- Title: Beautiful Sacrifice: A Novel
- Classification: Adult Fiction
- Genre: Romantic Suspense
- Hardcover: 400 pages
- Publisher: William Morrow (May 22, 2012)
- ISBN-10: 0061629863
- ISBN-13: 978-0061629860
- Author's Website: http://www.elizabethlowell.com/contest.html
- "There are rumors. Many rumors."
"The rumors whisper of an obsidian mask carved from a single piece of stone, a god bundle never opened, a sacred scepter with obsidian teeth, a foot-long jade Chacmool, and exquisitely made obsidian knife created solely to let the blood of kings. Even an unknown codes. All and more, of the very highest quality, appearing and then disappearing again, like ghost smoke."
Dr. Lina Taylor is an expert on both Maya artifacts and culture. She splits her time between the field and teaching. Part Maya herself, she grew up emerged in the culture. Rumor has it an incredible archaeological discovery has been made, but not by legitimate means. Hunter Johnston, a former ICE (Immigration & Customs Enforcement) officer approaches Lina for help to find out what happened to some seized artifacts which were stolen from ICE. The blame for the theft is lying on the shoulders of Jase Beaumont, Hunter's best friend, who asked Hunter to help him investigate the crime. If the items in the pictures Hunter shows Lina are the real deal, then the rumors would be confirmed. Artifacts from an ancient Maya God some scholars thought never existed would have been discovered.
While the find itself would be huge, if the artifacts truly are genuine, they'd be worth a fortune on the black market. That is what is originally believed to be the motive behind the theft, but while following a lead, a gruesome discovery is made. Several individuals are found to have been killed in a ritualistic type manner. The question is, do the deaths have something to do with a once thought fictitious god and/or the Maya end of times prophecy which will culminate within just days or is something else going on? The only place similar artifacts have been found are on the Reyes Balam family lands, which Lina's family owns. With Lina's own reputation already tainted by a scandal, any link whatsoever to illegally acquired ancient artifacts could end her career completely. Of course, with people being killed, her reputation might just be the least of her worries...
The attraction between Lina and Hunter was so thick you could almost cut it with a knife. Prior to the beginning of the book the two had started to date so they already had something stirring. It was fun to see them try to contain their feelings for each other while attempting to work together. Lina was strong, smart, and managed to keep a level head when faced with difficult situations. Those are traits I love to see in heroines.
Hunter managed to be protective of Lina yet didn't try to overwhelm her by trying to control or dominate her in any way that would suggest she couldn't take care of herself. While he does sort of manipulate her into helping to find the stolen artifacts, that was only done out of necessity. She was an expert on ancient Maya artifacts, something he needed. Plus, he already knew her. Slowly, the mystery of what is going on is revealed and Lina's and Hunter's relationship grows and blossoms into something neither of them can deny.
Overall, this one gets a 5 out of 5 roses. There was plenty of romance, drama and suspense as they attempted to learn who stole the artifacts, and where they came from. Kawa'il is depicted as the "god of blood sacrifice and death," who reportedly "demanded more blood and sacrifice than other gods." So things do get a little gory, and there are a few 'Ewww!' moments, but it all fits in with the story. I would love to see this one be made into a movie. I'd actually pay to see it in the theater. While Ms. Lowell states there are no plans to make this into a series because her publisher prefers singles, I would love to see it become one. Even if she had to change characters to do so. On the Lisarenee Romance Rating Scale, this one gets a STEAM rating--too hot for a fan, but you still have a handle on things. You should use extreme caution when reading a book with this rating in public. People may inquire as to why you looked flustered and flushed.
Notes to keep you in the know:
Throughout the book Lina and Hunter kept talking about how Lina was supposed to be like 'Caesar's wife'. Well, I had never heard the phrase used before and was curious as to its origins, so I looked it up. It basically means that a person should be above approach. Apparently Ceasar's wife, Pompeia, 'hosted the festival of the Bona Dea ("good goddess"), which no man was permitted to attend...However a young patrician named Publius Clodius Pulcher managed to gain admittance disguised as a woman, apparently for the purpose of seducing Pompeia. He was caught and prosecuted for sacrilege. Caesar gave no evidence against Clodius at his trial, and he was acquitted. Nevertheless, Caesar divorced Pompeia, saying that "my wife ought not even to be under suspicion." This gave rise to a proverb, sometimes expressed: "Caesar's wife must be above suspicion."' (Quote copied from Wikipedia. To see the post in its entirety and to learn more about Pompeia, check out this link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caesar%27s_wife )
Examples of Cenotes found on photobucket:
The following was created by Frederick Catherwood (1799–1854) (copyright expired) found on wikipedia:
Example of a Chacmool found on photobucket: