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on April 27, 2016
Anne Fortier parallels Medieval and modern Italy in this historical romance that retells Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet" in a more intricate storyline than what we generally consider the "original".

Of course, many towns in Italy lay claim to the first telling of Romeo and Juliet, not just fair Verona made famous by Shakespeare. Medieval times were wrought with feuding families that bred dirty politics and an abundance of star-crossed lovers.

Sienna's version, however, is particularly rich with intrigue, and Ms Fortier handles it with aplomb in a story that crosses genres and weaves the past to the present.

The fact that modern-day Juliet is suitably chaste at the beginning, and her love interest is suitably aloof, should satisfy all readers of light romance. If the two fall in love just a little too easily, well, that's typical to the genre.

Because the author reincarnates Medieval Romeo and Giulette into modern Sienna, the story's premise has a decidedly metaphysical flavor to it. If you feel a whisper of disappointment that Juliet doesn't experience direct flashbacks of her life as Medieval Giuliette, Sienna of yesteryear and today still come to life in full living color through the old letters and documents that Juliet inherits from her mother.

Plus, there's a strong mystery to solve as pieces of the Medieval puzzle come together in the modern story that rights old wrongs, unearths treasures to lift old curses, and reunites the star-crossed lovers. In this, the author was brilliant!

So why not five stars?

Two things kept me from sitting back and saying, "Wow!"

First, Juliet's character arc felt a little flat to me. As the mystery unfolds and the action amps up, crossroads that would normally be the protagonist's call to change in some way--dig in, find new resolve, make new decisions--are overshadowed by her stronger twin sister. It would've been nice if Janice had a few more cracks in her character that gave space for Juliet to take her own destiny solidly in hand and fully hold her place center stage in the story.

Second, although Umberto is a fundamental element for moving the story forward, he isn't quite fleshed out enough as a character to be truly believable when the going gets rough. Without hitting a spoiler alert, the author vacillates one too many times right in the thick of the action on laying out who he is. This pushes him towards being more of a caricature rather than a living breathing person. Sigh. It could be fixed by deleting, or rewriting, one small section of a scene in the van. As it is, it totally threw me out of the story right when I should have been pulled in further.

Still.

If you like historical romance with a metaphysical premise, and a good mystery to solve in the process, READ THIS BOOK.

If you're planning a trip to Sienna, or want to revisit the city, put this book on your "must read" list. After living in Italy for twenty years, I enjoyed how adept the author is at consistently capturing the Italian mentality in a few well chosen words. I can't recall the last time I highlighted so many passages in a novel.

