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Review: Spellbound

Spellbound by Cara Lynn Shultz was released in the U.S. on June 21, 2011 in the U.S. in paperback and eBook formats. It is currently available to order online at Amazon and Barnes & Noble in both formats.

Published by Harlequin TEEN, the print edition is 352 pages.

Spellbound is one of the books that can be chosen for the 2011 Debut Author Challenge hosted by Kristi at TheStorySiren.com.

Goodreads description:

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 Connor, 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.

***

Emma Conner’s life was like a tragic fairytale – the kind with an unhappily ever after ending. Everyone she has ever loved has left her. She was stuck with a wicked stepfather whose drinking problems landed her in the hospital and turned her into a social outcast in her hometown.

Anything had to be better. And so she escaped, with only a few meager belongings, to live with her Aunt Christine in New York City. Attending an elite Upper East Side private school couldn’t be much worse than what she had gone through at home.

She was wrong.

Singled out by the school mean girl, hit on by the arrogant and entitled jock, befriended by the school’s resident witch, and practically ignored by the hottest boy she’s ever seen, her fresh start was not going well and it was only the first day.

And discovering she might just be cursed takes things to a whole new level. Because if she can’t figure out how to break it, she will never get a chance to live happily ever after with her Prince Charming.

***

Spellbound is a sweet, funny and heartwarming modern day fairytale with its very own Prince Charming. This enchanting story will pull readers into a world of curses and legends and undying love set in a small private school on the Upper East Side of Manhattan.

It’s the story of a girl who was met early on with great misfortune and who tries to rebuild her life anew, only to discover that her entire life was leading up to this very specific point in time. Right here. Right now. As if it were destined. Because the moment Emma Conner lays eyes on Brendan Salinger she is spellbound.

Author Cara Lynn Shultz has written a delightfully charming story infused with humor throughout. But, Spellbound is not only a story filled with warm and tender moments. There is mystery, suspense and danger, along with a diverse group of characters, to keep readers engaged to the very end.

Emma is compassionate, caring, humble and selfless, and is a very sympathetic character. While she tries to stay under the radar, she isn’t a complete push-over and is willing to stand up to bullies to defend those she cares about. Her rather traumatic past has left her scarred, but not without spirit and humor.

Brendan is devastatingly handsome, temperamental, generous and honorable. He may be extremely wealthy, but he hasn’t let it make him arrogant, mean or snobbish. And Emma’s young cousin Ashley is a total sweetheart.

Spellbound is a very quick read that wraps up nicely at the end, but does leave a few elements up in the air for a possible sequel. It is the perfect escape for readers looking for something light and fun that will leave them with a smile.

Reviewer gives this book [rating=4]

On a personal note:

When I started reading this story I felt like I was immediately sucked into a fairytale. It was so completely adorable and it was an amazingly quick read.

One of the first things I noticed was the humor. When Emma first met Anthony and came up with all those names like “Blondy McBlonderson” and “Legally Bland” I could not stop chuckling. And when she looked at herself in the mirror and made the Zoolander comment I literally laughed out loud.

I loved the idea of the curse and being spellbound. This book really was enchanting and magical and fun and so totally romantic. And I liked the fact that there was a sweetness and innocence to the story, much like the fairytales I grew up with.

Spellbound has all the makings of a perfect fairytale – a curse, a mystery that needs to be solved, a rich and handsome “knight in shining armor,” a plain and humble girl of modest means with a good heart, a “wicked witch” and an ill-tempered, evil “ogre.” Oh yeah, and a castle. You can’t have a fairytale without a castle.

I really did fall in love with the story. I just wish there was more detail about Emma’s dreams and some of the past lives as they were an interesting aspect that was only touched on briefly. And I’m not sure if there is a sequel planned, but if there is I would like to read more about Angelique and the witchy stuff. I think she was a great character and I’d love to see more of her.

There were a few aspects to Emma’s and Brendan’s characters that occasionally pulled me out of the story. I don’t want to go into too much detail or I’d be completely spoiler-y, but some of their dialogue felt a bit mature and out of character, even with the secrets we learn about them. And some of their terms of endearment didn’t feel like words that would typically be used by characters of their ages.

But I was taken in by this story. So much so that I almost stayed up all night reading it. I had to force myself to stop right before the most exciting part of the story, which was really tough. I definitely bit one or two nails while reading through to the end, because I just wasn’t sure if there would or would not be a happily ever after.

I am curious to see if there will be a sequel and what direction the author decides to go with the story. It would be one I’d be sure to check out.

***

This review is based on an eARC I received courtesy of Harlequin TEEN and NetGalley and a printed ARC I received through a trade.

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