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Shades of Sepia

(The Sleepless City #1)

3.43  ·  Rating details ·  143 ratings  ·  57 reviews
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
ebook, 210 pages
Published January 31st 2014 by Dreamspinner Press (first published January 30th 2014)
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Average rating 3.43  · 
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 ·  143 ratings  ·  57 reviews

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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. Lets see:

1) This story has a soul-bond
Lou Sylvre
Jan 31, 2014 rated it it was amazing
5 unrestrained sexy stars for Shades of Sepia! Anne Barwells vampires, werewolves, and yes, even humans live vividly in the pages of this novel, and on the streets of a thoroughly reimagined Flint, Ohio. Bonded souls, bloodlust, and murder wreak havoc on the lives of Ben Leytona rather happy-go-lucky guy transplanted from New Zealandand serious, soulful vampire Simon Hawthorne. Attraction is too soft a word for what happens between them when they meet, but little does either of them know that ...more
Jan 25, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arc, paranormal
This was a nice start to a paranormal series. I liked the MC's a great deal. It was sweet, romantic, and not terribly dark. There was the obligatory romantic-paranormal use of "mine" that I like so much, yes, I am a sucker for that word. And the soul-mate-bond insta-love I also need. They are mandatory for me in romantic paranormals. It was sexy, although there was not a lot of sex - and there was one VERY inventive scene involving a mirror, mmm mmm. Review at ...more
I wanted to like it

3.25 ⭐

I wanted to like this more than I did.
The bones of the story was good and the idea had merit it was just that all of the characters were too nice, and I just wanted more in some way. Both Simon and Ben bordered on cheesy at times, but I still kind of want to continue on and read the next one to see if its the same.
Kelly H. (Maybedog)
2 Stars

In that first scene there was no chemistry. It was awkward.

Flint isn't at one end of the country--it's in the middle. Why would a photographer go to Flint unless he wanted to photograph despair and poverty?

If there have been three murders so far, why hasn't there been anything said about half the victims not showing up in the photos (vampires don't photograph we're told later on)?

Still no chemistry at all, up to page 52, when Ben has only seen Simon twice, he's already in love. I can
I ADORED the vampire in the book... because it's not as the "usual" vampire. There were some interesting original ideas about vampires behave and what their are. I LIKED IT.

I was in the mood for a paranormal-romance and that's exactly what I got! Yes, romance , and I will stress it. It's VERY romantic. A lot of "I love you", "I can't live without you" in their speech, and I appreciated it a lot.

I got this book, and now MUST read also the sequel Electric Candle...because I have to know more
Stephanie   GooglyEyes
I started this book knowing some of the characters already from reading Code Name: Jack Rabbit by Elizabeth Noble, so some of the characters I'm already endeared to and may be a little biased :)

reading CNJR, I just knew there was some sort of underlying story that I was missing, so Elizabeth led me here. I have to say I am not disappointed.

We're some of the things predictable? yeah, maybe, But not everything.

The book had a "calmness" to it, I can't really explain. Maybe because Simon seemed
Lori S.
Thin plot, the characters are interesting, but I would have liked more time spent on developing the relationship between the MCs and more time spent on explaining the mystery.

3.5 stars [ETA 2019] The more I listen, the more I like this story. It helps that the later stories add to the overall plot and character development.
Ulysses Dietz
May 15, 2014 rated it really liked it
While I didn't find either of these books (the sequel to this, "Electric Candle," by Elizabeth Noble) compelling in their writing, I love the premise and the paranormal-as-normal world these two women create for their "Sleepless City" series. "Shades of Sepia" is nicely written and well plotted---don't feel that I'm complaining. I just wasn't as caught up in the narrative as I would have liked to have been. It is a very creative and interesting world Barwell has made.

My personal fondness for
Feb 05, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: mm, supernatural, romance
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
I'm a big fan of a setup where paranormals mingle with human society, may it secretly or openly. Reading about how totally different cultures have to deal with each other is something I like to enjoy. So Shades of Sepia seemed to be exactly what I like to read but unfortunately there were some points that kept my "enjoyment" a minimum.

