*Spoiler free, but spoilers for These Violent Delights*
The year is 1927, and Shanghai teeters on the edge of revolution. After sacrificing her relationship with Roma to protect him from the blood feud, Juliette has been a girl on the warpath. One wrong move, and her cousin will step in to usurp her place as the Scarlet Gang’s heir. The only way to save the boy she loves from the wrath of the Scarlets is to have him want her dead for murdering his best friend in cold blood. If Juliette were actually guilty of the crime Roma believes she committed, his rejection might sting less. Roma is still reeling from Marshall’s death, and his cousin Benedikt will barely speak to him. Roma knows it’s his fault for letting the ruthless Juliette back into his life, and he’s determined to set things right—even if that means killing the girl he hates and loves with equal measure. Then a new monstrous danger emerges in the city, and though secrets keep them apart, Juliette must secure Roma’s cooperation if they are to end this threat once and for all. Shanghai is already at a boiling point: The Nationalists are marching in, whispers of civil war brew louder every day, and gangster rule faces complete annihilation. Roma and Juliette must put aside their differences to combat monsters and politics, but they aren’t prepared for the biggest threat of all: protecting their hearts from each other.
I loved These Violent Delights, and after the way it ended, I was incredibly eager to read the sequel. I knew this book was going to be absolutely heartbreaking, and I knew that characters were going to go through a lot of pain, considering the chaos they were left with at the end of the previous book, but I was still very eager to read it. Trigger warnings: grief, blood, violence, torture, gore
Dean Foster knows he’s a trans guy. He’s watched enough YouTube videos and done enough questioning to be sure. But everyone at his high school thinks he’s a lesbian—including his girlfriend Zoe, and his theater director, who just cast him as a “nontraditional” Romeo. He wonders if maybe it would be easier to wait until college to come out. But as he plays Romeo every day in rehearsals, Dean realizes he wants everyone to see him as he really is now––not just on the stage, but everywhere in his life. Dean knows what he needs to do. Can playing a role help Dean be his true self?
A book with a trans main character was all I needed to know to want to read this book. A book with a trans main character figuring out his identity while play Romeo in his school’s production of Romeo & Juliet was just more incentive for me to be absolutely to ready to read this book as soon as I can. Trigger warnings: discussion of suicide, transphobia, homophobia
The year is 1926, and Shanghai hums to the tune of debauchery. A blood feud between two gangs runs the streets red, leaving the city helpless in the grip of chaos. At the heart of it all is eighteen-year-old Juliette Cai, a former flapper who has returned to assume her role as the proud heir of the Scarlet Gang—a network of criminals far above the law. Their only rivals in power are the White Flowers, who have fought the Scarlets for generations. And behind every move is their heir, Roma Montagov, Juliette’s first love…and first betrayal. But when gangsters on both sides show signs of instability culminating in clawing their own throats out, the people start to whisper. Of a contagion, a madness. Of a monster in the shadows. As the deaths stack up, Juliette and Roma must set their guns—and grudges—aside and work together, for if they can’t stop this mayhem, then there will be no city left for either to rule.
I have a confession to make. I don’t think I’ve read Romeo & Juliet all the way through. I’m not sure if I’ve ever even seen a movie adaptation. I know the basics, but I’m pretty sure that’s it. (Don’t tell Chloe, I’m sure she would find me.) So, of course I wanted to read this Romeo & Juliet retelling! I knew it was set in Shanghai and I knew there would be knives and gangs. That was basically all I needed to be ready to jump into this book head first. Trigger warnings: blood, violence, gore, character deaths, explicit description of gouging self (not of their own volition), murder, weapon use, insects, alcohol consumption, parental abuse