Monday, December 22, 2014

Bad Romeo (Starcrossed #1) by Leisa Rayven

4.5 Stars

Arc received in exchange for an honest review

O Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Bad? Broken? Broody?

Wow! What a new and refreshing spin on the age-old tragic star-crossed lovers story. Our hero, Ethan, really isn’t bad in the stereotypical “bad boy” sense. He is bad because his spirit has been broken so severely, tainting his belief in the power of love. Poor misguided Ethan. In Leisa Rayven’s first installment of this series, we are lured into the tragedy that is Ethan and Cassie’s relationship and romance. Be warned, this is not your ordinary run of the mill love story. It was more of a holding my breath seeing where this dysfunctional couple will lead me, type of tale. It was funny, it twisted my emotions, it was maddening, and it was intense. Definitely held me captive from the beginning, leaving me wanting more at its end. 

The story begins with famed Broadway actress Cassandra Taylor bracing to once again share the stage with her one true love and greatest heartache, Ethan Holt.  Tension is immediately built into the plot. The mere thought of Ethan flashes Cassie back not only to the love they shared, but also the devastation he left behind six years ago. But now, Cassie is older, wiser and determined to not let the past interfere with her career.  Easier said than done.

Ethan is desperate to find his way back into Cassie’s life and being casted as her leading man in an upcoming production presented the perfect opportunity. Determined to break through Cassie’s emotional walls, Ethan seeks forgiveness, and trust me this is no small feat. She is no longer the naïve, innocent young girl who once played Juliet to his Romeo in drama class, falling hopeless in love. Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned and Cassie’s heart was shattered in a way that never mended over their long separation. 
“I’m going to prove I’ve changed. Then you’re going to fall back in love with me, and we’ll get the happy ending we should have had the first time around.” 
The story is told through Cassie’s eyes in both present day and flashing back to their beginnings. I liked seeing their history, how they met in acting school, the dynamics of their relationship starting as friends then falling into lovers and the contrast of their past and present personalities. Can’t blame Cassie for falling in love with the handsome, sexy and extremely moody Ethan. He is mercurial and highly irresistible. I immediately sensed he was suffering from seriously deep seeded emotional issues and that always makes the story more interesting.  The reasons Ethan has for resisting Cassie’s affections are his alone, but are slowly revealed in Bad Romeo. I have the feeling we are just barely skimming the surface of his multifaceted personality.

“Sometimes, he’s behind my eyes, weeping and exposed, and he’s the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen. But it was an act. He’s an actor. And he’s very, very good.”
My feelings toward each character depended on where they were in the story.  Ethan was the perfect tragically flawed hero. But during the flashback episodes, he frustrated me to no end in the way he disregarded Cassie’s feelings. The constant denial of his love and affections had me all twisted, believing he was nothing more than a cold heartless SOB. Infuriated me when he broke her heart. I despised him for his actions, but adored him when seeing into his broken soul. 
Present day Ethan pulled on my heartstrings. Seeing him broken in all his sadness had me championing his cause in winning back Cassie’s heart. Getting a glimpse into his pain, the emptiness in his life and struggle to heal his emotional wounds, totally changed my feelings from frustration to empathy. In the end, Ethan won my heart.
Cassie was a likeable character. She was witty, comical (a girl who talks to her va-jay-jay and writes fantasies about Ethan’s penis has to have a sick sense of humor) a bit sassy and very tenacious. She wanted Ethan and made no bones about it by putting her heart out on the line. However, she vexed me. The younger Cassie had me tied in knots seeing how truly desperate she was trying to win Ethan’s affections. The constant push and pull in their relationship drove me insane (in a good way). Their relationship’s ups and downs added angst to the tale, which I always savor.

I connected more with the mature Cassie. I admired her ‘tough as nails’ attitude in not trusting the man who once ripped her to pieces. There were times I wanted her to succumb to Ethan’s charms, but respected how she guarded her heart. Ethan needs to atone for his past actions and Cassie is strong enough to stand her ground in assuring she won’t be fooled again. It was interesting how they seemed to switch personalities once they were reunited. 

Bad Romeo was a well-written story, filled with much sexual tension yet not passionately steamy. The end left me feeling hopeful, but plagued with so many questions. Ethan and Cassie’s story is far from over and I have the feeling many secrets (especially on Ethan’s part) are yet to be revealed. There is no doubt both are still madly in love. However, breaches need to be healed; feelings of hurt and anger need to be addressed; and in order for their relationship to move beyond the ruins, there needs to be forgiveness. Looking forward to seeing how this drama-plagued couple rebuilds their relationship in Broken Juliet.


  1. Nice review, Ang. :)

    I haven't read this one, but I've heard a lot about it. I'm a HUGE fan of the lovers reunited trope. This one is going on my to be read list.

    I love this cover!

    1. Thanks Angie - I can’t wait for the next installment. I’m the most impatient reader lol