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Unchained
J. Lynn, Jennifer L. Armentrout
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The Charmed (The Charmed Trilogy, #1) - Christine Wenrick THE CHARMED by Christine Wenrick is a paranormal romance that centers around Olivia Greyson, a graduate student studying music who recently lost her parents in a terrible accident. During a fantastic opening scene in which a train crash brings her face to face with a man from her past, Caleb Wolfe, Olivia is forced to recognize the supernatural world she never knew existed. Caleb, a vampire, takes her to the home he shares with his coven, Jax and Gemma, and Olivia soon discovers that she is not who or what she thought she was. As she and Caleb grow closer, the powers that be, including Olivia’s own supernatural powers, threaten to tear them apart.Twilight comparisons abound while reading THE CHARMED. From the setting of Washington state to the welcoming family of vampires, from the brooding vampire hero to the almost Alice-like character that is Gemma May, it was hard to read this book and not make comparisons. Perhaps the biggest similarity was the YA feel that is intentional in Twilight but not so intentional in THE CHARMED. For me, this was the biggest problem I had with the book. Olivia is 26 but in every action, thought, and feeling, she seems much younger. Olivia emotes with a lot of exclamations! She keeps things from the people she supposedly loves and cares for because she wants to live in a bubble for a few days, regardless of the fact that her admission literally brings danger to their doorstep. I just couldn’t find this redeemable, likeable, or even understandable in a mature woman. Finally, even the language she uses when referring to Caleb, her “angel”, her “love”, her “blue eyed warrior”, felt too melodramatic. And Caleb’s constant reference to her as his “sweet girl” further infantilized Olivia in my mind.The romance between Caleb and Olivia is the central storyline of the book. Their connection is instant. Too quick for me. Olivia just experienced a tragic accident in which she witnessed her best friend, whom she has known since she was a child, being brutally murdered in front of her. When Olivia is rescued by Caleb and taken to his home, she recuperates and heals with Caleb’s help. She shows momentary sadness for the loss of her friend, but then, all too suddenly, is completely focused on Caleb and her new feelings. This was a bit of a turnoff for me. I would have liked to see some real struggle, some real fight in dealing with the loss of her friend (plus parents she lost six months prior to the train crash) while simultaneously trying to understand her feelings for Caleb. It was almost as if this hot, brooding vampire supplanted everything else and her world instantly becomes Caleb. The bones of the idea were good – she’s lost everything and everyone, it’s understandable she would cling to Caleb and his family. However, I wanted to feel something more than insta-lust/love, something profound. Amazing sex on a piano isn’t enough (it doesn’t hurt though).Also, Olivia feels too much like a victim needing to be rescued. I hope this changes over the development of the trilogy. I appreciate that she isn’t the typical kickass heroine who, over the course of five pages, is suddenly able to take down 20 vampires singlehandedly along with a shot of whiskey. But I do want to see Olivia become more independent. We all like an alpha male but it’s more compelling when he’s paired with a real partner, someone who doesn’t always need the protection but appreciates it. Caleb is an interesting character, tormented by what he’s become and struggling to maintain some humanity. I like him but he’s not given much to do but growl and protect Olivia. Jax and Gemma are also an interesting pair and I hope they have some sort of conclusion to what looks to be something romantic brewing between them. New characters are introduced later in the book, but I think their roles will figure more prominently in the second book in the trilogy.THE CHARMED has received outstanding reviews on Amazon, Goodreads, and from fellow bloggers I trust so I think my take on this book is really a matter of personal preference. I like some of the ideas here and there is a compelling plot twist at the end of the book that has you wondering what the future holds for Caleb and Olivia, but it just wasn’t enough for me. I actually read the follow-up, THE CHARMED SOULS, just to see if I would have a different reaction. Unfortunately, I felt the same way about book two.This review is courtesy of She-Wolf Reads.