Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Jenn's Review: Spellbound

Spellbound (Harlequin Teen)Summary:  What’s a girl to do when meeting The One means she’s cursed to die a horrible death?

Life hasn’t been easy on sixteen-year-old Emma Conner, so a new start in New York may be just the change she needs. But the posh Upper East Side prep school she has to attend? Not so much. Friendly faces are few and far between, except for one that she’s irresistibly drawn to—Brendan Salinger, the guy with the rock-star good looks and the richest kid in school, who might just be her very own white knight.

But even when Brendan inexplicably turns cold, Emma can’t stop staring. Ever since she laid eyes on him, strange things have been happening. Streetlamps go out wherever she walks, and Emma’s been having the oddest dreams. Visions of herself in past lives—visions that warn her to stay away from Brendan. Or else.   ~product description

Review:  This is a sweet paranormal romance of star-crossed teens and I was glad I received this from Harlequin Teen through NetGalley. It's a fresh take on an age-old tale with a smattering of paranormal and fantasy thrown in.

Emma is a completely empathetic character. Her childhood is full of loss and tragedy, but instead of becoming bitter and self-pitying, she pulls herself up and moves on. Taking her godmother up on her offer to come and live with her, Emma takes the leap and starts over again in an intimidating environment. Emma doesn't want to run with the popular girls or be the loner in the crowd, she just wants to blend in. But if there is one thing her past has taught her, it is not to take life lying down, but to stand up for herself.

I love Cara Lynn Shultz's writing style.  It's witty and inviting.  She's descriptive without overburdening the reader. I almost wish she'd had time to delve into the past a little more with this story.  There are also a plethora of interesting secondary characters, as well as the obligatory hot guy love interest, and I was left wanting to know them better too, especially Angelique, Emma's Wiccan friend. Alas, that was more story than the pages allow... but perhaps the beginnings of a second book?

While there are some bits that are a little cliche, Spellbound avoids the caveats of teen romance that make me cringe. What I love most about Cara Lynn Shultz's novel is that it isn't full of angst or drowning in a whining heroine. I'm also glad Ms. Shultz didn't keep the protagonists apart for chapter after chapter while they moon over each other. Emma takes charge of her situation, searches for answers, and confronts things head on.  My only discontent was that there seemed very few obstacles for the duo to overcome, once they chose their path.  While the climax is a major hurdle, it arrived rapidly and the story's resolution seemed almost too easy.

Also, as a musician, I'm a complete sucker for an author that provides a playlist for their story.  Not only does Ms. Shultz provide a soundtrack for her book, she also tells us what song comes where and for which characters in the story.  It's a wonderful multimedia way to interact with the book (wouldn't it be awesome if you could embed a soundtrack in an e-book?!?) and it really rounded out my experience.

If you love a good romance with a touch of magic, look for Spellbound to debut on the shelves June 21, 2011.  This is a charming debut novel from Cara Lynn Shultz and I anticipate great things from her.

Final Take:  4.0/5

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