I didn't always understand why the characters did what they did. There was always an explanation for their behaviour afterwards somehow, though, but it was more
Sep 28, 2014 rated it liked it
I'm not a great reader of crime/mystery type stories so I wasn't sure what to expect. To me the book was strongly about the Simon and Ben's relationship with the murders intruding on their getting to know each other.

The book started off slow whilst establishing the backgrounds of Ben and Simon. It was fun to read phrases I considered normal then have them explained because the people of Flint didn't understand. That alternate point of view it what probably kept me reading. Ben was from New
Lisa The Novel Approach
Mar 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I have read more supernatural books than any other genre. There are the shifters that come in all shapes, sizes, and attitudes. Then there are the vampires; they come in many various types also. In some books they all live happily in harmony with one another, and in some books they are mortal enemies. This book has a little of both. Plus, we have the added dimension of the humans in the story. Some of the humans know about the supes, some dont. More than that, though, some humans seem as if they ...more
Thomaidha Papa
2 Hearts
Review written for MM Good Book Reviews

The first thought I had about this book once I started reading was oh my, another Twilight wannabe. I havent been disabused of that notion. The characters might as well been named Edward-wannabe and Bella-wannabe. Harsh? Dont think so.

So you might have gathered that I didnt like this book. Thatd be right, but not because it tried so hard to resemble another book, it was also the fact that for me, this was badly written...

Read the entire review here.
Jan 24, 2015 rated it it was ok
Argh! This got great reviews so I am wondering what everyone saw in it that I could not find. I was annoyed by both of the main characters, the dialogue, and plot(?) were clique as hell. I listened to this as an audiobook, and skipped through all the sex scenes, it is hard to listen to pointless sex when one dislikes the couple. Also, sometimes I would say the lines out loud because they were expectedly uncreative; "I've never felt like this for anyone before" "you make me feel again" "I love ...more
Feb 19, 2014 rated it really liked it
2nd read 9/15

This was definitely a different type of vampire story and I loved it. The writing, plot and characters were all great definitely a reread in the future. I look forward to the rest of the books in this series.
Sep 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
Simon has been a vampire for almost 100 years, he has never seen another murder like the ones taking place in his hometown. A serial killer is at working, killing one human and one vampire. He and the other supernaturals are doing their best to try and find the killer, but they can tell its one of their own. Simon meets Ben in the park, sparks fly between the two almost immediately, but after a close friend of Simons is a victim to the killer, he almost walks away from Ben thinking it would be ...more
Dec 11, 2017 rated it it was ok
UPDATE: I lied. it got worse. (view spoiler)

2.5, really.

I haven't finished the story yet but I do not have long to go but I didn't want to forget this review. Although, I am interested in the mystery part of this supernatural story. I would like to know who the serial vampire killer is no spoilers yet but I have no clue I have to admit that the writing for the romance part of this book is quite pedestrian. I
Jan 25, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition

This is some sappy, sugary writing that made my teeth ache. And my eyes roll. The story and most of the characters lacked depth and breadth. Our protagonists acted like a couple of high schoolers. Not impressed with this introduction to the series.
Caroline Brand

I reviewed Electric Candle which is book 2 in this series for Prism back in April last year. At the time I meant to go straight off and read Ben and Simons stories but somehow it slipped past me and remained on the dreaded and overfull TBR shelf. Well, luckily for me it came up for review as an audio book so I grabbed it! I got so tied up with Ben and Simon that I barely stopped it for the entire 8 hours.

Simon is a 100 year old vampire and very much a square peg
Morgan  Skye
Oct 25, 2014 rated it really liked it
Full Review Here

Ben is a foreign student studying in America from New Zealand. Hes 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 doesnt immediately try to approach Ben, but lets Ben come
This review can be found at The Blogger Girls review site.

