Review – Bad Romeo
1
  • Posted:
  • November 24, 2014

Bad romeo

Bad Romeo is an upcoming debut novel by Leisa Rayven, the first in a New Adult Romance series. I became interested in this book shortly after the deal announcement surfaced on the internet. The book is being marketed as a combination of Twilight and 50 Shades of Grey. Though I haven’t read the latter series, I am always interested when books get compared to big-deal books. This case is especially intriguing as 50 Shades is Twilight fanfic to begin with. So this book, supposedly, is an homage to both the origin source AND the fanfic itself.

Plus, it’s set in the theatrical community, which I always love.

Colour me intrigued.

Bad Romeo finds our main narrator, Cassie Taylor, looking back on her life. In present day, she is acting in a high-profile play opposite Ethan Holt, her ex-lover. Six years earlier she auditioned for a prestigious theatre school, The Grove, and met Ethan during the audition process. Ethan has tried to get into the school for years and both are afforded the opportunity to join the school and, later on, act opposite each other in an adaptation of Romeo and Juliet. Cassie is intrigued by him from the first moment she spies him reading a copy of The Outsiders on the fringes of the auditions. Ethan’s emotions towards her run hot and cold and grow to something more as the time passes. But his reticence to let Cassie in war with her own desires to get to know him better.

Told in alternating time periods, Cassie conveys her story. Spread amidst a compelling coming-of-age tale are the trials and tribulations of falling in love with a man who wants none of it. Cassie is hellbent to unravel the mystery of Ethan Holt and this drive pulls the reader through their brooding love story with ease and appeal. During the present-day narrative, Cassie wants little to do with him. She has moved on from him and protected her heart from further hurt, though she has a hard time seeing the obvious truth – that she has never really let go of him or of the anger in herself.

Ethan himself is an enigma; a mysterious bad boy anti-hero wrapped up in his own external and internal mopery. Ethan is resistant to every pass that Cassie makes at him, so much so that this back-and-forth dynamic comprises much of the book. And yet, as a reader, I was completely riveted. It’s New Adult through and through with much of the predictable stereotypes of the genre intact. Take a naive and clueless heroine, add one beautiful boy in love with his own brooding, an instance that forces them together in awkward intimate settings, a small metric ton of sexual tension/frustration, and a reason to keep them apart that makes little sense… And yes, you have New Adult.

But, you have very entertaining New Adult. And that makes everything worthwhile.

I actually really loved reading this book. Rayven infuses the heroine, Cassie, with a prefect amount of believable hopefulness and charm. She’s full-fleshed out and reacts realistically to many situations that are completely out of her depth. She also possesses a sense of humour that is wry and witty along with a sense of self-preservation that makes the duality of this novel much more appealing. Likewise, Ethan is also perfectly drawn as a complex and well-constructed character. Rayven draws him out of his shell through both past and present narrations, forcing him far from his comfort zones. It makes the reader yearn for him. She does tiny things to imbue him with a real sense of self – facial quirks and mannerisms, tics, quips, and tons of expression. It’s all these things that lend him credibility despite the fact that the reader may want to throttle him for a sizable portion of the text. They will also equally want to make out with him…And that dichotomy is perfect for a New Adult hero. He’s wonderful and believably bad for her in all the best ways.

I wish there had been a smidge more of the theatre setting, but I quibble.  Overall, the book has a tone to it that left me enthralled. I stayed up far too late completely enrapt and couldn’t put it down. It’s been a long time since such simple storytelling was so thoroughly nuanced as to keep me up at night. And I can’t say anything more positive than that.

I look forward to the sequel, Broken Juliet, with much anticipation.

5 out of 5 stars.

– BP

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1 Comments

Leisa Rayven

2014-11-24 14:42:38 Reply

Thank you so much for such a thoughtful and beautifully written review. I’m thrilled you enjoyed it and humbled by your words.

Many thanks!
Leisa