relief when she entered the lobby of the hotel. She hadn’t been able to shake the feeling that something was following her. In the lobby she waved to her cousin Wendy, who was stepping out of the elevator in a short black dress. She looked refreshed and wide awake, a stark contrast to her earlier exhaustion.
Wendy made a beeline for her, eyes wide in excitement, and she grabbed her hands. “Susan, a friend is taking me out dancing, isn’t that awesome? Would you like to come?” Wendy asked.
Susan shook her head. Only Wendy would go out dancing the night before their grandmother’s funeral. Since they were children Wendy had been terrified of death and went to extraordinary lengths not to think about it, even when it was right in front of her. “No, thank you.”
“Please, please, please. It will be a lot of fun, just like when we were kids.”
When they were kids they had often pretended that they lived in Neverland. Instead of being Wendy, though, her cousin had always opted to be the more capricious Tinker Bell. Susan had always ended up as Peter himself, a role she had never been entirely sure suited her since as a child she had been so very eager to grow up.
“Sorry, Wendy,” Susan said. “I didn’t know you had any friends in the city,” she added.
“I just met him at dinner tonight.”
Susan rolled her eyes. She should have known. Wendy was pretty and flirtatious and more than capable of deciding that a guy she had met five minutes earlier was the greatest guy ever.
Suddenly Wendy lit up and waved. “He’s here,” she said.
Susan turned as a man with dark hair and eyes, dressed in a red silk shirt and black pants, came striding up. “You look beautiful,” he said to Wendy who blushed as if on cue.
There was something smarmy about him, overly suave and slippery, just Wendy’s type. There was something more, though, something…wrong. When he turned to look at her Susan’s first instinct was to stab at his eyes with the key in her hand. She shuddered and moved away, horrified at her response. She grabbed Wendy’s arm and tried to pull her with her toward the elevators.
“Wendy, we really need to get some sleep. The funeral’s very early in the morning and—”
“It will be fine. We’re college girls, pulling an all-nighter is no big deal.”
Susan didn’t bother to remind her cousin that she had just graduated the month before. It didn’t matter. What did matter was getting her away from the guy who was staring at them both as though they were fresh meat.
“But Wendy, I really need to talk to you about Grandma, I just need to be able to open up to somebody and let it all out. We’ll cry, order room service. I think they have ice cream.”
Wendy shook off her hand. “That’s what tomorrow is for. I say live life today. Besides, Garridan is a gypsy, he’s promised to tell me my future.”
“I can do that right now and I promise you won’t like it,” Susan said through gritted teeth, grabbing Wendy’s arm again.
“One second,” Wendy said to Garridan before moving away a few feet.
“What are you doing?” Wendy hissed. “I met a guy and you’re acting like a psychopath. I know that you’re all freaked out about Grandma and you don’t share my taste in men, but come on. If you don’t want to go that’s fine, but I am going.”
“Wendy, I’ve got a bad feeling about this. There’s just something really creepy about the guy. Please, please don’t go. If you just stay here tonight I promise I’ll go clubbing with you the day after tomorrow.”
“Tempting, but I’ve got a bird in the hand already,” Wendy said. “Don’t wait up.”
Susan wanted to scream. For one moment she thought about grabbing Wendy by her hair and dragging her back upstairs, but knew her cousin well enough to realize that would only delay her date by an hour at the most. Susan was exhausted and wanted nothing more than to go upstairs and pass out on her bed.
“Wendy, you win. I’ll go with you.”
Wendy smiled triumphantly. “Go change, we’ll wait five minutes.”
Susan ran up the stairs and a minute later was in her room changing into a black turtleneck. She decided her jeans and black boots were just fine and headed back downstairs. When she hit the lobby it was empty.
She ran out to the sidewalk and looked up and down the street but saw no sign of her cousin. She whipped her cell phone out of her pocket and dialed Wendy’s phone but it went straight to voice mail.
Wendy had ditched her. Garridan must have convinced her that three was a crowd and now she was who knew where with him. “Not good,” Susan muttered under her breath.
She turned to walk back into the hotel when the same feeling she had had in the cathedral swept over her.
“You should not let her go off with him,” a voice purred in her ear.
Susan jerked around and found herself face-to-face with the man from the cathedral. He was there, standing a breath away from her, real, and more frightening than she had first thought. She wanted to run, but his eyes were almost hypnotic and she found herself staring into them the way she had seen birds do with snakes right before they were killed.
“It’s you,” she breathed, heart beginning to pound.
“Who are you?” she asked.
“Someone who is deeply concerned with your welfare, and that of your cousin. I can help you find her.”
