When I started this book I imagined it would be a slightly darker version of Gossip Girls so when I found myself rather entrenched in it after only a few pages I knew the rest of the day was shot for me. After escaping her abusive stepfather, Emma Conner moves to New York to live with her aunt and nearby cousin. The only meaningful possession she was able to bring with her was a gift from her brother - a necklace with an old family crest. Emma's only wish is to avoid being the new girl that everyone talks about. She fails miserably at this through no fault of her own and begins to find herself in a constant battle of wits with the resident mean girl (Kristin) all the while capturing the attention of both the school jock (Anthony) and the quiet Brendan Salinger.
I really enjoyed Emma. One of threads of the story is where Anthony gives up on trying to woo Emma and so he tries instead to get to her by feigning interest in her cousin Ashley. I've seen this situation play out in a lot of books and often time one character stays quiet because they don't want to upset the other. Emma isn't like that - she tells Ashley, not without some hesitation, that Anthony is no good. She doesn't get swept under by Kristin's bullying, either, and sticks to her guns without being overwhelming. I was a little nervous when Emma met Brendan as I was hoping the story would stay fantastic and not have them fall crazily in love too fast - and it did and they didn't! The pacing for the two of them was well done and despite Brendan being a sort of emo rich boy he wasn't boring or overbearing in any way, and Emma didn't turn into Bella Swan in her fascination with him. Their story was quite fascinating with little tidbits here and there throughout the story that really wove everything together.
Another thing I enjoyed was the writing itself. Prep school, high schoolers - the speech patterns and word choice could have been stereotypical but were quite well-chosen instead. I know I've mentioned this before, but I really love when authors make modern slang and phrases seamless. Cara Lynn managed to due that here to the story's advantage and I found myself laughing aloud every now and again. I'm going to mark some quotes to include after the book's release date to emphasize this.
The ending of the story was vivid in a way that I did not expect and highlights people at their worst and best in an action-packed surprise. Although the story touches on the paranormal, it, for me, was almost subtle and more of a backdrop for the story of two people rather than the characters being the accessory to the plot. Overall if you're looking for a story that has an intriguing romance, fun background characters, and good writing then you'll want to get Spellbound; but set aside a few hours - it's addicting! It's also worth nothing that this is a stand-alone novel. (Not long after I read it on my Kindle I pre-ordered a copy via the Book Depository where it's currently priced at $7.49 with free shipping. That's how I know I liked it.)
This ARC was received from Harlequin Teen via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.