Book Review: Unrequited by Emily Shaffer

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Title: Unrequited
Author: Emily Shaffer
Publisher: Swoon Romance
Publication Date: 09/23/14
Genres: Dark Fantasy, Romance, Vampires

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UnrequitedUnrequited
Emily Shaffer
Swoon Romance, September 2014
Ebook

From the publisher—

In the town of Belle Ridge there are doctors, lawyers and teachers… but there is only one vampire. Will Leighton has become an expert in making a life for himself amongst the unsuspecting small-town inhabitants, as the high school history teacher. He has spent hundreds of years crafting an identity and routine that make him feel almost human, but he is always missing that important final element, love.

Ashton Wallace is beautiful, smart, and angry. She was forced into an eternal existence, and now her family has moved her away from everything and everyone she knows. In Belle Ridge she is supposed to finish high school and start her life again, but how do you make plans for the next several centuries?

Will has never met another of his kind, and is immediately intrigued by Ashton. He longs to show her that the perceived vampire lifestyle, so popular in storybooks, is far from reality…but will she let him be a friend and guide in this new existence? Can Ashton accept Will into her life, or will she be led astray by a dark stranger with whom she shares an unknown connection?

I have a love-hate relationship with vampires. Most of the time, I prefer them to be either funny or mean and nasty, worthy representatives of the Dracula tradition and Vlad the Impaler. Romantic stuff generally leaves me cold and I might as well ‘fess up. I read the first book in the Twilight series because, as a bookstore owner, I sort of had to but—gasp!—I detested it. Yes, the truth is out, I’m not a fan of sparkly. So, why on earth did I have any interest in Unrequited?

Two things in the description drew me in. First, the idea of a high school teacher and a student niggled at me. Was the author really going to go there? Really? Second, there was the twist that there are so few vampires in Ms. Shaffer’s world that Will could have gone 200 years without ever meeting any others.

Ashton is an interesting character but I must say her parents are remarkably accepting of her, um, condition, and I can only suppose it’s because they have little choice. She herself is handling the whole thing better than you might anticipate from a high school senior and I was happy to avoid the histrionics we so often see.

Will and Griffin, on the other hand, are so, well, nice (it takes Griffin a while to get there) that they irritated me even while I thought they were pretty good guys. As for the love triangle—I wish every author would forget they ever heard of such a thing.

Because some of the elements of vampirism we’ve come to expect are missing, I kind of wondered why the author chose to make her male characters vampires in the first place. Why not another kind of supe that naturally fits into the human world more easily?

The ending was put together to lead the reader to the second book and I have no problem with that. I did feel shortchanged with the altercation that takes place at the end, a prime example of telling rather than showing but, fortunately, that sort of writing style is rare in Unrequited.

I have to mention that I appreciated the care that Ms. Shaffer and her publisher took in the construction of this ebook. Very few typos or other construction errors came to my attention and that’s a pleasure in today’s quicksand of ebook production. I do wonder, though, why Unrequited is not available on Nook and I hope that will be remedied soon.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, September 2014.

About the Author

Emily ShafferWhether writing stories to entertain her younger siblings, or typing up an essay for a class, Emily Shaffer has been a writer for as long as she can remember.  Her stories may have changed from talking cartoon frogs to angsty young adults, but her goal to write a compelling story remains the same.  When not writing, she lives in Nashville and enjoys all the music, food, and excitement that city has to offer.  Her first novel, the well-received chick-lit title That Time of the Month was self-published on Amazon in 2012.  Her latest novel, as the others before, are fueled by diet soda and pie.

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Book Review: Don’t Fall by Rachel Schieffelbein

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Title: Don’t Fall
Author: Rachel Schieffelbein
Release Date: 2014
Publisher: Swoon Romance
Genre: Young Adult Romance

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Dont FallDon’t Fall
Rachel Schieffelbein
Swoon Romance, May 2014
Ebook

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In which a teenage girl endures the over-protective love of her adoptive mother until she falls for a boy who has her wanting to spread her wings, pitched as a contemporary retelling of RAPUNZEL


Seventeen-year-old Anya leads a very secluded life in a house on the edge of town with her adopted mother. She doesn’t go to school, but instead has a private tutor. Her over-protective mom keeps her so sheltered that she doesn’t even have a best friend.


But Anya doesn’t seem to mind. She has her books, her photography, and her daydreams, and would do anything to please her mom. Until one day at the library, the only place she’s allowed to go, she takes a picture of a beautiful boy.


Before long she’s lying to her mom, and sneaking out late at night to meet Zander. But Zander wants more than a secret romance. If Anya wants to be with the boy of her dreams, she will have to risk her relationship with the only other person she’s ever cared about.

