Something I love to do but don't get to all that often is read a series pretty much back to back. With a memory like mine, reading the series altogether is the only way that I can guarantee I don't miss key plot lines or internal references. Although Juliet Immortal has apparently not been especially popular with bloggers, I was surprised by how much I enjoyed the book. Romeo Redeemed struck me as one of the most consistent sequels I have ever encountered. I liked and disliked the very same things about this one as the first, so, if you liked Juliet Immortal, you're in for another crazy, fun ride.
At the opening of Romeo Redeemed, Romeo wanders the earth in his specter form, more disgusting than any zombie. All he feels is pain. He hears the screams of people running away from him. Basically, he's Humperdinck if Westley followed through on his threats. The Nurse offers him a choice, though: perform a trial task for a chance to become an Ambassador or continue living in his refuse heap of a body. Unsurprisingly, he chooses to do anything other than be himself. His task: to make Ariel fall in love with him.
Ariel, the girl whose body Juliet inhabited and died in during Juliet Immortal in an alternate universe, has problems. She's got scars on her face, no self-confidence and she hears voices sometimes, and, when she does, she wets herself. Because of an episode like that, she's been a pariah at school since childhood, with only one friend, Gemma, who isn't necessarily the most supportive BFF all the time, focusing more on her own drama and needs.
Romeo has been put, again, into the body of Dylan. He takes over mid-date, after Ariel's learned Dylan was trying to sleep with her for a bet and before she tries to drive the car off the road. With foreknowledge of what she would do, he manages to prevent the accident. She gets out of the car and runs. He, with the need to woo her, talks her down and convinces her to spend the rest of the night with him.
As with Juliet Immortal, I liked the writing a lot, and the reading of the book was a pleasurable experience, but the romance plot line makes me antsy. My biggest problem is that Ariel, poor, damaged Ariel, would never trust someone so quickly, let alone a guy who bet on her and threatened rape. She has trouble trusting her mom, who loves her even if she's not great about saying so. Why would she trust Dylan/Romeo? In the course of just three days, she falls in love with him. I'm not saying he couldn't have made her fall in love with him over time, but three days? No. Issues with self-worth and trust do not go away that quickly. They just don't.
Romeo, too, inevitably falls for Ariel, which makes more sense, considering that's what he's always done. Romeo's thoughts: "Oooh, a pretty girl. I wonder if she'll sleep with me. Probably not yet. Maybe if we were in love? Oh, sweet torture to love her so but not be able to, you know, love her so." Thus, I can accept this part, and laugh at Romeo's idiocy. He manages to act all jaded for like twenty pages, but very quickly returns to his natural state: obsession with the first pretty girl to cross his path. Some people grow and change, like Juliet did in some ways, and some don't, like Romeo.
I so wanted to be able to give this book a 4, that extra bump up, but I just couldn't do it. What it came down to was the ending, which was just too cheesy. Where I wanted her to go tragedy, she went drama! Romeo and Ariel living happily forever after? I THINK NOT. Also, there's a twist that did not work for me at all.
Though by no means a perfect series, I appreciate these books for taking a fresh, completely unique look at an overdone series. For my tastes, they could have benefited from a couple dashes more cynicism, but at least I got to revel in how much Romeo and Juliet didn't work out.