Publisher: Tribute Books
Publication Date: April 10, 2012
Genre: Young Adult Paranormal
Convinced she’s a part of the witness protection program, sixteen-year-old Jewel Rose is shuffled around the globe with her family like a pack of traveling gypsies. After arriving at lucky home twenty-seven, she stumbles upon a mysterious boy with magical powers claiming to be her guardian . . . and warning of imminent danger. Despite the obvious sparks between them, Jewel discovers a relationship is forbidden, and the more she learns about dark, brooding Roman, she begins to question who she can even believe—the family who raised her, or the supposed sworn protector who claims they’ve been lying to her all along.
As she struggles to uncover who her family has really been running from, she is forced to hide her birthmark that reveals who she is. With new realities surfacing, unexplained powers appearing, and two tempting boys vying for her heart, Jewel battles to learn who she can trust in an ever growing sea of lies, hoping she’ll make it through her seventeenth birthday alive.
I’ve read one book from Tribute Books before but haven’t had a chance to review it. The quality of the editing and formatting was wonderful and the book itself is one of my favorites so far this year. I’m happy to say my second read from Tribute was a great experience too.
Being on the run is the only life sixteen-year-old Jewel has ever known. Her dad apparently got into something bad (it’s never the right time for him to explain, her parents say) and the family moves at least twice a year. Her little brother Jayden handles it better than she does, managing to make friends, however temporarily. Jewel has to navigate the minefield of another high school and not fitting in with the cliques.
Jewel thinks this year might be different. Her parents seem to be hinting that when she turns seventeen things will change, whatever that means. She has a great friend at school, the bubbly and fun Taylor, and two boys seem to be interested in her. They’re night and day – Chase is the golden athlete and Roman is dark, dangerous and sexy. The golden athlete may be what’s good for her but it’s Roman who attracted her – until he starts spouting some garbage about being her guardian who’s there to protect her until she turned seventeen. Then he was just some whack job.
Jewel starts to wonder if maybe there was some truth to what Roman said when odd things start happening. Her extended family that she hasn’t seen in years suddenly show up including her sour-faced aunt, and they’re all oddly pre-occupied with her birthday. She overhears a conversation between her family about a “Spectral” that she thinks may be her and she’s not reassured by what she finds when she looks it up at the library. She’s damn scared, actually. Turning to Roman seems like a good idea, except Roman is part of something her head tells her she can’t trust. She knows now what a Spectral – she – is and what she’ll be able to do and why every coven but her own true one is out to either kill her or possess her.
There was an issue or two that kept me from really loving this entirely, but I still enjoyed this one. The strongest aspect of the book for me was the characters. The supporting group was all great; there wasn’t a single one that I wouldn’t want to see in a sequel. Taylor wasn’t a token friend. She cared about Jewel and had her own clear and likeable personality. I loved Jewel’s little brother Jayden. He was so adorable and cute my teeth practically ached. I’m pretty sure no eight-year-old like him is in existence but it was fun to read about him and he never turned into a plot moppet. I even enjoyed how the bad guys were written. Jewel’s aunt was very close to being hilarious with her over-starched panties and the lemon she was sucking on.
I liked Jewel a lot too. She was somewhere in between the character that refuses to believe what they are until it’s too late and the one who accepts it so easily that it’s ridiculous. She’s a smart girl that wants answers but she wants them on her own terms, she’s not willing to just take anyone’s word for it, given that she’s been jerked around so much. It was really sweet how much she loved her little brother and what she’s willing to do for him and for everyone else she loves. Which brings me to – dun dun dun – the love triangle. The bane of my existence, matched only by insta-love. But wait, there’s that too. Sob. The consolation prize is that Jewel figures out who she wants and feels uncomfortable when she’s close to the other guy. So maybe it’s more like three angled lines that come close to closing in a triangle but don’t actually meet?
The guys aren’t as fleshed out as Jewel but they’re nice YA hottie fare. Chase is the all-American nice guy, willing to be your best friend and protector if he can’t be your boyfriend (but he thinks the guy who doesn’t treat you right is a jerk, you know?). Roman is all misunderstood and brooding sexiness, full of stories he can’t tell and secrets he has to keep to protect Jewel but if he could be with her, he’d love her for eternity. But, you know, he can’t.
Since the MCs are teenagers, this is in the young adult category but there wasn’t much about them that said YA to me. It could be easily explained that, of course Jewel would know her way around a Russian airport, she’s been moving around for years, but it still sat uncomfortably with me. Roman is just a teenaged boy but he’s been tasked with finding the first Spectral in hundreds and hundreds of years? Roman and Jewel’s characters at least felt consistent, even if they were in a high school situation part of the time so it didn’t feel unusual that the characters having coffee in the library at the beginning of the book would be in some witch battle in Russia later on. Other than the romance, add five years to Jewel’s age and the story would have worked just as well. When I finished this and looked back at my scribbles, I realized this was much tamer than I remembered it being. Jewel thinks about what she feels for Roman, how hot he is and they frantically embrace a lot. Not leaving Chase out in the cold, he’s shirtless once in a while and has a great chest. He’s a nice guy too, which counts for something. Emotionally it’s PG, physically, G.
Reading the second half of the book, I kept having this feeling that this was something I’d seen somewhere and the closest I can get is The Bourne Identity. It fits, given some of the crazy things Jewel does in Russia and Venice. The author did a great job building the story of the Spectral, creating a detailed setting around her and writing characters that I really liked. For a story that placed a lot of emphasis on covens though, there was not a lot about them. When I think covens, I think witches, but these aren’t the Earth Mother kind or the ones who’d go to Hogwarts to study spells. The members of these covens kind of fall into two categories: the thugs who can do freaky things and the superheroes who may or may not be the good guys. With each member having their own talent or power, when they go at it, it’s a mass of flying lasers, people moving with super speed, levitation and invisibility. It’s very action hero-esque and kind of fun but not exactly witchy in any traditional sense.
My Summary: I didn’t have any real idea what to expect of Jewel’s powers from the synopsis but the word “coven” didn’t cross my mind. I like the way they were written, complete with laser blasts and floating around. I could have lived without the love triangle and more information or a little peek into coven business would have been good, but the characters were wonderful and mostly made me forget any irritation. Now that the world is built, I would love a sequel.