Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Jana Reviews "Nocturne" by Syrie James

Title and Author: Nocturne, by Syrie James

Publishing Info: Vanguard Press, 2011

How I got this book: A publicist of Syrie James sent it to me after she noticed how much I enjoyed Dracula, My Love.

Why I read this book: Way before I was even contacted to review Nocturne, it was on my TBR list. I love Syrie’s writing style, and the premise of this book had me at, “Hello.”

Stars: 5



Ahh… would you take a gander at that cover? I love it! And best of all, it does a wonderful job of setting the tone for this haunting love story. I love a good romance. I love a good forbidden romance! I gobbled this book up like a bag of my favorite chocolate truffles, and here’s why!

“When Nicole Whitcomb's car runs off a Colorado mountain road during a blinding snowstorm, she is saved from death by a handsome, fascinating, and enigmatic stranger. 

Snowbound with him for days in his beautiful home high in the Rockies, she finds herself powerfully attracted to him. But there are things about him that mystify her, filling her with apprehension. Who is Michael Tyler? Why does he live in such a secluded spot and guard his private life so carefully? What secret—or secrets—is he hiding?

Nicole has secrets of her own and a past she is running from—but Michael understands her better than anyone she has ever known. Soon, she is falling as deeply in love with him as he is with her— a profoundly meaningful experience that is destined to change their lives forever.

As the sexual tension between them builds, however, the clues mount up. When Nicole learns her host's terrifying secret, there is nowhere for her to run but into the blizzard raging outside, and Michael may be the only one who can save her life.” -(Synopsis taken from http://www.syriejames.com/NocturneSummary.php)

I was very privileged to receive an invitation to a Q&A with Syrie the day after I finished Nocturne. I will do my best to integrate my questions and her answers into this review without spoiling any parts of the book!

This book is amazing for so many different reasons. Syrie’s beautiful writing never disappoints. How could it, though, when she chose such a wonderful setting for the book? It takes place in a beautiful, secluded area not far from Steamboat Springs, Colorado, which I have visited and is very lovely. I asked Syrie why she chose this particular location, as I had never read a book that took place there before. She said, “While doing research for this novel, to make my plot work, I needed to find a very remote spot where a reclusive person could own a fabulous spread and beautiful home, yet was not too far from a ski resort ... and where it was believable that Nicole could actually be snowed in there for four days. For some reason I just knew it had to be in Colorado. An expert on all things Colorado (my cousin, in fact) suggested that particular location, and I am so grateful. I thought it worked perfectly.” I totally agree! I loved the descriptions she used and the pictures she painted. It was an ideal setting.

Next, we have a very sexy, dangerous man who pulls himself out of isolation to rescue a damsel in distress. Michael is a 260-year-old vampire. He has given up drinking human blood and lives in a very secluded Rocky Mountain home to resist any temptation. In his spare time he reads a lot, writes, plays the piano, gardens, takes care of his horses, and works with wood. He is very content with his life, and enjoys his privacy. Seriously, this guy is perfect -- intelligent, well read, musically inclined, sensitive, strong, loves animals, etc. You can’t help but love him. Syrie told me that Michael was inspired by, "…my love for Mr. Darcy! Admittedly, he does share a few of my husband's traits, but mainly it was me conjuring up the type of man I'd fall madly in love with, if I was snowbound with him for four days." She and I clearly have something in common because, aside from the vampire quality, Michael is my kind of man!

One thing that I found so unique about Nocturne is that the entire story revolves around two characters. That’s right. TWO. Yet, it’s not boring or long-winded. I wasn’t hoping for more characters. Actually, I would have been really annoyed if some highway patrolman or Michael’s housekeeper had shown up and destroyed the magic of this chance encounter. I asked Syrie if it was difficult writing a story with only two characters, or if she enjoyed being able to focus more on each one individually. She said, “I LOVED writing about just two characters. As a reader, with many books, I become so interested and invested in the main characters and their stories that I'm tempted to skip all the scenes with minor characters and just get to the main plot. I've felt that way as a writer, too. I thought, what if I just write a book about the two main characters? Could I do it? The challenge was to make them complex enough to keep the sexual tension and the twists and turns of the plot going. I hope you enjoyed the result.” Like I said, I did enjoy it and I really got to learn about and become friends with Michael and Nicole as a result.