And some part of her believed him. The rest of her, though, stiffened in fear. She ran back inside the hotel lobby, grateful for the brightness of the lights, and grabbed the back of a chair while she tried to calm herself. She took several deep breaths and turned anxiously to make sure he hadn’t followed her inside. He hadn’t.
It’s okay. You just have to be firm with him. You’ve heard that European men can be aggressive and persistent, she reminded herself. Like Wendy’s date. Her mind back on her cousin, Susan went up to the woman behind the desk.
“Can I help you?”
“My cousin was here in a black dress with a man wearing red and black. Did you see them?”
“Did you hear them say anything, where they were going?”
“I’m sorry. I just heard him say ‘let’s go’ and then they left.”
“That’s it?” Susan asked. That wasn’t much in the way of persuasion. Surely it would have taken more than that to get Wendy to leave her. A cold, sick sensation settled in the pit of her stomach and it reminded her of the way she had felt before her parents were killed.
“They were supposed to be going dancing. Do you have any idea where they might have gone?”
“There are several clubs. I can give you a list if you like.”
Susan bit her lip. She could hear the clock on the wall above the counter ticking out the seconds. “Yes, please.”
The woman pulled out a copy of the area map and began marking things with a yellow highlighter. She marked three of them with Xs. “If he’s local, he would be more likely to take her to one of these three unless…”
“Unless he took her to one of the clubs off the beaten path.”
“Thank you,” Susan said, grabbing the map and heading for the door.
She stepped outside and glanced down at the map, her eyes seeking out the closest X. Nebe Kremencova Cocktail and Music Bar. It was just one of sixteen places that were marked. The overwhelming nature of her task took full hold when she noticed that he was still there, watching her.
“You’ll never find her in one of those,” he said. “I can help you. I know where he took her.”
“Tell me the name of the place,” she said, hating that she could hear her voice shaking.
He shook his head. “It has no name. It is very private, exclusive. It caters only to those few who know it. But I will take you there.”
Susan took a step back. There was no way she was going anywhere with him. She stared at him and was about to tell him to stay away from her and her cousin.
His lips moved and suddenly she wanted to kiss them, even though he was a stranger, even though he terrified her, even though there was a darkness coming from him that was unlike anything she had ever felt before. As though sensing her desire he bent close and brushed her lips with his.
When he touched her all she wanted was him. Thoughts of her cousin, the funeral, everything seemed to disappear. She slid her arms around his neck, pressing closer to him as one in a dream.
“I’m not this girl,” she whispered against his lips. He had to know, this wasn’t her. She didn’t kiss strange men. She didn’t feel this deep hunger inside.
“I know you’re not,” he said. “But I am this man.”
And suddenly, he was standing ten feet away, his hands in the pockets of his trench coat instead of on her waist. She jerked and nearly fell. She caught herself on the wall behind her.
“What happened?” she asked in bewilderment.
“A suggestion,” he said with a shrug.
“I didn’t hear you suggest anything,” she said.
“Ah, but I did. I told you that you wanted me.”
Her head was spinning and the fear was returning. “If that’s true, why?”
“To show you that you should not blame your cousin for leaving you. You see, the man that she is with made certain she wanted nothing more than to go with him.”
“He told her he was a gypsy.”
“He’s not. He’s something much different and not half as friendly.”
“Are you a gypsy? A magician?” she asked. It sounded stupid, but how else could he have hypnotized her?
Susan shook her head to clear it of the dark thoughts colliding within her. She pushed off from the wall, relieved to see that she had regained her footing. “I have to find her,” she said.
“I will help you.”
“Why would you do that?”
“Because Susan of Bryas, I need your help.”
He knew her first name. That realization hit her but was quickly overshadowed by what he had said. She flushed, imagination running wild with what kind of help he could be alluding to. She couldn’t risk a repeat of whatever he had done to her. She hadn’t been herself and that frightened her even more than he did.
“I’m not going to—” she began hotly.
He held up a hand. “Don’t worry. Next time you kiss me it will be because you want to.”
She was astounded by his arrogance, and anger flooded her. “Trust me, that’s not going to happen.”
He smiled. “I know the women of your family, their spirit, their passion.”
She had a thousand questions for this stranger who terrified her, who knew her name and had taken her breath away. They could all wait, though, because the clock was still ticking and the fear inside her was growing with every passing second. “Where is my cousin?” she demanded. That was the only question that mattered at the moment.
“Not far, but we must go quickly,” he said, turning to walk.
She hurried to catch up with him. Being near him she still felt the fear but the desire was gone and she was grateful for that.
