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Sunday, January 23, 2011

Review: Nocturne + ARC Giveaway!

NocturneTitle: Nocturne
Author: Syrie James
Page Count: 267 pages
Publisher: Vanguard Press
Genre: paranormal romance
Copy for review provided by Wunderkind PR in anticipation of an honest review

50 words or less:  Nicole Whitcomb's car going off the road in a blizzard is a pretty accurate metaphor for her life, which is unfurling randomly with no direction or passion.  When Michael Tyler rescues her from the cold and snow, she's in for surprises that she could never see coming.

A very wise man (Albus Dumbledore) once said that it does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live.  If I had to sum up the theme and the central thread of Nocturne, then that would definitely be it.  While the book is definitely a paranormal romance with some definite Lifetime movie elements thrown in, ultimately, it's a story of building a life and a destiny for oneself and the sacrifices that might be needed to arrive at that destiny.

Nicole Whitcomb was in Steamboat Springs for a wedding, where all of her Seattle friends would be gathered.  She had a nice time and deftly avoided questions about when she would come back to Seattle, as at the time she was hiding from her past by living in California and working as a medical biller.

When she attempts to drive to the airport and finds herself in the middle of a blizzard, she doesn't expect to be rescued by Michael Tyler, hottie extraordinaire and resident mountain main and jack of all trades.  He takes her in, patches her up, and offers her a place to stay until the storm blows past and the pass is clear.  This is all against his better judgement, as Mister Michael is hiding a whopper of a secret.  Actually, a couple of secrets, some much more devastating than others.

Watching Michael and Nicole slowly fall in love and discover all they have in common was a joy to read.  It was like being able to tag along on a really, really successful series of dates, so you know how exciting the people involved are going to be when they call you to tell you all about it.  Love is just what the doctor ordered to help these two people get back on their feet and back in life's saddle, and if that were all there was to it, this would be a fairly standard contemporary romance with nothing terribly remarkable about it.

Except for one thing.  Michael is a vampire.  He's a vampire with a conscience, having figured out that drinking directly from people is a bad idea, but he can't put the idea out of his head once Nicole is staying under the same roof as him.  As they fall in love at the speed of light (the whole book takes place over the span of four days) he has to reconcile the fact that he eats critical parts of people to stay alive and that Nicole is most thoroughly a person.  Talk about a conflict of interest!

As romantic as this book is, the ending is really not what I expected at all. Is there a happily ever after? Sure, but it's not the one that longtime fans of paranormal romance might expect.  Professor Dumbledore himself would have approved of the ending, and of the results of the ending, but if you're having a sort of blue day then the end will make you bawl your eyes out.  This is not a failing of the book, though!  It's merely evidence that the author had a trajectory in mind for the story and stuck to it, and the characters were forced to grow and adapt as a result of it.

I don't think Nocturne would be a hit with all readers; it's not afraid to be different, not afraid to be a cup of tea in an espresso genre (there are no gunfights or chasing after superevilbadguys here, just two people snowed in and falling in love, thank you very much) and like I said, the ending might just tear your heart out.  In that lies the strength of the book though- the fact that it's different.

Overall Grade: A

ZOMG, how could I forget the giveaway?!  I'm offering up my ARC of this book to one lucky commenter! That's it- all you have to do is leave a comment with a way to contact you and you're entered!  And just to be even more fun, this is open internationally!  Please have your comments in by Friday, January 28th at 11:59 EST to be entered.

Comment away!
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