There are certain figures in history that when I see their names I get this chill down my back and I don’t mean the good kind. And then I quickly proceed forthwith to read the story because I like reading about the big, bad scaries that keep me up at night. In this case, it is Erzsebet (or Elizabeth) Bathory, a Hungarian countess also known as the Blood Countess for the cruel butcheries of a frightening number of people particularly young girls. The author told a captivating modern-day romantic suspense tale set in Transylvania with the discovery of a never before known castle belonging to the Blood Countess. This atmospheric piece grabbed my attention from the beginning and left me chewing my nail over the exciting climax near the end.
The story opens with Serena Scott getting her new assignment to go with aggravating cameraman, to film a documentary piece about the new discovery of a castle in Transylvania thought to be another primary residence of Countess Erzsebet Bathory. Serena and Hunter will stay in the fifteenth century residence and shoot footage as Serena narrates the story of the Blood Countess and the tie-in to the castle. Serena is less than thrilled about the nearly silent Hunter Cole as her work partner and about the primitive housing. The location and the subject matter get to her as she researches and explores the gruesome place particularly Erzsebet’s hidden torture chamber.
It is then that Serena realizes that she may have misjudged Hunter. He is a stalwart companion and he has hidden depths once she starts to know him. She had a bad past experience with a man that colors her perceptions now. As they near the end of their assignment, they engage more with those down in the village and it is about that time the unthinkable happens. Serena and Hunter are caught up in a murder that harks back to the same way the Blood Countess tortured and killed her victims.
The author paces this one out steadily giving time for the reader to get to know the characters, the situation and feel the tension build both in the romance and the suspense. Serena is the first person perspective narrator and all is seen through her eyes. She’s fiery and prone to jump to conclusions, but she can be observant and fair too. I liked how Hunter is a bit of a mystery and he is slowly made known about the same pace as Serena starts to fall for him. They are a likeable pair and there is good chemistry there. The setting and background about Erzsebet Bathory set the tone and gave the murder mystery quite the boost in chills.
In summary, I found this a compelling bit of storytelling that I can easily recommend to Romantic Suspense fans.
My thanks to the author for providing a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.
Romance Roundabout #134
Mt. TBR #75
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