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Review: Cara’s Twelve by Chantel Seabrook

Published July 11, 2016 by Shannon

Cara's Twelve

This was the first NetGalley book I was able to download and read on my own, despite being a member for years. So, yay for some accessibility improvements, I guess, although the process isn’t nearly as painless as it would be, say, if I were sighted.

Anyway, Cara’s Twelve by Chantel Seabrook isn’t a bad book. It’s not super amazing, and I wanted it to be more than it was, but for my virgin Net Galley attempt, I could have done worse.

The blurb:

“Highly recommended.” -Jack Magnus, Readers’ Favorite-

Raised in the backwater province of Crowthorne, Cara finds her fate bound to a system she despises and a goddess she no longer believes in. When it becomes
clear that the heir to the Elbian throne has found disfavor in the eyes of the goddess, Cara is ordained by blood to take her cousin’s place as heir apparent.

One man from each twelve provinces are chosen by the royal council to pledge their lives and swords as champions and consorts of the future queen. From
these men, Cara must choose the future king of Elbia. Before she is able to take her place on the throne, Cara and her Twelve must visit each province
and perform a sacred ceremony, one that will make Cara question everything she thought was real.

Cara soon realizes that not all of the men who swore to protect her are what they seem, and that there are those who would use her as a tool to gain power.

Cara’s Twelve is a refreshingly different, romantic fantasy story of fair maidens and fearless warriors in a medieval land.

I was drawn to this book because I liked the notion of one woman having to choose from among twelve potential consorts, Bachelorette style. I might have also been hoping for a reverse harem situation, like In this recent read. Alas for me, that was not what happened. Instead, Cara’s choices are laid out fairly clearly in the beginning. Most of her Twelve, in fact, get very little character development, and by about the halfway point, it was clear I wasn’t getting a love dodecahedron. It was going to be a standard love triangle between the broody one with the tragic past and the sweet but overprotective one with whom Cara develops insta-lust. For me, this marred the pacing of the book. When it became clear that most of the Twelve were unnecessary, I stopped caring about them.

That’s not to say the book is all horrible. I liked the world that Ms. Seabrook has created, and I liked watching Cara grow into a formidable ruler, even if at times she was a bit shrill. I also appreciated that Ms. Seabrook didn’t sugar coat the violence. There were some dark scenes in this book, and I liked that Cara found them distressing and didn’t just shrug them off like, “Oh well.”

Unfortunately, since the romance got sapped of anything interesting fairly quickly, my enjoyment of the book suffered. I thought the ending in particular was a shade too bittersweet for romance readers. (It’s an HEA, but not a terribly satisfactory one for me.)

I feel like I’m ragging on this book more than I mean to. It’s competently written. I appreciated that there was a strong female friendship throughout that sustained Cara, because I was not expecting that would be the case at all. And though the men we did get to see weren’t well-developed, I didn’t hate any of them.

My first NetGalley book gets graded a C. I’d probably seek out more by this author, but not right away.

Review: Wuthering High by Cara Lockwood

Published August 15, 2012 by Shannon

Wuthering High (Bard Academy, #1)

Title: Wuthering High
Author: Cara Lockwood
Genre: YA urban fantasy
Series: Bard Academy 1
Source: ebook
Read on: July 28, 2012

Synopsis from goodreads:

In this first novel of a brand-new series, boarding school gets a lot more interesting for the teens at Bard Academy–where school spirit turns sinister and the teachers are ghosts with more in mind than detention.

Miranda gets sent off to boarding school after she totals her dad’s car and maxes out her stepmom’s credit card. She thinks it’s totally unfair to be sent off to a boarding school for delinquent kids off the coast of Maine on an island called, seriously, Shipwreck Island. But the place is even weirder than she imagines. Whenever Miss W, her dorm mother, gets agitated, her clothes get wet. There is strange laughter in conjunction with fires. And the mysterious Heathclyffe shows up whenever she’s in trouble.

I am torn about this book. I loved Miranda’s voice. She’s spunky and down-to-earth and funny. I liked that she was willing to be resourceful and go on adventures and do what needed doing. I also liked that she didn’t seem to have the hostile attitude toward other girls I sometimes see in books for actual girls. (What’s up with that?) In many ways, this book read a bit like Harry Poter for teenaged girls. It wasn’t as good as HP, but I could see it appealing to readers who are looking for something similar. I found Miranda’s story engaging and fun, even if it did include the “adults are useless” trope, which bothers me, as, you know, an adult.

That said, there is one thing that brings this book from a respectable B grade to the C it gets. It involves spoilers. Don’t read further if you don’t want to know.

See, the thing about Bard Academy is that it’s inhabited by dead authors of classic works. And one of the dead authors has brought forth characters from those books into the real world, one of whom is Heathclyffe, from Wuthering Heights. Who, of course, is fascinated by Miranda, to the point where he calls her Cathy all the time. I find this a problem for two reasons. First of all, it means there’s setup for the inevitable love triangle, and the author and I are clearly on different teams. I am team Anybody that’s Not a Fictional Character and Ms. Lockwood is on Team Heathclyffe. I realize the original Heathclyffe is the ultimate in bad boys, but I can’t take it seriously that Miranda is the modern Cathy Earnshaw, especially without all the high drama of Wuthering Heights. Plus, I couldn’t help but wonder what it would be like to bring Heathclyffe home for Thanksgiving dinner. “Mom, this is my boyfriend, a fictional character who is pretty unstable, but hey, he loves me.”

I wish Heathclyffe had not been set up as a romantic interest. Of course, I also wish the other love interest potential had been less bland, but… he’s got to compete with Heathclyffe. I would have loved more adventure and more boarding school hijinks. Since the second book looks more romancey, I think I will pack it in with this first book in the series. I imagine, if I’d been an actual teen, I would have eaten this up like delicious candy and then gone to read WUTHERING HEIGHTS. Sadly, I am not a teen. I want Miranda to learn that getting crushes on fictional characters leads only to a life of book blogging.

Final Grade: C

Up next: Because I haven’t had enough emo heroes in my life, I’ll be reviewing a book featuring yet another one.