Book Review: Bad Romeo by Leisa Rayven


Title: Bad Romeo (Starcrossed #1)
Author: Leisa Rayven
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Length: 417 pages
Rating: 4 stars


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.

Guest Review

Today we have a special guest reviewer on the blog, Ivy.  We “met” via Goodreads and I just love the way she does her reviews.  Hope you enjoy as well.

This story features Cassie and Ethan, two young acting students navigating the trials and tribulations of an intense, angsty first love.

The Good, The Bad and Everything In Between
Past and present collide: There’s an extra twist in telling their love story from two different points in time, with the chapters alternating between when they first meet at acting school and six years later when they’re reunited to work on a new play on Broadway.  It was interesting to see Cassie and Ethan, by turns, be the pursuer and the pursued, both brave in wanting to explore their undeniable connection and afraid to love again.

It begins when Cassie sees Ethan at rehearsals for a new Broadway show that they’re starring in. Cassie Taylor has come across the country to go to the Grove, a prestigious acting school called the Grove, where she meets Ethan Holt.  From the moment they meet, sparks fly and madness ensues.  They’re forced into close proximity when they’re cast as the titular leads in their school production of Romeo & Juliet and they struggle (well, Ethan more than Cassie) with their attraction.  This is just in my romance novel wheelhouse, those angsty tales of loving someone you really shouldn’t, so I was well and truly hooked.

There’s something about the rush of first love: Do you ever forget that first time everything in you simply stops functioning at the sight of another person?  When all you can see is that person, and everything else fades into the background?  This book conveys those feelings perfectly.  Which leads me to…

The chemistry burned a hole in my kindle: Chemistry is subjective, but in this case, this story is extremely dependent on the reader being able to feel that connection between Cassie and Ethan.  I can easily see extreme reactions to their romance.  In my case, I had no problem feeling that. if you’ve ever had an OTP, you know the signs.  That indefinable something that keeps you watching two characters dance around their feelings. Cassie and Ethan had it in spades.

Solid writing with 1st person POV: The entire story is told from Cassie’s point of view in a very entertaining manner.  Seeing an entire story through the eyes of one character can narrow the scope of the tale, and usually leaves me a bit unsatisfied, but I didn’t feel that here.  Honestly, I struggled to slow down my reading.  The first 20% of this book was compelling, and the build to their first kiss drew me in and made me yell (in a whisper) at my Kindle “just do it already!!”

A relatable heroine: Cassie’s “voice” is strong, funny, and it was easy to understand her emotions and her intense reaction to Ethan when she meets him.  She’s innocent yet forward, initiating a lot of their sexual contact and I liked that little twist on the usual shy virgin gets deflowered routine.  She had her shy moments, but she was certainly enamored of his body.  A lot.

A hero with entire subscriptions, not just issues: Ethan was snarky, brash, vulnerable and on occasion, a bastard.  His need to pull away from Cassie and not let her in emotionally was frustrating, but the glimpses of his vulnerability showed the loving man he could be, if he’d just let go.

Excellent grovel, but: When the time came to finally know what Ethan’s issues were, and when he finally exposed all of his tender bits to Cassie, I was thrilled! And then ….

Damnit! It’s a cliffhanger: As I got closer and closer to the 100%, a weight started developing in the pit of my stomach.  There was a lot that isn’t exposed in this story – how did things go horribly wrong?  What lead to their first and second breakup? There’s a lot of pain but I have only vague ideas as to what caused that.  It was a perfect setup for a cliffhanger and when I read the last words, I had to accept that it happened.  I even tapped my screen a few times, hoping for a hint of what’s next, but…nada. Hmph.

I am not a fan of the cliffhanger.  At all.  I was extremely unhappy to find out that I’m left waiting to find out happens next.  I think there was a good portion of the story that felt overwrought with unnecessary angst that now makes perfect sense, since there will be (at least) another installment and I would have liked to read the entire story now, as opposed to waiting.  This isn’t everyone’s preference, but it is mine.

The Bottom Line (4 stars)
I’m so damned angry right now.  First because I’ve been reeled in hook, line and sinker into a cliffhanger.  But it was so damn entertaining, I’ll definitely be getting the next book just to find out what will happen next.

– Ivy

*ARC provided by publisher through netgalley in exchange for an honest review.



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  1. I’m so sorry about the cliffie, Ivy! But thank you so much for such an awesome review. I’m beyond honored.

    If it’s any consolation, ARCs for Broken Juliet should be available in Feb.

    Hope you and the whole team on the blog here have a wonderful holiday season!

    All best wishes,
    Leisa Rayven. 🙂

  2. I have it on my ipad and icant wait to have a little time to read it … I’ ve heard great things about htis book…

  3. Ivy is one of my favorite Goodreads reviewers (even though my book was not one of her favorites.) And as usual she does not disappoint. I get new insights from every review, and stock… I mean follow her’s religiously.

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