This is crazy, she told herself, but she still continued to walk. She believed him when he said he knew where Wendy was. What awaited her at their destination she didn’t know, but she couldn’t leave her cousin alone. She wished she had the pepper spray she usually carried with her. She hadn’t been able to take it on the plane, though, so it sat on her dresser at home.
They turned immediately off the main street and she dutifully followed as the man beside her led her through several streets. They twisted and turned enough that she began to worry about finding her way back. More than once she thought about stopping. She had heard all the nightmare stories about young female travelers kidnapped in foreign cities and she prayed fervently that she wasn’t going to be one of them.
She kept going, though. He had been able to hypnotize her, persuade her to kiss him. Garridan must have done something similar to convince Wendy to leave without her. What might he do to Wendy once he had her alone? Like it or not, the man beside Susan was her only chance at finding her cousin quickly. Wendy was flaky and self-centered, but she wouldn’t have ditched Susan without a compelling reason. And if Garridan could be half as compelling as the man beside her, then Wendy was in serious trouble.
At last they turned down a narrow alleyway and stopped before a black door that bore no signs of any kind. The light was dim and she knew instinctively that this was a part of the city that was not on the maps they handed out to tourists.
She turned and her escort was looking at her, his blue eyes blazing. She took a deep breath, praying for strength and guidance.
“Your cross,” he said.
“Yes?” she asked, hand flying to it. It was still covered in dried blood; she kept forgetting to clean it.
Susan wanted to argue with him, but she had a feeling it was an argument she would lose. She tucked the necklace inside her turtleneck. She could feel the cool of the metal against her skin and she drew comfort from it.
“What now?” she asked as he seemed to hesitate.
“Susan of Bryas, I am about to take you into a dark world. One you won’t want any part of. But your cousin needs your help and frankly so do I.”
“Why do you keep calling me that?” she asked.
“Bryas is where your family was from when I knew them.”
“I don’t understand.”
“I know. I should have taken the time to explain to you, but as it turns out time is the one thing we don’t have.”
“Then what are we waiting for?” she asked, trying to keep her voice from quavering.
“While we are inside, do as I say and do not leave my side, no matter what happens.”
“What’s in there?” she asked, staring hard at the door.
“Death. You can turn back now if you wish.”
“What will happen to Wendy if I do?” she asked.
“She will die.”
“Then I should call the police.”
“They cannot help you. Only I can and perhaps your God.”
She took a deep breath. She had come this far with him, and she wasn’t ready to turn back yet. Not if what he said about Wendy being in danger could even possibly be true. “Let’s go.”
“Do not touch any others. If any approach you, say my name. By exchanging a kiss my scent is upon you. I have marked you as mine, so to speak.”
“What is your name?” she asked.
He pushed open the door of the club and a wave of nausea drove her to her knees.
What profit is there in my blood, when I go down to the pit?
Susan staggered to her feet, helped by Raphael, and stared into the darkness beyond the door. She could hear music coming from the club. The darkness was nearly absolute, but she could see the top of a staircase that led downward. There was a feeling of evil so intense, so overpowering, that for a moment she didn’t think she could go inside even if Wendy was in danger.
“It can be a bit overwhelming,” Raphael said. “Especially if you are sensitive to such things as you so clearly are.”
He grabbed her arm and helped guide her down the stairs. The light was so dim that she would have fallen off the last stair had he not caught her and set her on her feet.
“Do not thank me,” he said darkly.
He took her hand—his felt odd to the touch—and pulled her toward what looked like a tunnel. The walls were covered with some sort of residue and she yanked her hand away after touching one briefly.
“What is this place?” she asked.
“An old sewer. It will take us to where we are going.”
“And where is that?”
“An underground club. Literally. Those who wish to…indulge…in private come here.”
Twice she tripped over unseen debris on the floor of the tunnel. The slow, pulsing beat of the music grew louder until it seemed to merge with her own heartbeat.
She glanced sideways at Raphael. His features were obscured by darkness. This is crazy. Wendy’s probably a block away from the hotel in some upscale club doing Jell-O shots and being told a lot of nonsense by a fake gypsy while I’m letting a man who terrifies me lead me through the sewers under the city. I think I’m the one that’s in trouble, she thought. Maybe I’m still hypnotized. But, if I were hypnotized would I even be able to ask that question? When she had been under his spell she hadn’t fought him, hadn’t wanted to. Wasn’t that proof that she was acting of her own free will now?
The end of the tunnel came into sight and a minute later they stepped out onto the edge of a dance floor. The lights were incredibly low in the club as well and the music wasn’t what she would have expected from such a place. It was slow, moody, seductive. Couples swayed on the dance floor to it, like shadows moving in a darkened room. The light was so dim that she couldn’t make out their faces. How would she find Wendy if she was there?