3.5 stars

Taking his overseas experience in Flint, Ohio, Ben Leyton discovers a whole new world he never knew existed when he meets Simon Hawthorne, who just happens to be a vampire. While the two have just met, the attraction between them is too strong to avoid and even with Simons attempts at keeping Ben ignorant of his nature, he cant help but tell Ben what he really is and just what Ben is to Simon his soul mate. But things go beyond
Barb ~rede-2-read~
Note: This audiobook was provided to me by the publisher through Hearts on Fire Reviews in exchange for an impartial review.

Ben Leyton was restless when he completed his university degree, and on the advice of his grandfather, decided to take a trip to the US, specifically to Flint, Ohio. His grandfather had been there as a young man and told Ben that it he loved it and hoped Ben would too.

Simon Hawthorne lives in Flint, Ohio and has for many decades. Hes a vampire and shares an old castle
Sep 14, 2014 rated it really liked it
A very sweet, extremely cute, delightfully loving start to a paranormal series. With a cast of vampires, werewolves, a ghost and a beloved Kiwi soul mate.

Ben is a very nice young man from New Zealand who has no idea that vampires, shifters and other beings of legend exist outside of the graphic novels he enjoys. Simon is a traditional British gentleman who has lived through wars and suffered many losses while his body kept the appearance of the twenty-two year old young man who was turned into a
Mar 24, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: paranormal, romance, lgbtq, aar
Review at All About Romance -

In the small town of Flint, Ohio, the townsfolk have many secrets. Most recently, its the truth behind a string of serial murders, with Flint being only the most recent destination for the killer. The victims are paired off, one vampire and one human, and it looks more like a murder-suicide than anything else. But there are hunters involved, supernatural hunters, who know that there is more going on than it seems. Simon
3.5 Stars

Review also posted on

I liked this story. The romance part is cute and the mystery about the serial killer is good but it did need something more. Im a fan of vampire stories but I havent read one in a while after reading Shades of Sepia I realize I really miss them.

I loved the MCs Simon, the vampire and Ben, the human that falls for him. The secondary characters, except for one of course, could all handle their own stories and I would look forward to reading them. I felt the
Gillian Kevern
Feb 24, 2014 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed reading Shades of Sepia! I will admit that as a New Zealander, I was biased in favour of Ben and Simon from the start. I thoroughly enjoyed all the little details of Ben's accent and phrasing causing confusion, his ringtone, 'flat white' ... Even the difficulties of coordinating a Skype chat across differing time-zones really spoke to me, and made it easy for me to get immersed in the story.

Simon and Ben held my attention throughout, and I really enjoyed the latter half of the
Jana Denardo
Feb 05, 2014 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 26, 2014 rated it liked it
I read book 2 in this series (Electric Candle) in August last year before I realised I had book 1!
I enjoyed, again, the lightness of the story - not a dark, broody vampire tale. The gentle jibes at vampire misconceptions by the vampires themselves are fun and Jonas' allergies make there prescence known.
I wasn't too sold on Ben actually - he came across as too much of a 'fan boy' for me to really get into him. I enjoyed Simon and his emergence from a grouchy, battle weary vampire to a lighter
Blue Bayou .
Apr 04, 2014 rated it liked it
A lot of adult, nearly 200 year old, vampires crying. And well some adult human about 27ish crying too. (do not get me wrong everyone deserves a good cry, everyone. Its healing and strengthening. However the issues were decades and decades old ummm its been awhile try and work that out.)

Good story but the romance/bond/mate business didn't hold up. Then the Kawinkydink of grandpas and uncles and that was kind of silly and unnecessary.
Nonetheless the parts that weren't the love interests were
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Anne Barwell lives in Wellington, New Zealand. She shares her home with two cats who are convinced that the house is run to suit them; this is an ongoing "discussion," and to date it appears as though the cats may be winning.

In 2008 she completed her conjoint BA in English Literature and Music/Bachelor of Teaching. She has worked as a music teacher, a primary school teacher, and now works in a

Other books in the series

The Sleepless City (4 books)
  • Electric Candle (The Sleepless City #2)
  • Family and Reflection (The Sleepless City #3)
  • Shifting Chaos (The Sleepless City #4)

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