Reviewed by Morgan
Title: Shades of Sepia
Author: Anne Barwell
Narrator: Michael Ferralulo
Series: The Sleepless City #1
Heroes: Simon Hawthorne/Ben Leyton
Genre: MM Paranormal
Length: Book – 210 Pages / Audio – 7 Hours and 59 Minutes
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: Book – January 31, 2014 / Audio – October 14, 2014
Available at: Dreamspinner Press, Amazon, Audible and iTunes
Add it to your shelf: Goodreads
Blurb: A serial killer stalks the streets of Flint, Ohio. The victims are always found in pairs, one human and one vampire.
Simon Hawthorne has been a vampire for nearly a hundred years, and he has never seen anything like it. Neither have the other supernaturals he works with to keep the streets safe for both their kind and the humans.
One meeting with Simon finds Ben Leyton falling for a man he knows is keeping secrets, but he can’t ignore the growing attraction between them. A recent arrival in Flint, Ben finds it very different from his native New Zealand, but something about Simon makes Ben feel as though he’s found a new home.
After a close friend falls victim to the killer, Simon is torn between revealing his true nature to Ben, and walking away to avoid the reaction he fears. But with the body count rising and the murders becoming more frequent, either, or both of them, could be the killer’s next target.
Review – Book: Ben is a foreign student studying in America from New Zealand. He’s a photographer and he loves to spend hours out and about taking photos of everything and anything. One day he sees a man who catches his eye, and after seeing him several times in a row, decides to approach him.
Simon is a vampire, over a hundred years old, who sees Ben and identifies him as his potential soul mate. He doesn’t immediately try to approach Ben, but lets Ben come to him. Though Simon is lonely and happy for a chance at a life-companion, there is much in his past to suggest Ben might be better off without Simon.
Eventually, the two do meet, and neither can stop their attraction from blossoming into a relationship and then love. Simon must come clean and confess what he is and Ben has to accept the monster that lives inside Simon.
In the meantime, Flint, their little town, is being subjected to a string of serial murders involving both humans and vampires. Together, Simon, Ben and three of Simon’s paranormal friends, work to solve the murders while keeping everyone they know as safe as possible.
It all culminates when someone from Simon’s past re-surfaces, trying to take Ben out of the picture.
Simon has to overcome his deadly addictions to save Ben, and Ben has to trust that Simon is more than a victim of his desires.
This is a unique take on the vampire theme. There is a lot of the typical lore, but some parts are newly constructed. The soul-mate connection between Simon and Ben isn’t a foregone conclusion and there are some very good reasons why it shouldn’t happen at all.
I really liked the fact that the couple worked toward a relationship slowly, and though some of the tension was immediately relieved by Simon’s confession, the bulk of the tension held through the end, and even remained (to a certain extent) past the ending. Unlike a lot of paranormal/vampire stories, mortality isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, and though my romantic heart would hope the two bond to one another for eternity, it may not happen and there is good reasoning behind that.
The smexy scenes were good, and they got better as the couple got to know one another, and the romance was sweet and tender.
I enjoyed the writing style very much and thought it was a refreshing.
I give the story itself a 4.5 of 5 stars.
Review – Audio: Michael Ferralulo is a new narrator to me, but I thought he did a good job. He tried to alter the voices so that each sounded unique, and I could easily differentiate who was speaking based on his voice modulation alone. One big complaint I had was Ben. Ben was from New Zealand, used New Zealand vernacular, and was only studying in America a short time, but Michael gave him a flat American accent. Simon is British and has a lovely British accent. It would have felt more authentic if Ben had an accent.
Overall, he did a solid job and I would listen to another narration by him in the future.
I give this narration a 3 of 5 stars.
Overall Impression: I really liked it!
*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in return for a fair and honest review.*