Don't you just love finding a new author to love? I do. Jesi Lea Ryan is my latest find and here is my 5 star review of her latest book, Arcadia's Gift, originally posted on Amazon.
I knew I was going to like this story when I read the description. I was wrong. I freakin' loved it! I read the entire book in one go, even though it meant staying up until 2:00 in the morning to finish it. I could NOT put it down.
I was hooked from the beginning. I felt as if I were there witnessing the horrific accident that launches the story. Ms. Ryan has a gift for setting a scene through the characters' eyes, without resorting to a laundry list of descriptions (a pet peeve of mine).
Arcadia or "Cady" as she prefers to be called, felt very real to me. She was easy to like and empathize with.
The paranormal aspect of the story felt very organic and natural. The romance between Cady and Bryan developed quickly but realistically (it is a YA romance, afterall).
Bryan is such a sweetheart! My inner-teen is more than a little in love with the boy. He's hot but doesn't know it, sensitive but masculine, brave but not reckless, self-sacrificing but not self-righteous and absolutely perfect for Cady.
The only thing that bothered me was the introduction of a love triangle after I'd already fallen for Bryan. I'm hoping it's a result of a supernatural attraction and that Cady realizes she belongs with Bryan in the next book.
I was ready to dismiss Cane (Bryan's competition) as just another one-dimensional, self-absorbed super-jock, but the scene in the parking lot when he explains what happened the night of the accident and his resulting guilt turned him into a "real" person. I definitely empathize with him and hope he finds redemption -- as long as it's not in Cady's arms ;-)
The minor characters were developed perfectly. They felt real, without detracting from the main storyline. It was easy to imagine their untold back stories from the brief glimpses I got when Cady interacted with them. I'd love to read more of Aaron's story.
I highly recommend this book to fans of contemporary YA romance as well as paranormal romance. If you like Sarah Dessen's books, you'll love Arcadia's Gift.