In short, this book was a perfect way to take a break and make it all-day Sunday affair.
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on May 31, 2017
I don't like being negative, but I feel I must be honest. For me this was just an okay read. I admit it was the brief synopsis given in the Kindle Store, that led me to buy this one, and this is despite some rather poor reviews. But for all of my interest, I couldn't help but feel somewhat let down by the time I finished it. This wasn't what I thought it was going to be, and nowhere near as good as I was expecting either, given the subject. While the author does well in bringing the old Italian city of Sienna alive, it was the scenes set in 1340 that failed to draw me in. They seemed to crawl, and the dialogue.. nearly put me to sleep. I zoned out on most of those, especially towards the end. I stuck with it to the end, and I hate to say it, I wish I hadn't. I didn't particularly like the present-day Juliet, either, as I found her to be a somewhat bland character, I must admit neither did I find her Romeo very likable either, and the same can be said for nearly every other character in this story as well. In the end, sadly, I don't think I would recommend this to anyone.
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on November 18, 2015
The premise sounded interesting, but ultimately I found the story somewhat trite and boring. The characters were mostly stock Gothic romance types: the mysterious love interest, who may or may not be a bad guy; the snarky rival (in this case, sister); and of course the pathetic heroine. Every other chapter is set in the past (mostly in 1340), but this portion of the story became so tedious after a few chapters that I began skipping most of the "past" chapters after about the fourth one. I thought the pace was excruciating - and probably the slowness was in part because of the alternating chapters, but also because, well, nothing much happens for large swaths of the book. I find this is typical for a Gothic novel, which relies more on atmosphere, mysterious events, finding clues to a mystery, and the protagonist's inner turmoil. I do normally like the genre, but it's hard to master. I don't mind a book that isn't action packed as long as it has other redeeming qualities, such as well-developed suspense and complex characters. Not the case here, unfortunately. I'd suggest Daphne Du Maurier's classic _Rebecca_, if you want a good Gothic read, or Ann Radcliffe's _The Italian_.
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on May 9, 2016
I enjoyed this book. The parallel plots between the 14th c. and the present are well handled and entertaining and there is enough suspense to keep the reader turning the pages. For fans or the Romeo and Juliet story (in all version stage and/or film) there is intriguing history to be learned and the author weaves it into her story with great success. The characters, both past and present, are believable and nicely drawn with just the right amount of ambiguity to keep readers guessing about their motives. An unconventional mystery!
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on September 16, 2016
Get cozy, because you'll be here a while and loving every moment. Richly textured, filled with detail and suspense, Juliet keeps on giving, keeping me on the proverbial edge of my seat to not just what happens next in the intertwined modern and Medieval stories, but to decide whether the villins are really bad and the heroes really good. The plot is masterfully suspenseful and the characters are richly layered. The footnotes are worth reading, too. I highly recommend Juliet. This is far more than a retelling!
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on April 3, 2016
I've always maintained that great writing can survive a thin plot, but not the reverse. This novel changed that theory. Juliet was my book club's selection for the month of March, and although I was unable to attend this month's discussion, I have lots to say about it.
First off, this book is grossly over-written. It send that, for the first 75 pages, every sentence contained at least one metaphor, simile, personification or other literary device. Where was this author's editor? I almost decided it was not worth my time. However, the plot is interesting, and by the time the location switched to Sienna, I was hooked. The author was deft in switching back and forth between fourteenth century and present day Italy, while drawing parallels between Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, and the supposed "real story" of the original star-crossed lovers, and their possible, modern-day reincarnates.
Their are more plot twists and turns than the catacombs, and the author seemed to calm down into a less overly-descriptive style, until the evil twin re-appeared; unfortunate regression.
It is almost like there were two authors for this book: one with a great plot idea, and another who over-writes about one third of the book.
In conclusion, I eventually enjoyed the book, but its 400-plus pages could have been reduced by almost half, with good editing.
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on November 23, 2011
"Everything we say is a story. But nothing we say is just a story."

Who doesn't know the story of Romeo & Juliet?? Once you read this book and learn of the twists, turns, secrets and truths... it will make you wonder if you ever really knew the story at all.

This book is a modern take on Romeo & Juliet. Julie Jacobs inherits a key to a safety deposit box in Italy after her aunt passes away suddenly. She travels to Italy hoping and expecting to find riches and money. Instead she finds that she has inherited a mystery and must complete her parents work to stop a curse on her family. She also learns that she is a direct descendant of "the" Juliet.

The story moves back and forth between modern day and 1340, weaving the past and present together and the true story of the doomed lovers. I loved how the story kept me guessing about who really were the bad ones, the good ones and the ones in between. It combines that mystery of underground tunnels, cold crypts, sacred cathedrals, & secret identities. It moves at a great pace, and just when you think you have it figured out.... you are wrong. The rich details, amazing writing and well researched history made this a great story.
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on May 18, 2017
Although this is work of fiction, I got sucked into the expanded version, the fictional but possible background story, of the Shakespeare play of Romeo and Juliet. The details, the setting, the characters and the suspense was wonderful!!!!
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on June 27, 2017
I am about 1/2 through and I really love the story. But....... It's as if 2 different people wrote this novel. When the book is back in the 1340's the book is well written. However, the part of the story set in the current time is written so poorly that I keep skimming to the older story if for no other reason then to get back to the better prose. My advice to the author....Change your editor! You have a great flair for storytelling and have told fabulous tale. Would read more by this author.
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on June 14, 2017
The novel's conceit is peculiar though interesting. The writing is quite good and got me through the trite present day part of the novel. Overall the book is entertaining and fun.
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