Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Bad Romeo by Leisa Rayven

The Basics:
Bad Romeo by Leisa Rayven
St. Martin's Griffin
Book One in the Bad Romeo duology
Contemporary Romance (New Adult)
Published December 23, 2014
Source: Received via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Amazon Kobo Goodreads

Why I picked up this book:

The *terrible cover* coming from a respectable publisher intrigued me. Seriously. That cover is *awful.* So I had to ask - what's up with that?


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 they'll discover that people who rub each other the wrong way often make the best sparks.

My thoughts:

There is so much evidence that the saying "Don't judge a book by it's cover" is true, and Bad Romeo is definitely on the side of don't judge. I think the cover is terrible - all pink and heart-shaped and juvenile. Do not be misled! I know we all do judge books by their covers - of course we do. There are millions of books out there in the world and without actually reading a book, we can only judge whether we want to pick it up and look inside by how the book looks, and what the cover copy tells us. Covers are important.

Ignore Bad Romeo's cover.

Pick this one up.

Bad Romeo is a wonderful new adult story about a young woman who has lived a very narrow and sheltered life. She's an only child with overprotective parents who has escaped to acting school. At the ripe old age of eighteen, Cassie is ready to live, she's ready to find herself instead of constantly pretending to be who she thinks everyone wants her to be.

What she finds is that she's still compelled to be a people-pleaser except when around the enigmatic, damaged Ethan Holt. Bad Romeo nails the bipolar bad-boy/good heart thing. Ethan tries to maintain that facade of being a total asshole, but every now and again, Cassie gets a glimpse at the sweetheart underneath.

Bad Romeo follows the story as it unfolds in the present, with flashbacks to six years earlier (this detail is important!), when Cassie and Ethan first met. This is a device I usually don't like because I'm usually really uninterested in the story that unfolded before the current story - after all, don't we already know how *that* story ended? I have to say that for Bad Romeo, it worked. The story of how Ethan and Cassie originally connected had me glued to the book. Even knowing that things were going to go horribly wrong, my heart still pounded as these two danced back and forth. It is really important to remember that the story unfolding happened *six* years ago, as it's made clear in the first chapter that they haven't seen each other in *three* years. There's a whole 'episode' of back story that we don't get in this book - presumably saved for the sequel.

Cassie and Ethan were absolutely believable for me. I found them both endearing in their own ways. There were some little details in this book that had me nodding my head in agreement. For example, Cassie references Ethan's jealousy and how at first she found it kind of sexy, but then when things got bad between them, it became just another one of their problems. I loved the moments when Ethan revealed that vulnerable side of himself - most of which Cassie comments on herself.

Bad Romeo also handles the world of acting in a way that seemed realistic to me (as an outsider). The sense of competition, of camaraderie, of nerves, anxiety, celebration... it's all there. I thought that the background of partying, rehearsals, classes and fretting over performances really added some depth to this book beyond the complications of the relationship.

Really, the only letdown in Bad Romeo (other than the atrociously mismatched cover) is that Ethan and Cassie's story is incomplete. The story ends on a cliffhanger, though the reader is given a certain impression about what might follow beyond the end of the book. I prefer a more definitive ending though. Broken Juliet is due out on April 28, 2015 and I assume it will pick up exactly where Bad Romeo ends. You can bet that I'll be back to find out what happens next (and to get the second half of their back story!) 

Bottom line:

I found Bad Romeo to be an absolutely compelling New Adult romance. I thought it was realistic, heartbreaking and hopeful. I strongly recommend it to fans of the genre, with the caveat that you'll have to wait until April to find out how it all ends for Cassie and Ethan.

4.5 stars
For fans of New Adult, contemporary romance, second chance stories

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