Overall Grade: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
What does it mean to live a one-dimensional life in a three-dimensional world? How do you find the colors and gradations when your life feels predetermined and empty for you? These questions underscore the depths of the message in CD Reiss’s newest book, Star Crossed. This story isn’t a new one for Reiss. It was initially packaged as Shuttergirl. However, she revisited it, revising it to the poignant story of people seemingly so different yet so much the same. It’s a second chance romance filled with the idea that life is meant to be lived on your own terms in the most abundant way possible.
Star Crossed tells the story of Michael, a Hollywood superstar, and Laine, one of the best paparazzas in Hollywood. What is interesting about their story is Michael and Laine know each other, as they were students together in high school. Even more, Laine and Michael were attracted to each other, but life gets between the two of them, and nothing transpires…until it does. Laine and Michael live their lives, circling each other without ever fully connecting. One night, that changes, and their journey begins. However, given their backgrounds, Michael as the son of Hollywood royalty and Laine as a former foster child, and current occupations, nothing will be easy for them. Is it possible for Michael and Laine find their cinematic ending?
There are three reasons you should read CD Reiss’s Star Crossed (and her other books, for that matter): story, steam, and style.
There is nothing easy about Michael and Laine’s romantic journey. As her title suggests, they are fated against each other. What is interesting about Reiss’s story is the idea that Michael and Laine are living lives that are “flat.” While there is the suggestion that they are so different, they are actually struggling with the same challenge: living an authentic life, apart from societal expectations and the past. Michael’s challenge is living his life to save his father and meet the expectations of society; like him, Laine must grapple with the sins of her past and her self-perception grounded in her issues of abandonment. These trials have led them to making choices that are grounded in varying degrees of survival. There is something safe about their lives. As their journey progresses, Reiss’s story connects us to her characters as they realize that, in loving each other, they can live richer lives. However, it requires bravery to do so. It’s this truth that draws the reader further into the story. Their chemistry, their attraction, their challenges, the forbidden nature of their connection, and their self-doubt conspire to tell a tale of self-discovery and the depths of love to transform. I “ate up” the pages of this book because Reiss’s story compels you to keep going until Michael and Laine find their ultimate truth and themselves.
If you’ve read any CD Reiss book, you know the steam of her books is set to burning. Her characters’ needs for each other sometimes transcend the unifying story idea. They need inside each other because it’s where they feel whole and complete. Star Crossed is no different. While this romance feels tamer than some of Reiss’s other books, Michael and Laine’s steam factor raises the level of their story.
Lastly, for me, Reiss’s true gift is her style. This may sound lavish in its assessment, but Reiss knows how to spin her words into gold. There are very few authors who I “lit-geek” out over, but Reiss is one of them. Every one of her books finds themselves copiously highlighted and annotated. She takes words and creates images that underscore the depths of her stories’ truths. In Star Crossed, she constructs these flat images: the air going out of a room, flat expressions, etc. to illustrate the one-dimensional life that Michael has created for himself. As Laine enters his life, she brings more; she makes him feel less “flat.” Here’s the thing: authors use imagery and allegory and metaphors and similes all the time. You aren’t an effective writer if you don’t. What Reiss does, though, is she seamlessly incorporates these writing techniques and partners them with words that feel heavy and meaningful. It’s the reason almost every page on my Kindle finds a highlight. Her syntactical dexterity provides the foundation for the depths of her stories. Star Crossed is no different. I couldn’t help but giddily revel in her wordsmithing. For me, that’s Reiss’s true talent.
I’m a southern California girl, not born, but mostly raised here, and Star Crossed feels like being home. No, I’m not a starlet or Hollywood type, but this story is the collective experience of my region. That Reiss uses it to convey the idea that we can have more and be more on our own terms made it an even more thoughtful read. We assume that everything that shines is successful, but that isn’t the case. Michael and Laine’s success comes in accepting themselves and embracing their love. If that’s your romance crack, then CD Reiss’s Star Crossed will feed the cravings of your addiction well.
In love and romance,