Rating: 4 stars
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Long time friends Chris Bryant and Ling Tam work for Chris’ father at Bryant’s Teas and Curiosities, a store that buys and sells antiques and oddities. Chris and Ling have long searched for a certain treasure and now they think they have found it. But in order to succeed, they need the assistance of a very special and dangerous being, a vampire. Chris places a discreet ad in the newspaper and it is answered by Dorran Gracen, a Welsh vampire who accepts the job and the challenges of the journey.
But traveling with a gorgeous predator has its own problems and attractions, physical attractions that Chris has kept hidden from his family and society. As their journey to China continues, he starts to yearn for more from Dorran than just his help to obtain the treasure. At the journey’s end, will Chris and Ling find the treasure they have searched for, or will Chris’ attraction to the vampire cost them everything they have worked for and his life as well?
Convergence is a wonderful little story by Talya Andor that reaches beyond its 22,000 word scope for something larger and, for the most part, succeeds. It appears to take place in England sometime in the 1800s, but this England is a place where vampires are a reality, although a carefully hidden one. Andor crafts a totally believable world, from Chris’ store to the voyage that takes the trio to China and their buried treasure.
I loved the relationship between Chris and Ling as well as the one that develops between Chris and Dorran. Given the time period, unusual relationships such as those between people of differing races and social rank are not to be easily tolerated. So in a lovely twist, Andor shows that while Chris and Ling consider themselves to be equals and almost brothers, they hide their true friendship by pretending to have a master/servant relationship, one that switches around once they reach China.
It is a time when it is equally dangerous to be gay so among the many things Chris is hiding, he is also careful not to disclose his homosexuality. The only one who knows he is gay is Ling, his straight friend. So many secrets here in Convergence, including the true nature of Ling and Chris’ collection of artifacts. Then Andor adds another layer of deception with the introduction of her Welsh vampire, a somewhat civilized predator with an agenda of his own and truly, all paths and deceptions converge within a mountainous lair of puzzles and treasure.
The treacherous path to the jeweled artifact is a lovely combination of torturous puzzles and challenging physical hurdles. I really enjoyed the planning and thought that went into this hunt. The vivid descriptions made the atmosphere and setting come alive. I had only one quibble with one hurdle that I am sure the author could have answered given a longer length. Ok, how did those sharks stay alive? Hmmm? But the rest of it was so neatly planned out, that I can forgive this curiosity.
The only other quibble I had with this story was that I wanted a little more of the growing relationship between Chris and Dorran. The scenes we were given were so tantalizing that it made me want so much more. They are a great couple and the ending makes me hopeful that there will be more of this couple and their hunts for oddities and treasures. Whether you love vampires or romance or a combination of both, this is a story you won’t want to miss!