Raphael pulled her toward the bar and from there they surveyed the room.
“Do you see her?” Susan asked, desperation filling her. She wanted to leave, wanted it more than anything in the world. She needed to find Wendy and drag her out as fast as she could.
Next to her at the bar a couple was making out. Susan looked away, trying not to think about Raphael’s hand wrapped around hers or about the kiss they had shared.
What was happening to her? The magic of Prague, that’s what her grandmother would have said. Whatever it was, she didn’t like it. She started giving serious thought to heading straight for the airport once she found Wendy, without collecting their things at the hotel or attending the funeral in the morning.
“There she is,” Raphael said suddenly, nodding to the middle of the dance floor.
“How can you tell?” Susan asked, squinting to make out features in the darkness.
“Come with me,” he said, not answering her question. He led her to the dance floor and once there pulled her into his arms.
She tried to push away from him, but he gripped her tighter. “Do as I say,” he whispered in her ear. “There is an easy way to do this. You don’t want to see the hard way.”
Reluctantly she put her arms around his neck and they moved slowly through the other dancers. She turned her head and finally caught a glimpse of Wendy. She was dancing with Garridan and they were kissing.
“It’s her,” Susan said as she tried to avoid colliding with a couple next to her.
“Try to get her to go with you, say whatever you need to,” Raphael whispered softly.
They moved until they bumped into the other couple. Wendy looked at Susan with wide eyes, her pupils dilated more than they should have been even in the dim light. Susan grabbed her hand. “Wendy, I met the most amazing guy. I have to use the restroom, come with me and I’ll tell you all about it,” she said, putting as much excitement into her voice as possible.
Wendy stared at her as though she didn’t even recognize her.
“Wendy, hello, let’s go,” Susan said, tugging on her.
“I don’t think the lady wants to go right now,” Garridan said, his voice menacing.
Susan looked at him. The mask was off and Garridan was showing his true colors. There was lust in his eyes and a cruel look on his face.
“Wendy!” Susan said.
“She’s coming with us,” Raphael said, his voice so low it seemed to vibrate the air around them.
Susan glanced up at Raphael. His eyes were glowing even more brightly and he parted his lips to reveal long, wicked fangs where his incisors should have been.
Susan gasped and jerked away from him, jostling into Garridan. He let go of Wendy, grabbed Susan around the waist, and twisted her head to the side. Susan squealed in fear and tried to fight free, kicking at him with her legs and pounding with her fists but his strength was incredible and he didn’t even flinch under her onslaught.
“Hey, if you wanted to swap, all you had to do was ask,” Garridan said.
She twisted her head to look at his face and saw that he, too, had fangs.
Around them other dancers came to a halt and the music died. “Help me!” she screamed at the top of her lungs.
She reached her hand into her shirt and yanked out her cross. Around her several observers shrunk back a step or two. She shoved the cross backward and heard a scream before she was thrown onto the floor. She jumped to her feet just in time to see Garridan clawing at his face. It was on fire. He crashed to the ground, his whole body going up in flames and the dancers scattered in all directions.
An arm grabbed her hard around the waist and she felt herself being picked up.
She turned, cross in hand.
“Put it away,” Raphael roared as he scooped Wendy up with his other arm.
She did as he said and a moment later they were racing down the tunnel they had entered through so fast that the wind stung her eyes. “Put me down!” she shouted over and over to no avail.
Then they were at the stairs, which Raphael seemed to leap up before kicking open the door to the outside world.
The night air washed over her, cold and clean, but she still felt the stench of evil clinging to her.
