Ever since she was a little girl learning to make decadent truffles in her family’s chocolate shop, Juliet Arabella has been aware of the bitter feud between the Arabellas and the Mezzanottes. With their rival chocolate boutiques on the same street in Napa Valley, these families never mix. Until one night, when Juliet anonymously attends the annual masquerade ball. In a moonlit vineyard, she finds herself falling for a gorgeous stranger, a man who reminds her what passion is like outside of the kitchen. But her bliss is short-lived when she discovers her masked prince is actually Leo Mezzanotte, newly returned from Paris and the heir to her archenemy’s confection dynasty.
With her mind in a whirl, Juliet leaves for Italy to represent the Arabellas in a prestigious chocolate competition. The prize money will help her family’s struggling business, and Juliet figures it’s a perfect opportunity to forget Leo… only to find him already there and gunning for victory. As they compete head-to-head, Leo and Juliet’s fervent attraction boils over. But Juliet’s not sure whether to trust her adversary, or give up on the sweetest love she’s ever tasted…
I had to make an adjustment when I started this book, and here’s why:
I come from a theatre background, and have been involved in many a ballet performance of Romeo and Juliet. The last time I was involved I spent day after day and night after night running around in the wings getting people in and out of elaborate costumes while others ran and rolled around on the stage, wielding swords and dying dramatically to Prokofiev’s even more dramatic music.
So that’s basically how I think of Romeo and Juliet.
Unmasking Juliet is, of course, a different thing entirely! It’s a contemporary romance, bordering on a romantic comedy. It’s lighter, modern and (of course) lacking in the carnage of the source material.
Author Teri Wilson is reworking the classics for the contemporary romance market. I read her previous book, Unleashing Mr Darcy, which was a modern Pride and Prejudice featuring an American woman who finds herself in high society in England.
I actually think Unmasking Juliet is a better book for international readers. Unleashing Mr Darcy received rave reviews in the US, but for those of us who are from or who have lived in England, it was a little bit like reading a guidebook about your home and your culture. A little awkward ‘learning’ all the cultural differences.
This one takes place in the United States, and both characters are American. So nobody is learning a foreign culture or getting confused by British English. I felt more comfortable with these characters from the start.
I also want Juliet’s ball gown!
The author clearly loves her dogs (the last book was all about dog shows, and in this book dogs also feature heavily), and also did her research when it came to the food (chocolate) industry.
One thing I couldn’t sympathise with was our ‘Romeo’ complaining about jet lag. No Australian can sympathise with the puny bit of jet lag a person might pick up flying between the US and Europe!
Review copy provided by NetGalley.