Friday, January 18, 2013

Book Review: Romeo Redeemed (Juliet Immortal, #2) by Stacey Jay

Romeo Redeemed (Juliet Immortal, #2)

Author: Stacey Jay

Purchase on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Synopsis: Cursed to live out eternity in his rotted corpse, Romeo, known for his ruthless, cutthroat ways, is given the chance to redeem himself by traveling back in time to save the life of Ariel Dragland and get her to fall in love with him.

Ariel doesn’t know it, but she holds the fate of the world in her hands. She’s at the center of a power struggle between the Mercenaries, who fight to destroy love, and the Ambassadors, who try to keep it alive. If Romeo can win Ariel’s Heart and make her believe in true love, she will turn from her darker side once and for all. She’ll no longer be a threat to the Ambassadors or to the world—and Romeo will be guaranteed protection from the wrath of the Mercenaries.

The seduction begins as a lie—Romeo is only out to save himself. But little by little, be finds that the lie has become truth: he’s in love with Ariel, just as she is with him. So Romeo vows to protect her from harm and do whatever it takes to win her heart and soul. When Ariel begins to suspect that Romeo’s love is a deception, however, she becomes vulnerable to Mercenary manipulation, and her inner darkness may tear them apart.

Brought to you by TeamNerd Reviewer Annabell Cadiz

Warning: Expect spoilers. This happens when I can’t keep myself from ranting in outrage.

Review: I had read Juliet Immortal and my original review for the book had given it praise but after some retrospect and remembering everything that happened in the story, I realized I didn’t like Juliet Immortal nearly as much as I had thought. Romeo Redeemed faltered the same way Juliet Immortal had: the first half of the book was good but the second half failed to deliver.

Romeo is approached by the same Ambassador of Light that had taken “care” of Juliet (for the life of me I cannot remember her name) and is given the chance to be freed from his rotting corpse to return back to living a normal life if he will go on a mission for the Ambassadors of Light first. He has three days to convince Ariel Dragland (the girl Juliet had taken over on her mission in Juliet Immortal) that true love is real and fall in love with him. Romeo starts off the journey determined to gain his freedom and is incredibly surprised to find his heart opening to Ariel. Soon, his loyalties shift and he will do whatever it takes to protect Ariel from both the Ambassadors of Light and the Mercenaries.

I liked the way the book started off. Romeo is on a mission to gain his freedom. He isn’t worried about how he’s going to falsely seduce Ariel or how she’s going to fall for a guy she’ll never get to be with. He just wants a way out of his personal hell and if he’s got to work for the opposite team to get it, he’ll do whatever it takes. Romeo is the definition of bad boy: seductive and alluring in the way he speaks and behaves, good looking, ridiculously charming. I liked Romeo in both Juliet Immortal and Romeo Redeemed. BUT I liked him more in Romeo Redeemed. He’s broken and desperate and afraid. It’s a different version of Romeo from Juliet Immortal where he came off really angsty and melodramatic. BUT I did hate how often Romeo kept referring to sex. I mean, I guess being alive for seven hundred years and never being able to feel aroused, then suddenly getting a body where you can feel desires, would make any man hunger for lust times ten. But it was creepy and just too much.

Ariel was a character I am so-so about. She’s completely broken, distrustful of people, has lost faith in herself and anyone, and doesn’t believe she’s worthy of love. I liked how her character started in the book. She’s has all her walls up and could kill you with a look. She isn’t as weak or easy as Romeo assumed she would be. I liked that, at first, she fights off his advances and puts him in his place. But then Ariel lost the depth to her character. She discovers her worthiness after she learns that Romeo thinks she’s worthy. What the friggs? Why can’t she find out how valuable she is WITHOUT a guy telling her she is?? She finds out the truth about Romeo and after a few sentences of disbelief, decides she believes him after all. After that, I couldn’t stop rolling my eyes at her. She makes INCREDIBLY stupid decisions. Her level gullibility in trusting the WRONG people made me want to slap her. I could understand her loved-starved heart NEEDED someone to love her and Romeo is definitely good at seducing, but in the scenes with Gemma (Did I mention Gemma—the CRAPPEST best friend a girl could EVAH have, returns? Ugh), Ariel just falls hook, line, sinker. She just let’s Gemma come back into her life and manipulate her from the beginning.

