Review

Beautiful Sacrifice

by Elizabeth Lowell

Dr. Lina Taylor has no earthly idea that a member of her family is the feared El Maya and that he has plans to make her his next beautiful sacrifice to the Mayan gods. BEAUTIFUL SACRIFICE is a summer romance not far from the glitzy beaches of Cancun, but it's the adventure, death, intrigue and stunning imagery about the Mayan apocalypse that bring Lina and former Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agent Hunter Johnston to the brink of sacrifice upon a Mayan altar.

"The book’s climactic ending is riveting, terrifying and revealing. BEAUTIFUL SACRIFICE is one armchair vacation you will want to take with your seatbelt fastened tight."

Lina’s mother, Celia Reyes Balam, is a direct descendant of Spanish conquistadors and Mayan royalty. She has built a vast fortune exporting the art of her people’s culture. As a child, Lina chose to work on the digs with her “obsessive, erratic” archaeologist father. Philip Taylor is a harsh man who has little warmth for his only daughter, but he does teach her about the legends and myths of the ancient Mayan deity Kawa’il. Ultimately, Lina chooses to live and work in Houston as curator for the city’s Museum of the Maya, but her heart will always be tied to the Reyes Balam family lands in the Yucatan.

As the anticipated celebration of the Mayan Long Count calendar approaches, the prophetic date of December 21, 2012 has captured the attention of the media and fanatics who believe in myth. Lina is approached by sexy Hunter Johnston from her class at the museum and asked to help him and his partner Jase decipher the meaning of some Mayan artifacts that were confiscated at the Mexican border and subsequently stolen from an ICE warehouse. Lina is more than ready to work with the handsome man with silver-blue eyes, but is instantly frightened when she sees the photos of the missing artifacts. Blood was central to Mayan sacred rituals as were symbolic images of feathers, lightning and obsidian masks --- and these photos contained all of these images.

Lina’s words to her class at the museum were eerily prophetic: “To sacrifice someone of royal blood was a tremendous gift, a desperate gift, done only in times of extreme need.” No wonder Lina is feeling like she’s being watched. When she and Hunter are attacked by men of Mayan descent in a parking garage and Jase is shot, Hunter becomes Lina’s personal bodyguard and whisks her away to a beachfront hideaway near San Padre Island, Texas. It is here, in this intimate location, that New York Times bestselling author Elizabeth Lowell begins her primal, descriptive narrative drawing the reader into the story with a vengeance. The romantic location with the coastal scrub, scent of salty air and roar of crashing waves is a locale made for love, and Lowell does not disappoint.

Lowell brings ancient Mayan history to life through glyphs that “tell of power and prestige, nobility and the jaguar, god-smoke and knowledge.” The Mexican Riviera is “wild with greenery,” the tropical air intoxicating, native bougainvillea abundantly trailing wildly, as Lina and Hunter go in search of secret coves, tombs and shrines. Lowell is a master storyteller who writes as though she is describing what she has seen with her own eyes instead of what she has imagined. She takes the reader on a wild ride through the Yucatan jungle, where ancient Mayan glyphs tell their own story. She captures Lina’s glee and awe as she makes an extraordinary discovery. She takes the reader to the brink of sacrifice and inside the rituals of El Maya, including the fear, pageantry, family loyalty and gleaming snake-encrusted jade and obsidian artifacts. She illuminates the destruction of Philip’s dream to share the discovery of a lifetime and his life’s work hidden so long from tomb raiders.

The book’s climactic ending is riveting, terrifying and revealing. BEAUTIFUL SACRIFICE is one armchair vacation you will want to take with your seatbelt fastened tight.

Reviewed by Hillary Wagy on June 1, 2012

Beautiful Sacrifice
by Elizabeth Lowell