BOOK REVIEW ~ BAD ROMEO BY LEISA RAYVEN

While performing the greatest love story of all time, they discovered one of their own…
Cassie Taylor was just another acting student with big dreams at her prestigious performing arts college, then she met Ethan Holt. She was the good girl actress. He was the bad boy on campus. But one fated casting choice for Romeo and Juliet changed it all. Like the characters they were playing on stage, Cassie and Ethan’s epic romance seemed destined. Until it ended in tragedy when he shattered her heart.
Now they’ve made it to Broadway where they’re reunited as romantic leads once again, and their passionate scenes force them to confront the heartbreaking lows and pulse-pounding highs of their intense college affair. For Ethan, losing Cassie was his biggest regret, and he’s determined to redeem himself. But for Cassie, even though Ethan was her first and only great love, he hurt her too much to ever be trusted again. The trouble is, working with him reminds her that people who rub each other the wrong way often make the best sparks. And when it comes to love, sometimes it’s the things that aren’t good for us that are the most irresistible.

I really wish I could say I loved this one but sadly, I can’t. I felt like I wasted hours of my time reading a book that was one giant tease from beginning to end. The only reason why I didn’t rate this book 1 star is because of the author’s addictive writing style and a few good moments scattered throughout the story, but other than that, both characters truly angered me, the setup of the story frustrated me, and that ending? Oh my god. One of the worst endings I have ever read, cliffhanger or not.
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Whether or not you will enjoy this book depends entirely on the kind of reader you are. You’re either:
A). A reader who likes some sexual tension but with gratification and doesn’t think of character stupidity as angst.
B). A reader who lives off of unresolved sexual tension, crazy high angst and seeing the characters suffer make you suffer but you love it anyways.
Choice A readers, you’re going to struggle with the book. Choice B readers, this is the perfect book for you if you don’t mind an abrupt ending. Now onto the actual review…
The book begins in present day where sensational actress Cassie Taylor is cast in a romantic play alongside Ethan Holt, the one guy who broke her heart 6 years ago. From her past experiences she’s really hardened her heart and the once open, optimistic, and naïve girl has turned into a cynical woman who will never be able to trust easily again. But her bad breakup with Ethan 6 years ago didn’t stop her feelings for him and as much as she knows that a relationship with him wouldn’t be practical for her heart, he also happens to be the one and only guy who stirs her emotions – good and bad – like no other and is truly it for her, but now she’s the one afraid to take the leap because their past relationship failed miserably.
After all these years, bad boy actor Ethan Holt has cleaned himself up and decides to pursue Cassie, finally realizing that he can’t live without her even though he’s the one who ruined all the good they had before.
I struggled a lot with Ethan’s character. The book unevenly alternates between past/present chapters where in the present Ethan’s fighting for Cassie and in the past where Cassie is fighting for Ethan. There’s a big difference between a lovable jerk and a flat out asshole and well, Ethan was the latter. His hot-and-cold behavior towards Cassie was frustrating when at times he’ll say something like this:
But in another moment, he’ll completely ignore Cassie and their explosive chemistry and continue on as if nothing happened between them. Repeat this process multiple times and by the halfway mark I was suffering from a severe case of whiplash.
Cassie was also a big reason why I struggled with the book. I have zero respect for female characters that let the hero walk all over them and because I didn’t believe that Ethan’s backstory (which is a clichéd and overused reason by the way) warranted his horrible treatment of her, Cassie was pretty much a doormat. She is also one of the horniest virgins I’ve ever read about who was either obsessing over her vagina, Ethan’s dick, or both, whether it was through her inner monologue or her girly diary she kept that constantly referenced Ethan’s “award-winning dick” and how it’s enough to make her “vagina start slow-clapping in anticipation.”
As much as I liked the author’s writing style and the occasional humorous moments, the setup of the story really bothered me. I felt like the past/present scenes were unevenly represented and whenever I was starting to get invested in the particular chapter, the author would suddenly do a time jump and I had to try hard to refocus in the new chapter. There was no fluidity, no transition that linked most of these time jumps so they seemed random and out of place to me. Make no mistake, there were a few scenes that did get my heart racing and I felt for the characters, but the choppy time jumps along with major character stupidity overshadowed the good.
Now for that ending. *drags hand down face* I wouldn’t call it a cliffhanger. Cliffhanger implies that we have an inkling of what to expect in the next book but in here? It literally ended in between a motion and for a while I thought I must’ve received a bad copy from the publisher. But no. After checking with another reader who read the book, that’s the ending. Just…ugh! Imagine my feelings. I wasn’t really enjoying the book much to begin with but towards the end it got better and I would like to know the reasoning behind their breakup (which is never revealed by the way), only to have the book end in such an abrupt, inconclusive manner. I feel cheated to be honest. Cheated because the book was one huge tease that started and ended with me knowing the same things. Nothing new happened.
I do want to end positive by saying that this is a book I would still contingently recommend to others based on the type of reader you are (see A & B above). And because of the way the story ended here, I am kind of forced by my own curiosity to check out the next book, even if my only reason is to find closure so I can finally move on.
Bad Romeo is the first book in the Starcrossed series and not a standalone. Cassie & Ethan’s story will be told over the course of two books, concluding in Broken Juliet. There will also be a third book which is a standalone romance focusing on Ethan’s sister.