Excerpted from Kiss of Night by Viguie, Debbie Copyright © 2011 by Viguie, Debbie. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Posted January 29, 2014
Vampires with dashing good looks. Heroines in their young twenties who are stronger than they seem, yet almost die in the fight. The curse of daylight, fire, garlic, and crosses with little explanation of the meaning and power behind the symbol. A tortured vampire with heart. A non-vampiric sweetheart of a guy forced to join the fight. And France. Always somebody or something French. I found the supposed Christian spin just that - a ploy to reach closeted fans of the paranormal genre. Using a cross to fend off vampires or heroes praying in the face of evil is nothing new to fiction and happens in plenty of non-Christian media. Heck, every time a soap opera character has a loved one in the hospital they go pray in the chapel and then hop into bed with someone for comfort. This novel is a bit too formulaic. That having been said, I did appreciate a bit of newness in the characters of Paul (though I have seen religious vampires in other works) and some of his tricks (though there have been mentor immortals in other works), Michael, the mad-scientist vampire, two full couples and no typical love triangle, and the cliffhanger ending. I do love the way this author writes and just how easy it is to see it in your mind, and the constant fast-paced action. But so far it just feels like it's straining for the Christian angle. And there are so many vampire myths from around the world that could fit a good-versus-evil mold so easily that I don't understand why it ALWAYS has to be a hot guy with a heart of gold. And rarely do works of paranormal fiction portray characters outside of their twenties with this book being of little exception - even the grandmother is portrayed in an old photo of a young girl in love. It's a fun, inexpensive read with promise of something different to come in the next installment and great use of imagery. But I do get tired of the same ol' same old, and the Christian classification is a bit of a stretch on this one.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 12, 2012
I have never gotten swept up into the vampire book craze, and have never seen a single Twilight film, but I have to say that after reading Kiss of Night I wonder if I've been missing out! This book is certainly on the edgier side of Christian fiction with vampires lusting for blood and fights to the death between vampires and humans. But I have to say that I was absolutely captivated by the story line and the breakneck pace of the book, which largely takes place in the present but also has brief snapshots into Raphael's past. The book has a fascinating premise underlying it, posing the question of whether it would be possible to be a vampire and to also embrace a belief in God. The manner in which the author lays this out makes this an entirely plausible scenario, and also raises an intriguing concept about vampires being cursed because the human had been so wicked that there was no way that in a span of their lifetime they would have been able to be redeemed. Instead, they are cursed to become vampires and basically become immortal (except for a few ways that they can be killed), giving the vampire centuries to come to grips with their evil nature and realize their need for redemption. I loved watching Susan and David discover that vampires existed, and the forbidden love that unfolds between Susan and Raphael is sure to please those craving some romance in the midst of the suspense and the supernatural elements.
By the end of the book, I realized that I had entered a series that was far more epic in scope than I'd anticipated, with the unfolding of the beginning of a classic good versus evil battle unto the end. I came to the end wondering how I'm going to be able to wait for the second installment! The writing is action-packed, the characters are intriguing, and the plot is exciting and superbly crafted. In short, this is a great read, and worthy of 4.5 out of 5 stars.
Book has been provided courtesy of the publisher, Faithwords (Hachette Book Group) for the purposes of this unbiased review.
Posted November 7, 2011
At least i thought I wasnt! This book was exciting and never a dull moment... But by golly I need the next book like yesterday to this story! Worth the wait, but please dont make it long! Great readWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 12, 2011
I picked this book up cause it intrigued me so much! A christian vampire? Now, that is something new. I had never read anything like this before and was excited to read it. I can tell you that right from the start, I was hooked!
What I liked most about this book is the plot. Paced perfectly, Ms. Viguie snags the reader with her brilliant writing, holding on to the reader tight. I loved the pacing of the book flowed well with the back round history of it. There was no confusion, just good writing that lead you further in the history of vampires.
I adored all the characters. Both characters went through a lot of change but did not hold back feelings. I love how the characters were immediately passionate, fierce, and loyal. Ms. Viguie makes it easy to slip into the characters shoes. The reader is able to go back in time and see things from a whole new point of view.
I loved the biblical references. Ms. Viguie did a great job in capturing the essence of The Knights Templar, Christian history as well as God. It may seem a little weird at first, but with the way Ms. Viguie mixes it all together, the reader has no problem reading it.
Kiss of Night is a great book that I can read over and over again. Filled with non-stop action, fierce love, and great writing, Ms. Viguie created a world that I thought could never be done.
Posted October 10, 2011
Kiss of Night puts a whole new spin on the classic vampire story. Vampirism, it turns out, is a curse bestowed on men and women who are so depraved, they need more than a standard lifetime to turn from wickedness and be redeemed. Raphael is one of those men. A crusader who killed everyone in his path, Raphael killed for the joy and thrill of killing. Now a 700-year-old vampire, Raphael wants the help of Susan, descendant from a line of humans who can sense the supernatural, to defeat a group of vampires that have resisted redemption and have only become more evil as they age.
Kiss of Night is good supernatural Christian fiction, a genre that's relatively new to me but one that I absolutely love. Along with the idea that no one is beyond redemption, the story effortlessly weaves in themes of sacrifice, love and prayer that flows well and is never preachy.
Raphael is swoon worthy and the budding relationship between him and Susan, though a bit quick, is still well done. I was (very pleasantly) surprised that the couple kiss passionately on more than one occasion, you don't usually find that in Christian fiction. I loved the vampire mythology and Raphael's flashbacks to times before and after he was turned.
