Lauren is visited in her dreams for years by a stranger claiming to be her destiny. Destiny becomes reality when paths cross during a failed robbery attempt. Lauren and the stranger experience chemistry like no other and now her doubt over her long time relationship with her high school sweetheart is not her only secret…someone else knows about her keen intuition and sixth sense. A mysterious clairvoyant seeks Lauren out and tells her not only of her life now but what the future may hold. Soon Lauren is in the middle of a murder investigation and a questionable friendship with the key suspect. Law enforcement, friends and family are concerned for Lauren but unfortunately they are unaware of the true danger…Sinister forces are at work and will stop at nothing to destroy Lauren’s abilities.

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I recently participated in a Blog Tour forMeeting Destiny, and out of respect, withheld my review until now. Nancy Straight is truly a lovely woman, and many people enjoy her Destiny Series. Indeed, I was really looking forward to reading Meeting Destiny when I received the eBook for the Blog Tour. The cover is beautiful and the premise sounds promising. However, I only made it to page 95 out of 291 before I essentially skimmed/speed-read the book until the end.

The opening scene of Meeting Destiny was a pretty intriguing one. The main protagonist, Lauren, is working her job as a cashier at a fast food joint, when she gets a funny feeling about a man standing in line. Sure enough, the man quietly pulls a gun on Lauren and demands money and food. A little boy nearby, unaware of what’s happening, begins to whine about the toy selection. Aggravated, the gunman begins to point the gun towards him, and Lauren jumps over the counter, shields the little boy, and gets shot in the thigh. The gunman escapes before the police and paramedics arrive.

Enter “Prince Charming” stage right. Max, a paramedic, comes to rush Lauren to the hospital. As they are prepping Lauren for the ambulance ride, she gazes into Max’s eyes and realizes he is her Destiny; the same man who has appeared in her dreams every night since her first year of high school.

That sounds like quite an exciting beginning, right? “So,” you ask, “what exactly didn’t work for you, BlookGirl?”

Well, simply put, Lauren, was a hot mess. I felt that she has a few “Mary Sue” characteristics, which are really a disservice for the character she could have been. She possesses a special “gift” (which ultimately saved the little boy at the beginning of the story), two hot guys are in love with her, and the people in her town worship the ground she walks on after her stunt in the fast food joint. Seriously, the mother of the boy sent her a $20,000 check! I just didn’t feel any of it was realistic.

Lauren’s  special “gift” is that she can sense the true character or intentions of a person. This is what caused her to be alert when the creepy guy walked into her work, and what has helped her protect her friends and family in the past. On top of that, in her nightly dreams, a man (presumably Max) tells her that he is her destiny, that they have known and loved each other in past lives, and that they will eventually come together again. This is all very interesting, but I didn’t get a chance to really care about any of it.

The first 95 pages of Meeting Destiny bears witness to how immature, shallow, and vapid Lauren is. That may sound harsh, but I have about three pages of notes where my growing irritation toward her character is quite apparent. Since practically elementary school, Lauren has been dating Seth, her life-long best friend and neighbor. It’s clear throughout the story that Seth is crazy about her, and that she really does not feel the same about him… or wait, maybe she does.

Take a look at these quotes I highlighted, and you’ll see what I mean:

“If this were the case, then meeting Max couldn’t be wrong; it’s something I had to do for Seth. Lying to myself was silly. I knew that regardless of how Seth felt about me, I would never feel the same way. I would give anything to feel that pulse from Max’s touch again.”

Then, on the very same page…

“I should be thankful that Seth feels so strongly for me and figure out a way to feel the same for him.”

In a nutshell, Lauren and Seth have a relationship of convenience. Their mothers were best friends before they were born, they live right next door to each other, and it was just always assumed that they’d wind up together. Don’t get me wrong, there are definitely relationships that develop in this manner; however, the way Lauren handled herself with Seth, especially in regard to Max, just really… well, frankly, pissed me off.

And then there’s the relationship between Lauren and Max. Ugh. Insta-love! © I am soover this portrayal of relationships in Young Adult literature. Lauren’s heart beats like mad when Max is around, she feels a literal “shock” when they touch, and she practically has a panic attack whenever he leaves her side. After one brief meeting. They may be “soul mates”, but Max never even realizes this throughout the book. I kept waiting for him to “recognize” her. Then, after she meets Max, Lauren turns into a bit of a stalker (calling every few minutes) and over-dramatizes their encounters, or lack thereof. I would perhaps be a bit more forgiving if Lauren were 14 years old, but she’s in her early 20’s. I don’t feel that she is a good role model for either age group.

Neither of the two “love interests”, if you can call them that, interested me whatsoever, which is unusual. Seth seemed like a good guy at first, but when Lauren tries to break it off with him, he goes OFF THE RADAR! Seriously! He refuses to let her break up with him! Check out this quote:

Whatever you want, take your time. Give me a call when you want to see me again. I’ll be patient. Like I told you – I love you enough for both of us. When the realization hits you that you’ve made a huge mistake, call me. I promise not to hold any grudges.”

Who says stuff like that?! It seemed so condescending and, in a way, possessive.

Thankfully, Seth eventually does get over Lauren and moves on, but it wasn’t enough to redeem him as an interesting character.

I think my biggest issue overall was the complete lack of character development. I can usually forgive a shallow character if they grow and mature throughout the book, but I didn’t see that in Lauren. She was way too dependent on Max (who, oddly, kept flitting in and out of the picture) and made some really downright dumb decisions. I was also disappointed that Lauren’s “gift” and its purpose were not well-explained, but I assume that readers will learn more in the two books that follow.

There is an interesting concept in the book, wherein we learn that each person (soul) has a purpose, and is predestined to play a specific part in another person’s life (i.e., protector, soul mate, instigator, anarchist, etc.) I reallylike this idea and wish it had played out a bit more within the story. Again, this concept is likely fleshed out later in the series.

There is also an unexpected murder in Meeting Destiny, as well as a mysterious woman, which lends some intrigue and mystery, and the ending is quite a cliff-hanger, but it feels… off and a bit tacked on. I’ve heard that the second and third books are much better than the first, so for those contemplating reading this series, keep that in mind.

Overall, Meeting Destiny was an interesting read, but not really my cuppa coffee. With that said, kudos to Nancy Straight for successfully self-publishing a series that many people doenjoy! If you want to snag a free copy ofMeeting Destiny, GoodReads is giving away one (1) Kindle eBook copy, which you can enter to win until April 19, 2012.

If you have read this book, I’m interested to hear what you thought about it, so please feel free to comment below and we can chat!