Spellbound by Cara Lynn Shultz (NY: Harlequin Teen, 2011). [Reviewed from Kindle ARC provided by publisher via netgalley.com]
Sixteen-year-old Emma Connor is hoping New York's Vincent Academy will give her a fresh start since she knows no one except her cute cousin Ashley, who's promised not to tell anyone that Emma's kind of a tragedy magnet. First her twin brother died, then her mother, and then her abusive, alcoholic stepfather nearly killed her in a car accident that has left her with physical scars on her arm and emotional scars that make her want to remain anonymous. But Emma feels compelled to respond in kind to the scornful comments of a mean girl, Kristin, who feels threatened when the boy she wants (who is a total player and whom Emma immediately loathes) hits on Emma--so she's not exactly anonymous for long. Luckily, a green-eyed hottie named Brendan snorts at her comeback and then backs up her fake story about a fictitious Philly school she had to leave for family reasons. Emma feels an immediate and strong attraction to Brendan, though she doesn't know why, and he pretty much ignores her after that first day. But she can't stop thinking about him. And weird things start happening, like lights start burning out, and she's having vivid dreams in which she doesn't look like herself, though she's always wearing the charm necklace with the medieval crest that her twin brother gave her before he died.
Emma's friend Angelique, who happens to be a witch, helps her learn more about the charm, and Brendan can't seem to make up his mind if he likes Emma or not, which drives Emma nuts! Meanwhile, Emma's dreams are becoming more intense, and she discovers that any romance she might have with Brendan is cursed! Is there any hope for them at all?
Spellbound provides the perfect blend of paranormal and romance. Emma is a wonderful, witty protagonist, and she and Brendan make a great couple as they battle for their love against the curse that seems to doom it from the start. Shultz masterfully plots the story, so this novel is one fabulous read. Buy a copy for yourself and your favorite middle or high school librarian! Highly recommended for romance aficionados, ages 13 & up. Sexual & intense situations, alcohol.
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