Secrets of the Starcrossed (The Once and Future Queen, #1) By Clara OConnor

In a world where the Roman Empire never fell, two starcrossed lovers fight to ignite the spark of rebellion…

Londinium, the last stronghold of the Romans left in Britannia, remains in a delicate state of peace with the ancient kingdoms that surround it. As the only daughter of a powerful merchant, Cassandra is betrothed to Marcus, the most eligible bachelor in the city.

But then she meets Devyn, the boy with the strange midnight eyes searching for a girl with magic in her blood.

A boy who will make her believe in soulmates…

When a mysterious sickness starts to leech the life from citizens with Celtic power lying dormant in their veins, the imperial council sets their schemes in motion. And so Cassandra must make a choice: the Code or Chaos, science or sorcery, Marcus or Devyn?

Panem meets the Grishaverse in this explosive new YA trilogy perfect for readers of Marie Lu, Bella Forrest, and Cassandra Clare. Secrets of the Starcrossed (The Once and Future Queen, #1)


Thank you to the publisher for the review copy.

The world building was incredibly confusing and hard to grasp.

Things moved ridiculously quickly with the romance and flirting. There is a love triangle but for most of the story one half of the love triangle is absent… which makes it very apparent who she is going to choose.

I found the main character quite annoying.

The second half of the book is better than the first half.

It was predictable in some ways, but the pacing was quite fast so it never got boring. Nothing happens easily. Which means there is some suspense and tension to the storyline.

Nonetheless, it was quite addictive reading. It was easy to get through, even if it was not necessarily good.

The writing style wasn’t one for me personally.
Clara OConnor Thank you to NetGalley and Harper Collins UK, One More Chapter for providing me with an E-ARC in exchange for my honest opinion.

It's very rare that I give a book 2 days. I could not get into his book at all and had to force myself through it. The storyline didn't interest me at all and the MC seemed to lack maturity despite being an adult. The dialogue seemed forced and so I was not able to relate to the characters or imagine what they would sound like. The plot could have done with a lot more work before being written. It just didn't flow the way I expected it to.

The concept of the story was good, by the story itself, not so much. Clara OConnor DNF Clara OConnor 2.5 stars

I have a lot of mixed feelings about his book. I really enjoyed it and at the same time it left me feeling frustrated. I have decided to split this review in things I liked and didn't like about this book

Things I liked about this book
• I love the writing style. It's very to the point, straight forward and gives you a good look into the feelings of our main character. I really liked the way Clara told the story and would definitely read more from this author.
• I enjoyed the characters in this book. It's true that the characters are all very stereotype characters we have seen in numerous books before. But they were still very likeable and I liked spending time with them.
• The story in the beginning had a great potential to being great. I was drawn into the story from the start and really enjoyed it. The story was exciting, it felt a little similar to other stories, but not in a bad way. I really felt I started a great book and was already getting excited at the prospect of it being the first book in a trilogy.

What I didn't like about this book
• Continuing on the story, I loved it until the second half of the book. The story started to drag and actually became repetitive. A couple of people try to get out of the city. So the story is being build towards them making plans of escape, trying to escape and getting captured. This is then repeated until the end of the book. It occurs, out the top of my head, about three or four times! When they tried escaping for the second time I was like escape already so we can continue with the story. Because the story kind of got to an stand still in the second half of the book and apparently you have to wait for the sequel to know how things go...
• The biggest turn of for me was the worldbuilding. The world started off as something great and interesting. An alternate version of our own world where the Roman Empire endured and it is set in the future with technology. Great setting! But then the writer had to include more... The medieval times are being thrown into the story with the war of the roses and the Plantagenets. Oh and not to forget Arthurian legends like the Lady of the Lake are mixed into the world and story. If the Roman Empire had endured you wouldn't had have the medieval times... Why not use Roman legends and kings or emperors? Why medieval ones? And on top of this apparently they believe in Greek Gods???? Greek mythology is thrown into the mix as well. They keep using Greek Gods in the matter of speech. To Hades with you... etc Why? Why did this beautiful concept needed to be so confusing. As an historian I am just confused and find this mix unbelievable and weird. Especially since this is supposed to be an alternate version of our world where the Roman Empire endured. Why are the facts so weird?
I was super excited for this world, but I am left feeling disappointed. This world would have been amazing if it only concentrated on one element of history instead of several.

