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Reviewed by Grant Leishman for Readers' Favorite
Sanguinary Longings by Claude Frazier takes us back to the end of the First World War. Captain Cole Sterling, a surgeon, was performing his life-saving operations on wounded soldiers when the field hospital was overrun by the Germans, with Cole suffering fatal wounds in the process. A mysterious Frenchwoman, Aurora, saves Cole by transfusing some of her blood to him. Cole recovers from what were certainly fatal wounds but discovers that this blood and this relationship will change his life and the direction of his career forever. Aurora’s blood has some miraculous properties that give Cole powers he has never known before but the price is high, too high perhaps. Cole is not one of the undead, he has not become a vampire, but like those creatures, Cole can no longer be exposed to the sun and must drink blood, be it animal or human, to stay alive. As he attempts to come to terms with this new situation, he realizes he is deeply in love with the woman who saved his life. He must come to terms with the restrictions of his new life; his days as a surgeon are over but he discovers there are other opportunities out there in the new and burgeoning world of psychiatry for a talented and powerful doctor. For Aurora and Cole, life seems good and full of possibilities until a trip to the 1920 Olympics in Antwerp casts the pair into the path of some other “blood-drinkers” who have embraced the dark side of their gift.
Sanguinary Longings is definitely a different take on the vampiric legend. Author Claude Frazier goes to some length to assure readers that these characters are not vampires per se but merely imbued with the traits that we would normally ascribe to vampires. He succeeds in this mission, as both Aurora and Cole manage to come across as normal, everyday people who just happen to be “gifted” with some special characteristics. Far from being dark and sinister, as is the propensity of narratives of this type, the author gives us plenty of hope, light, and love in this adventurous tale that flows beautifully from one action-packed sequence to the next. The prose flows from one exotic location to another, with the main character building an understanding and empathy with the reader as one goes along. To find oneself cheering on and identifying with a flawed hero such as Cole Sterling is a tribute to the author’s talents. I particularly enjoyed the ending, which was not only totally appropriate to the unusual relationship that had developed but also left the door wide open to the possibility of a series featuring the two main characters, at that point. I do hope the author explores these characters further as I believe he is onto a winner here. I can highly recommend this read for lovers of both the vampiric genre but also for anyone who likes action/adventure romance.