Blog Tour (Review and Giveaway): Reluctant Guardian by Melissa J. Cunningham

The next week is going to be really exciting here at Pretty Little Pages! For the next fives days, I'm reviewing books from Clean Teen Publishing. There's going to be a giveaway to go along with the tour for your choice of Clean Teen Publishing books and a $10 Amazon gift card!

by Melissa J. Cunningham

Guarding Brecken Shaefer—a dark and dangerous rebel—is harder than it looks. 

Death was nothing like sixteen-year-old Alisa Callahan thought it would be. Resting on pink, fluffy clouds for eternity with her gram and best friend sounded like a dream come true. After all, enduring one torturous experience after another in her short life deserved some kind of reward, right? Unfortunately, eternal rewards aren't given out so freely when you take your own life.

Required to pay the debt for committing suicide, Alisa must become a guardian. It sounds easy enough, but not when the boy she is forced to protect has a dangerous secret and wants absolutely nothing to do with her.

Brecken Shaefer isn't any normal teenager. He has special gifts that are sure to make Alisa's afterlife miserable. When feelings develop between them, everything spins out of control. Not only must Alisa face her own demons— but to protect Brecken, she must face an evil so heinous that it threatens to destroy their souls completely.

Alisa is tired of hiding from her past. When the easiest thing to do is run, can Brecken give her the strength to stay? 

 First Sentence:
The headlights of my car shine brightly into the woods, pulsing with an eerie glow with each swipe of the windshield wipers.

Last Sentence:
I run.

  This book was a crazy roller coaster, and I don't think I was tall enough to ride it. The emotions that this book draws out are intense, and I loved it. Cunningham is skillful at capitalizing on human emotions and weaving them into her book seamlessly. You're left just as invested in the story as the characters.

  The world building is so well thought out. You are transported into the afterlife of the main character, and Cunningham presents her version well enough that you're immediately immersed. The background put into the story is stand-out, also. As you near the end and the story begins to unravel at a suiting pace, you realize just how thought out Melissa's writing is. 

  The premise of this book was completely new to me, and I loved reading this book because of that. Before reading this one, I had been pretty unsatisfied with the books I'd been reading as of late. But Reluctant Guardian easily kept away the reading slump that was trying to creep up on me. 

  The characters are fresh and new. Instead of being annoyingly flawed or pristine and perfect, they seemed like "normal" people to me. I came to care for and worry about Alisa. She was my favorite, and her thoughts really reached out to me. 

  Reluctant Guardian deals with some heavy stuff. Suicide, criminal activity, demonic cults; this book has it all. But I think that the way that Cunningham presents the story and unfolds it, this book is broad enough for the teen audience as well as older fans of the YA genre. I'd recommend it in a heartbeat to YA paranormal romance fans.

**I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. My thanks to Clean Teen Publishing and Melissa J. Cunningham.

Interview with Melissa J. Cunningham

1.     Which book do you think everyone should read at least once in their lifetime? 
I cannot honestly answer that. There are too many to choose from. Should I choose a religious book, like the Bible? That is definitely one I'd recommend, but then what about the classics? We can't leave them out of the picture, and there have also been some really great books published in the last ten years. So, I would say... just read. Every day. Something! Your whole world will open up if you read.

2.    Do you have a writing ritual? What does it entail? 
I would LOVE a ritual, but I have some health issues that make it hard to do anything the same way twice! If I can just get my butt in the chair I count myself lucky!

3.    If you could choose any TV show to promote your book on, which would you choose? 
The Ellen Degeneres Show. I just LOVE her and her humor! I think she would definitely be the best. Plus it would be fun and I would laugh the whole time!

4.    Why did you choose the genre you write in? 
Actually, I didn't! When my publisher said they wanted to promote my book as a romance I nearly died! I do not love romance, but a romance is what I wrote, unbeknownst to me! Granted, it's a paranormal romance and I do love the supernatural. But I mainly just love writing YA in any genre. I like to keep my options open.

5.    Which was your favorite chapter to write? 
That's a hard one too. I loved the battle scene toward the end, but the one that touched me the most was the one of her funeral. I actually cried writing that.

6.    Chocolate or vanilla?
Well, dang. If it's going to be chocolate, it has to at least be Rocky Road or Moose tracks. If vanilla, it has to be cookies and cream, or have swirls of caramel going through it. Truth be told though, I'm lactose intolerant so I shouldn't have either!

Excerpt From Reluctant Guardian:

  I should have realized that suicide was not my best option. But like most teenage girls, I hadn't planned ahead. I never pictured my parents or brothers picking up the pieces of my broken life, or the empty hole I would leave in my wake.

  I honestly didn't think anyone cared that much.

  The medication I'd been taking hadn't helped matters either. My doctor prescribed it after the death of my beloved grandmother who'd lived with us since I was a baby. Three months later, my best friend Natasha, died from a brain tumor. Nothing could have shattered me more. Not just because Natty and I were closer than Siamese twins, but because we shared a dark, horrifying secret.

  Something I'd never told anyone. Not even my parents. Once she was gone I didn't know how to shoulder that weight on my own. I was drowning in sorrow. I'd fallen into a dark pit and had every right to take that antidepressant. My parents thought it would help too.

  I should have been more open about my feelings. I should have confided in my mom and dad. Explained that the medication wasn't working. That in reality I felt worse. But I didn't. I didn't realize the drug was affecting me adversely... until it was too late.

  The only thing I wanted that night was to not feel anymore, to not have my heart ripping in two, and to not cry so hard that my whole body ached.

  Would it be painful if I rammed my car into the tall pine at the curve of the road? Would it do the trick or just turn me into a vegetable for the rest of my life?

  I gambled. I took a chance and got what I wanted. Death.

About Melissa J. Cunningham

Melissa's first novel: Reluctant Guardian, was accepted for publication through Clean Teen Publishing in August 2013.  When Melissa is not writing you can find her spending time with her husband of eighteen years and her five children. Melissa studied music in college and loves to read all things fiction. Melissa lives in Northern Utah with her family, her horses, cats, dogs and chickens. 

Melissa's first novel: Reluctant Guardian, was accepted for publication through Clean Teen Publishing in August 2013.  When Melissa is not writing you can find her spending time with her husband of eighteen years and her five children. Melissa studied music in college and loves to read all things fiction. Melissa lives in Northern Utah with her family, her horses, cats, dogs and chickens. 

More from Clean Teen Publishing:


There are two different prizes to win during my blog tour with Clean Teen Publishing! One winner will get three ebooks of their choice from the catalog of Clean Teen Publishing and their imprints. Click here to see the books you could win. The second winner will win a $10 gift card to Amazon. Both are open to international entries. Good luck!


  1. All I can say is wow wow wow!! Thank you so much for your heartfelt review! I'm so glad you liked by book! I'm working on the sequel and hope so much it is as well received. Thank you again for hosting me and my book on your blog!

    1. I loved it, Melissa! I cannot wait to read the next in the series. Thanks for stopping by, and thanks for giving me the privilege of reading Reluctant Guardian!


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