Tag «Romeo and Juliet»

Series Review: Starcrossed Lovers by Jade West

Series Review: Starcrossed Lovers by Jade West

Series Review: Is this series worth your time? Does it get better as the novels progress? Or does it get worse? Find out below:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Secret Beast (from Goodreads):

In a single moment, she becomes my obsession…

Elaine Constantine will be mine.
And her destruction is only my beginning.

I’ve known all my life that the Constantines deserved to be wiped from the face of the earth, only a smoking crater left where their mansion once stood. That’s my plan until I see her, the woman in gold with the sinful curves and the blonde curls. My will to dominate her runs as deep as the hate I have for her last name.

No matter how beautifully she bends beneath my hands, I’ll leave her shattered, a broken toy for her cruel family.

I’m a sadist, and she’s the object of my obsession.

breakdown

Series: Starcrossed Lovers | Midnight Dynasty Series
Author: Jade West
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Dark Romance, Erotica
Heat Rating: Smokin’ (Kink: Major | BDSM: High)
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: September 2020 – March 2021
Source & Format: Kobo Plus–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

As I mentioned in my review of the Beast of Bishop’s Landing review, I deviated from the readers’ recommended reading order of the Midnight Dynasty Universe and read Leo’s book before Lucian’s.

Lucian was such a blip in the Cinderella Trilogy compared to Leo–who had a bigger role as a villain–that I wasn’t interested Lucian’s story as much. But in Book #3 of the Beast of Bishop’s Landing, Fallen Rose, Lucian’s heroine is revealed and I became obsessed with reading their story!

Needless to say, I immediately picked up this Romeo and Juliet inspired tale when I finished the other series!

The Concept – Midnight Dynasty:

The Midnight Dynasty Universe is a collection of books (series and standalones) by different authors but feature the characters from a collective world. They’re intended to be read in any order because each series focuses on two characters at a time, but there are some shared chronological events and character interactions throughout the universe that overlap in the different series.

The Plot:

This trilogy is inspired by Romeo and Juliet but I’d say it is loosely so. Lucian and Elaine are from feuding families; have lots of cousins and there is quite a bit of death that follows in their wake. It isn’t a straight up modern retelling by any means but if you know the classic play, I’m sure you will see some similarities.

This story is super dark though and I think a lot of people will be uncomfortable with the subject matter. There’s a lot of sex (and high BDSM sex at that as Lucian is a sadist lover), lots of violence and some content that might be triggering to readers (abuse, self-harm). I think you really have to be a fan of darker romances to enjoy this and I wouldn’t recommend this book as the series to start with if you want to get into the dark romance genre.

I am a fan of dark contemporary romances and it took even me a while to get used to the obsessive nature of our two leads. However, I quickly became consumed with their story. I enjoyed the pursuit of the first book and watching them slowly realize how they were perfect for each other in the subsequent novel.

I really enjoyed Soulless (#2) which is why Relentless (#3) was such a letdown. It was really great until (I felt) it abruptly ended. It didn’t really resolve any of the major dramatic plotlines with the exception of their final relationship status. I kinda thought there would be a fourth book with the way it ended but there isn’t which makes its ending super open-ended. Having read the next recommended series (Beast of Bishop’s Landing) in the Midnight Dynasty Universe series, I know that there really isn’t much of a resolution there either. So I ended the series on a bitter note after enjoying it so much.

The Characters:

One of the unique elements to this Midnight Dynasty Universe is that different authors write the different series, yet all share the same characters as each other.

Lucian makes a brief appearance in the Cinderella Trilogy but he takes a backseat to his brother Leo (Beast of Bishop’s Landing). He’s a super intense person and will stop at nothing to get what he wants. Normally, I don’t enjoy super alpha male heroes and Lucian is definitely an alpha–and a sadist at that. However, I feel like he is the first one to break when it comes to his feelings for Elaine and I love when the hero is the first to crack. As you start to know him and his past, you start to understand his character and appreciate why he is the way he is.

Elaine is also a complicated character and one that you don’t really see the true side of until you keep reading and start to peel back those layers. She’s feisty and strong in her own way which I always like in my heroines.

The Romance:

The tension between these two is down-right palpable the minute they set eyes on each other! They’ve got the forbidden romance of Romeo and Juliet fueling that flame which is always great. But they also have this great connection of understanding between them. They’re the perfect match for each other–even if they don’t realize that right away. They balance each other out and I could see why they are “starcrossed lovers”.

