Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Bad Romeo & Broken Juliet by Leisa Rayven: Starcrossed Series Review

Bad Romeo (Starcrossed #1)

Blurb:

When Cassie Taylor met Ethan Holt at acting school, sparks flew. She was the good girl actress. He was the bad boy about campus. But one fated casting choice for Romeo and Juliet changed it all. Like the characters they were playing, Cassie and Ethan's romance seemed destined. Until he broke her heart and betrayed her trust. Now the A-list heartthrob is back in her life and turning her world around. One touch at a time.

Cast as romantic leads once again, they're forced to confront raw memories of the heartbreaking lows and pulse-pounding highs of their secret college affair. But they'll also discover that people who rub each other the wrong way often make the best sparks.


Review by Yvette:

I'm not going to lie – the prospect of reading Bad Romeo by Leisa Rayven had my angst-fearing heart skipping many a beat. The reason for that is because this book features angst of epic proportions. I’m talking soul-crushing, gut-wrenching angst that will leave you with the mother of all book hangovers. It's not often I read a book that makes me feel as though every muscle in my body is unclenching after having tightened with each tension-filled chapter, but Bad Romeo seemed to have had a direct line to my heartstrings. Protagonists Cassie Taylor and Ethan Holt have intense, all-consuming, butterflies-in-the-stomach-inducing type of connection that rivals that of the theatrical characters they portray on stage, which is just one of the many reasons why Bad Romeo is a standout read.

Shifting between the past and the present day, the narrative creates a jumbled mix of emotions as we experience the “before” and “after” effects of Cassie and Ethan's turbulent romance. With Cassie as the narrator, we only get her side of the story so we're invited to experience everything that she's experiencing and feel every emotion she's feeling – emotions which drastically differ as we jump from one time period to the next. The present day Cassie is tormented with bitterness and regret that she wears like a suit of armor to protect herself in battle against a seemingly changed Ethan, which is a far cry from the starry eyed college student who wore her heart on her sleeve and naively hoped to be the girl who'd escape having her heart broken by a self-proclaimed troubled young man. On the one hand, I wanted to blame Ethan for turning Cassie into a shadow of her former self but on the other, I wanted to scream at her younger self to listen the many times he warned her to stay away.

To be honest, there were many times I wondered why Cassie kept pushing Ethan to lower his defenses when the results were often disastrous. Their relationship thrived on a combination of heated banter, combustible chemistry, and so much pent-up sexual aggression that every interaction ended in one of two ways: fighting or making out. Admittedly, the making out part was incredibly sexy. The physical aspect of their relationship was never an issue, but it did serve as proof of their intangible connection when the emotional aspect was in shambles. Needless to say, I felt emotionally drained after every encounter and was left with significantly shorter nails than I had when I started.

Whenever I dive into a book like Bad Romeo (a.k.a. books that will make me want to curse at my Kindle, hurl it across the room, etc.), I usually like to prepare myself by having read a lighthearted book before and have several more on hand to recuperate when I’m done. With Bad Romeo, however, I couldn’t have imagined the intensity of the emotions I’d experience over the course of the narrative, which buoyed back and forth from extreme happiness to extreme despair all in the course of one chapter! It is books like this that draw my emotions so close to the surface that leave a lasting mark and make the story stand out from the countless others I devour on a daily basis. Bad Romeo is not for the faint of heart so I recommend proceeding with caution… and maybe some chocolate and ice cream for comfort.

*complimentary copy provided by publisher in exchange for an honest review

Rating: 5 Stars

Broken Juliet (Starcrossed #2)

Blurb:

How do you fix a love that’s been broken beyond repair?

For years, Cassie Taylor tried to forget about Ethan Holt. He was the one great love of her life, and when he failed to return her love, a part of her died forever. Or so she thought. Now she and Ethan are sharing a Broadway stage, and he’s determined to win her back. Claiming to be a changed man, he’s finally able to say all the things she needed to hear years ago, but can she believe him? What makes this time different from all his other broken promises?

Ethan knows he can’t change their tumultuous past, but if he’s going to have any chance of being with the woman he loves, he’ll need to convince Cassie that her future belongs with him.

Don’t miss this stunning conclusion to the unforgettable love story that captivated over two million fans online.


Review by Yvette:

Leisa Rayven just couldn't make things easy, could she? I wonder if, while she was writing Broken Juliet, she was cackling maniacally and relishing yet another chance to pulverize readers' hearts with the conclusion to Cassie and Ethan's story. I initially thought it was a good idea to hold off on reading Bad Romeo so that I wouldn't have to suffer the aftermath of the book's cliffhanger for long but I didn't account for the rawness of the pain that lingered going into Broken Juliet. I almost wished I could skip to the Happily Ever After but I knew that there were still so many pieces of the puzzle to put together – pieces that would shed light on the past thereby providing insight into Cassie’s mindset in the present day. I was more than a little grateful that, unlike the previous book where the road to heartache is incredibly long and arduous, Broken Juliet has a decidedly lighter feel that had me smiling and marveling at how far these characters have come from when we first met them.

At the start of the book, Cassie reiterates that Ethan broke her heart a grand total of two times and all the main thought going through my mind was that we haven't even gotten to the first time. I was (understandably, I think) a bit daunted by how much heartache was in store with this sequel but I also needed to know how there story would continue to unfold. The more I read, however, the more relaxed I became, and I think a lot of that had to do with the fact that there was a playful flirtation between Cassie and Ethan in the present time that was previously filled with tension and anger. The “present day Ethan” is nearly unrecognizable when compared with “past Ethan” and the same can be said for Cassie, who has switched roles with her former lover to become a mistrusting, commitment-fearing substitution for the woman she used to be. I appreciated getting to know both versions of these characters and getting to see them bare their hearts and souls because it helped me to better connect with them on an even deeper level.

While Bad Romeo contrasted the beginning of Cassie and Ethan's relationship with the long-term aftermath of their breakup, Broken Juliet simultaneously chronicles the demise of their youthful romance and their attempt to salvage a happy ending. While I assumed Broken Juliet would be another gut-wrenchingly devastating journey, I was pleasantly surprised that the painfulness was contrasted with lightheartedness, allowing the darker emotions to give way to the possibility of a brighter future. Every moment of pain and heartache was worth experiencing because they led to a number of memorable moments I was grateful to have witnessed. Like its predecessor, Broken Juliet is the sort of book to leave a lasting impression and, when all was said and done, I couldn’t have hoped for a more perfect and fitting ending for the couple.

*complimentary copy provided by publisher in exchange for an honest review

Rating: 5 Stars

Click to Buy the Starcrossed Series on Amazon:

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About the Author:

Writing has always been a passion for Leisa, and even though she originally intended to be an actress, it wasn’t long into her time at drama school that she began writing plays.

Those plays were bad. Very bad. Well, her friends thought they were good, but that’s because they were always cast in them and any opportunity to be on stage was met with an obnoxious amount of enthusiasm.

Since then, she’s honed her craft, and several of her plays have been produced and toured throughout Australia.

These days, playwriting has given way to fiction writing, and Leisa’s debut novel, BAD ROMEO, will be available in a worldwide release through Macmillan Publishing in December 2014.

Leisa lives in Australia with her husband, two little boys, three cats, and a kangaroo named Howard.

(Howard may or may not be her imaginary marsupial friend. Everyone should have one.)

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