After Sundown

A Whisper of Eternity
by Amanda Ashley
(Zebra, $6.50, PG) ISBN 0-8217-7529-4
A Whisper of Eternity is a contemporary vampire romance. Tracy Morgan is a painter who has just bought a house on the coast of California, near the small village of Sea Cliff. The house is large and has incredible views of the ocean to inspire her paintings. Unbeknownst to her, a vampire, Dominic St. John, lives in a stone lair hidden beneath her house. He is over 2000 years old and has been in love with Tracy for many centuries. Each time he loses her to death, he searches the ends of the earth to find her in her next life. He has tried again and again to get her to accept his Dark Gift so they can live together for eternity. Each time she has refused. But, this time she has found him.

The story cuts to the chase with Dominic telling Tracy within the first few chapters what he is and how he’s loved her throughout time. But before Tracy learns the truth from him, she begins to suspect he’s a vampire because she’s having dreams of herself in previous lives. Each time, Dominic is by her side as she dies and offers to make her a vampire so she can live. Although Tracy is physically attracted to Dominic, she decides he’s so dark and dangerous, maybe she’d rather date Bryan, a lifeguard on the beach near her house. Brian revels in the sun and is warm and friendly, with nothing to hide. The complete opposite of Dominic. But Tracy finds herself falling in love with Dominic anyway. Will Tracy choose Dominic or Bryan? Can Dominic persuade Tracy to love him and accept his Dark Gift? Or, will the threat of other vampires destroy everything?

The possibilities that this scenario offers are intriguing. In the beginning it seemed that Dominic and Tracy might be the only characters. Knowing that Dominic lives just below Tracy’s house gives a very intimate feeling to the story. The beginning is captivating as Tracy meets Dominic, begins dating him and then finds out his secret and all that comes with it. When Bryan is introduced and Dominic becomes very jealous; it adds another twist. Eventually a host of other vampires enter the story and cause trouble for Dominic, Tracy and Bryan. The story is riddled with problems, however.

The most blatant is a multitude of inconsistencies, starting on page ten when Tracy’s new home is being described:

“For the first time, it occurred to her to wonder why there were two chimneys but only one fireplace.”

On page 12 a fireplace is described in the parlor that is large enough to hold a horse and rider. Then on page 13, the master bedroom is described as having a corner fireplace. That’s two fireplaces for two chimneys. Later, when she finds another fireplace in Dominic’s below-ground lair, Tracy realizes that it explains why there are two chimneys. Actually, now that’s three fireplaces for two chimneys.

Chimney-counting aside, this inconsistency is overshadowed quickly by many others. At one point the beach at the foot of Tracy’s house is described as being private and she’s actually shocked to see anyone else on it when she meets Dominic for the first time. Later, when Bryan enters the story, he’s a lifeguard on the beach near her house and at that time the beach is filled with people. Apparently it’s not so private anymore. A couple of times Tracy and Bryan notice that the village of Sea Cliff is all but deserted during the day and shops don’t open until after sunset, confirming Dominic’s statement that the town is a haven for vampires. This leads the reader to believe that the village is comprised mostly of vampires. Later we find that there are only twelve vampires in residence in Sea Cliff. Hmmmm…

None of the characters are developed well enough to become emotionally involved or really care what happened to any of them. Tracy and Bryan’s backgrounds are never described beyond the point where they are introduced to the story (other than Tracy’s past lives). The author never gives a feeling of who the characters really are or what they want in life. It isn’t clear who the hero is for the first half of the story. By the end it didn’t seem to matter who won out.

In addition, there were elements of magic that popped up when it was convenient. It felt as though some magic powers, like that of instantaneous transportation, were more for the convenience of the author, so she wouldn’t have to use much description.

The first few chapters were very tantalizing. It was disappointing to end up so emotionally detached by the end. If you’ve not encountered one of Amanda Ashley’s novels before, it may be wise to cut your teeth on something other than A Whisper of Eternity.

--Tracy Merritt

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