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Nocturne

REVIEW: Lord of the Vampires by Gena Showalter

REVIEW: Lord of the Vampires by Gena Showalter

Dear Ms. Showalter,

You’re one of those authors I feel I should love. Your story ideas are creative and inventive. You’re prolific – one of my favorite traits in an author. Your online personality is sweet and easygoing.  And yet for some reason, your books and I never seem to quite connect. Every time you start a new series, I buy the first book, hoping that this will be the one that converts me into a raving fan. It’s why I picked up Lord of the Vampires. Sadly, this book was not quite the one.

Lord of the Vampires	Gena ShowalterThe set-up is intriguing. Jane Parker is a scientist who is recovering from a terrible car accident several months ago. The car accident killed her mother and nearly crippled Jane, and she has had a long, lonely road to recovery. As she recovers, she dreams of a mysterious, sexy vampire who is being held captive. One day, Jane receives a strange book in the mail. The book talks about a mysterious, sexy vampire who is being held captive by an evil princess.  Jane is shocked by the parallel to her dreams, but even more shocking – her own name is in the book and the vampire is demanding that she go to him. She dreams about making love to the vampire that night, and the next morning she awakens to find herself in the kingdom mentioned by the book, wearing the face of the evil princess. Under the guise of the evil princess, she meets the vampire, Nicolai. He has been kept as a sex slave by the evil (and ugly) Odette, and he can see Jane’s true face under the glamor she wears.  Nicolai is a captive and his memories have been stripped from him. He knows that Jane is not Odette and that she has come to save him. They escape from the castle together and run off into the forest, where a series of mishaps befall them as they immediately fall into love with each other.

I found the world in this tale fairly murky. It feels like the storyline is a mash-up of Alice in Wonderland and fairy tales. The two evil, ugly princesses are the daughters of the Queen of Hearts in the kingdom of Delfina. Jane’s appearance in the new world could easily harken back to Alice, though I didn’t see anyone or anything I could point to as the White Rabbit. From there, however, the story seems to be a mishmash of fantasy tropes (evil ogres, witches) with the occasional paranormal element. Nicolai is a vampire. I have no idea why he is a vampire or if anyone else is a vampire. Was he turned? I could have missed it, but I am confused why he is a vampire and none of his other siblings is. Moreover, the story is entitled ‘Lord of the Vampires’, but Nicolai was the only vampire in the story. He is a prince of the fantasy kingdom of Elden, but as far as I could tell, it was not inhabited by vampires. I found the world very confusing and had to constantly re-read certain sections to make sure I was following along. Even now, I still feel like I’m missing big chunks of the story.

Jane was a problematic character for me. She’s sympathetic and strong-willed, but I had trouble with the concept that she’s supposed to be a brilliant scientist who graduated early from high school, finished college in a blink, then worked for years at a top secret branch of the government doing experiments on quantum theories and on mysterious, otherworldly creatures, which has a bigger role later in the story. My problem was that Jane did not act like a scientist or think like one.  She is also a very, very rich, very young scientist.

She didn’t need to work because one, she’d made so much money through her research, she could never spend it all; and two, she’d made so much money in the car accident settlement she could never spend it all.

That struck me as…odd. Does science pay that much? If she loves her job so much, why isn’t she attempting to go back to her job? How would she have such high government clearance at such a young age? These are questions I kept asking myself and did not come to a satisfactory answer. For the record, at the start of the story, Jane is 27 and had been in recovery from her car accident for almost a year, so she would have ‘retired’ from her beloved career somewhere around the age of 26.

Nicolai as the hero was very sexy and charming, however. I do find that you do the obsessive, devoted hero very well. He was adoring of Jane and extremely protective, and I find that is always a joy to read about. Their banter was sometimes very charming, and while Nicolai was the big, possessive alpha male, I still had the impression that Jane was running the show. I like that in a story. The sex between them was not as explicit as your other series, perhaps, but that might have to do with the Nocturne line more than anything else. I still felt the chemistry between them was sufficiently spark-worthy. There was instant lust and love between the two characters, but given the rest of the setting, I let this slide. Insta-lust does not really bother me in a paranormal, since I feel there are a lot of elements in these stories that require the suspension of disbelief.

I have to say that I hated the ending. It was too perfect. As Jane has said in the past, this was definitely a Care Bear ending. Not for me.

Overall, this was a mixed read for me. I liked the concept but found the execution flawed. The hero was sexy but the heroine was hard to believe. You don’t need to read this story to grasp what is going on with the others. There is an overarching story plot about the four siblings, however, I didn’t feel that it was more than window dressing.  And while this did not work for me as well as I’d hoped, I’ll still be there to buy the first book of your next series.

All best,

January

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Dear Author

REVIEW: Racing the Moon by Michele Hauf

Dear Ms. Hauf,

I understand that this is the first offering from Nocturne Bites, the new Harlequin/Silhouette line of paranormal novellas. I wasn’t sure what to expect since I’ve never read any of your previous work and paranormal novellas can be hit or miss with me.

Sunday is a female mechanic who lives out in the middle of nowhere. One day, she meets an attractive man named Dean, whose car has broken down. Instant lust strikes and Sunday agrees to give Dean lift back to her garage and fix his car.

There’s a complication, however. Dean is a werewolf and it’s the night of the full moon. To avoid shifting and embarking on a rampage, Dean normally has sex. Lots and lots of sex. Sunday’s presence seems like an easy solution to him. Too bad Sunday has a couple secrets of her own that make sex with her downright deadly.

I ran into an unexpected hurdle while reading with this novella. Sometimes readers trip over something in the text that kicks them out of the narrative. An incorrect detail. A writing voice that doesn’t work for them. Characterization that doesn’t ring true. In this case, it was a strange association. With a male character named Dean and references to sawed-off shotguns, rock salt, and demons, I found myself thinking of the Supernatural television series. I know these are superficial similarities, but it still ended up distracting me from the actual story. This likely contributed to my lukewarm reaction.

Overall, I found the romance between Dean and Sunday a little disappointing. Despite the various problems they encountered, I felt like they never progressed from their initial physical attraction. I think I was supposed to believe it had, thanks to the shapeshifting complications and demon fighting but since I never did, ultimately the ending fell flat for me. I suppose I find it hard to believe that a promiscuous man will turn over a new leaf for a woman he just met and has known for less than 24 hours, especially if having sex with that woman results in complications, to say the least. Others might disagree. A C for me.

My regards,
Jia