The romance between Romeo and Ariel starts off well-enough. It’s believable because Romeo is his usual self but can’t crack through Ariel’s armor. He really has to let his guard down to get to her. It made sense that Romeo would start to develop feelings for her because he was ACTUALLY letting her in. It also made sense that Ariel would start developing feelings for Romeo because he was slowly breaking down her resolve, slowly getting to know her (at first, until he finds out he only has three days to court her into true love). But then the romance aspect of the story speeds up times 100, has them declaring they are madly in love with each other, having sex, and Romeo fighting off the Ambassador of Light to stay with Ariel. The reader is barely given enough time to comprehend the characters are bonding before they just can’t live without each other (You would think, from how many times I have rolled my eyes when reading books, they would have gotten stuck somewhere in the back of my head by now).

Then there’s Juliet. Did I not mention Juliet returns? Is this really shocking to anyone? I had to put the book down the moment Juliet’s mini-chapters started and laugh. Why the heck was Juliet coming back?! She doesn’t really play much of a role except to be stuck inside a tomb for most of the book until the end. She had NO REASON to be back in the story.
Here’s the thing about Romeo Redeemed that you won’t fully notice until you finished it: Nothing much happens in the 363 page book. There is just a lot of expository writing and inner-dialogue and melodrama. I know that “Young Adult” is the genre known for overdramatic, melodramatic, cliché insta-love stories (and don’t get me wrong, I LOVE the Young Adult genre) but there’s only so much a reader can swallow before he or she feels like he or she is suffocating from it.

The third half of the third half of the book (meaning closer toward the ending) was so utterly ridiculous I could not stop laughing while reading. I had to put the book down a few times. The episode with Ariel and Rosaline. Juliet suddenly appearing and getting, yet again, a happy ending. Romeo and Ariel’s happily ever after with a kid they decide to name Gemma (Seriously?? Why would you name YOUR kid after the best friend who treated you like CRAP for so many years and has no redeemable qualities??). The truth about the Ambassador of Light (the one that betrayed both Juliet and Romeo) and the Mercenary (the one Romeo originally working for) came so far out of left field I didn’t even understand where it came from. I laughed the hardest at that.

I’m not sure if I will be able to read anything else written by Stacey Jay. Yes, the woman is a talented writer. Yes, she can create good romance stories and even really good, relatable characters. But she often leaves MEGA plot holes in her books. There were SO MANY things in both Juliet Immortal and Romeo Redeemed that NEEDED to be explained but never were.

I don’t remember everything from Juliet Immortal since a bit of time has passed but as for Romeo Redeemed:

--Why did Romeo need to make Ariel believe in true love? The Ambassador of Light, on more than one occasion, states Ariel will play a BIG role but NEVER says what that role is or why it’s so important.

--Why was it necessary that the play written of Romeo and Juliet be taken out in the present time? That didn’t affect what happened in the story. Why was that even important?

--How could Juliet survive inside a tomb for THREE days without water or food? Survival Skills 101: Human body dies three days without water.

--If the Mercenaries are supposed to be the ULTIMATE bad guys then why are they always standing around and just talking? Why did they never attack Ariel or Romeo?

--If the Ambassadors of Light are supposed to be the “good guys” then why have murdered so many people and lied and cheated and manipulated? And why is Juliet’s nurse the only Ambassador of Light readers ever meet? Who does she report to or is she the boss?

--The time travel/alternate reality thing in both books didn’t make any sense. How did Juliet travel back in time to be with the 1304 version of Ben? How did Ariel get to travel back in time with Romeo and suddenly become Rosaline? How does Juliet get another shot at a happy ending? Did she go off to a different time with Ben? Does that mean there are several dimensions/realities where Ariel and Romeo can exist at the same time?

These books offer stale and confusing storylines. I may give Stacey Jay another try if she stays clear of trying to recreate, yet another, starcrossed-lovers love story.

Until then, I’ll stick with the original Romeo and Juliet tale.

About the Author: Stacey Jay is a recovering workaholic (or at least working hard at recovering) with three pen names, two small children, and a passion for playing pretend for a living. She’s been a full time mom-writer since 2005 and can't think of anything she'd rather be doing. Her former careers include theatre performer, professional dancer, poorly paid C-movie actress, bartender, waiter, math tutor (for real) and yoga instructor.

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