That being said, the romance is definitely dark and twisted. If you don’t enjoy high level BDSM–heavy emphasis on the SM part of that–then don’t pick this up!

Midnight Dynasty’s Reading Order:

I had found a suggested reading order on Redit but have made some recommendations based on my own readings. Here is the suggested order based on that post and my own readings:

Series Rating: 4/5

Heartless 4/5 | Soulless 5/5 | Relentless 3/5

overall

Those who enjoy dark and twisted romances will devour this. But those who don’t enjoy BDSM in their novels or violence should stay away. Out of all the series in the Midnight Dynasty Universe, I’d say this is the darkest.

Read if You Like: erotica, dark romances, forbidden romance, violence
Avoid if You: dislike kink/BDSM, dislike dark romances

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Series Review: Starcrossed by Leisa Rayven

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:

Bad Romeo by Leisa Rayven | Starcrossed Series

Other books in the series:
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SERIESous’ Top Book Series: Fav Read 2015, Must Read Author, Fav Read 2016
Series: Starcrossed
Author: Leisa Rayven
# of Books: 3 (Bad Romeo, Broken Juliet, Wicked Heart)

There are a few short stories. See the full reading list here.

Book Order: Chronological; Wicked Heart is Connected
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Romance, Contemporary, Drama, Second Chances, New Adult, Humour
Heat Rating: really warm
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Dates: December 2015 – ongoing
Source & Format: Public Library–hardcover, eBook; Wicked Hearts – NetGalley eARC

Thoughts:

This review was original published as a Fresh Friday feature and has seen been updated to a full Series Review.

I read anything with a hint of Shakespeare so it’s no surprise I picked up this book given its title. I can’t remember how I learned of its existence but when I did, I added it to my hold-list at the library. However, I wasn’t sure what to expect with this book–I’m not the biggest fan of second chance romances–but when I actually had it in my hands and saw that 3 of my favourite authors had given it high praise, I was really excited to read it.

When I was reading this book, I had to read another book at the same time so I budgeted to read this book over a few days, just a little bit at a time. That was hard to stick to because I really got into this story (as well as the other book I was reading!)! I love enemy-to-lover storylines and it has been so long since I read one that I instantly fell for this one. It also doesn’t hurt that Cassie is a funny heroine and Ethan is a suave jackass (my favourite hero characteristic). That made reading this book so easy and fun!

I think my favourite part about this book is that it has two congruent storylines: Cassie and Ethan’s past plus Cassie and Ethan’s present. It was almost like reading two stories at once, one that is a contemporary adult romance (the present) and a new adult romance (the past). When you read the present, you are trying to figure out what exactly Ethan did to break Cassie’s heart and you hate him a bit for making her feel that way. BUT at the same time, you watch them fall in love in the past and you can’t help but root for them in the present. It really kept me on my toes trying to get to the bottom of their “torrid” affair and I enjoyed every minute of it!

What I loved about the romance was all the sexual tension. I adore sexual tension in my novels and Bad Romeo had it in buckets. It’s far from erotica–meaning there aren’t copious amounts of sex scenes–but there are a lot of foreplay (that’s the best word I can come up with besides “heavy make out scenes”) scenes which I thought was really great because you actually got to see their emotional relationship together and not just their physical attraction.

As for the Shakespeare element, it isn’t overly in your face besides them acting in the play. I’m sure there are some parallel connections but it isn’t a retelling of Romeo and Juliet in anyway–so if that was turning you off of reading this, please think about reading it again!

I was kinda hoping Broken Juliet was going to be an alternate POV retelling when I picked up Bad Romeo but it is a continuation of the story. I’m glad it is the conclusion because I would hate to see this story dragged out! I’m really looking forward to getting some closure with these two and seeing what is in store for them in the next novel.

updates

–August 5, 2015– Book 2: Broken Juliet

I simply could not put down this book! It  was intense, romantic and had such a great pacing to it! I loved the focus on the relationship and how it promoted healthy relationships and communication in those relationships. I really thought I would get bored and feel like the story was dragged out considering this is a sequel in a second chance romance. SO NOT THE CASE!

Leisa Rayven has done a superb job writing this novel! If this book had been written with the past in one whole book and the present in the sequel, this series would have lost me. But because we get these two stories simultaneously, it just hooks you in! You root for these characters, you want to slap these characters and you fall in love with this characters. I was just as engrossed in their present story as I was their past and that is what gives makes it a 5 star read for me!

