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Nocturne Cover Picture

Nocturne

Syrie James

Published 2011                264 pages

Summary (from the book jacket)

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 alone 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.

The Review

Nocturne is the tale of modern day love story between a human and a vampire from Syrie James – an author best known for her reimaginings of the lives of Jane Austen and Charlotte Brontë, and her reworking of characters from Bram Stoker’s 19th Century classic vampire novel (Dracula) in 2010’s book Dracula, My Love. This time the characters, settings and imaginings are all completely her own and a thoughtfully written, yet bittersweet love story is the result.

Nocturne features only two characters in the entire story – Nicole a traveller who crashes her car in a snowstorm and Michael, the reclusive man who rescues her. Circumstance leaves the pair stranded alone together for days in Michael’s remote Colorado mountain cabin. Fate finds them falling in love but Michael has a terrible secret that means their chances for a happy ever after are slim. Since LoveVampires is a website that reviews vampire fiction, it isn’t too much of a plot spoiler to tell you that Michael’s secret is that he’s a blood drinking vampire. His reclusive lifestyle and remote manner are his way of protecting the general population from his predatory nature.

The isolation of the characters reinforces the feeling that their tentative relationship is an idyllic interlude for the pair of them outside of, and separate to, the real world. Using enforced isolation as a devise for relationship building is nothing new in romantic fiction – it was a favourite ploy of the authors of the Mills & Boon and Silhouette romances that I liked to read when I was a teenager back in the late ’80s – but it still works like a charm today, giving two characters who wouldn’t normally even meet the chance to fall in love.

As an experienced reader of paranormal romance and a life-long fan of the Beauty and the Beast fairytale I don’t know why I couldn’t love Nocturne. On paper it sounds perfect, but somehow it just wasn’t “dark” or “gothic” enough for me. As a love story Nocturne works just fine, even with its sad haunting overtones that lead up to a dramatic and bittersweet climax – after all, this isn’t meant to be a happy romance of fun dates, flowers and flirting. But I had a few problems really buying into the great forbidden love story element of the plot and felt that the author missed a lot of easy opportunities to build sinister dramatic tension before revealing Michael’s secret.

However, the story is well written and Michael’s vampirism sensitively handled so I think it’s fair to say that this book should have a huge cross-over appeal for readers who wouldn’t normally choose to read paranormal romance or books featuring vampires. All in all, Nocturne is a quick, enjoyable read – after all what’s not like about the scenario of being trapped with a handsome and intelligent man (or vampire) of mystery?

Note: this volume includes a Q&A with the author as well as reading group notes.

LoveVampires Review Rating:

Review Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

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