That being said, this is just my personal opinion. I do understand that other people will not get frustrated with the world, because they don't care or don't know enough about history to notice all the weird things. For me it was also the only let down of this book. Yes the story got repetitive, but I did not mind that as much as the worldbuilding.
Even though I am frustrated with the world the writing style, the characters and the beginning of the story show huge potential. This is also the reason why I want to read the sequel, just to see if the potential of this story will be reached. Because I believe this could be something really good.

Clara OConnor I have received this ARC from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Secrets of the Starcrossed was one of those books that had it's boring moments but I also couldn't look away or put it down. I just feel like it had potential to be a lot better though. Don't get me wrong, I was entertained for most of this book but the whole love triangle thing just threw me off. They never really work for me anymore and I honestly didn't really care who she ended up with or without.

Plus the whole push/pull thing for romances is completely overrated for me and it's just annoying as well.

Then there's the pace and the world building. Eh, they were okay but also had potential to be better. I feel like if the pace was more consistent then I probably would've devoured this all in one sitting without little breaks here and there. As for the world building, I definitely needed more in this one so I'm hoping that the second book might have it? Just to redeem itself (in a way)

In the end, I already have the next book so I might as well dive into it and see if things get better. Especially after that little cliffhanger.. Clara OConnor

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This book was sent to me by the publisher for review. This in no way influences my opinion of the book.

I sadly decided to mark this book as a DNF (did not finish) at the 230 page mark. While I do think this book is a relatively engaging and easy read, something about the world building didn't stick with me. Occasionally there would be point where historical accounts would be introduced that seemed a bit info-dumpy, and I struggled to retain the information or see how it was entirely relevant. I understood the general basis of the conflict between societies/races of people, but when people started going into they lineage and such it just lost me. I couldn't seem to mould together the various influences, and it became clear to me that it would take a lot of convincing via the world building for me to see how things I already recognise separately (such as the Tudor dynasty, Roman Empire, and Celtic folklore) to be seen as one. Between this and the book not holding my interest throughout the month of January, I decided to set it aside, which is a shame. Clara OConnor 4 stars!

First things first, I was absolutely not prepared for how wild this was going to be. The premise is incredibly intriguing on its own but honestly reading this book was a whole wild ride.

This book is based in a futuristic world where the Roman Empire never fell. Cassandra, the only daughter of a powerful merchant in Londinium, is betrothed to Marcus, the most eligible bachelor in town. Cassandra has always been the perfect daughter, the perfect citizen, the perfect follower of the Code - that is until she begins to grow closer to Devyn, a mysterious boy looking for a girl with magic.

At the beginning of this story it very much felt like a dystopian book to me and honestly I really enjoyed that. I think I enjoyed the world building and the mystery and the intrigue around how everything works much more fascinating. There’s a Code, and strict rules to be followed and everyone is watched at all times? Sign me up! But then the fantasy side starts to show and it all just adds up to something much bigger than what I was originally expecting. Hidden powers? Forbidden magic? Emotion-led magic outbursts? Double sign me up!

As a first book in a series, this sets up everything quite well. There’s a strong introduction, enough revelations about the outside world and the magic system but not too much that would prevent us from having much more to look forward to in upcoming sequels!

One of the few things I struggled with at the beginning of this book was the romance between Devyn and Cassandra, as it felt a little too sudden for me. However, as the story developed I became much more invested and my originally worries dissipated.

This is a fast paced, intriguing, entertaining read with lots and lots to uncover. Overall a very strong beginning to this series and I’m excited to see where it leads!

Thank you so much to the publisher for providing me with an ARC. Clara OConnor Thanks to the publisher for providing an eARC of Secrets of the Starcrossed in exchange for an honest review.

First off, the world here was so interesting I just wish it wasn't framed as a backdrop for a couple that I hated. Cassandra is your standard good girl finds out world isn't as good as she thought so we're not going to talk about her a lot but one of her two main love interests Devyn made me want to scream.

