Roman and Jewel
- Author: Dana L. Davis
- Genre: YA Contemporary
- Publication Date: January 5, 2021
- Publisher: Inkyard Press
CONTENT WARNING: substance use, mention of suicide, mention of infidelity, mention of death of a parent
Jerzie Jhames — do not get her started on what is in a name! — is up for the lead role in the hottest new show heading to Broadway, Roman and Jewel, a Romeo and Juliet-inspired hip-hopera featuring a diverse cast and modern twists on the play. But her hopes are crushed when she learns that R & B megastar Cinny won the lead … and Jerzie is cast as her understudy.
Falling for male lead Zeppelin Reid is a terrible idea — especially once Jerzie learns Cinny wants him for herself. Star-crossed love always ends badly. But when a video of Jerzie and Zepp practicing goes viral and the entire world weighs in on who should play Jewel, Jerzie learns that while the price of fame is high, friendship, family, and love are priceless and worth risking it all.
Okay, so this was a super cute book that I really enjoyed. It’s a light, fluffy read with a cute premise. But, the plot summary is a little misleading. It made it sound like the whole story was about the clip going viral, but that wasn’t quite what the story was really about — it was more about an instalove connection, which is probably my very least favorite romance trope in the whole entire world. So why did I rate this book so high? Well, let me explain!
I adore the idea of a whole book centering about theater nerds, and especially about a Broadway show that features a diverse cast. The whole idea of the show is a hip-hopera retelling of a classic Shakespeare play. While I wish there was more of the behind the scenes involved in a Broadway show, I liked the general basis.
“‘It’s Shakespeare. A Romeo and Juliet reimagining. It’s called Roman and Jewel. But this version is a fantasy. After their suicide, they both end up in purgatory and are sentenced to infinite lives on Earth until they can meet up again to, you know, right their wrongs.’”
Jerzie is an adorable main character. While she did come off as a little young, she had this especially adorable habit of pressing her hands to her cheeks when she was nervous or embarrassed, and it made her feel more relatable. I wanted her to get the lead, but of course, because of connections, she was pushed aside for Cinny, a well-known star who turns out to be absolutely obnoxious.
“In all the interviews I’ve seen of Cinny, she seemed nice and gentle. Always talking about her spirituality and how Yoga keeps her super zen. Was it all an act? Or maybe she’s just not a morning person.”
Of course, Jerzie encounters Zeppelin, the guy playing Roman, and falls madly in love at first sight. Not lust, deep, head-over-heels-love. And the terms used to describe it are so over the top. They just get worse as the book goes on. I understand feeling like you’ve known someone before when you first meet them, but falling in love right away just seemed so hard to identify with. And of course it causes issues on set, since Cinny decides she also wanted Zeppelin. Naturally, Jerzie is willing to put a lot on the line for this guy she just met.
“I am a standby. Her standby. And as a standby, I have my own script to follow. Out of sight. Out of mind. I’m not here to be a star. And I’m certainly not here to fall in love.”
Overall, the story wasn’t bad. I would have liked to see the relationship develop a little more organically, but there were other aspects that I did enjoy. While the story focused on Jerzie and Zeppelin, the true star of the show was definitely Aunt Karla. She’s sassy and hilarious, and I couldn’t help but look forward to scenes with her in them. I think everyone needs an Aunt Karla, someone who isn’t afraid to tell it like it is and not hold back at all. The book also focused on the importance role that family and friends play in our lives, since they’re the people who hold us up when we struggle. It’s one of the cuter fluffy reads that I’ve read.
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