Jocelyn Timmons does not believe she is anything special — just an ordinary high school senior, living an ordinary life full of schoolwork, volleyball and friends. She’s about to find out how wrong she is.

Jackson Chandler moved into the house across the street. His dark wavy hair, green eyes and charismatic personality draws everyone to him. Everyone, but Jocelyn.

Whenever Jackson gets near Jocelyn she feels ill and dizzy. When he touches her, she blacks out and has visions of another life, in another time. As the odd hallucinations evolve and become clearer, she feels a strong pull towards the people she sees there. Frightened, she watches her once stable life begin to crumble around her and she begins to question her own sanity.

Could it be possible that these episodes are actually her own memories of a life she is living somehow, somewhere, somewhen? Maybe this is time-travel or some other paranormal mysticism? Our minds often wander, but can our souls?
Essence by A.L Waddington
3.5 Stars ****
Book review by Nicole McCurdy
For me, this was a bit of a hard book to digest.  I read it.  Mulled it over.  Went back and re-read passages.  Thought about it some more.  But once I reached the end of it again I still wasn’t completely sure if I liked it or not.  Don’t get me wrong the concept is something refreshing and original- a tale about living a complete life on two separate yet parallel planes of existence with moments overlapping.  It’s something I’ve never read before but I feel like the execution from idea to novel somehow got lost in translation and lacked the certain wow factor that gets me totally and utterly reeled in to the story.  The jumping back and forth between time periods was interesting at the beginning as it seemed to be setting the stage for something bigger but soon I found it all a little bit tedious with the plotline not really moving very far forward.  I love historical romance and contemporary so I was a little bit disheartened that there wasn’t something more eventful happening in both time periods to keep me interested, it seemed to be silly petty teenage angst, romance woes and the occasional run in with the mean girl of each century.  
The mystery at the start surrounding new boy Jackson our main hero and his effect on our heroine Jocelyn in the present day is soon explained and the little bit of paranormal/supernatural suspense that is included in the story is drawn out chapter after chapter that I felt like something had to come along and shake up the equilibrium a little bit, the story was playing it too safe and by the end I seemed to have more questions than actual answers.  
It may be that I was the wrong target audience and I couldn’t quite connect with any of the High school characters present or past or it may be that I expect too much adventure and intrigue in my time hopping books, whichever reason I feel really saddened that I just couldn’t immerse myself in Essence like I wanted to.  The writing is still good, it’s well edited and the dialogue is quite snappy and realistic for both eras but as I mentioned before there was just something missing from this one.  I will read the second because I believe in second chances and I also need to have the answers to all those aforementioned queries.  

The barrier between Jocelyn Timmons consciousness continues to dissolve as she better understands the two lives she lives and enormity of her newly discovered inherited gift of EVE (Essence Voyager Era) which allows her to fall asleep on one plane of existence and awaken on another as her soul travels nightly.

Present-day Jocelyn uncovers the vast wonderment of the Victorian era but soon learns that life then was not as grand for women as she has read in the classics. Still, she finds comfort in the support of family and friends; a bolstering contrast to her overly hectic, career-oriented family in the twenty-first century. Her love for Jackson Chandler strengthens across time and becomes the light she so desperately needs as the world she has always known no longer makes sense. Yet, the closer she is drawn to Jackson by their mutual ability, the more strain develops amongst those she loves in 2009. 

On the other side of Jocelyn’s consciousness in 1878, she remains ignorant of EVE. Her life is crumbling around her, yet she finds herself anxiously awaiting the images that invade her dreams. Jocelyn longs to be the woman she portrays in that world yet her jealousy is unbearable. Miscommunication, betrayal and hidden agendas make trust near impossible. The clearer the visions become the more she questions motives of her closest confidants and foregoes revealing the images that plague her perception. As her life seems to unravel, Jocelyn’s two worlds collide, and she is enlightened as the pieces start to fall into place. But is she strong enough to survive the truth? Is Jackson really her destiny? And can their love transcend time?

Enlightened by A.L Waddington
3.5 stars ****
Book review by Nicole McCurdy
After reading Essence the first book of this series I found myself with a bit of a dilemma as I wasn’t completely on board with the story or rather the way it had been taken from concept to story.  It should have been amazing, all the elements where there, good characterisation, a heroine with a back bone and integrity, a hero with a bit of intrigue and intelligence about him and writing  that flowed quite nicely but Enlightened, much like the first book Essence lacked in the entertainment value department.  It was a slightly more interesting book than the first and we do get a bit more knowledge and insight into what EVE actually is and how certain impromptu decisions have irrevocable consequences in different time periods no matter if you’re doing them for altruistic reasons or not.  
I actually liked Jocelyn more in this book, I feel like I got to know and understand her better in this one than the previous.  Her decision making, her emotions they all seemed to ring more true to her character along with her confidence and taking down a bully or two in either era.  Jackson too became more likable.  He was a cute character in Essence sort of affable and one dimensional but in Enlightened his actions and dialogue and mannerisms towards Jocelyn and their predicament appeared more mature and at times he was swoon worthy romantic.  There was even a bit of discord and drama to break up what would have been another fairly superficial and straight forward tale.  Again A.L Waddington’s writing was good, especially at describing the different eras and creating a set of young characters that are trying to come to terms with unexplainable occurrences whilst navigating adolescence, romance and dances but once again this series could have been so much more.  I’m sure these books would be a great addition to your teens’ reading library as they’re certainly perfect material for a young girl, subtle and romantic with an edge of exploration into the unknown.
It was a nice ending to a nice series with some nice characters.  If you’re looking for a light read with a supernatural twist and a bit of a Y.A romance thread through it then this is the series for you but if you’re like me and you anticipate a bit of villainy, heartbreak and adventure I would try something less subtle than these books.

A.L. Waddington completed her undergraduate studies at University of Texas Dallas and Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis. She graduated from IUPUI with a BS in Psychology. A.L. and her husband, Ty have a son, two daughters, three puppies, and an oversized cat. They reside in Indiana. 

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