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Generally, when a book begins with two people adamantly not looking for a relationship, you know that a relationship is inevitably going to develop. In Truth or Dare, that’s exactly what happens.

Maggie is broken after being called out at the altar by her fiance’s pregnant wife. Her confidence is shattered and she doesn’t even want to attempt to get back into the dating pool. Tyler shuts himself off from everybody around him because he needs to be free to leave at any moment. He has his own mysterious reasons for not wanting to get attached.

Truth or Dare is a prime example of the good kind of angst. I wasn’t rolling my eyes and heavily sighing as Maggie and Tyler fought and argued and pushed against their mutual attraction. It was believable. Their connection grew against their wishes, but still seemed natural and realistic. I thought that aspect was really well-handled.

The thing that I didn’t like was Tyler’s reason for not wanting a relationship. I don’t want to spoil it, although it may not come as that big of a surprise if you read a lot of this type of novel. I’ll just say that I found it weird and a little creepy, but he was still a great guy overall.

Overall, Truth or Dare was a good story, and I will happily read Touch & Go, which features Ava and Sam.

Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for the free copy!

Final rating: 

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Ember’s life is a far cry from awesome. She died in a car accident two years ago, and Olivia, her gifted little sister, brought her back. Ever since then, anything Ember touches – plants, animals, even people – immediately dies. As if that isn’t bad enough, her mother mentally checked out when her dad died, the whole school thinks she’s a freak because she’s covered in scars, and the life insurance money from her dad is running out. Things couldn’t get any worse – until they do. Ember and her family are all but kidnapped by the mysterious Mr. Cromwell, who seems to collect gifted children. He’s really after Olivia, but takes Ember and her mother as part of the package.

I was really excited to get a free book from Jennifer Armentrout. I’ve seen her naming popping up everywhere as theLux and Covenant series gain popularity. I’m not ashamed to say that I just bought Obsidian and it’s sitting at the top of my to-read pile. And maybe it’s because of all that hype, but Cursedreally did not live up to my expectations at all.

First off, the whole touch of death thing has been done a lot, and there’s nothing particularly special about this version. The plot was eerily similar to a book I read a couple years ago that was probably done better. It also reminded me of the show Pushing Daisies, except that the touch of death and touch of life are split between two different characters in Cursed. There wasn’t anything spectacular or new or interesting in the plot. It was pieces of many things I’ve watched or read before stitched together.

Speaking of the characters, I didn’t really care for any of the main ones.

Ember was an incredibly weak character and terrible role model. On her own, she’s dedicated to her sister and constantly works to improve their lives, but once she’s swept up by Mr. Cromwell, her focus turns to completely selfish things. But, of course, she gets upset when anybody else pays attention to Olivia, because clearly they’re just trying to take her place. Ember does, to her credit, think it’s a little off that Hayden lurks in the shadows, watches her sleep, and follows her around, but she’s so blinded by his good looks that she doesn’t really care after about page 50.

Hayden is a spoiled little brat who either doesn’t understand emotions or just doesn’t care, because he strings Ember along and then acts like he doesn’t understand why she’s upset when he shuts down and ignores her for weeks. His blind devotion to his adoptive family struck me as a little weird, too, and if there had been a sequel to this book, I would have liked to learn more about it. I mean, I love my family and all, but if you tell me that one of them has been hurting you, I’m going to make a sincere effort to find out whether or not it’s true. Not the case for Hayden, who dismisses Ember as a crazypants when she suggests that the person taunting her might be somehow involved with Mr. Cromwell. 

Mr. Cromwell is probably the least likable of them all, since he collects these gifted children but refuses to explain why. He threatens to send Ember to the ominous “Facility” if she doesn’t learn to control her gift, but makes no move to help her learn to control it. He discourages her from involving herself with “outsiders,” but also disapproves of her friendship with Hayden. He also has her best friend’s memory wiped to the point where he doesn’t even remember who Ember is, all because he had a sneaking suspicion that Ember had told him about her gift.

Phoebe was also a particularly terrible character – an empath who is “overcome” with all of Ember’s negative emotions but makes no move to help her feel welcome. She just secretly tries to make Ember run away by making her feel less welcome, thereby increasing the negative emotions she wanted to avoid! What’s wrong with this girl? If she’d just tried to strike up a friendship with Ember, she could have avoided a whole lot of unpleasantness.

The only character I can say I really cared for was Parker, and he was in maybe like six paragraphs total. That tells you a lot about the characters and how terribly they’re written.

The only thing preventing me from giving this book one star is that the writing flowed pretty well and I was never bored. I was disappointed in most everything else.

I received a free copy of Cursed from Amazon’s Kindle First program.

Final rating: