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REVIEW: “Shades of Sepia” by Anne Barwell


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.


All right, we all know that when it comes to reviewing, there will always be a subjectivity factor, right? It could be as nitpicky as, oh, you know, my hatred towards excessive endearments, especially “baby”. But, I will try to be as fair as I can when it comes to explaining my rating.

I had likes and dislikes … and interestingly few of these likes and dislikes cancelled each other out, which made it rather difficult for me to think whether it was good or bad. Let’s see:

1) This story has a soul-bond element. Yep, soul-bond … which becomes a basis of insta-attraction and insta-love (as in Simon and Ben hadn’t even “sealed the deal” yet but already the words “I love you” were mentioned by both – only around halfway through the story). That should go to my negative column. But at the same time, Simon and Ben didn’t immediately have sex with each other, which was definitely a plus point.

2) This story had multiple dead bodies in it – wait, that sounded wrong, didn’t it? But yeah, it had multiple murders. I love my murder mysteries. In fact, the more gruesome it is, the more exciting it should be for me. Unfortunately, the story was rather light in the mystery, and I did feel that the investigation took a back seat several times, to make way for Simon and Ben and their relationship. So yes, I did wish it was ‘darker’ and focused on the mystery rather than the romance – but that’s how I roll.

3) The villain was well described and seemed like a worthy opponent that threatens the lives of our main characters. However, the resolution for this was rushed and rather anti-climactic in my opinion.

4) The romance became way too sappy for my taste with the constant “I love you”s and a bit too much waterworks. Fortunately, I liked the idea of Flint as a city where human and supernatural creatures actually had a treaty of sorts, which enabled them to live peacefully side by side. I liked that Simon worked as a professor with his friends Forge and Lucas worked at Flint Police Department – and these two characters (Forge and Lucas) had an easy going attitude around them, which helped balancing the rather sappy romance.

So with all these elements, I’ve settled with the ‘okay’ rating.



ShadesofSepiaTitle: Shades of Sepia (The Sleepless City #1)
Author: Anne Barwell
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Pages: 210
Release Date: January 31, 2014
Purchase Links: Dreamspinner Press, ARe, Amazon

About Ami

My name is Ami and I'm an Indonesian girl in my mid 30's, living in Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia. I used to do a lot of journal writing in a different website but over the years, I started to lose interest. I am, instead, pretty active in reading and writing opinion in Goodreads. Then I start thinking that maybe I can have a blog in which I write mostly about books or joy of reading or anything related to reading activity, really. So this is what this blog is for ... although, I may be inspired to write off-books topic as well :)

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This entry was posted on February 10, 2014 by in Mystery / Suspense, PNR / UF / SF / DYS, Reviewer: Ami and tagged , , , .

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