Author: Syrie James

Nocturne by Syrie James (Book Review)

Posted January 28, 2013 by Jana in Adult Fiction, Book Review / 3 Comments

Nocturne by Syrie James (Book Review)Nocturne by Syrie James
Published by Vanguard Press on January 4, 2011
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Contemporary Romance, Paranormal, Paranormal Romance, Romance
Pages: 264
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher (Mail)
Amazon Add to Goodreads
5 Stars
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.

1. I love the cover! 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!

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!

2. 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.

3. 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!

3. 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?

4. As the days go by, they have lots of long, deep conversations about life and love. I really enjoyed 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!

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, and why she chose to focus more on certain elements of storytelling than others. “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…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.”

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!


Dracula, My Love by Syrie James (Book Review)

Posted March 7, 2012 by Jana in Adult Fiction, Book Review / 2 Comments

Dracula, My Love by Syrie James (Book Review)Dracula, My Love: The Secret Journals of Mina Harker by Syrie James
Published by Avon on July 20, 2012
Genres: Historical Fiction, Paranormal
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased
Amazon Add to Goodreads
5 Stars
Many have read and loved Bram Stoker’s Dracula. But questions remain. What is the true story of Dracula’s origin? What if Mina could not bring herself to record the true story of their scandalous affair—until now?

In Dracula, My Love: The Secret Journals of Mina Harker, Syrie James explores these questions and more. A vibrant dramatization, told from Mina’s point of view, brings to life the crucial parts of Stoker’s story while showcasing Mina’s sexual awakening and evolution as a woman, and revealing a secret that could destroy her life. Torn between two men—a loving husband and a dangerous lover—Mina struggles to hang on to the deep love she’s found within her marriage, even as she is inexorably drawn to Dracula himself—the vampire that everyone she knows is determined to destroy.

Syrie did something amazing with this book. She made me want to read another book. That’s what books should do, in my opinion. It convinced me that I needed to read Bram Stoker’s Dracula. This book gave me Mina’s point of view, and so obviously, I had to read the original. I was kind of scared to purchase Dracula, My Love, because it’s a little out of my usual comfort zone, but I am SO glad that I did. As always, my main points are bolded. :)

1. The writing style is breathtakingly beautiful. Syrie’s descriptions are notoriously amazing, in my opinion. The writing is done in old-fashioned English, which I found very refreshing. It really added to the story. I have a hard time when historical genres are written in contemporary language. This felt very authentic and seemed very real as a result.

2. The characters are so well developed. Each person has their own voice and their own opinions. Dracula is strong, sexy, deceptive, evil, manipulative, and extremely romantic! Mina is also very strong, rebellious, and thinks for herself during a time when women are supposed to be meek and submissive. She grows up a lot over the course of the book and learns a lot about herself. Mina’s husband is the typical male from the time period. He’s controlling, demanding, protective, and all about saving Mina from this evil man who so desires her. Of course, he never catches on to the fact that Mina is a willing participant in her rendezvous with Dracula.

3. The mannerisms of each character are believable. I love the contrast between the chaste, ladylike behavior Mina displays around her husband and friends and the, for lack of a better word, lustful thoughts and actions she exhibits with Dracula. It’s like he has her under some spell that amplifies her desires and emotions when she’s with him.

4. In all actuality, though, this book is not all about lust and carnal desires. Her time spent with him is always spent in long discussions about life and literature. They have so much in common. Her greatest desire is to be with him. The book is really very clean, except for one steamy “dream” she has about him.

5. You get to jump into Mina’s mind and hear her thoughts. You will begin to understand her wants, fears, and desires. You number yourself lucky for not being in her shoes, but care too much to stop hoping that she figures everything out. She has a difficult situation at hand. She goes from being the plain, simple girl who never gets any romantic attention (even from her husband), to being obsessed over and stalked by a mysterious and sexy bad boy. You’d think that would be terrifying, but she is so captivated by him that she dreams of him and longs for him when most women would flee in fear. This mortifies her. She’s a married woman, but can’t help herself. She can’t keep away from him. And on top of all of these conflicting emotions, she has to keep all of this a secret or else jeopardize Dracula’s life, as well as her own. You will be glued to every page and travel through every emotion with her.

6. It was spooky, suspenseful, exciting, and filled with deception, mystery, and romance. While Mina’s husband and his accomplices (including Van Helsing, a former boyfriend, and the widower of her best friend) came up with an intricate plot to murder Dracula, she appeared to be helping them, but in reality was leading them on a wild goose chase formulated by Dracula himself. She kept swinging back and forth between the two, doing her best to keep everyone in the “loop”. She hoped for both sides to win, because she cared so much about everyone involved. I’d go insane (or have a nervous breakdown) if I were her.

7. This book did not change the original story of Dracula. It is more of a companion to Stoker’s novel, rather than a retelling. I loved the the author stayed so true to the original. You really are seeing everything that happened, but from a different point of view.

8. In addition, reading Mina’s side of the story made me understand and appreciate Dracula so much more. In my opinion, the classic novel is kind of hard to understand. Perhaps I feel that way since I am just beginning to read the classics, and am not used to the old writing styles yet. Because it was so true to the original, I understood what was happening in the original more than I would have otherwise. Plus, I saw a tender, romantic side of Dracula and found myself falling for him right along with Mina. I think that’s part of the reason I loved this book so much. I think a little part of everyone is curious about the forbidden. It’s only human nature.

All in all, you should definitely read this book. I’m glad I gave this book a chance, because it is a truly beautiful story of love, deception, obsession, survival, and sacrifice. I was riveted, and could not put it down! I went out and bought every other novel by Syrie James, and she has yet to disappoint me thus far!


