Scarlett Mitchell can’t believe that she’s been captured by a dragon and once she learns of the dragon-man’s quest, she struggles with the blast of excitement and yearning that seizes her imagination. Ransom has been tossed into a living hell and everything meaningful to him is in danger unless he follows the orders of a prince lying in stasis.
This ‘Middlemarch Capture’ romance is a riveting and original story with some fun, some fascinating and some delightful and unique elements that readers love. Scarlett and Ransom are two very strong characters that have some rockin’ chemistry and their romance is full fire, zest and sparks as their passions rise throughout their quest. Only the romance may just be doomed because of the Prince Kalim has his own agenda that includes Scarlett which causes no end to the emotional turmoil flowing from the pages of the story.
The plot is fast paced with exhilarating suspense building throughout the story with adrenaline pumping danger popping up throughout their quest. This quest is full of deadly perils, intriguing characters, cute characters and deadly ones including a purple prince and that’s not including the volcano that threatens their every step which keeps readers on their toes as well and biting their nails in suspense. But this story has something more as well, it has passion, snark and a bit of fun gives readers an out of this world experience that they can’t put down.
When Justine Carmichael runs into old friend Nick Jordan, she is reminded of her feelings for him from many years ago. When she realises that Nick relies on the astrology column from the magazine she work’s for, Justine thinks that slightly altering Nick’s star sign could be the way to make him realise she’s the one for him. It seemed like a fool-proof plan. Nothing could go wrong, could it?
I’ll start by saying I’m not that au fait with astrology. I’m a Capricorn. I know this is symbolised by a goat. The only thing I know is that goats like to climb things and eat a lot. I like climbing into bed and eating my own body weight in chocolate so I guess there are similarities. As for any supposed traits of Capricorn I wouldn’t have a clue where to start. And rising signs are a mystery to me.
So why did I read a book that has star signs dotted throughout it? Because it sounded fun. And it was. The book is filled with a variety of characters, from curmudgeonly Len to the charming, and slightly egotistical Daniel. Then there’s Brown Houdini-Malarkey who reminded me of Slinky Malinky, every time I read about him. Nick is a quiet character, keen to pursue his acting career but torn between his dreams and his girlfriend Laura, who is keen for Nick to give up on the flight of fancy that is acting. His reliance on the horoscopes is perhaps incongruous with his somewhat pragmatic and laid back character.
There are lots of references to astrology, star signs and rising signs. If I’m honest I didn’t really get all the references. I’ve no idea if Leo with Gemini rising is supposed to be scruffy, or impulsive or have any particular traits. I just let those parts of the story wash over me. It did strike me as slightly unlikely that every character apart from Justine was so into their star signs and knew all about them.
Justine has a penchant for vintage clothing and an obsession with correcting grammatical errors. Even if that means stealthy spelling corrections and writing on shop windows correcting errant commas. That part of her I can relate to, though I’ve not gone as far as scrawling editorial notes on menus. Her actions are impulsive, and what starts as one slightly altered horoscope soon becomes almost a habit. There were aspects of this that were slightly unsavoury, her actions could have been considered selfish. Especially when she discovers Nick has a girlfriend. Things never go to plan and she digs herself a little deeper into the hole she made for herself when she changed the first reading for Aquarius.
I really enjoyed the cusp stories. Little vignettes that ran throughout the tale, we saw how Justine’s meddling had an effect on more than just Nick. There were romances, affairs, broken hearts and escapes, the actions of one person having a domino effect on many more.
Ultimately, the story shows that even if things are written in the stars, instinct, luck and happenstance, as well as intention and drive, all have an effect on our lives.
A fun, enjoyable read.
Please note that I received this book via NetGalley. This did not affect my rating or review.
Younger me would have been all over this book. A book about how your astrology sign rules you life? I loved reading all of that stuff and figuring out what aspects of being an Aquarius I had. My friends and I all loved tarot cards and fortune tellers. Heck, I had a best friend who would go on about how her boyfriend was such a Gemini which meant full of contradictions and selfishness at times.
"Star-Crossed" has a lot of heart. We don't just follow the two main characters of Justine (Sagittarius) and Nick (Aquarius) we follow a bunch of other secondary characters who are affected along the way too. Not everyone gets a happy ending, but I found myself smiling and even tearing up a bit here and there. I also loved that the setting is Australia. I am all for romance books not always taking place in London and New York. The ending was definitely a great HEA.
"Star-Crossed" follows Nick and Justine from the day they were born and allows how the date of their birth is nudging them along. Nick and Justine's mothers are very good friends so these two do grow up together. But after one of the family's move, the two don't see each other again until they are 15 years old. And after that, almost another 10 years goes by. And when Justine runs into Nick again, she finds herself thinking about him and how maybe now they could have a relationship with each other. Nick has a girlfriend though. However, when Justine realizes that Nick's favorite astrologer writes for the magazine that she is employed at, she starts to wonder if maybe fate needs a helping hand.
I honestly took a little warming up to Justine after a bit though. I wasn't down for what she was attempting to do and I honestly didn't get why she couldn't just talk to Nick. That said, she leans a lot more Aquarius at times I thought with her sense of romance and how fate keeps throwing Nick in her path. Justine is sarcastic and obsessed with grammatical errors to the point I kept cracking up about it. She dreams of being a reporter and is worried that she's not going to get a real life while she watches her friends and family couple up and move on.
Nick was a dreamer, but I thought at times quite pragmatic. He's trying to make a living as an actor and finding it hard going. His model girlfriend is quite tired of him being poor and wants him to give up acting for more steady work. And though he is thinking about it, he keeps getting pushed by Justine to stay with acting.
The two together have a wonderful shared history and I loved their backstory.
Darke also follows a ton of other characters influenced by their horoscopes and this is where sometimes you will end up laughing or be sad. I thought it was great to follow them all from the beginning of the book to the end. Heck, we even get a dog as a character in this one and I won't get into his side-plot, but I was worried for the dog for a good portion of the book.
The writing takes a bit to get going along with the flow. However, once it does, the book really snaps along. I had a hard time putting this one down while I was on the road. I know a lot of people will probably roll their eyes about astrology, but honestly I think Darke does a good job of showing both sides of things. Those who rely too heavily on their astrological signs and those who focus too much on things being black or white.
Darke follows the secondary characters in the Cusp sections so at first you get introduced to a lot of new people, but she circles back to them again though so you can follow the progression of their stories separately from Nick and Justine (though sometimes they do interact with the cusp characters).
The ending was pitch perfect and I was sad to put this one down. I will definitely be on the lookout for future Darke books.