At first I was just going to give this a slightly below average rating because a lot of the things I hated about Devyn were things I know other people are into. He calls Cassandra little girl and Papa's little princess (in reference to her father. He's not calling himself papa and later shortens it to princess) which just... I get Baby is normalized but little girl has always read as not only incredibly condescending but also super creepy. Devyn and Cassandra are also a 4 year age gap couple which is fine I guess since they're in their twenties (although highkey I'm so sure they were originally teenagers that got aged up because of said age gap because the book treats them like teens) but it turns out when they first met Cassandra was 12 and Devyn was a 16 year old pretending to be 12 to get closer to her and just... every time he used condescending language my brain forced me to remember that and it was not a good time. Anyways like I said, I get that kind of guy is genuinely people's type so here's your warning that the next paragraph where I reveal what made me big time want to slap Devyn has spoilers.

Drugs! That's the spoiler. Cassandra and Devyn have their first kiss in the right headspace then he's all no we can't be together but then when they get a lot more physically intimate for the first time it's established that Cassandra is trying to seduce him while on drugs that are meant to make her hypersexual. Cassandra acknowledges it, Devyn acknowledges it, and I was all ready to be annoyed that this book was going to have a no, I might be an asshole but I won't take advantage of you scene to try and redeem all of Devyn's earlier crappiness but then I got even more furious because he very quickly is like hmmm... if you insist.

I'm so frustrated. I loved the world and themes being set up here. I wanted to explore them. But everything in this book is so tightly wrapped up in Devyn's character and he was just so awful that he tainted everything for me. Clara OConnor Thank you NetGalley for providing me with an e-copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Cassandra has everything she could wish for. Her father is a powerful merchant and she is betrothed to the most eligible bachelor in Londinium.

Things start to change when she crosses paths with a strange boy who is on a quest to find a missing girl.

Meanwhile an unexplained illness is making its way through the city. The illness only seems to be targeting those who have Celtic magic in their blood.

Cassandra will soon discover that she does not live in the haven she once thought she did and she will be forced to make some choices that test everything she once believed in.

What I liked about this book

The concept is really interesting. The Roman Empire didn't fall and some of them live in a walled city within Britannia.

The author references real historical places and people throughout the story.

I enjoyed the romance between Cass and Devyn.

I found the use of both magic and technology intriguing.

What I didn't like

It takes a long time for the story to build up.

There is very little in the way of explanation. There is a lot of speculation but not very much confirmation (if that makes sense). After finishing the book, I felt like I still had no idea what's going on.

This is the first instalment in the series so a cliff hanger ending was to be expected, but I feel like the ending is really abrupt.

It took me a long time to get into this book but once I did I couldn't put it down. I flew through the last 50% but I was quite disappointed by the end. Though I do think I would read the next instalment to see where the story goes.

3 stars

Find this review and others on my blog Clara OConnor GREAT PREMISE BUT THAT'S ABOUT IT

Actual rating: 2.5 ⭐

Honestly, this was not a bad book. It really wasn't. It just wasn't all that it could have been. It really had potential to be good. It started out as something that was going to be good. But it lost momentum about halfway through and it didn't pick up again in my opinion.

👍 What I Liked 👍

Premise: A world were the Roman empire never collapsed on itself. It persisted all the way up to our present day and further. That's the premise of this book and that really appealed to me. It was a thought provoking premise that could have been turned into something really good.

👎 What I Disliked 👎

Inaccurate: If there's one thing I absolutely loathe and cannot discount it is something inaccurate. And I found such a thing in this book. This is a proposed Roman society. And yet... the people in this world say to Hades! Hades is a Greek god. The Romans would have said to Pluto.

Pace: At first I didn't mind the pace because I was enjoying the world building. But soon the world building failed and so did the pace. It was just too slow and drawn out.

World building: Again, at first the world building was intriguing and interesting. But that didn't last. It's obvious that O'Connor has built a very wide and complex universe in her mind. But I really don't think she did a good enough job of explaining and laying down her world. It got confusing.

Romance: Devyn and Cassandra are drawn to each other. And then they are not. And then they are. And then they are not. And then they are. And then they are not. Must I continue?

ARC provided by the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

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