Here we are in a new week, new month and it is Day 8 of Fiery Hot Reads for Icy Cold Nights and a new hostess. Cambria Hebert is hosting this week, but don't worry, I will have the stops here as well along with more goodies. Today's stops:
Cambria@CambriaHebert:Komal Lewis: Impossible
Jenn@Indie Supporter: Chloe Adams
Lola@Lola's Reviews :Kaitlin Bevis: Persephone
Christy@Love of Books: Karice Bolton: The Witch Avenue Series
Kimba@ The Caffeinated Reviewer: Alyssa Goodnight:Austenensibly Ordinary
Beth@ Beth Art From the Heart:Kristan Higgins: Dancing in the Moonlight
I hope you enjoyed last week's posts. This week I have some more great guests and giveaways, and this week I am doing adult titles except for today. I am featuring Stacey Jay on Day 8 and her books
This is Romeo and Juliet like never before! First, here is Stacey's bio:
Stacey Jay is a recovering workaholic (or at least working hard at recovering) with 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, and yoga instructor.
Stacey wrote up a fun post today on how to write sizzling hot chemistry!
What makes it hot?
Writing chemistry from the ground up.
He’s a super hot gorgeous guy with a tortured past and a peg leg.
She’s a smokin’ babe with an inferiority complex and acid reflux.
Together, they are…magic.
Or are they?
Sometimes romance—YA or adult—can seem pretty formulaic. Hot guy with minor flaw, meets hot girl with minor flaw, they angst for a few hundred pages before eventually giving in to the chemistry sizzling between them, falling in love, and living happily ever after.
It’s a formula that often works, but what about after the initial love buzz wears off and these two fine individuals have to live with each other day in and day out for the rest of their lives? Will they make it through those first few years? Will they survive the infancy of their first baby? What if someone’s mother gets sick and has to move into the back room? What about ten years down the line when he’s leaving his stinky tennis shoes in front of the door for her to trip over as she walks in the house and she works from home in her pajamas without bothering to get dressed in real clothes for days, sometimes weeks, at a time? Will their love survive all that?
In my books, I want the answer to be yes. That’s why, when crafting my characters, I start by creating two people who are each other’s ideal mate. They may not seem “meant to be” on the surface, but deep down, in their inner-most hearts, where their deepest dreams are fanned by secret whispers, these people are a perfect match.
For me, that begins by pinning down the life goal for each character. What do they want more than anything? And that doesn’t mean “to be popular” or “to train as a professional roller blade stuntwoman” or “to win the national underwater basket weaving championship.” It’s deeper than that. I mean, what do they need from life to be happy. Do they need safety? Do they need excitement and adventure? Do they need someone they can trust? Do they need a large group of friends surrounding them at all times?
Whatever it is, I want to be sure they need it more than anything else and that their love interest in the book is set up to be the person who will be able to help them fulfill their dreams in a way no one else could.
Once I’ve tweaked the deepest desires—making sure each character has a want that means more to them than anything else, and that their desire matches up with their love interest’s most secret need—I set about complicating things. As Shakespeare said, “the course of true love never did run smooth,” and if it was good enough for Shakespeare, it’s more than good enough for me. Basically, the more complicated and impossible it seems that these two lovebirds will get together, the more electric the chemistry, and the more thrilling when our couple finds a way to triumph against all odds.
Some of the ways to roughen up your lovers’ journey include:
1. External complications: These are outside forces within the plot that conspire to thwart true love. Her dad hates boys with red hair. His hockey coach is opposed to players dating during the season. She is a daylight-loving fairy and he’s a blood-sucking creature of darkness. Whatever the external complications, they should make it difficult for these two perfectly suited people to find their way to happy ever after.
2. Internal complications: Something within the characters—a flaw, a phobia, a bad memory from their past—that makes it difficult for them to find true love. After his pet rabbit ran off, he’s afraid anyone he cares about is going to abandon him. Ever since being licked by a llama on a school field trip, she’s had a phobia of French kissing. These internal obstacles can be as difficult—if not more difficult—to overcome than the external ones. To quote Oscar Wilde, “We are each our own devil, and we make this world our hell.” Sometimes characters are their own worst enemy.
All joking aside, these complications should be meaningful ones. The bigger the obstacle—drug addiction, a traumatic experience, a terrible fear, a dark secret—the higher the stakes for the characters destined to fall in love, the harder they will have to fight for what they want, and the more compelling their coming together for the reader.
Thanks so much to Heidi for having me over, and I hope all of you find some fiery hot reads to keep you warm this winter!
Thanks so much for sharing today, Stacey! I can't wait for your next compelling romantic journey! Stacey came with gifts today. I am thrilled! She is offering up to one lucky U.S. winner signed copies ofa Rafflecopter giveaway
Here are my reviews:
Juliet Immortal (Juliet Immortal #1) by Stacey Jay
Juliet Capulet didn't take her own life. She was murdered by the person she trusted most, her new husband, Romeo Montague, a sacrifice made to ensure his own immortality. But what Romeo didn't anticipate was that Juliet would be granted eternity, as well, and would become an agent for the Ambassadors of Light. For 700 years, she's fought Romeo for the souls of true lovers, struggling to preserve romantic love and the lives of the innocent. Until the day she meets someone she's forbidden to love, and Romeo, oh Romeo, will do everything in his power to destroy that love.