I’m soooooooooooooooooo stoked for the new book in the series, Wicked Heart! I thought this series was going to be a duology (which it is in terms for Ethan and Cassie’s story) but I can’t wait to read Elissa’s story! Gah!

–April 16, 2016– Book 3: Wicked Heart

disclaimernetgalley

You have no idea how excited I was when Wicked Heart was uploaded to NetGalley–and you can’t even imagine how ecstatic I was when my wish was granted to read it! I’ve been waiting for this book for a long time and I had high expectations and guess what:

This book was AMAZING!

I was really looking forward to Elissa’s story and I was not disappointed! It was funny, amazingly sweet, had tons of palpable sexual tension with just the right amount of angst and it was very, very addicting. I easily could have finished this book in one sitting but ya know, I had to study for exams.

I’m not normally a fan of second chance romances but Leisa Rayven writes ones that make me a believer and a fan. This book follows a similar set-up to the previous books but definitely has its own unique charms and features to set itself apart. It had me laughing one minute, crying the next and squealing in delight. I was easily won over by Elissa and Liam.

In short: this book was contemporary romance perfection and a must read!

Series Rating: 5/5

Bad Romeo 4.5/5 | Broken Juliet 5/5 | Wicked Heart 5/5

overall

If you like books with a dash of humour and loads of sexual tension, this IS the series for you! It reads like a Christina Lauren novel but with less emphasis on sex and more on the connection and relationship between the two leads (though there are definitely enough romantic scenes 😉 ). Even if you don’t like Shakespeare but love contemporary romances, this is great! One of my all-time favourites!

Read if You Like: relationship-focused romances, passion, second chance romances
Avoid if You: don’t like flashbacks, want more than a relationship focused plot

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Synopsis for Bad Romeo (from Goodreads):
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.

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Single Sundays: Crossing Stars by Nicole Williams

Single Sundays: While this blog may be focused on reviewing book series as a whole, we can’t forget about the good ole’ standalone novel! On Sundays, I will review a novel that is considered to be a standalone novel. Here is this week’s offering:

Synopsis for Crossing Stars (from Goodreads):

While the city of Chicago sleeps, a war wages in the streets between two powerful families. While the public assumes organized crime is nothing more than a chapter torn out of America’s history, the Costa and Moran families battle for territory and domination.

Caught up in the middle of this sinister world is Josette, the only child of Salvatore Costa, the ringleader and notorious godfather of Chicago’s Italian mafia. After the Irish Morans attempted to assassinate her when she was a child, Josette’s parents hid her behind the walls of their sprawling estate and kept her contact with outsiders to a minimum. But now Josette’s eighteen, and she’s questioning if a long life behind walls is worth trading for a potentially short one filled with excitement and adventure and all the things she’s only lived in her dreams.

On the night she decides to risk becoming just an anonymous face in the crowd, Josette realizes that death isn’t only a possibility—it’s a certainty. Yet when a young man comes to her rescue, the turbulent waters between life and death are further muddied.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Authors, Worst Standalone Reads 2014
Author: Nicole Williams
Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Contemporary, Retelling
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: May 7, 2014
Source & Format: Own–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I love Nicole Williams other works so when I read that her next standalone novel was going to be a modern retelling of Romeo and Juliet, I was excited and immediately put it at the top of my to-buy list. I loved the Romeo + Juliet movie with Leonardo DiCaprio all those years ago and Crossing Stars seemed like it was going to have that same edge to it with the two rival mafia families.

The Concept:

And for the most part it did have that interesting modern edge. The rivalry between the two families was well done and kept my attention. I also liked that this book wasn’t just a modern, word-for-word retelling of Romeo and Juliet. It did have its own plot events that weren’t necessarily parallel or occurred in Romeo and Juliet.

The Plot:

But that modern edge wasn’t enough to save this book. It really dragged in parts for me (the last two chapters were really fast-paced). Part of the problem was Josette. She was a dull heroine who couldn’t manage to capture my attention throughout the novel. Rylan was a bit more exciting to me but I think it was because he was more of a mystery to me because his POV is not given. I understand why it wasn’t but I wish it was because I think it would have made things more interesting.

