January 26, 2013

Title: When You Were Mine

Author: Rebecca Serle

Published: May 1, 2012

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Pages: 334

Goodreads Summary: In this intensely romantic, modern recounting of the greatest love story ever told, Romeo’s original intended—Juliet’s cousin Rosaline—tells her side of the tale. 

What’s in a name, Shakespeare? I’ll tell you: Everything.

Rosaline knows that she and Rob are destined to be together. Rose has been waiting for years for Rob to kiss her—and when he finally does, it’s perfect. But then Juliet moves back to town. Juliet, who used to be Rose’s best friend. Juliet, who now inexplicably hates her. Juliet, who is gorgeous, vindictive, and a little bit crazy…and who has set her sights on Rob. He doesn’t even stand a chance.

Rose is devastated over losing Rob to Juliet. This is not how the story was supposed to go. And when rumors start swirling about Juliet’s instability, her neediness, and her threats of suicide, Rose starts to fear not only for Rob’s heart, but also for his life. Because Shakespeare may have gotten the story wrong, but we all still know how it ends….

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  • It took a while for Christina to settle into this book, but once she did, she found she quite enjoyed it. It goes on her third shelf.

The Lowdown: Growing up, all Rosaline (Rosie) knew was happiness and days spent with her best friends Rob Monteg and her cousin Juliet Caplet. They were close as any trio could be. That is until around age seven when suddenly Juliet’s parents whisked her away to LA because there was bad blood brewing within the family. Rosaline never quite filled the void that Juliet’s absence left, but Rob and she definitely got closer and became an inseparable duo.

Flash forward ten years and you’ll find the beginning of this book. Rosaline is entering her last year of high school, escorted through her days by a new set of best friends, Charlie and Olivia and the ever-constant presence in her life, Rob. But something different is building between the two, something strange and wonderful and confusing. Rob’s no longer looking at her through the eyes of a friend, but rather through the eyes of someone that wants more— more than memories spent at summer camp together and all the ease of childhood friendship. Rosie is pretty sure by the flip in her stomach, the squeeze of her heart, and the tingly in her lips that she wants more, too. Yet, she’s scared about risking that lifelong friendship between them if things get messed up somewhere along the way.

Then the newspapers cause a stir in their little ocean-side town with whispering of the Senator and his family returning home. Juliet shows up and there’s something different in her eyes and words of angered betrayal on her lips. Through layers of carefully crafted revenge and a untangling web of secrets, Juliet causes a storm and Rosaline realizes she was right to trust her instincts.

My Thoughts: I’m a sucker for the greatest tragic love story of all time, Romeo and Juliet. For me, as soon as I read the synopsis of this book, it went straight on the TBR list, a no-brainer. A modern day retelling of R&J with an added bonus of it being told through Rosaline’s POV? Heck and yes. For those not familiar as to her importance, Rosaline was the sole purpose as to why Romeo was even at the Capulet party where he first caught his glimpse Juliet. She was the catalyst, a crucial piece to the puzzle, for fate to swing her mighty sword. It’s where the story all began because he had been motivated- with the urging of his cousin, Benvolio-to go there because of his infatuated love for Rosaline, but then destiny intervened, and you know the tragic unfolding of our star-crossed lovers from there.

As you can see, I wanted to fall in love with this story. All the elements for a crush-my-heart-to-smithereens masterpiece were set in place, I just needed Serle to deliver. Eventually she did to a degree, but it took a while for me to get there.

In the beginning, this novel and I didn’t gel very well together. The characters irritated me, there seemed to be a lot of telling me how to feel instead of showing me through the characters, and the immediate hostility of Juliet toward Rosaline didn’t read as very authentic to me. Then on top of that, the insta-love that we all know forms between Juliet and Rob (Romeo) felt very one-sided– which I guess it was supposed to be in this scenario– and only served to make Rob look like a p**sy and an asshat. However, somewhere along the way, whether it was because I finally fell in sync with the story or Ms. Serle found her writing groove, I got caught up and whisked away like I had hoped I would from the very start. Amidst family-shattering scandals and angsty loss of friendship, an unlikely relationship begins to blossom and it was one I found myself rooting for easily.

Verdict: Though I wouldn’t put it on my “drop everything now and read immediately” list, I think you should give this one a go. I appreciated the twists that the author wove into this tale, especially the addition of the misunderstood and quite swoony guy, Len.

♥ A very special thanks to ARCycling and Laura from The Reading Nook: A Love for Everything Books for providing an ARC copy of this title for my review.

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