Publisher: Delacorte Books
Publication Date: October 9, 2012
Genre: Young Adult Paranormal
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. Unbeknownst to her, Ariel is important to both the evil Mercenaries and the love-promoting Ambassadors and holds the fate of the world in her hands. Romeo must win her heart and make her believe in love, turning her away from her darker potential before his work is discovered by the Mercenaries. While his seduction begins as yet another lie, it soon becomes his only truth. Romeo vows to protect Ariel from harm, and do whatever it takes to win her heart and soul. But when Ariel is led to believe his love is a deception, she becomes vulnerable to Mercenary manipulation, and her own inner darkness may ultimately rip them apart.
There will be some mild spoilers for Juliet Immortal (Juliet Immortal #1) that I can’t avoid. I’ll try to keep them to a minimum.
A brief background: Romeo and Juliet swore allegiances to two different ancient sects at their deaths in that crypt. Romeo, believing he did the wrong thing, chose the dark side and went with the Mercenaries. Juliet chose to go with the Ambassadors of Light. Now both are immortal and travel through time. The Mercenaries have been ordered to kill the Ambassadors and Romeo has specifically targeted Juliet. At the end of Juliet Immortal, he makes a decision to renounces the Mercenaries and save Juliet but doing so condemns both him and an innocent young girl to death.
His immortality fading and his host body disintegrating, Romeo lays dying in a gutter when Nurse, the head of the Ambassadors offers him a choice. He can stay as he is or he can be put back into a young, healthy body. The cost? Join the Ambassadors and complete a task in three days. If he fails, his soul will suffer an unimaginable fate. There’s no choice, obviously. Romeo accepts then finds out his task: he needs to make reclusive loner Ariel Dragland fall in love with him while he’s in the body of Dylan, the most obnoxious pig in school.
You have no idea how much I want to spoil the entire book right now so we can have a big discussion like a book club (don’t worry, I won’t). That’s how much I enjoyed it. There’s something about reading a book from alternating hero/heroine perspectives lately that lets me sink into a book so much that I’m disappointed sometimes when I pick up a book and there’s only one POV. I wanted to read Romeo’s story so badly, I may have been a tiny bit stressed while I waited for Delacorte to approve me for this one. Don’t get me wrong, I loved Juliet Immortal, but I think I may have enjoyed this more. Having seen Romeo at his worst, watching his progression into something human and good was spellbinding.
I felt a kinship with sweet Ariel that I think nearly everyone should be able to. Not everyone is an outsider like she is, but I think for at least a fleeting moment, all of us have had the experience of not completely belonging to a group or feeling like there’s something about you that doesn’t fit. The protective shell she’s had to develop hides a loyal and funny girl who feels love, happiness, fear and betrayal equally fiercely. For all of the cruelty heaped on her, she’s kept her core of kindness and hope. I wanted her to have a happy ending a certain way and every time Jay wrote something that threatened that, my heart gave a little lurch.
I wouldn’t have liked Romeo as much if I hadn’t seen how awful he’d been in Juliet Immortal. It wasn’t just from his allegiance to the Mercenaries; he’d become a dark soul over time, under the thumb of the Friar with his memories twisted. The physical act of freeing Juliet drained all of the ugliness from him and he only wanted to right what he’d done. I loved that he figured out being detached wasn’t the way to Ariel’s heart, and once he opened his up to her, he saw how beautiful she was. He was wickedly romantic and hot enough to make your toes curl, so he kind of had that little thing going for him too.
The villains continue to be the Friar and/or Nurse who are the heads of the Mercenaries and the Ambassadors. Both are dangerous and while it’s pretty clear that the Friar is evil incarnate, Nurse is a little harder to figure out. Is she working for the greater good, willing to give second chances or a stone-cold witch who uses people for the Ambassadors’ gain and kills them off when she’s done with them? How much power does she have and why doesn’t she use it when it’s needed? The answer to some of these questions is pretty shocking when it’s revealed. I honestly never saw it coming.
My Summary: If you liked or loved Juliet Immortal, you will love this, so go buy it right now. I wasn’t thrilled with the ending of the last book, it seemed a little odd, but when paired with this one, it’s perfect for the characters from both books. Every one of the characters had a hold of my heart while I was reading – Romeo, Ariel, Juliet and even Friar and Nurse. There was no way I was going to sleep until I knew that all of them would have the ending that they deserved. Of course, I had a little pile of damp Kleenex next to my chair to pick up too. It wouldn’t have been a great book if I hadn’t cried at some point while reading it.