Review: Bad Romeo (#1, Starcrossed) by Leisa Rayven - Vilma Iris | Lifestyle Blogger

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Review: Bad Romeo (#1, Starcrossed) by Leisa Rayven

My Thoughts

One of the freshest, most exciting and
addictive books I’ve read this year.

It’s the perfect blend of sweet and sexy,
romantic and heartbreaking, funny and intense.




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.

My Review

This book was such a wonderful surprise. I had no idea what to expect, but I reveled in book nirvana as I became engrossed in the addictive, frenzied push and pull between our two main characters. Bad Romeo was jam-packed with conflict, chemistry, sexual tension, humor and engaging dialogue. The story just pulled me in completely. I was so transfixed by the complicated dynamic of the characters, Cassie and Ethan. Through chapters which alternate between past and present, we experience how they fall in love… how their hearts fill and stretch and crack and long for each other over the years. Their love story is volatile, tumultuous and tremendously intense. Because undoubtedly, pair a brooding, enigmatic bad boy with a spirited but inexperienced good girl… and well, sparks will fly.

“I don’t think I ever truly knew the meaning of the word “antagonize” before I met him, but I sure as heck know now. I’ve never had someone rub me the wrong way so intensely before. If I’m being honest, I kind of like the spark.”

When Cassie Taylor lands a career-making theater project, she knows she needs to take it. Problem is, she’d be acting alongside the boy with whom she fell in love, the boy that was her first everything, the boy who shattered her heart in a way that had not yet healed. It had been three years since she’d seen Ethan Holt and she hated him.

“Ethan Holt–the current “It Boy” of the theater world. So talented. Award-winner. Adored by screaming fans. Handsome as hell.”

Ethan and Cassie had met while in acting school, and immediately, it began antagonistically. But while gazes rife with hostility dueled, their chemistry was apparent and undeniable. Together, they were supercharged, whether it be in a turmoil of animosity or the throes of repressed desire. Cassie wanted Ethan, but Ethan seemed to push her away constantly, even though his words and actions indicated otherwise.

“We just don’t mesh. It’s like we’re oil and vinegar. No matter how much we shake each other up, we’re never going to blend.”

Cassie is a girl who is riddled with insecurities. She’s never confident enough to stand her ground or voice her true opinion in front of others. She fears being discounted and ignored, yet with Ethan, she can’t help but say what she feels. She’s assertive, opinionated, honest and unyielding, engaging in a fierce verbal warfare that only further fuels their chemistry. And even though Cassie seems to break though to Ethan in a way no other can, she doesn’t know what to make of his behavior. Does he want her or not? And how much more of his vacillating ways can she take?

“We’re like these giant magnets that keep flipping over and over again, pulling each other in, then pushing away.”

But just as the shields weaken for Ethan, and Cassie gives him a chance, he takes everything and betrays her in a way that cut deeply.

“I tried to convince myself I wanted nothing from you and ended up losing everything.”

I love that this novel is almost like two stories entwined. One is the coming-of-age story where these two people meet and fall in love. Their time together is filled with heartache and strife. Ethan is anything but romantic. He’s mean and cantankerous and entirely confusing. Cassie is insecure and love stricken. Together they are, in actuality,  a romantic tragedy. Two star-crossed lovers too impassioned to make it work. The second part of the story is an emotional second chance romance, brimming with regret and longing and supplication. Ethan is not the same person he once was and neither is Cassie. Their roles reverse to some extent and their future teeters on Cassie’s ability to trust Ethan.

I also love the title of the book, which I think is applicable in multiple ways. Ethan is everything a “leading” man is not. He doesn’t do romance. He doesn’t do relationships. He’s unapologetically arrogant and unyielding. He also told her from the very beginning that he would be bad for her, a truth Cassie learned the hard way. Ethan Holt is truly a bad Romeo who has broken Juliet.

Overall, Bad Romeo just felt so different and fresh. It had great dialogue, bold characters, perfect pacing and an engaging framework built upon an interesting theater backdrop. I loved how she explored the richness of opposing forces, blurring lines between love/hate, true selves/facades, desire/antagonism, attraction/repulsion, chemistry on-stage/off, future possibilities/past demons. It’s difficult to believe this is her debut novel, as it’s ingeniously crafted and so well written. For all those reasons mentioned above and many more, this is one of the must reads of the year and absolutely one of my most favorite. I LOVED IT!

“…as much as I used to think you were better off without me, you’re not. You need me just as much as I need you. We’re both hollow without the other, and it’s taken me a long time to realize that.”


The series is a duology told in two parts: Bad Romeo (Dec 23) and Broken Juliet (Apr 28).

Reading Order and Links

bad romeo cover broken julie cover

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One Comment:

  1. leisarayven2014 said:

    I’m blushing so hard over here right now, you don’t even know! Thank you so much, Vilma. I’m completely humbled by your words. Sending you love and warm wishes this holiday season. 🙂


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