While I enjoyed Kiss of Night, the book does have some minor flaws. The story is told from alternating character perspectives and I found the constant change a bit jarring. Additionally, as I mentioned before, the romances in the story develop quickly.
The story is fast paced, thrilling and leaves mysteries that will hopefully be unfolded in upcoming sequels. The book does end in a wicked cliffhanger but that's what keeps us coming back, right? I will definitely be reading upcoming books in this series. I recommend this for anyone who is looking for something a little different in supernatural/paranormal fiction.
Content: Kissing and violence.
Posted October 7, 2011
Debbie Viguie is a wonderfully talented author. I was excited for the opportunity to review this new Christian fiction novel, excited that it was another new approach incorporating Vampires into the Christian realm. I was super pleased with the results and what I read!
Ralph and Susan were wonderfully created characters. Viguie added an intense depth to both of them, really making them pull the reader into the heart of the story. A story of redemption, in a world of evil; a story of unlikely love between two totally opposite souls.
The idea behind a vampire being redeemed for his sins, is absolutely awesome. Why? Simply because in the world today there is so much turmoil about sins and evilness, and who God will redeem. The fact that God will redeem ANYONE, really makes this story ring true.
Watching Ralph make himself known to Susan, in order to help find her cousin Wendy, was awesome. Susan didn't know whether to trust him, and really, I would have been the same way. Seeing them work together, seeing their interactions, really brought the story to life for me. It really would make an AWESOME movie! When Ralph and Susan set out to help each, one searching for family, one searching to end the evil, Viguie adds the twist of mystery to the reader. Why? Because Susan's ancestors are connected to that evilness, connected to the Vampires of the past. It REALLY keeps the reader hooked, turning page after page, long into the night to see what would happen next, both TO Ralph and Susan, and BETWEEN Ralph and Susan.
Again, I'm still so new to this vampire settings, but I really enjoyed this new novel. And the best part? It's the first in a new trilogy! YAY! I loved being sucked into the heart of this story, being able to walk beside Susan as she went in search of the truth, and beside Ralph as he set out to help God rid the world of evil. A truly powerful story of faith, love, hope, and redemption, this comes with my highest recommendation! You'll love every aspect of this story, especially if you love romance and vampires! A high 5 Book worthy novel! I can't WAIT for book two, Kiss of Revenge, to release next year....it is truly one that I know will be my most anticipated read for next year. I'm loving this vampire thing! COOLNESS! Wonderful job, Ms. Viguie!
Posted October 6, 2011
I was somewhat skeptical about reading this book. Since it portrays a vampire and is listed a Christian genre. Then I read the synopsis and read the vampire, Raphel seeks redemption for his sins. Can vampire be saved by the blood of Christ? I like the story line that evil can be redeemed no matter how vile their sins were.
The author adds a scripture at the beginning of each chapter. You can see how the scripture works into that chapter which was a plus for me. As you get pulled into the book you begin to route for Raphel to be redeemed.
The cover for the book is outstanding. I don't normally comment on the cover of a book but this one is exceptional.
The story begins with Susan Lambert arriving in Prague to attend her Grandmother's funeral. Although her grandmother lived in the states she was born close to Prague. While Susan was in Prague she kept feeling like something dark was following her. Hence, comes Raphel a vampire condemned to wander the earth as a vampire for eternity because of his evil ways. They partner up in quest for the good of all. You will enjoy the other character the author has written into this story.
This book pulls you in and you don't want to put it down. That is what happened to me.
I highly recommend this book.
I give it a 5 out of 5.
I received a free copy of this book. This review is my honest opinion and in now way was compensated for that opinion.
