Title: Bad Romeo (Starcrossed #1)
Author: Leisa Rayven
Rating: ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
Genre: Contemporary, New Adult, Romance
Format Read: ARC, 403 pages
Publication Date: 1 January 2015 by Pan Macmillan Australia
Synopsis: “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.” (Taken from Goodreads)
[alert type=”alert” close=”true”]Beware: This novel and review contains adult themes.[/alert]
Bad Romeo is the first ‘novel’ I completed in 2015, and unfortunately I’m not off to a great start at all. I absolutely believe this is a case of ‘it’s-not-you-it’s-me’ because this book was originally a fanfiction that’s garnered over two million readers. That is already impressive in itself, and I can see why it’s such a huge hit with the masses. However, the book is a tricky one to rate – do I compare it to other novels or to other published fanfiction works? I ended up comparing it to other works published online because the feel of the book is still very much fanfiction. I understand that is completely hard to understand, so you may just have to read it for yourself to understand where I’m coming from.
Please keep in mind that I read an ARC so changes may have occurred between this and the published version. The book follows a girl named Cassie Taylor, who along with her ex Ethan Holt, has been placed as leads in a new Broadway production. The book follows their budding romance from college where they played beside each other as Romeo and Juliet, to the mysterious day that Ethan broke Cassie’s heart. Now they’re thrust together again, and Cassie does not know how to cope with this changed Ethan who wants her back in his life. And he’ll do anything to get what he wants.
This book is cliched to a tee, and because I’m comparing it to fanfiction rather than other novels, it can be forgiven a little. Cassie is the small town ‘goodie-two-shoes’ while Ethan is the ‘super-sexy-bad-boy’ that’ll make every girl’s panties drop. As soon as Cassie meets him, her whole personality seems to shift and she becomes this sex-crazed maniac that continuously obsesses over his penis. There is rarely a single page where she’s not thinking of ways she can jump him and his “prize winning dick”. Yes, she really said that. And no, I don’t understand her reasoning for it because I did not like Ethan at all. The chemistry? I didn’t feel it between them until maybe the 300 page mark – and that to me is way too late.
Ethan is an enigma to everyone and Cassie becomes the cliched girl that wants to ‘fix’ him. He’s rude, is bipolar and yet he says he can’t help getting turned on whenever he thinks about Cassie. Basically he has blue balls 24/7 because he wants her but doesn’t want her at the same time because he’s ‘damaged’. We eventually find out that he has abandonment issues (not a spoiler because it’s pretty obvious), which is a bullshit reason for pushing everyone away because most people with abandonment issues attempt to cling on to others and play the role as everyone’s ‘best friend’ as they fear being left out. Or in the case of relationships, they love the chase of pursuing someone new and often fall in love way too many times to count, yet are the first to break up (Source 1, Source 2). Ethan does show some of the symptoms of abandonment issues but overall he’s just a huge asshole.
The book jumps back and forth between present day and six years earlier when Cassie and Ethan first meet and get to know each other at their prestigious acting school called The Grove. I liked these jumps back and forth as their history is slowly played out and the readers are able to piece together the events that led them to where they are now. However, don’t hold your breath for a reasoning behind their breakup because you won’t get it. The book delightfully skips over this major issue so Ethan doesn’t come off as more of a jerk than he already is. Unfortunately, the whole book focuses so much on Cassie and Ethan’s screwed up relationship that most of the side characters become two-dimensional cardboard cutouts that are there only to propel their story forward. You’ll find the typical class clown, slut, lesbian, gay roommate best-friend, parent that supports you, parent that wants more for your future and good guy that has no sex appeal (but you know would make a good boyfriend).
Bad Romeo is a quick and easy read, but it’s not a book that I would recommend anyone to take dating advice from. Ethan is not a good representation of what girls should be looking for in a healthy relationship – I don’t care how beautiful his muscles are and how many awards his penis wins. He is trouble, and it takes Cassie six years to realise that and yet she still can’t seem to stay away. I do give her props for finally realising how dysfunctional their relationship is though, but I take it all back when she’s so easily swayed by just his presence. Especially when he’s broken her heart twice. Girl, now you’re just being stupid.
The book is one big sexual tension fest and I get it, but I would have liked to see some sustenance to the story aside from the two characters’ need to screw like rabbits. Cassie has no back story aside from overprotective parents that disappear altogether after the first chapter. There are no mentions of friends from back home, what she did…it’s like she just appeared and that was it.
Overall Bad Romeo was a nice and quick read that I personally did not like, mainly due to the themes and messages it’s pushing onto its readers. The most realistic scene the book portrays to real life is the sex between Ethan and Cassie, who’s losing her V-card after sexually assaulting the guy for 350+ pages. The ending was quite satisfying, but I don’t really see the point of what the sequel would be for. Not sure I would pick it up, but who knows, maybe I just might!
If you’re a fan of fanfiction, I highly recommend you check out Aussie author Jessie L. Star’s multiple works. I discovered her on Fanfiction and she really has a way with developing realistic characters and storylines that are super gripping. She’s taken most of her work off FictionPress as she’s self-published some titles. Well worth the read, I hope a publisher picks her up *hinthint*
Thank you to Pan Macmillan Australia for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review.