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Book CoverVeena’s review of Beautiful Sacrifice by Elizabeth Lowell
Contemporary Romance published by William Morrow 22 May 12

Ancient Mayan artifacts surface in a drug raid at the US Mexican border near Texas. Celia Reyes Balan, premier antiquity dealer in Houston, is searching for high- end obsdian artifacts that were used by Mayan Royalty for blood sacrifice matching the description of the artifacts captured at the border. A DEA raid in Houston turns up ritually mutilated bodies and an altar soaked in blood. Altars with ritual offerings that include blood sacrifices are showing up all over the Yucatan. People are afraid. Are these ominous signs of the end of world? What will December 21st hold in store for the world as the current Mayan long-count calendar ends and a new b’ak’tun dawns? Lina Taylor and Hunter Johnson race against time in Elizabeth Lowell’s Beautiful Sacrifice to ensure a smooth transition and prevent disaster.

Lina Taylor, professor, archaeologist, and expert on all things Mayan, is teaching a class on Mayan Mythology at the Museum of Maya in Houston. She herself is of royal Mayan heritage, a direct descendant of the Reyes Balan line, which traces its roots back to the Mayan kings who once ruled the Yucatan. As Lina plans a holiday at the family estate in Mexico to celebrate her grandmother’s birthday, Hunter Johnson comes to her for help in locating some missing Mayan artifacts. His best friend Jase is implicated in the theft of artifacts that he took into custody at the border, which have subsequently disappeared from an Immigration and Customs Enforcement evidence locker.

Lina, Hunter, and Jase pool their resources to look for clues and find the missing artifacts. Someone seems to have an eye out for them and they come under fire. Jase is injured trying to save his friends. While he is recovering in the hospital, he is cleared of all suspicion, even though the artifacts have not been recovered. Determined to find answers and trying to stay ahead of the mounting body count, Lina and Hunter follow the blood trail right up to the doorstep of the Reyes Balan estate in Mexico.

As they explore the local Mayan ruins on the estate, academic admiration and sexual tension explodes into a relationship, despite the shadow of the threat that is hanging over them, particularly Lina.

This book is vintage Elizabeth Lowell with the blend of action, adventure, and romance, but it’s not her usual quality of the same, in my opinion. The history lesson on the Maya is very interesting and to people who have been reading the doomsday predictions, it is reassuring that December 21, 2012, simply marks the dawning of a new millennium in the Mayan calendar. I feel that the romance and the relationship between the two protagonists does not get the same depth as is usual in books by this author. I enjoyed the story but was left wanting.

Grade: B


According to Maya legend, December 21, 2012, will mark the end of the world as we know it. Is it myth . . . or will their prediction become reality?

Archaeologist Lina Taylor has devoted her life to studying ancient Maya artifacts, splitting her time between digs in Yucatan and the classroom teaching college students. But the professor’s structured, academic life is about to spin out of control. Some extremely valuable and important Maya artifacts have gone missing. Are the culprits fanatics determined to create chaos and usher in annihilation?

Helping out a friend, former immigration and customs enforcement officer Hunter Johnston is determined to recover the missing pieces and he needs Lina’s help. A man used to calling the shots and working alone, he isn’t comfortable letting anyone get close, especially a beautiful and brainy woman like Lina. His gift for reading people tells him there’s a lot going on below that professional exterior, and he’s more than a little curious to probe her depths.

Burying herself in her work, Lina’s had little experience handling men, especially one as fascinating and exasperating as the secretive, headstrong Hunter. A devoted archaeologist, she has the skill to excavate those protective layers all the way to his core.

But finding the missing artifacts is only the beginning of a mystery that will plunge these unlikely partners into adventure, romance, and danger more thrilling, sensual, and deadly than either of them knows. . . .

Read an excerpt.