Posted October 4, 2011
Susan Lambert is in the city of Prague because her beloved grandmothers funeral is being held there. Raised by her grandmother since the age of twelve when her parents were killed in a car accident, an accident that Susan had a feeling about, and that's the thing, Susan had always had a feeling of discernment. The ability to sense when something wasn't right and that was a feeling she got when she decided to visit St. Vitus Cathedral. Even though she was alone in the Cathedral she felt as if someone was there with her, and even glimpsed what she thought was a man. She sees the same man a few more times, and when her cousin Wendy decides to go partying with a stranger that oozes evil, she feels compelled to find her cousin and get her away from this man.The man that Susan glimpsed in the Cathedral,(Raphael) approaches Susan and offers to help her find Wendy, but in return he tells Susan he will need her help. Susan is soon introduced to things she would have never imagined, and learns that vampires do exist and Raphael is a vampire set to fight a war against an evil vampire who wants to rule the world. I love vampire fiction and I was quite excited to read a vampire tale that was woven into christian fiction. I enjoyed getting to know the characters especially Raphael. Thru flashbacks we learn why he was cursed to be a vampire. The way the author explains why some people become vampires was quite different from most vampire tales. Her take was that some people are so inherently evil that they are cursed as vampires thus living longer in the hopes that they will eventually learn their mistakes and accept God, which was something that Raphael was still struggling with even after 900 years. While Raphael is a vampire it was easy to sense a goodness in him, although when Susan's life was in jeopardy we certainly saw his dark side.The forbidden feel of the attraction between Susan and Raphael kept me turning the pages to see if a romance would develop.The secondary character of David added to the story for me, a reluctant hero, who was only in Prague for three months on a job assignment staying in the same hotel as Wendy and Susan, when he hears on of the women cry out he tries to help them and learns the hard way that vampires exist and soon finds himself being trained as a vampire slayer. The relationship between David and Wendy was sweet. I really hated to see this book end, and left me wanting to read a sequel. I really can't wait to see how the relationship between Raphael and Susan goes. A vampire tale woven together with a christian theme, and a fight of good versus evil, the perfect October read! On a scale of one to five I would easily give this one a six because it's just that good!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 2, 2011
KISS OF NIGHT by Debbie Viguie is an interesting inspirational urban fantasy set in Prague,Europe with a side trip to France. It is the first in "The Kiss" trilogy. It is a unique story of Vampires,and redemption.It has a bit of romance,love,faith,courage,danger,supernatural,folk lore,death,fear,secrets,search for salvation,dark souls,and the need to save Earth from the darkness that may be coming. This is the story of Raphael, Susan, David,and Wendy(Susan's cousin). Raphael,a blasphemous Knight,who fought in the Crusades,was a mercenary, and condemned to wander the Earth as a Vampire for his hypocrisy and evil passion.Raphael,has been tortured and will be tortured again by one of the evil Vampires Enter,Susan, whose is in Prague,for her grandermother's funeral. Here is learns her family's secret,her part in this fight,is hunted by evil Vampires and is enlisted by Raphael to save the world from evil Vampires. So Raphael,enlists Susan and David to help him with his fight against evil and darkness. This is a fast paced,action packed story from beginning to end. The plot is well written with characters are will capture your heart as they learn to love,while their faith blooms. A must read. Any paranormal,urban fantasy,Christian,suspense,mystery,and romance readers will enjoy "Kiss of Night". It has a lot to offer to any of these readers,while this is an inspirational urban fantasy, it is not "preachy". "Kiss of Night" is a great beginning to what is to be an awesome trilogy. Received for review from the publisher. Details can be found at Faith Words & Center Street,a division of Hachette Group and My Book Addiction and More.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted September 26, 2011
Centuries ago, Raphael was a blasphemous knight who fought in the Crusades purely for his own mercenary benefit, and to satisfy his taste for killing. Now, condemned for his evil passions and hypocrisy, he wanders the earth a vampire, cursed with first-hand knowledge of the supernatural world he once denied existed. The powerful relic he still possesses from his days as a Crusader has been stolen by a rival vampire who has recruited an army of soulless underlings to aid him in spreading evil. At the time he learns this, Raphael has been hunting this vampire for nearly a century, and it seems the final battle is destined to take place in Prague.br For help in this quest, Raphael must enlist the aid of two humans, David and Susan, who suddenly find themselves immersed in a world they never imagined, entangled with supernatural forces they can't control. Susan, in particular, finds herself conflicted as she struggles with her inexplicable attraction to Raphael. In the end, both Susan and Raphael will be called upon to exercise courage and faith, and in the process, the question, "What would happen if a vampire truly accepted God?" is answered.
Vampires fighting to rule the world? Sounds like a pretty good book to me. The main character, Susan, is inquisitive and intelligent. She can be a little impulsive, she gets herself into a fair amount of trouble in the book.
It is hard to restate the plot without giving anything away, the Goodreads summary does a great job of stating the facts. The events were fast-paced and exciting. There is an undercurrent of fear and mystery for part of the book. The characters were very well-developed and the reader will get to know them and their fears quite well. They were all very likable with the exception of the antagonists. This book is great for Twilight and Cassandra Clare fans.
