Review: Nocturne by Syrie James

From Goodreads: 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 and soon comes to realize that the feeling is mutual. But there are things about him that mystify her, filling her with apprehension—and Nicole can’t shake the feeling that he doesn’t want her there.

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.

But as the sexual tension between them builds, the clues mount up. When Nicole learns the terrifying truth—that her host is an ages-old vampire who is torn between his love for her and his desire for her blood—there’s nowhere for her to run but into the blizzard raging outside, and he’s the only one who can save her life.

Filled with unexpected twists and surprises, Nocturne is a page-turning, haunting, and deeply romantic story of forbidden love that will grab your heart and not let go.

I am becoming such a fan of Syrie James. I first read her Dracula, My Love back in the summer and fell in love with her romantic paranormal writing style. Syrie constricted her words to hold true to the original Dracula then, but this new novel Nocturne shows the soft side of paranormal that I really love to see in a book.

Nicole at first is not a very likable character, to me at least. I have absolutely nothing in common with her, and I abhor the snow and being cold. As the book progresses you somehow realize that you aren’t harboring the same feelings for this character as you did in the beginning of the book.

Michael is everything a vampire should and shouldn’t be. He has an amazing depth of character and it was him who kept me coming back for more of this story.

Nocturne is such an incredibly quick read and is a masterful piece of paranormal romance, I shudder to call James’ book out to this genre because I think it is oh so much more but alas I have no better genre to put it in. I cannot say thriller because the plot and the arc are both completely character driven.

You get an early look at Nicole’s racy side on page three of the finished copy:

The wedding had taken place high atop a ski slope at Steamboat Springs, with the bridal party in formal wear and everyone on skis. After the ceremony, most of the people had ridden the chairlift back down, but Nicole–on a dare from one of the grooomsmen–had blithely skied down the mountain. It had involved tucking her long bridesmaids’s dress into her thermal leggings, which Chloe had laughingly insisted was scandalous and beneath the dignity of a twenty-nine-year-old woman. But Nicole hadn’t cared; she couldn’t resist the challenge.

A lot of us who read vampire fiction never really seem to think about the type of human it would take to truly love a beast. Romanticism aside Syrie shows us that you need a bit of a wild hair and a little less care for your mortal life than a regular Joe has.

Michael has lived alone in his mountain-side for well a long time, he was loathe to even save Nicole’s live, of course not knowing hat he would fall madly in love with her and that love would have him second guessing everything he is and wanted to ever be:

He had absolutely no wish to open his house to strangers. It might well be like opening Pandora’s box. His sense of privacy and tranquility would be shattered, possibly forever. He wasn’t equipped to host, much less feed, anyone. And more to the point, he thought bitterly, their safety would be in question every minute. page 13.

Michael does open his home to Nicole, and slowly these two semi-emotionally-broken people opened their hearts to one another. By page ninety-four we had some major passion!

Nicole began to sway under the powerful feelings he stirred in her, her head falling back slightly, her eyes closing. Her heart thundered violently in her chest. Her breath came in little gasps as she felt him plan kisses along the sensitive skin at the side of her throat. Heat suffused her. Perspiration broke out on her brow. She was just about to spin around and fold herself into his embrace when suddenly, to her dismay, sh e heard him curse under his breath.

Obviously Michael has some issues to work out and I don’t want to ruin anything but we get to see him internally work through a lot of issues. One way Michael sorts through his feelings and feels less lonely is taking care of his two awesome horses:

“Aren’t you going to put a saddle on her?” Nicole asked.
“I have saddles,” Michael shrugged, “but I rarely use them. Riding with a saddle is like riding a bus. You’re not actually driving the bus, you’re just sitting on it as a passenger. If you really want to ride a horse, you have to feel the horse with your legs. You have to ride bareback.” page 196

Syrie James is such a fantastic plot weaver I really hope you do get a chance to pick up Nocturne and read it for yourself.

Why Teens Will Love It:

Think Twilight but actually emotionally stable. Micheal having a lot of traits that Edward displays, such as not wanting to hurt the girl he loves and what not, actually pulls it off without the annoying or creepy factor. I think teens will really enjoy reading a romance whose ending is heart breaking instead of ridiculous and the heroine actually has a brain and a tiny shred of care for her life.

