Series: Starcrossed #1
Published by St. Martin's Press
Published on December 23rd 2014
Genres: Contemporary Romance, New Adult
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When Cassie Taylor met Ethan Holt at acting school, sparks flew. She was the good girl actress. He was the bad boy about campus. But one fated casting choice for Romeo and Juliet changed it all. Like the characters they were playing, Cassie and Ethan's romance seemed destined. Until he broke her heart and betrayed her trust. Now the A-list heartthrob is back in her life and turning her world around. One touch at a time.
Cast as romantic leads once again, they're forced to confront raw memories of the heartbreaking lows and pulse-pounding highs of their secret college affair. But they'll also discover that people who rub each other the wrong way often make the best sparks
Wow. What a book! Leisa Rayven has made me a fan for life with her debut novel. Her writing is addictive, her storytelling is sensational, and she has created two amazing characters who share an absolutely incredible love story. I was completely absorbed by the end of the first chapter, and I loved every moment of the story.
The book starts with actress Cassie Taylor showing up for the first day of rehearsals for a Broadway play that she will be starring in. The twist is that her leading man is her ex-lover, the love of her life and the man who broke her heart – Ethan Holt.
I can do this. I can see him and not fall apart.
I sigh and press my forehead against the wall.
Who the hell am I kidding?
Yeah, sure, I can do a passionate play with my ex-lover, who broke my heart not once, but twice. No problem.
I bang my head against the wall.
If there were a Nation of Stupid People, I would be their queen.
Cassie is a fantastic heroine, and the wonderful narrator to the story. She is intelligent, witty, and endearingly and hilariously honest with herself about her feelings and situation that she finds herself in. She’s understandably angry at Ethan, but she doesn’t deny the pull she still feels towards him, and there is an immediate spine-tingling sense of anticipation.
And things only get more complicated when Cassie’s plans to ignore Ethan as much as humanly possible fall into a hole when sparks begin to fly the moment that they lay eyes on each other, and Ethan, sexier than ever, makes it clear that he is still in love with her and is desperate to make up for the mistakes of the past.
He shakes his head. “I want things to be different. If you want me to apologize, I’ll do it until I lose my fucking voice. I just want things to be right between us. Talk to me. Help me fix this.”
And oh, holy hell, I felt Every. Single. Moment. Cassie and Ethan don’t have chemistry, they have “sexual napalm”. Each interaction is sizzling, and with Cassie’s aggression, Ethan’s determination to win her back and the enforced intimacy of their job, it’s a simmering crockpot of lust, anger and all the emotion that neither of them have ever gotten over.
“We both know it doesn’t work like that,” he says so softly only I can hear. “As much as we want it to be the character’s emotions, it’s still going to be my arms around you, and my mouth on yours. Now, I feel pretty weird about that considering all our baggage could fill a goddamn department store, but since you seem cool not discussing anything, let’s crack this fucking thing open and see what falls out.”
The intensity of all that is happening between them is mirrored by flashbacks to six years ago when they met at acting school where Cassie was an innocent girl alone in the big city for the first time, and Ethan was the intense, brooding, bad boy loner. Their connection back then was immediate, and obviously life-changing, but it’s an angsty, frustrating beginning that is full of arguments, denials, banter, and some fantastically steamy moments (even without actual sex, the steaminess left me fanning myself). I was desperate as I read – wanting to see how they came together and how it all went so wrong. And even though we only get part of the story in this first installment, Leisa gets us right to the heart of her characters, and I could feel everything right along with them.
“Jesus.” He groans, one hand grasping my hair as he uses the other one to find my breast. “This is just…Goddammit, Taylor. I’m so fucking stupid, because I knew you’d ruin me, and I let it happen anyway. I’m so screwed.”
“We both are.” I grab his head and make him kiss me more.
Past and present, the sexual tension is off the freaking charts! And the best part is that it all feels so amazingly real! It’s not insta-love, it’s not erotica, it’s a real love story between two people who share an incredible connection, and who are (at differing points of the story) incredibly committed to each other, and I could not get enough. I would read a scene, and be so drawn into it that I’d go back and read the whole thing over again… and again. It took me a long time to get through this book, but I absorbed every single page, completely lost to the story.
God, I sound like a flighty romance-aholic (and yeah, that’s kinda fitting), but I kid you not – this is one of the most chemistry-filled relationships I have ever read!
“Don’t even try to tell me you’ll ever love someone as much as you love me, because as arrogant as it is to say, that’s bullshit. And I feel the same way about you. Everyone else is just going to be second best for us. Don’t you get that?”
And the way this story is put together is genius! Leisa Rayven has woven together the past with the present, with the younger versions of Cassie and Ethan matching their grown-up selves brilliantly, but still showing sensational character development stemming from all they have experienced. Then she has tied both of those stories in with the two of them working together, and it’s a case of art imitating life as the drama of all that is happening between them is intensified in highly emotional detail as they rehearse their play.
But it’s not all overly-emotional and deep and moody. There is a great sense of fun in the story, and the banter and interaction between not only Cassie and Ethan, but the secondary characters, is absolutely hilarious in places! It’s a highly entertaining read.
“Less chat, more acting please, children,” Marco bellows. “Ethan, you’ve stopped moving. Do I need to explain how to make love to a woman? Because although I’ve never had the pleasure, I’m fairly certain it involves thrusting.”
I did think that the story lost of a bit of the intensity in the second half, but considering that I thought the first half of this book was absolutely, mind-blowingly incredible, it’s still all amazing. And with only part of the past revealed, and things in the present still left unresolved there is so much more story to be told. Be warned that the ending is hair-pullingly frustrating (seriously? What a place to finish a book!), but it does finish on a positive (and heart-poundingly swoony) note. I’m desperate to continue on!
Amazing, I loved it – 5 stars.