"These violent delights have violent ends
And in their triumph die, like fire and powder,
Which as they kiss consume."
—Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare
Hardcover, 307 pages
Published August 9th 2011 by Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Three and a half stars: This is definitely not Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet!
Juliet comes out of the mists ready to claim the body she is briefly borrowing. Over seven hundred years have passed since Romeo's wretched betrayal. Juliet during this time has spent her time fighting for soulmates and goodness as part of the Ambassadors of Light. She inhabits bodies briefly as she tries to secure meant to be souls before the Mercenaries can steal them away. Time and time again, Juliet clashes with Romeo who is part of the dark Mercenaries. He will do anything to stop Juliet from saving the soulmates, even if it means murdering her again and again. This time around, something is different. Juliet can't contact Nurse, her Ambassador Guide. From the moment she entered Ariel's body, things haven't felt right. She immediately met a boy, Ben, who saved her from Romeo. Despite herself, Juliet as Ariel is falling for Ben, even though it is forbidden and they can never be. Can she achieve her mission and escape Romeo without hurting Ben?
What I Liked:
- Ms. Jay does an amazing job of spinning Romeo and Juliet. I have read countless retellings of the Shakespeare classic, but nothing like this one. Ms. Jay brings us Romeo and Juliet like never before. Shakespeare got it wrong. Juliet was betrayed by Romeo and before she died Nurse saved her to serve as part of the Ambassadors of Light. A group of magical, centuries old, beings who attempt to thwart their counterparts the Mercenaries by saving that which is good in the world. Juliet's quest is to find soul mates and make sure their love catches fire before Romeo and the Mercenaries can tear the loversa apart and propel one to murder the other....just like what happened to Juliet. I was completely fascinated and intrigued by the original take on this story and loved the clever reinvention of the famous play.
- I enjoyed that Juliet as Ariel was able to help Ariel by mending some of her relationships and hopefully making Ariel's life better so when Ariel does return to her body she will have a new outlook on life. I liked how selfless Juliet is in her quest, she pushes to do good, despite all the bad that happened to her in her own life. One of my favorite parts of the stories is when Juliet, as Ariel, confronts Ariel's mother and they end up forging a new understanding and putting their relationship onto a better road. Mother daughter relationships can be difficult, and I loved how Ms. Jay captured the tough dynamics of a mother daughter bond that has certainly seen plenty of rough road. Through her experience with Melanie, Juliet manages to finally see things differently in her own past and that allows her to grow and mature at last. I really liked watching Juliet see things in a whole new light.
- I was blown away by the whole Ambassadors of Light and Mercenaries portion of the story. It isn't like anything I have read and it was incredibly imaginative, original, thought provoking and intelligent. Ms. Jay definitely came up with some interesting ideas for this one!
- I liked that the ending of this one completely caught me off guard. It was so unexpected and I liked that. I won't go into details here to avoid spoilers, but I will say I didn't see it coming!
And The Not So Much:
- Romeo is a conundrum for me. I desperately wanted to like him, but Juliet is so repulsed by him that it is hard to do so. I was hard for me to accept that he was as evil as Juliet believed. He does exhibit signs that he is not the monster she believes him to be, but I was still unsure of his true character at the end of the story. I am guessing that in Romeo Redeemed, I will be seeing his true colors. I have my fingers crossed, I want to believe that he is telling the truth!
- While I liked that the ending was unexpected, I can't help but be a bit disappointed as well. I really wanted to believe that soulmates are forever!
- For all of you out there who hate insta love, be warned this book has insta love, but aren't Romeo and Juliet the most famous pair of love at first sight lovers out there?
Juliet Immortal was a very original and refreshing take on the old classic. I was certainly intrigued by the interesting ideas and concepts put forth in this one. I especially liked watching Juliet mature and grow after almost seven hundred years. I am hoping for better things for Romeo in Romeo Redeemed. If you are a fan of Romeo and Juliet and you want something completely new, check out these books!
"He is a romantic, a dreamer, and never afraid to play the fool. He is fearless and reckless and brave and I love him for it. Desperately. Love for him steals my breath away, makes me feel I am dying and being reborn every time I look into his eyes or run trembling fingers through his brown curls."
"And I know that I am. I am his moon, and his brightly shining star. I am his life, his heart."
"Ariel, real teenage boys aren't like characters in the books you read. They smell funny and are obsessed with video games and say dumb things. They're still learning, just like you."
"Best friends are always interesting. Who your friends are can say a lot about a person."
"Everyone here was from a different country at some point, and everyone makes mistakes."
"There's nothing that can strangle the life out of love faster than fear."
"Most of all, I hate the hope that continues to spring to life inside of me only to die again and again, as if I haven't lived through enough misery to know that hope is for fools."