Speaking of Nicole… She’s working a job that she has no passion for, but she does it because it’s safe. A traumatic past led her to that decision. At the tail end of her Steamboat Springs vacation, she gets caught in an awful snowstorm. She runs off the road, blacks out, and wakes up in a strange home by a warm fire. Her rescuer is a very secretive, moody, mysterious, and very attractive man. He did not want to save her. In fact, he wanted to leave her out there to die, but couldn’t bring himself to do it. So, here they sit, snowbound in an isolated home for four days. Nicole notices he is a little odd, and as she begins to figure him out she’s terrified of staying with him. She has to decide, though, which is more dangerous? Should she take her chances and brave the deadly blizzard, or take her chances and trust this man to keep his promise and keep her safe?

As the days go by, they have lots of long, deep conversations about life and love. I really enjoyed reading these conversations. It was like I was a fly on the wall of Michael’s cozy study, listening in on their private discussions. I usually get bored with long strings of dialogue and no action, but this was quite refreshing! Syrie said, "I...love that initial period of intense discovery between new lovers. I call it "falling in love through conversation," and it's so important to me that I have placed great emphasis on it in every single one of my novels."

All in all, I loved this book. Yes, the story has been done before, but this take on the subject matter was so well done and so unique, that I did not feel like I had read it before. I was a bit skeptical about the whirlwind romance that took only about 3 days to reach its peak, but this was believable. The characters were relatable. They both had flaws that made them imperfect, but they brought out the perfection in each other. The twists and turns were dramatic, but again believable. The ending left more to be desired, but Syrie said, “…Nicole and Michael’s story is far from over. I'd love to write a sequel to Nocturne. It will depend on whether readers and the publisher request it, so we'll have to wait and see!” I know I want to read it!

I thought I’d end my review with Syrie’s thoughts on her inspiration for this novel, “It must be something in the genes, but some of the most romantic and enduring relationships in my family history began as love at first sight (including my own love affair with my husband.) Maybe that's why I felt compelled to write about the passionate, whirlwind romance between Michael and Nicole in my new novel, Nocturne.

I would definitely recommend this book to lovers of forbidden love stories, real characters, and beautiful storytelling.  Please do me a favor and go buy Nocturne so that Syrie can write a sequel! I’m not done with those two yet! Thanks so much to Syrie James for taking the time to answer my questions, and to Wunderkind PR for sending me a copy of this book to review!

Feel free to check out http://www.syriejames.com/ to see what else she's up to and read about other books she's written. At the end of our conversation, she mentioned a new YA novel that she's in the process of publishing right now, tentatively titled Forbidden, about, "a teenage girl who discovers she's half-angel and that her very existence is forbidden. She falls in love with the new, gorgeous guy at school who's... (wait, that would be telling!) It's based in reality, yet we had to create an entire new paranormal universe for the novel. I'm very excited about it." I'm excited about it too! Good stuff, I tell you.

Happy reading!

7 comments :

  1. This sounds really great! I have seen it floating around the blogosphere, but admittedly shrug it off as "just another vampire novel." Your review has just convinced me otherwise. I NEED to read this.

    Great review!

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  2. This sounds awesome! I'm adding it to my tbr list right now. Thanks for the awesome review, Jana!

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  3. This book sounds amazing, and that's saying something since I've been burned out on vampire books. :) Your glowing review convinced me I have to read it. Thanks for the recommend, and happy reading!

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  4. This book sounds great. I'm going to have to look for it on my next book shopping spree! And now after reading your review I also want a bag of chocolate truffles. :)

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  5. JessiKay and DJL, I've been a bit burned out on vampire books lately as well, but this one was refreshing! Definitely not "just another vampire book!"

    Rummanah Aasi, I'm so glad you liked my review! I love helping people find great new books! Let me know what you think of this one. :)

    BookGirlR, Lindt dark chocolate truffles are my weakness! I highly recommend those ones. :) Enjoy the book (while eating chocolate? Good idea!).

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  6. Thank you, Jana, for your wonderful review. I am absolutely thrilled! I love the way you integrated the interview into your review.

    I write in such isolation, it's gratifying to know that my book has touched you, and that you love Michael and Nicole as much as I do. I, too, hope I'll be allowed to write a sequel.

    I hope you'll sign up for my newsletter at syriejames.com for all the latest news about future books-- or are you already a subscriber? You can see the Valentine's Day issue and contest at http://www.syriejames.com/NewsletterFebruary2011.php It's also posted on my blog, where you're invited to comment: http://www.syriejames.com/blog/ .

    Thanks again, you are awesome!
    Syrie James

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  7. Syrie, thanks so much for coming and reading my review! I was worried I would not do the book justice. :) I was unaware of your newsletter, so I'll definitely go and subscribe to that!

    Thanks again! If you ever have another book you'd like for me to read and review, I'd love to!

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