Forbidden by Syrie James & Ryan James (Book Review)

Posted November 30, 2011 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult / 2 Comments

Forbidden by Syrie James & Ryan James (Book Review)Forbidden by Ryan James, Syrie James
Published by HarperTEEN on January 24, 2012
Genres: Paranormal, Paranormal Romance, Romance
Pages: 410
Format: ARC
Source: Author
Amazon Add to Goodreads
4 Stars
She should not exist.

He should not love her.

Claire Brennan has been attending Emerson Academy for two years now (the longest she and her mom have remained anywhere) and she’s desperate to stay put for the rest of high school. So there’s no way she’s going to tell her mom about the psychic visions she’s been having or the creepy warnings that she’s in danger.

Alec MacKenzie is fed up with his duties to watch and, when necessary, eliminate the descendants of his angelic forefathers. He chose Emerson as the ideal hiding place where he could be normal for once. He hadn’t factored Claire into his plans. . . .

Their love is forbidden, going against everything Alec has been taught to believe. But when the reason behind Claire’s unusual powers is revealed and the threat to her life becomes clear, how far will Alec go to protect her?

I was SO excited when Syrie wrote to me and told me that I was the first ever recipient of a Forbidden ARC! I read this book back in August, and was very happy when Syrie asked that I post this review now, rather than wait for the month of the release. Put this on your Christmas lists, guys! I think you’ll enjoy it. :)

First off, I really loved the story. The premise was interesting, and I like how I had to keep guessing and trying to figure out what was going on. I liked the tactic the authors used–to not tell us what Claire or Alec are for quite a while. All these crazy things start happening, and people are not who they say they are. I felt like I was just as lost as Claire was, which was exciting. I wish the back of the book did not mention angels. It would have been more fun to not have had any clue at all.

Alec is an amazing character, and I’m not going to tell you what he is. It’s fun to discover that on your own. He’s a mix of bad boy and sweetheart, which I love. He is so sweet with Claire. He’s also mysterious and dangerous, yet soft and romantic. He’s at Emerson Academy to escape his old life and create a new one… if that’s even possible. He enjoys his isolation. As soon as Claire pops up on the radar as someone the Elders should be investigating, his hiding place is discovered and he ends up having to take drastic measures to protect her from those who wish to destroy her.

I’m not going to tell you exactly what Claire is either, but she’s something forbidden. Haha. Her entire life should not even exist. She starts noticing changes and has to learn as she goes, because not many have ever been in her position. There’s no manuals on how to be herself. Man, this is painful to explain without spoilers, so I’m moving on! She’s sweet and wishes to be noticed by this one guy she’s had a crush on for years. Of course, he barely notices she’s alive. When Alec comes along, though, she begins to gravitate towards him right as this crush starts to gravitate towards her. She’s torn. She doesn’t embrace the love triangle, like so many YA girls end up doing in books. (Like… did Bella have to act so upset to be marrying Edward, but fling herself into Jacob’s arms when he showed up late at her reception? Sorry… I just saw Breaking Dawn yesterday.). She does a lot of thinking, and follows her heart. She seems smart. She also uses her talents to help people, like a classmate who needed a push in the right direction. Those are two main reasons why I like her. She didn’t bug me, which often happens to me with YA heroines. I feel like I’m saying this a lot lately. Maybe authors are starting to write better heroines in general?

I liked Claire’s friends a lot. They looked out for each other, and spent a lot of time sitting and chatting about all kinds of things. Friends usually end up bugging me too. They can so often be petty, catty, etc. I wish I had good friends like them when I was in high school.

There were several plot twists that made me go, “Whoa! I definitely wasn’t thinking THAT would happen!” I’ve noticed that as I read more and more of one genre, books begin to become pretty predictable. I mean, how many love triangles do we see? How many evil villains do we see? How many cliche plot twists do we see. A lot, a lot, a lot. These twists were not something I foresaw. I enjoyed being outsmarted by a genre that I’ve pretty much figured out.

Of course, the sweet kissing descriptions were just as good as the ones I’ve read in Syrie’s other novels. I love romance!

My only possible constructive criticism… I’m not sure if it’s because the book is part of the YA genre (which I’ve never read from Syrie), or if it was because she co-wrote it with her son, but there were parts of the novel that were totally Syrie, and other parts that did not sound like her. I could tell that two people wrote it. I’m not sure if it’s because her writing style and Ryan’s were not blended seamlessly, or if it was just that I’m used to reading adult fiction from Syrie instead of YA. In either case, it’s not a huge deal… just an observation. If I had not read other works of hers, I doubt I would have noticed anything at all. I’ve just come to recognize Syrie’s literary voice because I like it so much!

I asked Syrie if she and her son were planning to write a sequel, and she said that in their minds, it’s a trilogy. However, HarperTeen only committed to one book. They have great ideas for the next two, though, so hopefully Forbidden is well-received, and they can continue the story. I’d love to know more about what’s in store for Alec and Clair. Actually, I’d love a prequel, too. Throughout the story, we hear little bits about Claire’s parents. I’d love to read about their story as well. It has the potential to be a pretty beautiful story.

I definitely think that the book will appeal to more than just YA readers, and I think a lot of that is due to the fact that the characters are not annoying and certainly don’t fit into the stereotypical high school student formula. I think it also helped that Alec had a certain maturity that seemed to influence the other characters, and that brought on more mature conflicts and issues. I’m 24, and a lot of YA novels I read make me feel pretty old. Haha. I know I’m not old, but in a totally different place than most YA characters. I didn’t feel like this while reading Forbidden, and I forgot they were all highschoolers. It was refreshing.

In short, it was a wonderful book. I quite enjoyed it, and only took about 2 days to read it. Hopefully this team gets to continue the story! While it can totally stand on its own, there are plenty of ends that are just a tad loose, that could use some tying up!

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