The Romance:

I know Romeo and Juliet is the classic example of a love-at-first-sight story but I just had a hard time grasping it in this one. I think it was because Josette had just finished reading it and seemed to know that everything about it was crazy with her and Rylan but still did it anyway. It might have also helped to have Rylan featured more because he was missing for a good majority of the book. Perhaps that is the whole “romantic” part of the story but it’s not my cup of tea (even though I love Romeo and Juliet as a play).

My Rating: 2/5

overall

This story just didn’t do it for me. I’ve read better Romeo and Juliet stories. It had a few interesting twists but nothing outstanding. If you read anything and everything about Romeo and Juliet OR insta-love stories, then you will probably want to read this. Otherwise, watch the 1996 movie instead.

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  • Son of the Mob by Gordon Korman (Son of the Mob Series #1)

 

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Single Sundays: Juliet by Anne Fortier

Single Sundays: Juliet by Anne Fortier

Single Sundays: While this blog may be focused on reviewing book series as a whole, we can’t forget about the good ole’ standalone novel! On Sundays, I will review a novel that is considered to be a standalone novel. Here is this week’s offering:

Synopsis for Juliet (from Goodreads):
Twenty-five-year-old Julie Jacobs is heartbroken over the death of her beloved Aunt Rose. But the shock goes even deeper when she learns that the woman who has been like a mother to her has left her entire estate to Julie’s twin sister. The only thing Julie receives is a key—one carried by her mother on the day she herself died—to a safety-deposit box in Siena, Italy.

This key sends Julie on a journey that will change her life forever—a journey into the troubled past of her ancestor Giulietta Tolomei. In 1340, still reeling from the slaughter of her parents, Giulietta was smuggled into Siena, where she met a young man named Romeo. Their ill-fated love turned medieval Siena upside-down and went on to inspire generations of poets and artists, the story reaching its pinnacle in Shakespeare’s famous tragedy.

But six centuries have a way of catching up to the present, and Julie gradually begins to discover that here, in this ancient city, the past and present are hard to tell apart. The deeper she delves into the history of Romeo and Giulietta, and the closer she gets to the treasure they allegedly left behind, the greater the danger surrounding her—superstitions, ancient hostilities, and personal vendettas. As Julie crosses paths with the descendants of the families involved in the unforgettable blood feud, she begins to fear that the notorious curse—“A plague on both your houses!”—is still at work, and that she is destined to be its next target. Only someone like Romeo, it seems, could save her from this dreaded fate, but his story ended long ago. Or did it?

breakdown

Author: Anne Fortier
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Historical, Mystery
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: August 24, 2010
Source & Format: Library–Hardcover

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I read this book a long time ago after a co-worker recommended it to me. I got my hands on a local library copy and I ended up loving the book so much that I went out and bought it for my own personal collection.

As you may or may not know, I am a huge Shakespeare nut. Any fiction involving Shakespeare and I am there! I recently went to see Romeo and Juliet at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival in Stratford, Ontario, Canada (if you ever get the chance to attend, do! They put on amazing productions ever year!). Amazing play and this production was awesome! So awesome it made me think about this book and I hope to reread it very soon!

But, back to the book 😉

The World:

This book is basically two stories in one. One follows the present day Juliet while the other follows the “original” Juliet. You can tell Ms. Fortier has done her research because the story that takes place in 1340 is rich in detail about the time and about the play Romeo and Juliet. My mom–who I made read this book–made the comment after the play about a gold statue saying she forgot it was in the play when she read about it in the book. Fortier does a fabulous job with tying the two worlds together and this makes the book super enjoyable to read.

The Plot:

Another bonus was the mystery and suspense. I find with some books that have regular “flashbacks” to the past, I tend to enjoy one story more than the other so I dread the respective POV. That was not the case here. I was equally addicted to both and that made this book super hard to put down. While I had suspicions about how the book was going to play–no pun intended–out (I mean, we all know how Romeo and Juliet ends, right?) I found it wasn’t predictable which always makes me happy. The plot was a little DaVinci Code-esque in its delivery but with Shakespeare which I thought was cool.

The Characters:

I really liked the characters and Juliet–either of them–didn’t annoy me (unlike the Juliet in Shakespeare’s play) so win!

My Rating: 5/5

overall

You don’t have to like Shakespeare to like this book. If you enjoy mysteries, books with suspense and a dash of romance, you will enjoy this one! I highly recommend it!

Read if You Like: single dad heroes, office romances
Avoid if You: want erotica, want a longer novel

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