Fresh Meat: Beautiful Sacrifice by Elizabeth Lowell

Beautiful Sacrifice by Elizabeth Lowell
Beautiful Sacrifice by Elizabeth Lowell
Beautiful Sacrifice by Elizabeth Lowell is a romantic suspense novel featuring the Mayan doomsday prophecy (available May 22, 2012).

The heroine of Elizabeth Lowell’s latest romantic suspense offering, Dr. Lina Taylor, an archaeologist who works for her family’s museum in Houston, is one of the last descendents of the powerful Reyes Balam family:

“The Balam family was among the first Maya nobility to accept the Spanish rule and sign formal treaties with the Spanish king,” Lina said. “In return, the Balams were granted a good chunk of the Yucatan and a Spanish noble title. Thus the Reyes Balam line began.”

With the approach of December 21, 2012, Lina, whose archaeological specialty is all things Mayan, is fielding more than her fair share of questions about how the Maya prophecy of the end of the world thing will shake out. So when former ICE agent Hunter Johnston comes to her with a story about stolen Mayan artifacts—that sound to be rarer than rare and might possibly be fakes—she’s already got her hands full.  And then there’s that tickle at the back of her neck that tells her someone is watching her.

What’s a beautiful Mayan princess turned academic to do? If you’re Lina, you join forces with Johnston to find the aforementioned artifacts before the bad guys (who might include Lina’s artifact dealer mother or her obsessive archeologist father). Unfortunately, a lot of other folks are hot on the trail of the artifacts too. Including a group of men who aren’t afraid to use force, and who seem to be from Lina’s part of Mexico:

“Hang on, sweetheart. I’ll get you home.”

“No,” she said tightly. “I can’t go there. Those men were after me.”

“What?” Hunter said, giving her a fast look.

“They were speaking in a Mayan dialect. They wanted me.”

Hunter’s eyes searched surrounding traffic and the driving mirrors with quick glances. “You sure?”

“I grew up with Spanish and English as my primary languages. The Mayan dialect those men spoke was my third language. My great-grandmother prefers it, though she speaks Spanish very well. In case you didn’t catch it the driver only spoke Spanish. He knew Jase was a cop.”

“I got that.” Hunter wove through traffic, checking mirrors, watching for any vehicle matching his maneuvers. “What did the others say?”

“They screamed at the shooter not to hurt me or El Maya would eat their balls and tear out the heart of every living relative they had.”

Hunter’s eyebrows lifted. “Is that a usual curse?”

“No. They yelled variations of the threat and made it clear that they wanted to . . . take me. El Maya wants me intact and unharmed.” Tears welled from her eyes and silently streaked down her face, shining trails in the streetlight. “It’s my fault. All that blood. Jase’s blood, my fault.”

In an effort to steer clear of Lina’s own personal royal watchers, she and Hunter make their way southward into Mexico and the Reyes Balam estate, where the family and its treasures are heavily guarded, and where Lina can question her mother, who has been known to deal in artifacts with less than pure provenance. But it’s Hunter’s provenance that Lina’s mother is concerned about.

“A gringo?” Celia demanded. “Is that how you repay your family? It is your duty to carry on the family line.”

“The Reyes Balam family has married out of Mexico as often as it has married in,” Lina said.

“Aristocrats,” Celia said in a clipped voice.

“Really? Last time I checked, Philip was the son of two university professors. A gringo with no rich inheritance coming. You married him and you were only half my age at the time. The world kept turning. Your parents survived having an ordinary gringo in the family just fine.”

But, it soon becomes evident, as December 21 and the birthday of Lina’s great-grandmother approach, the Reyes Balam family has more to worry about than keeping the bloodlines pure. As Hunter and Lina peel back the layers of the ancient family’s dynamics it becomes clear that the royal watchers they fought off back in Houston are intent not only on bringing Lina to the mysterious El Maya, but also on making her the “beautiful sacrifice” of the title.

What’s a beautiful Mayan princess turned academic to do in that case, but grab the hand of her handsome protector, and run?

Manda Collins has been reading mysteries since her first Nancy Drew at the age of six. An academic librarian by day, by night she writes historical romance blended with mystery for St. Martin’s Press. Her first book, How to Dance with a Duke, was released in February 2012. To learn more, check out her webpage or follow her on Twitter @MandaCollins.

Read all posts by Manda Collins on Criminal Element.

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