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ARC Review: Spellcaster (#2)

The following review contains NO SPOILERS!

my thoughts in a few sentences: Spellbound by Cara Lynn Shultz is the book that kicked off this fun witchy series, and Shultz's innate humor and charm shone in that first taste of her writing, urging me to return for another delightful helping. Well-written, hilarious, and featuring ordinary, adorable characters with a great sense of humor, Spellcaster carries over that same entertaining wittiness while bringing more intense issues to Emma and Brendan's table, one which already carries many nicks and scars in the strong wood used to fabricate it. With a main character I can't get enough of (real bff material!) and a romance that may have started out with an instalove that broke through my reservations but has since then become something to gush and blush and smile from ear to ear about, Spellcaster and I had a great time and I'm looking forward to a third date.

hooking first lines: "You probably don't remember me, but I remember you. And you and I have a common enemy. How do you feel about getting a little revenge on Brendan Salinger and Emma Connor?"

Rating: Sud-Kissed | HarlequinTeen • NetGalley • Paranormal Romance • 3/27/12 • $9.99


Finding your eternal soulmate - easy.

Stopping a true-love-hungry evil - not so much…

After breaking a centuries-old romantic curse, Emma Connor is (almost) glad to get back to normal problems. Although...it's not easy dealing with the jealous cliques and gossip that rule her exclusive Upper East Side prep, even for a sixteen-year-old newbie witch. Having the most-wanted boy in school as her eternal soul mate sure helps ease the pain-especially since wealthy, rocker-hot Brendan Salinger is very good at staying irresistibly close....

But something dark and hungry is using Emma and Brendan's deepest fears to reveal damaging secrets and destroy their trust in each other. And Emma's crash course in über-spells may not be enough to keep them safe…or to stop an inhuman force bent on making their unsuspected power its own.
I didn't expect Cara Lynn Shultz to break out with a series on me after Spellbound, as much as I enjoyed it. I love that Spellbound doesn't require a sequel; the book is completely substantial, totally strong all on its own, and I could've gone on happily without Spellcaster. What's strange? I'm also very happy that I didn't have to. Spellbound acted as a pleasant, refreshing paranormal read due to its light tone amidst its angstier counterparts, though it does have enough action and romantic spark to supplement such a likeable story. With Spellcaster, I could barely resist (and often didn't resist) chuckling and murmuring to myself in the middle of a classroom full of startled onlookers, blushing with every sensuous or sweet embrace, secretly yearning for a cozy blanket to snuggle into as I settled right into Emma's comfy and familiar narration, eyes alight with humor, sweeping the pages quickly in anticipation.

Emma Connor isn't exactly shy—more like playful and protective, toting an arsenal of laughter-inspiring jokes that are equal parts clever and corny always awaiting to be unleashed upon her friends, and somehow end up being the right things to say in the most hopeless of times. She isn't necessarily optimistic, but she's strong and hopeful. And while she can be friendly and nice, she is awkward around large crowds and prefers sticking to her own small crew of important people, all of whom we are delighted to adore, which happens with relative ease. Brendan Salinger isn't the dark side to Emma's light, they're neither opposites nor are they exactly the same. They're just regular people who meet and fall in love... well, it's not as simple as that, and their falling in love may be lined up with destiny, BUT while it does seem all instalovey initially in Spellbound, Spellcaster gives us a wonderful show of a blissed out Emma and Brendan who know each other down to the amount of sugar they like in their cups of coffee, who know exactly how to comfort, support, and love each other in a way that isn't so sweet it grows tart but in a loved up, realistic phase just beyond the previous ones named Lust and Infatuation.

Honestly, the romance is, and will probably always be, the reason that keeps luring me back to these books, though the plot line and paranormal action do spike a nice dose of interest, kicking things up with magic and insane, obsessed villains. All the fuss just didn't seem necessary when that element of Spellcaster wasn't my focus. Even so, I imagine those who enjoy mysteries similar to those of Kim Harrington's Clarity series will find this particular aspect of the story lightly thrilling, which follows a pretty kick-butt climax. The ending, however, with all the enviable delicious sweetness of whip cream atop a satisfying sundae, I found to be more memorable, softening everything in me into a giant, relaxed, happy smile inside and out.

