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In this two-character, stand-alone novel (which is romantic, but not a true romance), Nicole Whitcomb is a twenty-something woman who is heading to the Denver airport after attending the ski-spa wedding of her best friend in Steamboat Springs. As she heads through the mountains, she is caught in a blizzard, loses control of her car, and crashes off the road into a snow drift. Just as if this were a fairy tale, a tall, handsome stranger (who just happens to live just up the hill in a palatial country home) sweeps in to rescue her.
Michael Tyler is that enigmatic stranger, and he isn't at all happy to have a visitor forced on him like this. Michael leads a reclusive life, spending his days writing best-selling historical novels, creating beautiful wooden music boxes, riding his horses, and enjoying his magnificent botanical garden (which is housed in its own special building—koi pond, waterfall, orchids and all). Maybe he is Prince Charming after all. Even though he knows that Nicole's visit will cause problems, what choice does he have? If he doesn't save her, she'll freeze to death.
The first half of the book follows Nicole as she tries to make sense of her host and his prickly behavior and almost immediately finds herself attracted to him on a sensual level. Michael, too, is fighting off the attraction, telling himself that no good will come of any close interactions with Nicole. The kissing begins about a day into their snowy imprisonment—not quite halfway through the book. Nicole soon discovers Michael's two big secrets—one that is relatively harmless and one that is extremely dark—but she still wants him. Nicole also has a secret, one that has caused her deep emotional pain and made her turn her back on her promising nursing career. As the lovebirds make their way through two long snowbound days and nights, they find that they have much in common, especially, a love of literature and an appreciation for classical music. (Both are classical pianists—what a coincidence!). Shortly after Michael reveals his biggest, most dangerous, secret, the couple fall into bed together. Their attraction seems mostly due to proximity: cute, sensitive girl + handsome, lonely guy + snowstorm = sexual shenanigans. In a crucial scene near the end, both overcome their deepest fears and make an intense connection with one another. By the time the snowplow breaks through, each has supposedly made profound inner changes, but it's really hard to tell since the ending is relatively abrupt.
This novel seems like a throw-back to the vampire novels of earlier decades, with its familiar tale of the the rich, handsome hero in his gorgeous home and the beautiful, spunky heroine who just happens to need rescuing right on his doorstep. To make Michael an even more perfect hero, we are told that he has contributed millions of dollars to charity. This plot line has been done to death, and Nocturne brings nothing new or inventive to the reading experience (except the ending, which you'll view either as a cop out or as an inevitable conclusion). Each character has the requisite flaws and secrets—just enough to provide the bare bones of a plot. Unfortunately, that's about all we have here. The characters are only flawed in ways that are totally beyond their control, and their secret fears are confronted and worked out in just a scene or two. It always amazes me when these feisty 21st century women are able to rid an ancient supernatural being of his darkest fears within 24 hours of meeting him. Magic is truly in the air, I guess. Since there is no real plot line, other than the development of the romance, the author fills in with pages of historical facts about Charles Dickens, the poetry of Robert Burns, the art of woodworking, and name-droppings of various pieces of classical music. I can't say that those sections necessarily slow down the plot (which is already moving at the speed of a slow shuffle), but they don't necessarily add much to the story either.