A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Romeo for Real (Romeo & Julian) by Markus Harwood-Jones

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Rating: 3 stars out of 5

I’m glad I read Just Julian before this story or I may have been completely lost. Although the couple is the same and the events are the same, this story is told from Romeo’s perspective and it’s completely different from Julian’s. And yet, the two stories together complement each other. Unfortunately, the author does not indicate which book should be read first, and in reality, he probably should have simply combined both POV’s and created one book.

I liked this story, in large part, I believe, because I knew what was going to happen already. I also like Romeo’s character more—at least I liked much of his character and perspective in this book, though I didn’t care for his early participation in gay bashing. I did, however, understand the peer pressure that led to it.

I think even Julian’s mother was easier to understand when viewed from Rome’s POV. His own parents were barely mentioned in Julian’s book and were perfect examples of unlikeable persons in this one. The vice principal, Mrs. Duke, was quite nasty to him in this story, and yet was a friend of Julian’s mother and an advocate for LBGTQ rights in that book, in which she also had a larger role.

The friend base was a bit different and interactions among their friends included more on those secondary characters in this story. But like the other book, I found it odd that there was so much diversity in that high school—especially given the homophobic bullying and the parents’ attitudes.

All in all, I would recommend that if someone wants to read this, they should read Just Julian first as I believe the perspective is in better balance reading that before this one. But neither book is one I’d highly recommend to my friends in general. But those who enjoy YA stories might like this look at a little slice of life in this small town.

Cover art by Shabnam Safari using a Shutterstock image features a head shot of a beautiful young man with a perplexed or confused look on his face. The look is fitting for the character, but the man is not how I would have pictured Romeo.

Sales Link:  Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 168 pages
Published April 1st 2018 by Formac Lorimer (first published February 1st 2018)
ASINB079K58SK3
Series Romeo & Julian

Just Julian

Romeo for Real

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Just Julian (Romeo & Julian) by Markus Harwood-Jones

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Rating 2.5 stars out of 5

In a nutshell, I thought this story had lots of potential that was not quite achieved. And to be honest, the number of LGBTQ+ characters for one small town seemed way out of proportion to the general population.

Perhaps because the underlying theme is YA and I don’t read many books featuring teens, or perhaps because of the very obvious play on the Romeo and Juliet theme, or perhaps the author’s writing style or his desire to pack every diverse LGBTQ character known to mankind into one short story, somehow it didn’t ring true to reality. It was okay, and I liked many parts of it, but it was a bit overdone in some of the dramatics and characterizations.

Julian Capulet is nineteen, but hasn’t finished school yet. He’s taking online courses because the bullying and physical abuse he suffered at school became impossible for him to overcome, but there’s one course left, and he can’t focus long enough to finish. When he gets stressed or depressed, he retreats to his room and paints. Well, it appears he paints—he throws paints on canvas in dramatic brush strokes. His mother seems to have a part time job and is an advocate—an OTT advocate—for LGBTQ rights. His friends are all apparently somewhere on the LGBTQ spectrum: gay, bi, lesbian, trans, nonbinary, asexual, demisexual, and more. Given that so many teens in this story identify as non-heterosexual, the focus in the latter part of the story on the need to increase awareness of LBGTQ teens in the schools and stop homophobic bullying seems superfluous.

When Julian meets Romeo (yes, Romeo!) at a party and their attraction seems mutual, he’s at first distrusting since Romeo has been with the group of boys who’ve bullied him. But Romeo claims he’s different, and he and Julian become a couple. Julian’s mother very liberally lets Romeo stay overnight. Later in the story when we meet Romeo’s mother (Mrs. Montague) it’s evident that she’s not happy with the relationship.

Of course, there’s no smooth sailing for either young man because just when they think they are free to be themselves, Romeo’s former buddies show up and attack the couple (see blurb for more detail). As the story ends, the two have decided to fight for their rights by participating in a school rally organized by Julian’s mother (of course) and the mother of Julian’s trans friend. I suspect their relationship-building will continue in the next story as this ends on a HFN.

Cover art by Shabnam Safari using a Shutterstock image is a photo of a young man with auburn hair and oriental features. It clearly represents the main character, Julian, and with the cloudy sky background, it’s attention-getting.

Sales Link:  Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 168 pages
Published February 1st 2018 by Lorimer
ISBN 1459412931 (ISBN13: 9781459412934)
SeriesRomeo & Julian