Susan Squires never disappoints me. Her writer’s voice is still like dark chocolate to my brain and I always devour her works as if they were that very substance. Her latest in the Companion series, One with the Darkness  (6/2008), is a sinfully delicious treat indeed and an infinitely satisfying read with, again, some of the most erotic lovemaking scenes I’ve ever read. She should seriously include some sort of “cold shower warning” disclaimer.
Amidst all the romance and steamy sex, though, lies a story of power and politics, which is always a hotbed of intrigue and danger, and very fertile ground from which love and loyalty may rise up and bloom into a passionate romance for the ages — literally when it comes to vampires.
One with the Darkness  reintroduces us to a character who came to the fore in One with the Shadows , Donnatella Margherita Luchella di Poliziano (is that a mouthful or what?), the mother of Gian Urbano. She is a grand vampire lady with a vision for a better world but she is lonely, her love lost long ago because she had not the courage to break the rules of her race and Convert the man she loved into a vampire. She has mourned him for centuries, her heart finding no other to love. Her son is truly her only personal joy.
Hope blossoms for her, however, in a most unexpected way … the discovery of a note from an old acquaintance (Michelangelo) detailing a special gift from another friend (Da Vinci) that may give her a chance to change her past.
I will not go into too much detail of the events that ensue for fear of giving away things readers are best to enjoy for themselves. But suffice it to say, Donnatella rediscovers her long-lost love, Jergan, a slave from Britannica, and again faces the choice of breaking the laws of her kind and Convert him to a vampire, or lose him a second time.
Ms. Squires sets the story in ancient Rome during the time of Gaius Caesar, aka Caligula, with Donnatella (then Livia) embroiled in a pit of intrigue. Plotting to overthrow the demented Emperor, re-establish a Republic and restore Rome to her civilized glory, she offers her co-conspirators the benefit of her wealth of experience and wisdom gained in her already long life. If you’re familiar with Roman history, you’ll recognize some of the surrounding players in this interesting look at the politics of the time, and the culture.
Ms. Squires’ descriptions of surroundings and objects are lush, as always, and put the reader “there.” There were times I felt like I was seated amongst the characters, a part of the story, watching silently as events unfolded. That’s not an easy feat for a writer to accomplish and speaks to Ms. Squires ability to draw a reader into the action of the story in an extremely intimate way.
Jergan and Livia’s story is magical, their attraction based on mutual respect, love and, of course, a healthy measure of lust. They understand each other in an intrinsic way, and it is a joy to watch them grow closer, their bond strengthen as they move from master and slave to lovers and beyond, to that state of completion when two halves of a whole are united.
One with the Darkness  has its harrowing moments as well and some scenes may leave the reader uneasy as they read them — remember, Caligula is part of this story, though, thankfully, the depths of his perversity aren’t explored — so be warned, but also know that those uncomfortable moments soon pass and, as always, love is affirmed.
Have you read One with the Darkness ? If so, feel free to leave a comment on this post and let everyone know what you think.