Fresh Fridays: On Friday, I review a brand new series (ie. only has one book released so far) to see if the series is worth keeping up with. Here is this week’s offering:
Synopsis for Cross the Stars (from Goodreads):
What would you risk for love? Would you cross the stars? Steal the moon?
She is American. A commoner, an outsider. Min barra. He is Jordanian royalty. A prince, already promised to another. And their worlds are about to collide.
A year shy of graduating from Georgetown University, Ella Wallace feels like she is losing direction. Having carved her own path through life, rejecting her family’s elitist influences, the last thing she wants is to waste time and prove her parents right. A happenstance summer-long program abroad offers the perfect opportunity to immerse herself in volunteer work, finding richness in family and purpose she has never experienced before.
Prince Rajaa bin Ammaar is returning home to Jordan from Georgetown University. His intent is to spearhead a refugee program meant to bring peace to his country. Amidst threats of civil war and revolt, Raj stands for his convictions, even when they challenge his family and the very culture he is preordained to uphold.
A chance encounter at a crowded party in D.C. brought Ella and Raj together for one fleeting moment – two people never thought to meet again. But it’s not until their diverse worlds collide in Jordan that they realize the power of their connection. With the refugee program as their reuniting bond, they must cross the stars and defy their clashing cultures to protect their forbidden love.
With the culturally rich Jordanian backdrop, Cross the Stars will take you on a journey into the geographical and cultural Middle East, the resilience of people amidst turbulent civil unrest, the parallel unrest of two lovers’ clashing fates, and the diversity they must challenge with every breath to keep their love alive.
Series: Crossing the Stars
Author: Venessa Kimball as V Angelika
# of Books: 2 (Cross the Stars, Steal the Moon)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No, Steal the Moon, is to be published
Genre: New Adult, Romance, Contemporary
Heat Rating: really warm
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: March 2016 – ongoing
Source & Format: Xpresso Book Tours–eARC
**This post was originally published as a Fresh Friday review of the first book of the series. It has now been updated to reflect my conclusion to DNF this series. It will not be further updated.**
Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:
Last year, I enjoyed the YA novel Written in the Stars which explored the arranged marriage of a young Pakistani American and it really opened my eyes to a whole other world of character conflict that I had never experienced before.
So that is what initially drew me into this book: the exploration of a culture I had never experienced before. It also doesn’t hurt that I am a sucker for forbidden romances and what is better than a romance between a prince from the Middle East and American student? The fact that this was a New Adult novel led me to believe I would be consumed in a passionate romance that tested the boundaries of the world it is set in. But is that what I got?
What I Liked:
While I was reading, I really felt like I was in the Middle East. The description of the conflict and the physical geography of the Jordan really helped me immerse myself in the world. It also doesn’t hurt that the first 50% of the book is used to establish the setting and the character worlds.
–The Coming of Age Aspect–
Like I just said, the first half of the book was spent establishing the characters and their situation. Ella is struggling in her family life and deciding what she wants to do while Raj has a whole slew of family matters to worry about. While I would have wanted the romance to start from the get-go, I appreciated the time given to build these characters up as individuals. It helped you to grasp why they react the way they do or why fate has pushed them together at this point. They become whole characters to you instead of one half of a pair and I appreciated that.
What I Didn’t Like:
–The Romance Doesn’t Start Until Halfway Through–
I found the synopsis to be a little misleading. I thought the romance would be introduced shortly after I started the book and would progress through the various issues the couple would face given their social statuses. That isn’t necessarily the case. In fact, these two don’t really enter each other’s orbit until the 50% mark and then the chaos ensues. So it’s a very slow burn romance that quickly ignites once it sparks–but I was disappointed slightly that I wasn’t getting that passionate, all consuming romance earlier on in the story like I expected.
Add to the fact that it’s pretty much a love at first sight type of connection and I was pretty disappointed in how the romance unfolded, even if the sexual chemistry and tension was strong once it is introduced.
Despite her age, she came across as an angsty high schooler at the start of the novel. I mean, I vaguely understood her motivations for why she felt the way she did but it seemed a little over-dramatic for me. But like I said above, I did enjoy her character’s growth so all was not lost in that respect.
My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:
Now that everything has hit the fan so to speak, I’m really curious to see how this story unfolds. I’m hoping for more drama, more passion and some good plot twists in Steal the Moon.
–October 8, 2019– Book #2: Untitled
As it has been a few years since the inaugural book release and there are currently no updates on when the sequel will be released, I have opted to mark this series as incomplete and pass on future sequels.
My Rating: DNF
Cross the Stars 3.5/5 | Steal the Moon TBP
While I didn’t get the passionate romance read that I wanted, I did get an intriguing read that kept me pushing through the pages. It’s a world rich with politics and culture and that was what I appreciated the most about this book.
Read if You Like: slower stories, world-building, politics
Avoid if You: want more romance from the start
- Written in the Stars by Aisha Saeed
- Until we Break by Jamie Howard