Right after losing her beloved Grandpa, Ellery Mayne discovers she is being watched. There's a surveillance team following her around, always observing and, at times, recuing.
Ellery has no idea why she's being observed and protected, so she decides to experiment. She "forgets" objects all over the place, only to find them reappear in places she might've left them (but didn't actually). After she makes friends with goth queen Samantha (Sam), she let's herself get talked into being turned goth for a few minutes. When she comes out of the movie theater bathroom "gothified" she watches as a particularly handsome young man gets more and more anxious as the real Ellery doesn't appear.
After that, Ellery starts looking for the young man, and finds him often. But her biggest surprise comes when she finds he's living right next door in her grandpa's old house. It's not too long before the watched and the watcher are desperately in love, but they must keep it secret because Ellery's still not supposed to know she's under surveillance, and Ash could lose his job.
Then Gray Gregory, past crush of Ellery's, pops up out of the blue inviting Ellery on a trip to Canada where she'll be an intern for their geological survey team. Ellery is apprehensive to go on a trip with Gray, especially since she doesn't know what his intentions towards her are and she doesn't want things with Ash to get complicated. In the end she decides to go.
Soon she's got two men hopelessly in love in with her, and she with them. Throughout this entire time, she still hasn't been able to figure out why she's suddenly the "Mayne Attraction".
Aside from the rather slow prologue, this book starts great. Ellery is a very interesting teenager, with lots of big words to satisfy my vocabulary thirst. But after the first ten or so chapters, when she and Ash get together and start proclaiming their undying love for each other, it kind of lost its appeal for me. They were being gooey-eyed to each other and saying cheesy love lines, when they really hadn't known each other for more than a few weeks. You could argue that Ash knows Ellery inside out, since he's been watching her for months, but Ellery knows nothing about him. This bothered me, to say the least.
Then there's the fact that everyone bosses Ellery around, and she does nothing about. Her friends nearly drown her, and she doesn't even shout at them. I'd be hollering my head off in that situation.
Another thing that bugged me was how much Ellery loved Twilight, which is all good and fine, I'm not a huge Twilight-hater or anything, but I have to hear enough about that series in real life. Also, the story kind of reminded me of Twilight (so if you just LOVE Twilight, this is the book for you!). There's the main character, a girl who is nothing special to look at but the two fabulously handsome gentlemen think is gorgeous. Then there are the two said fabulously handsome gentlemen, one who is nothing but chivalrous towards her and is a bit emotionless, and the other who kisses and touches her whenever he gets the chance. The only thing they don't have in common is that everyone is disappointingly human in this story.
Another similarity is the guy I was rooting for. In Twilight, I really don't care about Edward or Jacob (though I think I'd prefer Edward over Jacob), but I love Carlisle. In In The Spotlight, I don't much like Ash or Gray (though I'd prefer Ash over Gray), but Trevor is awesome.
The fact that every character isbeautiful/handsome bothers me as well. Ellery is gorgeous, her mother is gorgeous, Sam is gorgeous, Trevor is handsome, Ash is handsome, Gray is handsome, just about every named character is either handsome or gorgeous, respectively. But it's not a gaping plothole, so it doesn't annoy me terribly so.
The story is told in a rather confusing way, with flashbacks in a few places. It's almost like the author got an idea for something that happened, but didn't go back to the proper place to put it in. It's a little tough to follow at first, but after a bit you get used to it.
BUT!! Before you go thinking I hated this book, let me get to the ending! The ending of this book was fab.u.lous. The main character listened to my advice and did the smart thing. I won't tell you what it was because I don't want to ruin it, but she saved the book with her actions. Despite the excessive love lines and gooey eyes, I love Ellery Mayne.
So even if you're not a fan of romance novels, if you can get through all the romance parts, then the ending makes up for it. Like I said, the beginning is great, and they say as long as you've got an engaging beginning and a grand finale, you're good (I personally believe a nice creamy filling is the icing on the cake, but you can get by with the foundation and candles, if you can understand this mixed metaphor). If you gag at love lines, then I'd suggest just taking a break about three quarters of the way through and reading something else (I chose Magic Pickle by Scott Morse for my halftime show).
Let me also make a note that this is probably the first actual romance novel I've ever read, so it might be a brilliant romance novel. I just don't have experience in that area, so I can't properly judge.
Unfortunately, this book is nearly impossible for one to get one's hands on. You can get it off of Amazon and a place called Createspace, and through the link on Ann Mauren's website (http://mayneattraction.com/), but that's it. In an earlier post (http://persyandarty.blogspot.com/2010/07/persy-special-book-deal.html), I posted the special code you can use to get the ebook version for free, but this deal is only available until the end of August. If you happen to wait until after the end of August and don't want to take a gamble on a book you've never read, you can read excerpts on Ann Mauren's site instead of just ordering the book.
Ann Mauren is currently working on the two sequels, In The Smoke and In The Shadow, but I don't know when they'll be released. I believe (I may be wrong about this) that each book is the same story, but told by a different character. In The Smoke is the story from Gray's point of view, and In The Shadow is from Ash's. This is great for a person like me, because I'm always curious as to what the other characters were thinking. Hopefully they'll be out soon, and maybe by then the books will be more easily accessable.