Backing up a bit, let me summarize briefly: Izzie has been with Mark for over a year, and the two are quite happy together. But Izzie's friend Branna is the proverbial eternal bridesmaid-- nice, but less attractive, shy and socially awkward. Izzie decides to help Branna out by stealing a love potion from Izzie's mother (who is a witch) and attempting to make Branna fall in love with the new kid at school, Tristan. The plan backfires and Izzie ends up in love with Tristan instead.
The premise has potential. Even when you add in the contrived love potion conflict, this story could still work. I imagined that it would be a lot like "marriage of convenience" plots in historical romance, or perhaps "fated mates" in paranormal. Two people who initially don't like each other are forced to be together, and over time genuine love develops. Unfortunately that's not the case in this book. It seems like wasted potential.
I liked the secondary characters--namely Mark and Branna. I felt for Mark, who did nothing wrong except date the wrong girl. Plus, at one point he straight up punches Izzie in the head. I'm not condoning abuse here--in the context of the plot, she really deserved it.
I hated Izzie. She's selfish, reckless, manipulative, and worst of all stupid. Her love potion scheme was perhaps the most thoughtless (albeit good intentioned) plan one could possibly invent to help a friend. Much like Jane Austen's Emma, Izzie thinks she knows what's best for everyone, but her attempts to manipulate only make things worse. The real kicker for me was the fact that she drinks the love potion voluntarily. She knows what it is, and that Tristan already drank his half, and whoever drinks the other half will be stuck with him. She gulps down the second half anyway, just to stop Mark or anyone else from drinking it. She could have walked away, or dropped the bottle "accidentally", but no, she drinks it. And then whines about it's apparent effects. Effects that, incidentally, can only be erased by death.
The magic in this universe only barely makes sense. If I've pieced it together correctly, there are witches who use potions, sorcerers who have power over the elements, and alchemists who have power over metals. And also, big scary monsters to battle. It sounds more like the plot to a video game than a paranormal romance novel.
|Yeah, the "villain" is a giant snake. I really wish I were kidding.|
To be fair, Tristan isn't a bad character. He's severely underdeveloped, but I didn't hate him. However, the romance is extremely thin and not in the least bit believable. There's no build up of emotions, no connection through dialogue or shared experiences, and no affection. The entire relationship is a handful of passionate kisses. This problem was made worse by Izzie's bipolar attitude toward Tristan--one moment she's making out with him, the next she's slapping him across the face.
This is not a book I would recommend. At times it approached so-bad-it's-good levels, where it became unintentionally funny. But other than for purposes of poking fun at the silly plot and stupid characters, don't waste your time. 1.5 stars.