Angelique was not one for any kind of emotional displays—the last time she hugged someone it was probably to give them the Heimlick maneuver—so what she said next floored me.
"Besides, Em, you're important to me. You don't know how nice it's been to have someone I can talk to about this stuff. I haven't had a witch as a friend in a really long time. Not since freshman year."
"Aww, Angelique," I murmured, pausing my show of affection when glared at me. (6%)

"Yeah, I just fell. I'm okay, though, thanks."
"Are you sure?" Cisco asked, his cocoa eyes twinkling mischievously. "I mean, what if I carried you? You could throw the back of your hand to your forehead and swoon. Give them something to really talk about."
"Yea, and you can have your shirt half-ripped off, showing off your man cleavage. Your he-vage," I joked as we trudged up to the Cloisters.
"I'll be all sweaty and glistening all over my heaving pectorals."
I raised an eyebrow at him. "They heave?"
"Please, Emma. They're the heaving-est."
"It'll be like a romance novel cover." I said. (19%)

"Don't even waste your time on her. She's so far beneath you." Brendan scowled, wrinkling his nose in disgust. "You're a diamond and she's... a Twinkie wrapper." He had never been a big fan of Kristin's—fortunately, I never had to worry about her name showing up on a list of Brendan's conquests. He thought her tan made her look like she bathed in nacho cheese— (35%)


Sarah (saz101) said...

OK, seriously, this sounds ADORABLE! WANT WANT WANT!
I haven't read Spellbound, but I HAD (not knowing any better) read the blurb for Spellcaster before... I don't really mind, though :D

This one sounds so simpe and sweet, and like ALWAYS, Asher, I ADORED your review! Your review ninja skills are rivalled only by your doodling ones ♥

Sam @ Realm of Fiction said...

You make this series sounds SO much better than I thought it might be. Great review! I'm glad you enjoyed this sequel. I still have to read both books but I'm definitely looking forward to it now! It's also useful to know that the insta-love factor dissolves into something more realistic and appreciable. I will have to grab the first book soon! :D

Christy @TheReaderBee said...

I really enjoyed this series as well, especially the characters! Emma and Brenden were just awesome together. :) So glad you enjoyed the book as well! Great review!

Brodie said...

I LOVE how you describe the relationship between Emma and Brendan... how real... natural, it feels. And I also like the sound of the mystery element and this kick-butt climax you speak of. I have REALLY got to read Spellbound soon. I hear so much about these books (and Brendan!), I don't know what has taken me so long. Especially since I own a copy! *bangs head on desk* Amazing review, Asher!

Asher_Knight said...

IT IS ADORABLE. The sweetness just frosts my heart into something happy and light.

I definitely enjoyed the second one much more! :D

XD You would think so, Sarah. Thanks <333

Asher_Knight said...

I'm not big on instalove myself, but it wasn't overwhelming in Spellbound... not in a way that I could detest. And then my heart inflated like the giant red balloon it is at all the lovey-dovey interaction in this one. Though, again, not overwhelming, just intense and wonderful.

I can't wait to hear about what you think!

Asher_Knight said...

It's such a fun series. I can always expect to laugh and be entertained when I read these books. 

Asher_Knight said...

I was under the impression you'd already read the first book. though, I can't figure out why. They are really good, the books, and if you're looking for something to relax you and make you smile... a lot, then these should be no problem for you. The paranormal element just gets things all exciting in a different way. :D Try it out! Let me know what you think ;)

Ezmirelda D said...

I really need to read this one! I loved the first one so much.
I have Spellcaster but it got lost in my TBR pile.

New follower! *Waves to Asher*
Thanks for stopping by my blog last week. ;)

Asher_Knight said...

Well, if you LOVED Spellbound, I seriously doubt you will hate it. In fact, I think you WILL LOVE IT EVEN MORE. Brendan and Emma's relationship really did it for me.

*waves back* Parafantasy, right? I'm totally digging your blog layout, just FYI. :D

Bookworm1858 said...

Wow-I just love your review of this! It's so well-written and captures a lot of the thoughts I had while reading this book. Personally my favorite aspect of this was the inclusion of Angelique as a narrator as I really enjoyed her thoughts.

Asher_Knight said...

Aw, thank you so much! I'm glad that it reached out to you and you were able to pinpoint all the parts you loved. And Angelique's narrative was indeed a nice touch, however I enjoy Emma's so much more! :D

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