“I guess that’s part of my fascination. It seems so fragile, yet it somehow manages to endure, even with cracks and scratches. Personally, I find perfect glass boring. I love all these pieces, and the scars of their survival make them even more beautiful in my eyes.”
I’ve often said there is no way I could pick my all time favorite book, even if there was a gun to my head. There’s just so many of them, encompassed in so many different genres, and to be honest my answer in the moment is almost always influenced by my emotional state at the time. However, within the separate genres, I can definitely identify a favorite book. The Great Gatsby will forever be my favorite classic; nothing can rival my love for the prose of that book. In the New Adult genre, Bad Romeo is by far my favorite book. Leisa Rayven creates an extremely emotional plot in her debut novel that had me hooked from page one. Seriously, this book will rip your heart out of your chest, stomp on it a few times, and then piece it back together (but not until the second book).
Cassie Taylor meets Ethan Holt during her auditions for the world-renowned acting college, The Grove. Sparks immediately fly, but Ethan does everything in his power to push Cassie away. Despite this, Cassie can’t help but fall head over heels in love with him. Predictably, he breaks her heart, like he warned he would, and the two go their separate ways. Now, 6 years later, they’ve been cast as the leads in a new Broadway play. Ethan claims he’s changed, but Cassie is still too broken to trust him again.
“Do you really want to live in a world with no color? No music? No entertainment? You realize the human race would implode if that happened, right? Every culture on earth has art. Every…single…one. Without it, humans would be a bunch of primitive psychos whose only compulsions would be eating, fucking, and killing.”
I think the most striking thing about Leisa Rayven’s stories is her ability to breathe so much life and vibrancy into her characters that they seem to be real people, not just fictional characters. I connected to every character in this story, especially Cassie and Ethan, in a way I’ve never connected to a character in a New Adult book before. She also balances the different elements of her book perfectly. It is as light and humorous as it is dark and intense. Despite the fact that it drags you on an emotional rollercoaster unrivaled by any other, you also find your tears drying as you laugh out loud at the antics of the characters. In the story, she places a huge emphasis on the importance of art to our culture, and its coincidental because her writing itself is an art form in the most beautiful way. But most importantly, while she uses the normal character tropes of a NA romance, she adds a complexity to them that sets them a step above the rest.
“I was always careful to be the Cassie I thought they expected. Happy, easy-going, nonthreatening. Smart but not intimidating. Pretty but not desired. The one who acted as the go-between when someone liked a boy, but never the one the boy liked.”
Cassie is by far one of my favorite heroines of a NA romance. She is spunky and lighthearted, and struggles with the same things many college-aged girls do. She uses college to truly begin to find herself, and allow herself the freedom of expression. She has been released from the expectations so many girls are put under in high school, and revels in the freedom college has afforded her. She finds herself drawn to Ethan in a way she can’t explain, and it’s easy to see she struggles with a little bit of fear over this attraction, though not nearly as much fear as Ethan does.
“He covers himself again, so disguised by layers that I don’t even see him anymore, just the hurt he leaves behind.”
Ethan is a much more frustrating character than Cassie. He’s dark, brooding, moody, and skittish. But despite all this, he’s the epitome of hotness, and the reader can’t help but fall for him just as quickly as Cassie does. He fulfills the trope of tortured bad boy who doesn’t hesitate to be an asshole, but at the same time he’s so much more complex than that, which is what saves him from the hatred from the reader. It’s also what keeps bringing Cassie back to him, even after he repeatedly breaks her. In a way, his imperfections are what make him the perfect hero, or rather the perfect “bad Romeo”.
“We’re in the zone. The magical state performers sometimes achieve when everything is flowing and open. Heart, mind, body. I’ve felt it before, but never with another person. It’s amazing.”
From the minute Cassie and Ethan meet, the chemistry is palpable and off the charts insane. Seriously, I’ve never read a story where the love interests’ chemistry translates so well. Both on the stage and off, they connect in a way I’ve never seen before. They are literally the definition of star-crossed lovers, much like their metaphoric counterparts, Romeo and Juliet. Leisa Rayven has managed to create a complexly beautiful modern Romeo and Juliet (although with a few creative liberties), minus the death.
I did it all with this book: I laughed, I cried, and I felt their pain just as deeply as I felt their passion for each other. Leisa Rayven is an incredibly talented author; I couldn’t believed it when I realized this was her debut novel. The only complaint I have is the ending. It gives you hope for Ethan and Cassie’s future, but at the same time presents the reader with an extremely painful cliffhanger. I was in shock; I couldn’t believe the book ended there. BUT, at the same time I was super excited to get two books with Cassie and Ethan’s story, not just one. Also, can we get a round of applause for the cover art?! SO GORGEOUS OH MY GOSH.
**This is a New Adult story, and is not suitable for readers under the age of 18**