**Copy provided by author for an honest review.
GOODREADS SUMMARY: With the vampire world on the brink of civil war over the scarcity of untainted human blood, battle lines are being drawn between the once peaceful vampire and human enclave of Penton, Alabama, and the powerful Vampire Tribunal. Mirren Kincaid once served the tribunal as their most creative and ruthless executioner—a time when he was known as the Slayer. But when assigned a killing he found questionable, Mirren abandoned the tribunal’s political machinations and disappeared—only to resurface two centuries later as the protector and second-in-command of Penton. Now the tribunal wants him back on their side.
To break their rogue agent, they capture Glory Cummings, the descendant of a shaman, and send her to restore Mirren’s bloodthirsty nature. But instead of a monster, Glory sees a man burdened by the weight of his past. Could her magic touch—meant by the tribunal to bring out a violent killer—actually help Mirren break his bonds and discover the love he doesn’t believe he deserves?
Let’s get the preliminaries out of the way – I loved this book. Absolution has officially cemented Sandlin’s Penton Legacy as one of my favorite new series this year. When I finished Redemption, book one in the series, my first thought was that I hoped we’d get more Mirren in the next book. And that’s exactly what Sandlin gives us in Absolution – a story focused on the mysterious and brooding Mirren Kincaid, physically intimidating, a lethal warrior with a dark past and a tortured soul.
Mirren is such a great character. He’s physically huge, almost 7ft tall, 300 some pounds, covered in tattoos, and trained as a lethal killer since he was a child. His past is dark. A mercenary known as The Slayer, he walked away from the world of murder for hire and into Penton where he carved out a new life for himself, one in which he didn’t have to do the bidding of the Tribunal and death at his hands is for a higher purpose – the protection of Penton. But does he really find peace from his past? No. This is a character filled with such self-loathing and hatred it’s palpable. Death and murder are all he has known and Mirren can’t move forward or imagine himself as something more than violence incarnate as the darkness of his past holds him prisoner.
Enter Gloriana Cummings, a human with special abilities of her own, abilities that have made her feel “less than” her entire life. Glory is, well, a motor-mouth but she’s also funny, loyal, strong of character, generous and caring. She takes no shit and is fiercely independent. The pain of her past also haunts her but, unlike Mirren, she refuses to let it define her.
When these two are thrown together it’s explosive. Sandlin knows how to create chemistry and tension between her leads. Mirren and Glory have a connection, whether they want to admit it or not, and it’s wonderful how Sandlin develops this connection over the course of the book. It’s both tender and sexy as hell. Glory sees in Mirren what no one else does, not even Mirren himself; she sees the real Mirren underneath the scars of his past. To watch her excavate the man inside is tense and so very romantic. There is a great scene towards the end of the book where Mirren seems to have gone back to the bloodlust of his past and Glory has to help bring him back. That scene was brimming with tension, a bit scary, and yet so full of tenderness and care that the combination had me on edge. From the start, I just wanted these characters to have their happily ever after.
Sandlin also takes the wider story of the series to the next level. The community of Penton, a small southern town where vampires and humans live in peace and mutual benefit, is under threat. That wider war I was looking for after the first book is heading straight for this idyllic community. The action scenes are well done; events happen simultaneously in several locations which successfully ratchets up the stress level.
Absolution ends at a point in the wider story that makes the upcoming book a must read. The future of Penton is uncertain to say the least and I’m very curious to know where Sandlin is going to take us next.
I really could go on and on…the banter between characters is pitch perfect, a devastating loss at the end of the book lets you know Sandlin isn’t afraid to let go, and the introduction of the combustible partnership between lieutenants Randa and Will sets the stage for the next romantic relationship in the series.
Sandlin has said this series was originally set as a trilogy. I hope not. I need more. Penton already feels like home.