Overall Grade: 4.5 ⭐️
Tropes: marriage of inconvenience; enemies to lovers; billionaire hero; intelligent, insightful heroine
I picked up My Dark Romeo by L.J. Shen and Parker S. Huntington the night before release day. I want to be honest. I’m a huge Parker S. Huntington fan, and I’m on the fence about L.J. Shen. As I read the “Prologue” and “Chapter 1”, something interesting occurred. First the first time in a bit, I didn’t want to put My Dark Romeo down. I was hooked from almost the first page. Let me tell you all the ways “why” you should read this story and tell you a couple of things that didn’t feel necessary to the story.
- I’m a fan of romances where the hero is an alpha-hole. I would NEVER want to date this kind of man in the real world. I’d tell him to take a long walk off a short pier. However, in a romance, they provide the perfect set-up for a chemistry between the hero and heroine that is off the charts. And this is entirely true of My Dark Romeo. Romeo is a staid, unemotional, and unapologetic jerk. He doesn’t think highly of Dallas. In fact, he has no problem telling her his thoughts about her lack of work ethic or his perception of her intelligence. Obviously, given that he wears blinders about people, he heartily misses his understanding of her. That’s where the magic lies for this romance. This means, at some point, he will be schooled, and how he responds will melt the heart of the reader. Shen and Huntington take their time in getting to this point. Even then, there is no apology or huge emotional revelation. Before this moment, he feels deeply attracted to her and fights it for much of the story. It’s what made me fall in love with this book because the banter and the chemistry are continuously on the verge of combustion. It’s what keeps you engrossed in the story. I did nothing on release day except read this book. That’s it. There were only breaks to eat and care for pets because I HAD to know how Romeo would fall for Dallas. And he falls…HARD.
- This is Shen and Huntington’s version of a rom-com. It’s funny. Not over the top, goofy rom-com. But Dallas and Romeo’s journey has moments of hilarity. I found myself chuckling every time Dallas did her thing and Romeo became annoyed. It’s the foreplay of their relationship, making you chuckle.
- Romeo’s journey reminds us that past trauma resides beneath a hard heart and cold exterior. Romeo wasn’t born an alpha-hole; he was fashioned into one by horrible parenting and traumatic experiences.
- The band of brothers’ friendship between Romeo, Zach, and Oliver “Ollie” does two things: it adds another layer of funny to the story and sets up future stories in this new world from Shen and Huntington. I’m not sure whose story I want more.
- Romeo’s past revelation comes VERY late in the story, and for me, it felt like a quick add-on. It was barely hinted at, and its integration didn’t seem totally organic. I liked it because it explains how he lives his life, but the timing seemed off.
- People will think My Dark Romeo is an allusion to “Romeo and Juliet”. The epigraph even suggests it, but this book actually has heavy Beauty and the Beast allusions. There’s a rose, a heroine who loves books more than anything in life, and a beast of a hero. It’s also a bit on the nose. I’m waiting for the day when we don’t need to rely on fairytales to tell romance stories. I didn’t think Shen and Hungtington needed that allusion to tell this one.
I seriously enjoyed My Dark Romeo. From the cover to the writing, except for a few things, I hated for it to end. I will always love stories about a difficult, emotionally unavailable hero and a heroine who brings him to his knees. And L.J. Shen and Parker S. Huntington did that well.
In love and romance,