Author: Cara Lynn Shultz
Pages: 352
Pub: Harlequin Teen
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal
Etc: received via NetGalley

The Short of It

Knowing you would die, would you love?

The Long of It

Emma has had a pretty tragic life and it might even seem a bit fairy tale-esque. Her twin brother dies at fourteen, only a few short years later her mom does too leaving her stuck with an abusive and drunken stepfather. But, like most fairy tales, she gets whisked away into a much more idealistic – and often more plush – situation.  But the story only begins there.  After a terrible car accident, Emma finally moves in with her fairly wealthy aunt and attends an exclusive private college.  Her plan is to keep a low profile; she’s got two years left.  But that doesn’t seem to happen.  Not only does she manage to insult both the teen bitch on wheels and studly jock within the first few hours, she meets Brenden.  Brenden, THE SOMEONE who makes her hands sweat and her heart beat faster.  And sure, the fact that they might have a devastating and mysterious past doesn’t hold her back.  Who cares if death looms on the horizon.

The Thoughts about It

Okay.  Raise your hand if you wanted to high tail it to the farm because this plot sounds so je ne sais overdone.  Y’know: two teens meet and there’s a magnetic force stronger than Superman’s grip, but even though they want to be together they can’t because something out of the ordinary is preventing them.

*waiting*  *looks around* Okay.  Now put your hands down and read on please.  C’mon, just trust me.

Teen lovers destined to be together but having to overcome outside forces has been told since Romeo and Juliet.  There is only so much crankiness we can get with contemporary young adult (especially paranormal young adult).  It’s a TIMELESS story.  It sells.  Why break the mold?  Just make sure that you bend it enough so we can trick our brains into thinking it’s a new story, yes?

And it IS, my book fiends.  Sure, sure, there were a couple of moments that were residuals of Twilight for me, and yes, while reading the book I did raise my fist in the air and shout “Why oh why Stephanie did you ruin it?!”.  The cats thought I was crazy but I’M SORRY I will never be able to interact with another teen scene where the boy goes hot and then cold and the girl is sitting there twirling her hair wondering why and then all of a sudden there’s a moment when the girl is in danger and the boy, regardless of inexplicable behavior, steps right in and rescues her only to begin ignoring her until they confront the problem head one.  Seriously.  I’ve met my quota on that one.

And it was ALMOST enough for me to pick up my inner teen and move on to another book.  But I persevered because You. All. Don’t. Even. Understand.  The dialogue?  The kids at this richy elite high school?  The bullying? The cattiness?  It was all SO REAL.  Unbelievably so.  I sat there reading these conversations that the kids were having and could have sworn I heard them in the halls of my school. 

There’s a scene where Emma’s gay buddy admits that he hasn’t come out to many people at the school because it’s already bad enough being in the boys locker room and hearing things like “that’s so gay” and “no homo”.  Um, okay.  I knew that everyone knew about people refer to something as gay as a synonym for messed up, awkward, wrong; but seriously, I’ve never heard an author use the term “no homo”.  Dear cheesus!  That was all I heard last year in the hallways.  I wanted to call up Ms. Shultz and ask her how’d you know that?

And you know why else this book is muah-worthy? If you took away the reincarnational elements (because at it’s most romantic it is a reincarnation novel) it would STILL work.  That’s how WITH IT this author is with teens. Had there been no paranormal this would have been a mash up of Gossip Girl and Mean Girls.  *applause*

But.  There is paranormal stuff going on so let’s discuss briefly. Emma and Brenden are destine to be together and through the help of Angelique, Emma’s friend and the school witch (in the Wiccan sense? Less of the Bewitched sense?) they research the history of Emma and Brenden’s love and if there is a possibility in breaking the curse.  First, I must stand up and be honest with you.  My name is Christina and I love me a good reincarnation story.  It’s just so *sigh* romantic.  Not even Death can keep two people apart.  Dude, what’s better than that, right?  Second, I must sit down and admit that there aren’t many people who can pull the story off.  I think the last reincarnation story that I liked was not even a book, but a movie: Dead Again.  (Have you seen it?  Watch it.  Love it.)  Miz Shultz created a perfect blend of past and present that did not leave me feeling overwhelmed, confused, or bored.  I was totally rooting for the couple and even though I figured out how to break the curse before they did (uh, hello, I’m in my thirties, I hope that I did) it was still pretty unexpected when the curse was broken.

Finally, Cara Lynn (‘cuz I feel after this much gushing, I can be on a first named basis with her) created a MUSIC MIX for these two young lovers.  For realz folks.  I’m not tech savvy enough to connect it here, but if you go to the Apple Store via Itunes and search for Emma & Brenden’s play list you’ll find twelve songs there.  You won my heart Cara Lynn.  I love me some mix tapes.

Book just came out this July.  Run to your bookstore and pick it up.  Pronto.  


  1. I confess - the plot synopsis had me raising my eyebrow, but you did successfully argued me out of my scepticism :P

  2. I had a eye roll moment when I read the synopsis, but you've for sure swayed me to adding this to my TBR pile. Although, it's ridiculously long at the moment, so I wont be getting to this one for awhile. Maybe then the plot won't be as played out? Haha.


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