I pretty much loved this book. I finished reading it yesterday morning, and spent the rest of the day and today missing the characters, that's how much I liked this book.
Diana was born a witch, but doesn't really use her magic much. She's also a historian who happens to be working at Oxford, doing research on alchemy. One day, while in the Bodleian Library she notices a tall, beautiful man who happens to be a vampire. Oh. My. God. Do you know me at all? Maybe not, but the author of this book seems to have tapped into all my fantasies at once - witches, vampires, books, research, Oxford and love at first sight in a library? Oh, and not to spoil anything, but the vampire also has a castle in France. Dear god I love this book.
And it's so well written. I realize my description of the book may sound ridiculous: a witch meets a vampire in a library and they fall in love. But it's written in such a way that it doesn't feel at all ridiculous. It was one of those books I was able to dive into and push away all the blandness of the real world. It's so atmospheric, Oxford, then France. I felt as if I was there, in the old building, walking through the castle, sharing the perfect glass of wine with a sexy vampire.
I'm hesitant to say this, but it's almost like a Twilight for grown-ups. As much as I love this book, and feel that it blows Twilight away in just about every aspect imaginable, I'd be lying if I said the similarities aren't there.
I have to admit I did not love the second half of the book as much as I loved the first half. When it was just Diana and Matthew, it was perfect. But then we meet Matthew's family, and then we meet Diana's family. Then we have something called the Congregation that wants to kill Diana because vampires and witches aren't supposed to be together. (Do you see the Twilight comparison now? In Twilight it was a group of vampires in Italy who didn't want vampires and humans together.)
There's also Matthew's hesitation about consumating the relationship, his old fashioned views about women, his extreme protectiveness -- all quite similar to a vampire we all know as Edward. Diana is a much stronger character than Bella, but like Bella, she is more than willing to give up life as she knows it for the vampire she loves, despite the fact that she's never been crazy about the idea of getting married and having children.
And like Twilight, we have the vampire family, the parents and the children. The part that bothered me most is that suddenly Diana, who has only been in love with this vampire for a few weeks, is now referring to his "son" as her son. That was weird and a little icky as far as I was concerned. That detracted some from my love of the book because I noticed myself groaning every time she referred to her "son." He's not your son, you just met him. Technically, he's not Matthew's "son" either, but oh well.
But what's really going to piss me off about this book is if they get all wrapped up in the idea of vampire/witch offspring. That's what killed the Twilight series for me - the weird vampire/human spawn storyline. As soon as they mentioned "conception" in this book, I felt a surge of anger. Don't ruin this story for me!
Why can't two people - witch/vampire - whatever - spend some time being in love with each other, getting to know each other - before they start reproducing? Nothing kills a romance for me like babies do.
Luckily, the subject was mentioned and then they moved on. I think that however the subject is approached, it will be okay.
Despite my complaints just mentioned, I loved the story of Diana and Matthew. This felt truly romantic, not crude or silly or graphic and awkward. I rarely enjoy anything considered "romantic" and usually simply tolerate those scenes or rush through them as quickly as possible. This book though, I savored those scenes, because this couple got to know each other, spent time together, and actually seemed to fall in love rather than fall into bed.
I'm looking forward to the next book, even though I'm not usually a fan of time travel (the end of this book involved Matthew and Diana timewalking). I'm bothered that the sequel won't be out until the summer, but oh well, another reason to look forward to the summer.
I very much recommend this book to anyone who likes vampire stories or witch stories or well written romance stories.