Julie and Romeo by Jeanne Ray
Reading Level: Adult Romance
Release Date: February 8, 2012
Publisher: Broadway Books
Pages: 242 pages
Reviewed By: Kate McMurry
The Cacciamanis and the Rosemans, who live in a small town near Boston, have been feuding for three generations, and Julie Roseman has no idea why. Yes, their families each run a florist's shop, but there is plenty of business for both stores. In the process of this feud, 15 years before, Julie's daughter Sandy fell in love with Tony Cacciamani when they were both 16. They were caught trying to elope and their families broke up their relationship. In addition to that, there have been countless vindictive, retaliatory acts on the part of both families over the years, and each side of the feud regards the other as criminal scum.
When Julie married Mort Roth at age 20, her parents and Mort asked her to stop working in the flower shop since they could only afford one employee. Julie worked a few years as a secretary, then became a stay-at home wife and mother to her two daughters for thirty years--until the day when she and Mort were 55, and he dumped her to run off with a 38-year-old woman. At that point Julie's parents were dead, and since they had left the flower shop entirely to Julie, Mort could not demand a piece of it in the divorce.
Julie has taken back her maiden name and has been running the shop the past five years, greatly enjoying the flowers, but struggling with the financial side of the business, both keeping the books and generating capital. At the start of this story, the economy is in a downturn, and Julie's business is barely surviving. In hopes of improving her chances of saving it, she attends a conference for small business owners and meets Romeo Cacciamani in person for the first time. She is amazed to find that she feels no animosity toward this handsome man with kind eyes, and he clearly holds no resentment personally toward her. She had heard from a distance that his wife had died a few years ago, and when she expresses her sympathy, Romeo asks her to have coffee with him. Thus quietly begins a relationship that is a source of wonder and emotional rebirth to the two of them, but is anything but to their respective families. When the Cacciamani and Roseman clans inevitably find out about Julie and Romeo's romance, all hell breaks lose, and everyone from Romeo's 90-year-old mother to Julie's 32-year-old realtor daughter do everything in their power to break up the star-crossed lovers.
This exquisitely written Romeo-and-Juliet tale updated into a contemporary romance between two mature lovers is a joy to read. Though there is a lot of poignancy in the story, it is also filled with wry, ironic humor that is frequently laugh-out-loud funny. The author also creates love scenes between her two mature protagonists that are both sensual and incredibly tender. Best of all, the ending of the story is uplifting, triumphant and very, very entertaining.
I loved this book when I read it for the first time many years ago, and it was just as terrific an experience for me the second time around.
In short, everything about this book is flawless as far as I'm concerned, and this book is a true keeper.
The Kindle edition I read is well edited and formatted.
I rate this book as follows:
Romance Plot: 5