Sunday, August 14, 2011

Away from the Dawn by Kate Sweeney

Publisher:           Intaglio Publications

"We are vampires, we feed off of them. We do not live among them." (p. 104) 

A vampire who is trying to defy that statement is why Kate Sweeney has put aside her Kate Ryan mysteries temporarily to present Away From the Dawn, a story that is quite entertaining. Those who are not normally drawn to the paranormal genre, especially vampire stories, might find this book to their liking because it's also a nice romance.

Sebastian has wandered the world for five hundred years since she was "sired" by the oldest of the vampires Tatiana and though she is one of the strongest of her kind and destined to be their leader, she would reject that position for an opportunity to walk in the sun again and live among humans. Sebastian remembers what it was like to be human and that is her strength, and weakness, depending on who you talk to. For many years she has used her fortune to fund the research at the Windham Institute, protecting its leaders, and hoping for a serum that will allow her to expose herself to sunlight.

So far the research has failed, but the arrival of the brilliant Dr. Alex Taylor to join the staff holds promise that a breakthrough can be made. Alex isn't aware of what she's getting herself into when she accepts the position, but she's already met Sebastian and finds her alluring and fascinating. By the time Alex discovers the truth of who Sebastian is, she is already in love with her, so she can't do anything but try to help her.

Unfortunately, other members of the vampire community are not supportive of Sebastian's efforts and have sent an old friend, Leigh, to convince her to give up her quest. Leigh brings with her a total disregard for humans, except as sex partners and then meals, and a crime wave of brutalized murder victims hits the city.

If she can't get Sebastian to cease her efforts and return to take her place in the hierarchy, then Leigh has orders to destroy her. Sebastian finds herself surrounded by competing forces – the police detective who suspects she is connected to the murders, Leigh and her uncontrollable and possibly dangerous behavior, the pull to fulfill her destiny, and the most overpowering distraction, her attraction to Alex. In the race between them, there is no guarantee which one will win.

Normally, a vampire story would not rank highly in my choice of books to read; however, this story was very enjoyable. This is probably because the characters of Sebastian and Alex are appealing and believable. Well, except that Sebastian can leap buildings and has a hobby of attacking criminals and feeding on them. Beyond that, you care about these two. You feel the anguish that Sebastian experiences over her past life and root for her to find a way to escape it. Alex is particularly appealing and acts as the conduit for Sweeney' sense of humor when, in an effort to save Sebastian, she says to her "Bite me." You'll have to read the book to find out why this is necessary.

Devotees of vampire literature might argue that Sebastian is too human to be a good vampire, but there are plenty of those in the book to please them. Also, Alex probably should have more trouble dealing with Sebastian's condition when she discovers it because most people would be pretty upset to learn they are in love with the undead. It's already clear in the story though that she's pretty unflappable, so it's a minor point. The important thing is that the reader cares about what happens to these two and it makes the rest of the story work.

Away From the Dawn is a good choice for those who don't normally read stories about the supernatural or paranormal and can be a satisfying story for those who love the genre. It has romance, tension, hot sex and drama. Give it a try.

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