TITLE: Whispers of the Night
AUTHOR: Lydia Joyce
STARTED: December 25, 2006
FINISHED: December 27, 2006
FIRST SENTENCE: Alcyone Carter was frightened.
SUMMARY: [From Amazon.com] When four London seasons fail to find her a suitable match, Alcyone Carter does the unthinkable and treks across Europe to marry a foreign nobleman she's never met. But on her wedding night, she discovers her handsome, enigmatic husband is not the man he claimed to be. Rather than live a lie, she escapes his estate into the darkness. But her husband - ignited by his desire and pride - risks everything to follow her from the depths of the Romanian forests into the decadent heart of Istanbul, where they're forced to confront the sensual passion they've discovered - and the dire threat that could cost them both their lives.
REASON FOR READING: It was Beth's 2006 Great Romance Novel Trade Christmas Gift to me. (I should probably get around to reading the one she gave me for the 2005 Great Romance Novel Trade Christmas Gift.)
THOUGHTS: This book needed to be longer. Much longer. At a scant 308 pages, I felt like the author as abridging her story. Alcyone and Dumitru were fascinating characters thrown into an even more fascinating story. The character development and plot, however, were lacking simply because Joyce did not give her story enough room to grow. The lack of space means that the characters come off more flat and one-dimensional than they should, and the story moves way to first. As I was reading, I felt like the author needed to slow down and catch her breath. Every plot moment and change in storyline worked, but they came one on top of the other.
Alcyone comes across as a woman who cares only for her freedom, mathematical thoughts, and money. The way Joyce writes, however, the reader can tell that there is so much more underlying her heroine. Forced by her father to marry a man with a title, Alycone heads out to southeastern Europe to marry a baron, only to find out that she's actually married the wrong man. It is in the scene where she deduces her mistake that the reader can clearly see there is more depth to this character than Joyce is allowed space for. Alcyone has real feelings and real reactions, but their merely glossed over for the sake of space.
Dumitru has the same problem. He's a baron prince, a caring man, and a spymaster. Sadly for the story, the spymaster bit is, again, glossed over. Joyce rushes through the politics and the quagmire that is international espionage simply to fit her story into the "usual" number of pages in a romance novel. This makes Dumitru's plot oftentimes confusing and almost unnecessary. Yes, it's cool that he's a spymaster. And, yes, it gives his character and the plot more intrigue, but if you're going to confuse your readers, why would the author throw that in at all?
The answer, Joyce is trying something new.
She's thrown those two characters into scenes and locations rarely scene in the modern romance genre. Istanbul? Slovakia? The Ottoman Empire? Wha? All of this makes for spectacular scenes and descriptions but, yet again, all of this is glossed over. There are moments in depth, such as when our leads must cross the chilly Danube, but, for the most part, these scenes are hurried. Our heroes are captured and what should be a dramatic drawn out scene, takes only a few pages. Then our heroes reach Istanbul. Dumitru is cast into the dungeon for his spying ways, and Alycone is forced into an English dinner party where she must find someone to help her save it. It is the turning point of the book, and it takes up scant pages of the story.
I kept on screaming, "More!" at this book. The writing is descriptive and imaginary, with a vocabulary that actually wowed me. The plot and characters could make for a phenomenal read, but it all came too fast, and was too short. I was almost exhausted at the end of this book; so much was crammed into so little space. Had Joyce added another 200 pages or so, her story would have been smoother, her characters more vibrant, and her plot even more intriguing.
MISCELLANEOUS: This is how you do a romance cover.
KEEP/SHARE/CRINGE(?): I'll let Beth read it before I put it on PBS.com
RATING: 6/10 [Good]