Vampire lovers are in for a real treat with the publication of Jasmine Cresswell's elegantly crafted new romance.Although many vampiric questions are left unanswered, this is a simply splendid romance that will curl your toes and melt your heart.

Amidst the turmoil of a troubled Italy in 1859, an Englishwoman journeys toward the isolated Villa of the Three Fountains, an estate recently deeded to her by her noble uncle in exchange for her services in caring for her unwed, pregnant cousin. To her dismay, the locals refuse to help her reach her destination, which they claim is actually the property of the mysterious Count of Albion.

In spite of this bewildering lack of cooperation, the intrepid Miss Cordelia Hope finally arrives at the villa where she and her cousin are reluctantly given shelter; a grim housekeeper claims the count is too ill to welcome his unexpected guests himself.

There's something very odd about this household. Why does the count employ only young men for servants? What shocking truth lies behind the mesmerizing charm of the suave gentleman who plays a dangerous game with the Austrian occupation forces? Can our heroine's fabled English sangfroid withstand the terrifying answers to these questions?

Love, however, can triumph in the most remarkable of circumstances.

(July, 384 pp., $4.99)

Reviewed by: 
M. Helfer