5 star book review for Broken Juliet, Leisa Rayven’s latest contemporary romance novel, now on sale. Plus, enter to win a paperback from St. Martin’s Griffin.
[Some Spoilers; For Mature Audiences]
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
If you read my review for Bad Romeo, you know that I’m a huge Leisa Rayven fangirl, and with good reason. Her storytelling is masterful, skillfully using time to illustrate character growth and plot development in such a way that leaves readers fascinated and emotionally invested. Let me assure you that Broken Juliet continues in this same style.
With the way the first part of Cassie/Ethan’s story ended, I was FRANTIC to get my hands on Broken Juliet. There were so many open questions! In the present: would Ethan be able to convince Cassie that he was sorry and now here to stay? Would Cassie let go of her anger, fear, and doubt and open herself up to love again? And In the past, we wondered similar questions, though from flipped perspectives: Ethan being the reticent one and Cassie being desperate to get through to him. Well, make no mistake, this sequel was worth the wait. Leisa brings us full circle in Cassie and Ethan’s relationship and, though the path involved heartache, there’s hope and exhilarating love too. Like Bad Romeo, Broken Juliet is worthy of all the stars!
The story picks up right where we leave off—in present day New York, Ethan has just declared his love to Cassie via a strongly worded and swoony email and is now knocking on her door begging to be let into her apartment and heart. But Cassie is still torn…she’s suffered so much heartache because of this man and his decisions. Why is this time any different? Furthermore, Cassie doesn’t even believe herself to be capable to love. Rather, she’s a broken imitation of her former self, just trying to get by. However, Ethan remains adamant, willing to do whatever it takes to prove how he’s changed. And as they both prepare for their Broadway show Ethan takes every opportunity reassure and convince Cassie that they *can* be together.
On the other hand, in the past, while Cassie believes that having slept with Ethan will be the start of a more intimate relationship, she has a rude awakening. Ethan is still distant and aloof. And so begins the back and forth: Ethan trying to be the boyfriend he thinks Cassie deserves, believing he’s failed to do so and then lashing out. And Cassie, unfortunately bears the brunt of his frustration, which starts to take toll. In both past and present Cassie and Ethan’s attraction is palpable and undeniable…but what if that’s not enough?
As I mention before, one of the things I love the most about this series is how Leisa has used time to convey a very interesting character twist. Present Cassie is essentially Past Ethan, broken, very afraid, but in so much love. Likewise, Present Ethan has taken on Past Cassie’s qualities of optimism and persistence, believing that love is enough. And in the course of the Broken Juliet we finally learn about the events that trigger this role reversal.
I love Cassie and want nothing more than for her to be happy. But, especially in college, it hurts to see her become more and more closed off as a result of the ups and downs with Ethan.
E: “Loving you is the stupidest, most selfish thing I’ve ever done, but I can’t stop. God knows I’ve tried…Tell me how to stop loving you Cassie. Please, I have no fucking clue.”
Of course, the answer for Cassie is simple…they want each other, the love each other, so they’ll be together. But for Ethan it’s more complicated:
E: “I will hurt you, Cassie! I’ve done it to others, and I’ll do it to you…I’m no good for you. I never have been. I’m demanding and moody and jealous as all hell, and as much as I hate being like that, it’s who I am…I’ve fought all my natural reactions to be the boyfriend you deserve, but it was all fake…”
Despite the emotional anxiety, the passion between Cassie and Ethan is always there, drawing them back together (perhaps disregarding their better judgement):
“The weight of him, heavy and electric. Stirring all my synapses. Transforming everything he touches into insatiable flesh. Mouth and fingers, blazing all over me. Making me dizzy. Crazy…I can barely comprehend the pleasure. I speak to God. Say his name over and over again. Sigh and pant and very nearly cry. He’s gentle. Holding still and swearing. Also speaking to God. Telling him how good I feel. He prays through my skin. Bites my shoulder. Kisses it better. Groans like he’s riding an angel all the way into the pits of hell…”
But Ethan’s apprehensions rise again, culminating in the confrontation that breaks Cassie’s heart at the end of their Senior year:
“He thinks I can go back to being the person I was after this? It’s impossible. The damage is done. He’s poisoned the woman I used to be. Long after he’s gone, I’ll still be toxic.”
However, now reunited in NYC, there’s hope again…right?
I love how Ethan knows he has to prostrate himself before Cassie and lay himself bare. He offers full disclosure and complete honesty, and knows when to push and when to back off. It’s a delicate dance, but if anyone can do this with Cassie, it’s Ethan!
E: “I know I’m fighting an uphill battle to show you that this time will be different, but Cassie look at me. In the past, I thought I could be what you needed. But thinking and knowing are two different things. Now I know. Just like I know that I can help undo all the damage I’ve caused.”
No spoilers, but Present Cassie and Ethan fight, scream, plead, and push, trying to figure out if and how they can actually be together. There’s angst, but hope, always hope:
“Do you feel this? This is what keeps us coming back, despite everything we’ve gone through. This is why I had to change and why, despite how much I hurt you, you can’t walk away. The way we sink into each other. The way I can’t tell my heartbeat from yours. We have this perfect rhythm, whenever we’re together, and that’s the essence of us…”
Don’t miss the chance of experiencing Leisa’s phenomenal storytelling first hand. You’ll enjoy this story of second chances featuring a reformed bad-boy and a leading lady with heart. The Starcrossed Series is a MUSTREAD!
Thanks to Leisa and St. Martin’s Griffin we also have a paperback copy of Broken Juliet to give away! Enter using the Rafflecopter instructions below (U.S. and Canada only).
Many thanks to both author and publisher for the opportunity to read and review an advance copy.