Posted August 21, 2011
Susan travels to Prague to her grandmother's funeral, there she visits the wonderful and mysterious city, but she feels watched, and as her roommate cousin is lured away from the hotel she has to trust a stranger to find her. It soon becomes clear she's over her head in a world with vampires fighting over the rule of the world. David travels to Prague for a job, and finds out that being raised a good man also means that if you burst into unexpected situations your life might be in more danger than one would imagine. As it turns out he's a hard man to put down and isn't afraid to stand for those who can't protect themselves, especially when they happen to be blonde and beautiful collage students just one room over. Raphael's past is as dark as they get, which is why he's been cursed to roam the earth a vampire to have hundreds of years to get perspective, but as his lone existence now has to include Susan, a human woman, perspective seems to falter. He sure doesn't see developing feelings for a woman a good thing, but it also seems it's not something he can simply ignore, after all he has to keep Susan safe if he wants her help to win over his enemy. But with her he gets more than he bargained for. The gorgeous medieval and dark city of Prague creates just the right environment for vampires lurking in the shadows, with old buildings and more history than one can count Prague is the perfect place for Raphael's story to entwine with Susan's and produce one dark, but thrilling book. This story follows three point-of-views Susan, David and Raphael in third person, and each one of the characters is absolute delight to read! As Susan's view ends and David's picks up it doesn't feel wrong or less, but just right. All the characters are created with souls and you can feel how they are different and individual in the story. And none of the characters are flimsy, fake or hollow, but strong in their own ways and a pleasure to get to know. The story is very interesting, and as I know this is Book 1 in the trilogy all I can say is What an introduction! I can't wait to read the next book out in 2012. Debbie Viguié's vampires are either very bad ( read murderers, killers, psychos even before getting turned ) or slightly to moderately redeemed, none of them turned by accident or mockery, but turned, or as she writes Cursed, only to be punished for their evil actions as humans. Which makes the vampires interesting as they begin to seek faith and redemption. As I begun this book I knew it was going to be good, but I didn't know it was going to be excellent! This is definitely a series I will follow up on! A wonderful read for Fall days, definitely worth the pre-order. I'd put this in Urban Fantasy genre with a bit of Paranormal Romance in it, but PG-13. If you get one vampire book this fall, get Kiss of Night. It's for the lovers of Twilight and Mortal Instruments and those who love the idea of a dark European city with vampires stepping in front of you from a dark alley.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 20, 2011
Lying within the darkness and the mists of the centuries old, lies a deep and hidden secret. It has been this way for many centuries and as long as there has been good in the world, so has there also been evil.
Now the clock is ticking on a war that is soon to rage, yet there still remains time to train those who will begun warriors and for those who will weld weapons of unknown secrets.
Susan Lambert thought that by taking a trip to Prague, she would be attending her grandmother's funeral. However when she attempts to visit an ancient cathedral her grandmother told her about, she meets a mysterious, tall stranger, with dark hair and the deepest blue eyes, who vanishes before her eyes.
Not knowing if this is just a part of jet lag or simply being too tired and overwhelmed by the history of the town, Susan will be drawn to a man she both fears and trusts at the same time. When her cousin Wendy, meets an unexpected man, she invites Susan to go to a night club with them. Immediately Susan knows that this man is evil and means to harm Wendy if she leaves with him. Excusing herself to change, Susan returns to find her cousin and the stranger have vanished.
Not knowing where to begin searching for her, she finds her tall, dark stranger who identifies himself as Raphael, waiting to help her find Wendy. What he is about to tell her will not only protect her on her quest, but will change her life forever. Vampires still live and not all of them are good. She just isn't sure if his intentions are to harm her or protect her.
David Trent, is visiting Prague for three months for his job research, and who also coincidentally finds himself in the same hotel as Susan. When he hears screaming coming from her room, he rushes in to find a vampire holding down a woman on her bed, and in the next moment finds himself thrown across the room, before blacking out.
In the novel Kiss of Night by Debbie Viguie', Susan and David will join forces with vampires to eliminate an evil threat of war about to be unleashed on the world, by a vampire older than Raphael, whose goal is to rule the world as the one true leader. What Susan and David are about to learn is just what ancient weapons, Susan's grandmother has left them and just what part Raphael's sire, Gabriel, will play in all of this.
I received this novel compliments of Faith Words for my honest review and loved a different take on your traditional vampire stories. This one is written for a Christian audience but anyone who loves Twilight, would be captivated by this one as well. There is an ongoing struggle within Raphael to find the salvation of God even though he served in the crusades as a warrior. He later found greed as his motivation to move up within the ranks and thus when turned into a vampire, maintained that lust for greed. Now he fights internally for the good he sees in Susan and how she is willing to do anything to protect him and keep him from harm.
This novel ends perfectly for a sequel and can't wait to hear about what happens to them in future. This one had me hooked from the first page, must like the Twilight series, and leaves me definitely for a taste of wanting even more. 5 out of 5 stars for this book that will leave you with a completely different take on all the vampire stories out there.
Posted November 12, 2012
No text was provided for this review.