"His kiss fills me up like sunshine, burning away every bad thing, beating back the darkness that's weighed so heavy inside me since the day I learned there would be no happy ending. Not for me."
"I don't know who I'm crying for----myself, Ariel, or all the mothers and daughters who can't find a way to love each other."
"But even a good excuse is just an excuse."
"One human life, a human heart freely given----it's the greatest gift anyone can give."
"Love is not and isolated incident, Juliet. Love is everywhere. It always has been. You just have to choose to see the light in the darkness, the sun shining through the rain."
I borrowed this book. I all opinions are my own and I was not compensated for this review.
Romeo Redeemed (Juliet Immortal #2) by Stacey Jay
Seductive companion to the popular Juliet Immortal, in which former lovers—Romeo and Juliet—meet, not as true lovers, but truly as enemies.
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.
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published October 9th 2012 by Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Three and a half stars: Romance and redemption for Romeo.
Romeo is given one more chance after the dramatic conclusion of Juliet Immortal. He can switch sides and help the Ambassadors and possibly save his soul. All he has to do is convince Ariel to fall in love with him in three days time. For the handsome bad boy that shouldn't be a problem, right? He doesn't factor in that the Mercenaries will stop at nothing to prevent him from achieving his goal. He also doesn't count on actually falling hopelessly in love with a girl all over again. Not since the lovely Juliet stole his heart over seven hundred years ago has he had such intense feelings for a girl. Can Romeo truly redeem himself after seven hundred years of serving the dark side?
What I Liked:
- Romeo Redeemed picks up right where Juliet Immortal leaves off. This time Juliet travels back in time, while Romeo is thrust into yet another reality where he resumes Dylan's body and attempts to woo Ariel. This book is packed full of twists and turns and stunning revelations. There is a lot going on including time travel, and different realities. There are many story threads to keep track of, and I was thoroughly impressed with the intricate complexities of the plot.
- The romance in this one is heart felt and deep. I know convincing a girl to fall in love with you in three days time sounds a lot like insta love, but it honestly didn't feel like that. Once Romeo truly commits to his feelings for Ariel and she returns them, they open up and share their secrets and build a strong friendship before things heat up. I like that it takes time to unfold and it isn't immediate attraction and lust like we experienced with Juliet and Ben. This romance feels more genuine and I like the way two souls bear their secrets and come together.
- Once again the Mercenaries and Ambassadors are at work, the light and the dark fighting each other to control the universe. This time around, it becomes more and more difficult to separate the two sides, and the lines between good and evil definitely become blurred. I honestly had a hard time differentiating between the two enemies. Sometimes it felt like the Ambassadors, the good guys, were up to no good. There is a lot to keep track of when it comes to the Ambassadors and Mercenaries and the developments will keep you on your toes throughout!
- Ahh...Romeo....how I liked watching this brash, confidant, sexy bad boy mature and grow in this one. I was disappointed with his character in Juliet Immortal because I didn't want to not like him. He is Romeo after all. Fear not, this time around he is sweet, charming and lovable and flawed. I loved learning his secrets and seeing what made him tick, and most of all I was glad that he learned from his mistakes and redeemed himself.
- This again is not your typical Romeo and Juliet story. Other than keeping in tradition with the original characters: Romeo, Juliet, Nurse and The Friar, everything else regarding the story is mixed up and reinvented. The ending is certainly a surprise and very unexpected.
And the Not So Much:
- I have to admit, while I liked the retelling and the new ending, I was a tiny bit disappointed, too. I can't go into too many details as I don't want to spoil anything, but I guess I just expected it to stay a little truer to the original story. What would history be without the famous tale of Juliet and her Romeo?
- As I mentioned earlier, the roles of the Ambassadors and Mercenaries gets very tricky and a bit muddled in this one. There is so much going on with the good guys and bad guys popping in and out of the story in borrowed bodies, I honestly at times was a bit confused as to what was going on. There are time shifts as well alternate realities. It is definitely complex. In the end, I am still not sure as to what the intentions of the Mercenaries and Ambassadors was. I applaud Ms. Jay for creating such an interesting and thought provoking retelling.
- I was left wondering about Ariel. She was obviously an important piece of the puzzle and both the Ambassadors and Mercenaries were fighting over her. She could sense the lost souls walking the Earth and she had the propensity for great good or evil, but it wasn't exactly clear to me what would happen to the fate of the world if she was swayed to one side or the other.
Romeo Redeemed was a complex, fast paced and intense love story. Romeo fights to redeem his soul and makes thing right for not only Ariel but Juliet, but he is up against some powerful forces. The Mercenaries and Ambassadors meddle with time and realities to achieve their desires. This story moves forward and backward in time and keeps you guessing until the very end. A very interesting and thought provoking retelling of the classic tale.
"The greatest liars always tell the truth when they can."
"I just knew he felt the same way I felt. Compelled. Seduced. Enchanted. It was like I'd dreamed falling in love would be."
"You can be crazy and good. All the best people are crazy. I'm crazy, and I'm very fond of myself."
"We're crazy in love, and I am Sesame Street happy."
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and I was not compensated for this review.
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