I was apprehensive about this book because of the religious tones. I'm not overly religious and I was afraid this book would get preachy. I was pleasantly surprised that it didn't. The plot was fast paced and exciting, the characters were intriguing, the romance was engrossing and sweet and the writing was crisp and clear.
I don't often really take the time to think about the plot in novels but this one was so good that I need to mention it. I had no idea where it was going or how the characters were going to dig themselves out of the holes they kept falling into. It was a mixture between a who-dun-it and a guess which creature we are dealing with. I had the creature down from the beginning, though it was a different take on werewolves that I enjoyed thoroughly but I had no idea who was behind all the odd things that were going on.
One of the main reasons I was unable to guess who was causing all the trouble was because Despain does an amazing job crafting a clever male lead. Daniel is smart, he's a smart ass, he's artistic, infuriating and unavoidable. I wanted to to stick near him to hear the next thing that came out of his mouth. But what made him all the better was he wasn't "good". I won't ruin too much, but he has a past that directly links to Grace and her family and he openly (well, when Grace finally gets around to asking him) admits to what he did. He knows he can't control what's happening to him and he doesn't hide that fact. I was pretty sure he wasn't causing all of the strange things but I liked that I could see him doing these things. There was strong evidence pointing towards him besides the usually, he's "the new guy in town" so it must be him. I really appreciated that.
Grace played a lovely light note to Daniel's dark one. She was pretty sheltered in her home life, obedient to her parents, loyal to her brother and not a trouble maker. But she had a personality. She was also bossy, she loved painting, she was intensely loyal to what she believed was right and above all else, she usually searched for proof instead of saying "uh. well, it looks like this so it must be". I really loved that for as innocent as she was, she wasn't afraid to follow her gut. A lot of times, I have a hard time seeing MC's personality come through in these novels but Grace did not fail me.
Grace's family got a little annoying to me. I'm not a parent but if I were, I wouldn't be one that sheltered their kids from the world and Grace's parents (particularly Mom) came off that way to me. That annoyed me to no end, especially since I wanted to be experiencing things with Grace and Mom ALWAYS got in the way of that. I think this means that Despain did a good job. The parents were meant to be annoying (or at least I think so) and they were!
Another thing I really loved was Grace and Daniel's blossoming romance. I'm always more fond of stories were the boy and girl were either friends first or knew each other when they were little so since this romance followed a little bit of both categories it was made for me. I liked watching Daniel and Grace fall in love. The one complaint I have about this though is many times Grace calls Daniel her "brother" because Daniel lived with their family for a few years. Hearing that and then reading a romantic sentence right after made me feel uncomfortable. I know they weren't actually siblings but it was still a little weird.
I think what I might have liked the most about this story was the writing. Grace's voice was so clear and I turned the pages so quickly because the writing was easy to understand and gripping. Her voice flowed so nicely and there were some really wonderful descriptions.
I should also mention that Despain is a master at adding light and dark characters like shades in paintings. She fills out the white spaces with characters like Grace and Jude and shades in the shadow with Daniel and his bunch to make a beautiful picture.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book. I really liked the two main characters and wanted to see them together, the writing didn't feel corny and it didn't try to shove a message down my throat. The paranormal aspect was unique and the ending was surprising. I highly recommend it!