Drew Carlowe has returned home after many years away, harboring a burning need for revenge against his former employer. He fell for an aristocrat's daughter while he was working as a mere groom in her father's stables. When her father found out about their love for one another, he had Drew arrested and transported. In the years since, his love for Emily and dreams of vengeance were the only things that kept him going. He was driven to become a self-made man who has amassed a small fortune, and now, he's purchased a neighboring estate with plans to woo his former love back. What he didn't know is that the property supposedly comes with a ghost. Not to be deterred by an old ghost story, Drew heads to the estate to settle in.
Freya is a centuries-old vampire who is hiding out at an old abandoned estate that is part of her father's holdings. She feels guilty about things she's done in her past and needs space and time alone to think. To maintain her solitude at the estate, she has made the local villagers believe she is a ghost to scare them away. When Drew comes riding up to the house, she thinks he's just another village lad accepting a dare to spend the night in the mansion, but it soon becomes quite apparent that he's no mere boy and that he has no intention of leaving. When Freya's usual scare tactics don't work to frighten Drew away, she decides to trust him with the information that she is the real owner of the property. By then, a strong attraction has developed between them, and when Drew's plans for revenge fall apart, they share an unforgettable night of passion. For the first time in her life, Freya finds herself believing in the power of love, but if she tells Drew the truth about her being a vampire will he run the other way?
Beyond the Night is a short side-novella in Susan Squires' Companion series that falls after One with the Darkness in the series chronology. It follows Freya, the daughter of the eldest vampire, who was first seen in The Burning. In that book she and her two sisters essentially sexually tortured the hero while training him to be a Harrier, a very powerful vampire warrior. Freya was the only one of the sisters who seemed to have a conscience, and she was the lone survivor of the trio. Now guilt-ridden about the things her father made her do to create Harriers and for allowing one of her sisters to die in order to stop her, Freya has withdrawn from the other vampires and is basically hiding out in an old abandoned property that belongs to her father. She makes the local villagers believe she's a ghost in order to maintain her solitude. When I first met Freya, I had a feeling she wasn't quite as bad as her sisters, and in this story, I think she was sufficiently contrite about her past to make me like her. We also get to see that the things she did in her role as a Harrier trainer were done mainly because her father insisted upon it and it was really little more than a job to her. She'd had sex plenty of times, but didn't really know what it was to make love until Drew showed her.
Drew returned to the area after many years away, seeking vengeance on his former employer. He had worked as a groom on a large estate and fell for the master's daughter. Loving her got him arrested by her father and transported. Ever since, Drew has dreamed of getting revenge on the man who wronged him. I like that he worked very hard to amass a small fortune and become a self-made man. He buys the estate where Freya is living not knowing it belongs to her. Drew isn't scared of the ghost stories attached to the property, and when confronted by Freya in her "ghostly" form, he uses logic to figure out what's going on. I also liked that when she finally told him what she really was, he simply asked a lot of questions to fully understand instead of being frightened of her vampire powers. After Drew found out how Freya's father treated her, he was willing to stand up to him, even though he's the oldest and most powerful vampire in the world.
There were two main things that made me knock one star off the rating. The first was that Drew and Freya's declarations of love, as well as his willingness to be turned vampire in order to spend eternity with her, come about a little too quickly to be entirely believable. His whole life had basically been consumed with his love for his former flame as well as a burning need for revenge. Circumstances took both of those things away from him, yet he readjusted to the idea of being with another woman within mere days. The same was pretty much true for Freya who'd spent nearly all of her nine plus centuries of life believing that vampires didn't fall in love, especially with mortals, and that humans should never be turned vampire, yet she changed her mind about both equally as quickly as Drew. The second thing was that the last-minute conflict with Freya's father seemed to be something of an afterthought and was over almost as fast as it began. Otherwise, Beyond the Night was a pretty good story that I mostly enjoyed, and I thought it was a nice addition to the series. Beyond the Night can be found in the anthology Dead After Dark.
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