Monday, January 5, 2015

Bad Romeo by Leisa Rayven

Bad Romeo by Leisa Rayven
Release Date - December 23, 2014
Publisher Website - St Martin's Griffin
Publisher Social Media - Twitter
Pages - 416 pages
My Rating - 2.5/5
**received in exchange for an honest review**

Here is the Goodreads 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 
I've mentioned previously that New Adult is hit or miss with me. There have been some I really enjoyed. I have recently started to feel like I am reading the same story repeated over and over. I was delighted when I heard about Bad Romeo. It sounded different enough to interest me, while retaining what the NA genre is. Bad Romeo, sadly, ended up being like most of the other books in this genre.

The sheltered girl, the bad boy (who is actually just a jerk wrapped in a pretty package) and some scorching sexy scenes is the go to formula for New Adult. Character development and plot are often put on the back burner in favour of sexing up the story. Bad Romeo has a plot. It has a journey that the characters should take. The element that is missing to complete this is the characterization. I finished the novel not knowing much about either of them. I felt like I got to know surface level stuff about both the main characters without venturing deeper. A connection is needed to enjoy this type of story and it was missing for me.

The writing is enjoyable. It's extremely readable, and I would love to read a different genre from this author. However, the layout of the story didn't quite work for me. It felt disjointed at times. There are times where it is taking place in the present, and flashbacks to their time school. There is no pattern to it. It switches back and forth at various moments without any clear, concise format to link it all together. The storyline also becomes rather repetitive with them taking turns to push each other away. It feels stretched out to have two books instead of one more cohesive story.

The biggest element missing in Cassie and Ethan's relationship is the why. What about Cassie is so different that Ethan wants to let down those walls? What about Ethan makes Cassie let him in? Other than physical attraction and sexual chemistry there is nothing there. At least nothing that comes through the pages. It reads more as lust than love. I didn't feel the connection to the characters, or feel invested in the outcome of the relationship as a result. If there is not something that pulls me to the characters, it's harder to connect to the story.

There is a glimmer of character growth and development in the present time sections of the story. Ethan and Cassie are both acting a little more rational. This is the part of the story that I was expecting to find within these pages, but the focus is the 'flashback' element. The contrast between the Ethan and Cassie of past and present is glaring, and jarring with no exploration on what happened in between. It's something that is glaringly missing, particularly with Ethan. His present self is so different from the boy of the past. What changed him? We're told it's Cassie. I wanted to see that transformation, not have it happen off the page. That is the payoff of getting invested in these characters, and seeing that growth happen would have been welcome.

A novel that held a lot of promise, but sadly turned out to not be for me. I think that perhaps it is me though as the other reviews seem quite favourable. I, perhaps,  keep expecting more from my New Adult reads, and they keep remaining surface level in terms of character development. I would check out other books by Leisa Rayven as I enjoyed the writing. Those only looking for hot chemistry and plenty of angst will most likely enjoy this book more than I did.

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