Billed as a contemporary re-telling of the Rapunzel fairy tale, Don’t Fall is essentially a tale of love in the face of great odds. In this case, those odds have to do with Anya breaking away from years of what must be called a form of emotional abuse but only being able to do so because Zander’s love gives her the strength to escape.

It’s easy to like these two even while feeling they’re both very immature. Anya is understandable because her emotional growth has been severely stunted by her mother’s behavior but Zander is simply a few years behind his chronological age; rather than 18, he acts as though he’s 15 and experiencing his first love. In a way, this might not be surprising because he’s the youngest of five children but his parents don’t really seem to baby him. Truth be told, they can hardly wait for him to move out to his own place. That in itself is a little odd—he’s moving into an apartment with his cousin but he has no job so how is he going to pay his share of the rent?

Anya’s childishness, for lack of a better word, is typical of a teen who has grown up completely under the control of a parent and it’s really something of a miracle that she hasn’t rebelled before, perhaps violently. My sympathies were with her more than with Zander because I couldn’t help feeling her fear of confronting her mother wasn’t misplaced and Zander’s insistence that she do so, as well as his manipulating her into doing what he wanted was rather selfish and narcissistic although I still liked him.

Then there’s the mother. If ever a parental character was unlikeable, this is the one. There have been people in real life who respond to tragedy this way but, when the reason for her actions was revealed, I felt no sympathy for her, nor did I when everything came to a critical point. To me, she broke the trust a parent has with a child and her motivations do little to excuse nearly fifteen years of tyranny.

When all is said and done, Don’t Fall is an almost sugary romance with a dark element and that’s what most fairy tales are. This should appeal to many YA readers as well as quite a few who admit to being a tad older than YA  🙂

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, June 2014.

About the Author

 

Rachel SchieffelbeinRachel grew up in a tiny town in Minnesota. She still lives there, with her husband and their four kids. She coaches high school speech and theater, rides Arabian horses, reads as much as she can, and writes stories.

 

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Book Review: Class of ’98 by A. L. Player

Class of '98Class of ’98
A. L. Player
Swoon Romance, November 2013
Ebook

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From the publisher—

Jackie Dunn and Matt Stewart barely knew each other in high school, back when she was a blue-haired alterna-kid and he was a preppy jock. High school rules dictated they’d never hang out, or sit at the same lunch table, or God forbid, date.

But when a weird storm transports them from their ten-year reunion back to senior year, they have to work together to figure out a way to get back to 2008.

Stuck in high school, Jackie and Matt agree to tough it out. They agree to do everything exactly as they remember, even though that means staying with the boyfriend Jackie knows will betray her, or playing nice with the girl that will someday be Matt’s ex-wife. Soon, they come to rely on one other, even become friends.

Jackie’s just starting to get used to curfews and term papers again, when Matt hits her with the biggest surprise of all: he’s fallen in love with her. He’ll change the past however he has to if it means a future with Jackie. But Jackie’s terrified they’ll not only alter their lives, but the lives of everyone around them.

Back to the Future meets She’s All That, Class of ’98 is a young adult/adult crossover that will appeal to teens and adults.

The theme of traveling back in time to high school days has been done many times in both books and film, sometimes rather copycat-ish, other times fresh and fun. For me, Class of ’98 falls somewhere in the middle but leaning towards the fresh side. I think the biggest disconnect for me lay in the 90’s setting; I would have “bonded” with the story and characters a little better if things were moved back a few years. Having said that, I still found much to like, especially the new beginnings Jackie and Matt discover for themselves. In a way, I was reminded of my own 10th reunion when I ended up spending the evening with a guy I knew in school but had never really known. It was one of the best evenings of my adult life.

I loved Jackie with all her hidden vulnerability although I was surprised at how much her high school days were still bothering her; she really should have gotten past it ten years later, at least somewhat. Matt, on the other hand, is a doll and seemed to have grown into a very likeable young man with his feet on the ground and well past the popular jock syndrome. Their being so sympatico in the future isn’t surprising since that sort of thing actually happens pretty often in real life when people mature enough to appreciate the ones they would have scorned or ignored before.

Having these two carry their current sensibilities into the past was an interesting touch on Ms. Player’s part but this is where things fell apart for me just a bit. Somehow, knowing what they know now carrying back into the past diluted any tension there might have been so the story turned kind of soft for lack of a better word, Still, I like Ms. Player’s writing and will look forward to reading more from her.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, December 2013.

About the Author

A.L. PlayerA. L. Player teaches middle and high school English in Atlanta, GA.  She lives with her guitar-playing, English-teaching husband and their three crazy rescue dogs.  Her last name gets about the reaction you’d expect.
CLASS OF ’98 is A.L.’s first novel.

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