Unconventional though she may be, Cassandra Wallace leads the life of an average Londoner, from blind dates to rush hour traffic. Then, along comes Bennett Saville. Sensitive, charming, erudite, the up-and-coming actor is like the hero of a romantic movie. He counteracts the tragedy that brought them together, and from the tips of his Armani loafers to that scorching hot kiss he seems absolutely perfect. Only, he’s ten years younger and from the upper class, and those emerald eyes beget dangerous secrets. The world is a stage, full of hungry leading ladies, and how long can any fairy tale last before a villain appears? Yet, on Bennett’s arm each new day is an adventure, and a true romance will always find its happy ending.
Note: I was given a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. And it may contain SPOILERS!
I can’t say I really knew what I was getting into when I started reading Cassandra by Starlight. I thought I was in for the glitzy trap of fame, catty leading ladies trying to steal a girl’s man, and breaking age stereotypes. Well, I got some of the above but a lot more than that. Susan Mac Nicol has delivered a novel that really takes a reader on a journey; long, twisting, surprising and loaded with action. One thing I can say for this book is that there is always one more twist to set you off on a whole new bout of issues.
What I liked: Cassie and Bennett were both independent characters that blended well together and didn’t have the atypical romance. I liked that the relationship was realistic and wasn’t all puppies and sunshine. Both characters had flaws and I think Mac Nicol addressed the character’s humanness very well. The side characters were also fleshed out very nicely, all though some of them came and went quickly and didn’t stay for the whole duration (more on that later). I like how Mac Nicol also didn’t back down gory situations, during these periods in the book I could tell the author researched material so that these scenes seemed realistic to me, if not really plausible all at once in a real person’s life (but it’s fiction, so I let it go. Also more on that later). But I like how Bennett, Cassie and the gang didn’t always choose the higher road, because when it comes to survival and protection of those you love, you don’t always want to dance with forgiveness and compassion. You just want the bad to go away, and stay away; however you have to do it. I like how Cassie and Bennett embraced that about one another.
What I didn’t like: I feel like we were being dragged between each event. Months would go by and we were told about the growing relationship of Bennett and Cassie not really shown it. I could have done with some falling in love scenes with the offbeat humor that these two evoke within each other. I also feel that the recovery time between each arch (I can only explain this in terms of comic books) was not really fleshed out enough in way of coping and–you know, emotions. Because shit went down, and instead of being shown Cassie and Bennett’s emotional fallout regarding life altering situations we were given blurbs. And this brings me back to the side characters. We were given a lot of back story on side characters, some went places and some didn’t. During the book they came and went, and there was no resolution for some of them at the end. I found that frustrating, if you’re going to introduce a character, I feel like that have to have some impact on the plot or at least get resolution at the end. But I think this is a continuing series, so I’m guessing they’ll be re-introduced in the next books?
I also feel like we were given a lot of events for one novel. Great, epic, and a little evil events–which I loved, but this is where my arch term comes in: these events could have been three separate books. I feel like Mac Nicol had enough meat from Bennett’s brother’s suicide to last one whole book. We could have gone deeper into Bennett’s family dynamic, Cassie’s rehab and recovery, and the budding relationship between the two. I was hoping we’d get a circular revelation regarding Bennett’s brother and his relationship with his father and mother, but instead we just kind of moved on. Which is life most of the time, but books need to resolve things, at least for my sanity! Ok, and I have to make one teeny-tiny comment about redundancies: they were in there. I don’t think I’ve ever used the word “whilst” in a sentence before, but I think I am now familiar with its full range.
So, final verdict on Cassandra by Starlight: I give it 4 out of 5. I’m not really sure why because the book definitely had flaws. But it had such interesting concepts in its nooks and crannies that I reflect on it favorably. For a different and quirky read, I’d say give this one a shot, it’s definitely a scenic route.