Why Adults Will Love It:

Who doesn’t want to be trapped in the snow with a hot vampire writer with a soul? Michael is everything you would want and need him to be and eventually I came to terms and learned to love Nicole too. You will never see vampires the same again.

I gave this book 4.5 stars instead of 5 only because of my personal aversion to snow and being without food. Ridiculous yes but it kept me from delving into the story and connecting with Nicole as deeply as I would have liked to.

I received this book from the publisher, it was a finished copy.

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Review: Dark Lover by J. R. Ward

From Goodreads: In the shadows of the night in Caldwell, New York, there’s a deadly turf war going war going on between vampires and their slayers. There exists a secret band of brothers like no other-six vampire warriors, defenders of their race. Yet none of them relishes killing their enemies more than Wrath, the leader of the Black Dagger Brotherhood…

The only purebred vampire left on the planet, Wrath has a score to settle with the slayers who murdered his parents centuries ago. But when one of his most trusted fighters is killed – orphaning a half-breed daughter unaware of her heritage or her fate – Wrath must usher the beautiful female into the world of the undead…

Racked by a restlessness in her body that wasn’t there, Beth Randall is helpless against the dangerously sexy man who comes at night with shadows in his eyes. His tales of brotherhood and blood frighten her. But his touch ignites a dawning hunger that threatens to consume them both…

I was messing around on a new website that tracks series Fict Fact when I saw a list of the most popular series. Most of them I had either read or was familiar with but I had never heard anything about the Black Dagger Brotherhood. I asked on Twitter if anyone had read the series and received an overwhelming response telling me to read them now.

I have my trusty Nook with me here on vacation and two days ago I downloaded book one. I read it in the period of one day and then made short work of book two. I am now in the middle of book three and I am so addicted to this series I cannot wait to read through them all.

I usually do not read any kind of erotic fiction but J. R. Ward’s world building skills are fantastical. She creates a universe so urban yet so full of lore it is so believable you want to make a trip upstate New York to check it out!

The Brotherhood is mysterious even to their own kind and the vampire slayers have such an amazing back story it is hard to slow down while reading and make sure you are catching all of the tantalizing small details J. R. Ward leaves through-out the book for you.

When one of the Brotherhood is killed via car bomb, Wrath the Blind King is saddled with the brother’s half-breed daughter and the responsibility of making sure she makes it through her transition from human to vampire. Wrath resents the female for being so beautiful and kind and pushes her away more times than the reader can count.

Beth hangs on mostly because she is smart enough to understand that without Wrath and his pure blood she will never survive her transition. When she is taken by the vampire slaying lessers who are pale, with white hair and eyes and carry the smell of baby powder, Wrath realizes his leelan (beloved) has been stolen from him.

If he can just find her and get her back before the slayers kill her he will make ammends and let her know she belongs to him.

The book is extremely fast paced and fun to keep up with. A lovable guilty pleasure worthy of these cold snow filled nights. If you haven’t picked up this series, do so now. Make sure you grab several of the books at once you will not be able to stop at just one.

FTC Disclosure: I bought this book na na na na na.

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Review: The Secret History of Elizabeth Tudor, Vampire Slayer

From Goodreads: Sovereign Power. Eternal Pleasure.

Revealed at last in this new vampire saga for the ages: the true, untold story of the “Virgin Queen” and her secret war against the Vampire King of England. . . .

On the eve of her coronation, Elizabeth Tudor is summoned to the tomb of her mother, Anne Boleyn, to learn the truth about her bloodline—and her destiny as a Slayer. Born to battle the bloodsucking fiends who ravage the night, and sworn to defend her beloved realm against all enemies, Elizabeth soon finds herself stalked by the most dangerous and seductive vampire of all.

He is Mordred, bastard son of King Arthur, who sold his soul to destroy his father. After centuries in hiding, he has arisen determined to claim the young Elizabeth as his Queen. Luring her into his world of eternal night, Mordred tempts Elizabeth with the promise of everlasting youth and beauty, and vows to protect her from all enemies. Together, they will rule over a golden age for vampires in which humans will exist only to be fed upon. Horrified by his intentions, Elizabeth embraces her powers as a Slayer even as she realizes that the greatest danger comes from her own secret desire to yield to Mordred . . . to bare her throat in ecstasy and allow the vampire king to drink deeply of her royal blood.

As told by Lucy Weston, the vampire prey immortalized in Bram Stoker’s Dracula, this spellbinding account will capture your heart and soul—forever.

Let me start this review by saying that I have read tons of Tudor literature. From Weir’s actual histories, to Jean Plaidy’s historical fictions and much more in the realm of Tudor and not once have I ever read a book that no matter how much I loved it or thought the book was a fantastical representation have I ever thought that Elizabeth’s voice was so truly portrayed.

In the moonlight, the scaffold appears to be made of bleached bones from one of the leviathans that wash up on our shores from time to time to general alarm, for what godly world encompasses such creatures? The platform is raised high above the crowd of gray shadows gathered around its base. A woman climbs slowly, carrying the weight of her anguish and fear. She holds her hands clutched in front of her, asthough in prayer. Stepping out onto the platform, she steps into the beast’s gaping maw and is devoured.
Sometimes the woman in my vision is my mother; other times she is I.

I felt that Weston’s writing and dialogue were so true to how I imagine Elizabeth that I was instantly drawn into her novel and I stayed interested all the way through. If you know my blog at all you will know that I am in no way a fan of mash-ups. I really dislike the concepts of most and laugh at the ridiculousness of the elemental plot, and have tried to read several usually abandoning them by page twenty or so.

The beginning of this novel takes a young Elizabeth through her coronation and shows us the start of the Golden Age as it began. However Elizabeth is immediately met with a supernatural problem that will affect all of her beloved England in the form of Mordred the bastard son of Arthur who did not die on the battlefield when he slayed his father as historical accounts portray. He was in fact given a choice for eternal life and has waited thousands of years for Elizabeth, an actual descendant of Morgaine le Fey to be born so that he can turn her and rule England always with his eternal queen.

A king cannot afford to show weakness. I learned that from my father, who learned it too late to save himself. I was his weakness, as it happens. Arthur loved me despite my failings, so he claimed, when all I wanted was to be loved for them.
Tant pis, as the French say. Too bad.

Elizabeth being Protestant has some immediate issues with Mordred’s offer. How can she risk her immortal soul even if Mordred promises her he can make England the capitol of the world and save her from her mortal enemies such as The Pope, and her Spanish brother-in-law? She is captivated by Mordred’s beauty but as she learns the twisted vine he has wielded to make sure she became Queen some day and what people in her life were sacrificed by him to make that an assurance her will to defeat him becomes even stronger. Even with her slaying powers will it be enough to defeat the ethereally gorgeous King of the Vampire?

The characters that Weston has used in this fictionalized Elizabethan Age are a perfect pick, the book moves quickly while building on suspense and giving you just enough details and back story as you go to keep you hooked. The book was slated for release in early January but the release was bumped up to today! So you can grab a copy for yourself and one for a friend for Christmastime! I highly suggest that you do so whether you are a fan of the mash-up or like me a skeptic of the sub-genre.

The marketing team and the author have done an amazing job at creating a fun world online and an amazing pre-buzz for the book. Check it out for yourself on Twitter, and the website where the blog posts tell the author’s need to get the story out before officials stop her!

FTC Disclosure: I got this book for review from the publisher after seeing the plot. I begged for it via email.

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Review: Vampire Crush by A. M. Robinson

From Goodreads: First, six mysteriously pale new students show up at Sophie McGee’s high school. Then, Sophie’s childhood nemesis James reappears, still displaying a knack for making Sophie’s blood boil. When Sophie finds out that James has a connection to the new students, she decides to investigate…never expecting her life will quickly begin to resemble a campy horror movie, complete with budding crushes and bloodthirsty villains.

Perfect for fans of the Vampire Kisses and Vladmir Tod series, A. M. Robinson’s debut novel sparkles with action, intrigue, irresistible wit, and sizzling romance.

Vampire Crush started out very strong for me. I marked several passages in the beginning of the book and was laughing out loud from the dialogue written into the main character. I adored Sophie and her modern Nancy Drew charm but alas the book fell flat as around the middle I felt that the action wasn’t coming as fast as it should.

This book is the anti-Twilight. Sophie doesn’t want anything to do with Mr. Tall Dark and Dead or any of his friends who just show up at her school and seem to genuinely like Michigan. However she knows there is something weird about them and as the competition for school newspaper editor comes to a head she has to have this story.

Sophie was a great character and had a lot of depth. The side characters mostly fell flat and seemed to be there for stereotypical dialogue purposes only. I am going to quote three of my favorite passages from the ARC form which may change when the final printed copy is available.

Sophie on the first day of school:

As for the building itself, nothing has changed since last May: it could still double as a penitentiary, albeit a penitentiary with a lot of jail spirit and a streamer budget.

Sophie on choosing a seat at an assembly:

The seat happens to be next to Neal Garret, who’s nice enough in an “I went to space camp this summer” way, but who brings his hamster to school at least once per year. The way he’s murmuring to the left pocket of his khakis right now makes me think that today is that day.

Marisabel (one of the vamps) on reading Twilight:

Marisabel just shrugs, rolling on her back to stare up at an open copy of Twilight. Her long brown hair cascades over the edge. It sways as she shakes her head back and forth.
“This is not right at all,” she says. “Edward is dreamy, though. Maybe you could get some tips.”

So all in all this was a fun read and a great start for what I am assuming is to be a trilogy.

FTC Disclosure: I borrowed this book from Hicklebee’s in ARC form.

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Review: Misguided Angel by Melissa de la Cruz

Goodreads: After inheriting the dark Van Alen Legacy, Schuyler fled to Florence with her forbidden love, Jack. Now the two of them must embark on the mission Schuyler was destined to complete: to find and protect the five remaining gates that guard the earth from Lucifer, lord of the Silver Bloods.

Back in New York, Mimi has been elected Regent of a crumbling coven. Struggling with her heartache over the loss of Kingsley and with her overwhelming desire to destroy Jack, she must focus all of her energy on a perilous new threat. Vampires are being abducted and their captors are planning to burn them alive online…for all the world to see. Help arrives in the form of Deming Chen, a Venator from Shanghai, who must untangle the web of deceptions before the killers strike again.

As the young vampires struggle for the survival of the coven, they uncover a deadly secret, a truth first discovered by Schuyler’s mother during the Renaissance but kept buried for centuries. And as the Blue Blood enclave weakens yet further, fate leads Schuyler to a terrible choice that will ultimately map the destiny of her heart.

I have been a huge fan of Melissa de la Cruz and her Blue Bloods series for a few years now. Long before I had this blog and began reviewing books. I think Melissa’s interpretation of vampire lore is one of the most unique stories being played out in YA lit right now. If you haven’t ready any of this series I strongly suggest you begin with the first book and to stop reading this review here, spoilers for the rest of the series will be below.

We begin Misguided Angel where the Van Alen Legacy ends. Schuyler and Jack are in Italy searching for one of the gates to hell. Mimi is back in New York reeling and seething over the upset Jack gave when he left her at the bonding alter and ran away with “that half-blood” Schuyler.

The writing as always is fantastic. Melissa de la Cruz has a fantastic way with words and I think Misguided Angel shows her talent properly. This was a super quick read and I was loathe to put it down to do menial house-hold tasks.

This book focuses more on what is going on in New York rather than Italy. Mimi has a huge problem on her hands with vampires going missing and being burned alive online. A cover-up operation to confuse the red-bloods has to be conceived while she searching for the killer which is probably a lowly human.

Mimi knew all about blood houses, of course-she wasn’t born yesterday, duh. They were places that familiars who had been abandoned went to experience the Sacred Kiss with any vampire. It was a disgusting practice, the Caerimonia was intimate and sacred, not to be squandered cheaply.

Mimi has to call in back up in the form of a Venator named Deming from Shanghai who can use the glom to find the victims and who is murdering them. Deming is a star born twin and doesn’t have to worry about bonding because her other half is her twin. She is able to infiltrate the school as a senior and search for clues. Will she be able to find the murderer before the waning moon is gone?

Misguided Angel was an epic addition to the Blue Bloods series. I am on pins and needles waiting for book six, so many new mysteries have been pseudo-revealed to the reader and I can’t wait to solve them. I think once you finish this book you will be just as excited as I am to read Bloody Valentine the novella due out a bit later!

So tell me do you like the Blue Bloods series? Gonna read Misguided Angel? Already read it?

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