Maxwell delivers a mesmerizing retelling of the famous star-crossed lovers, Romeo and Juliet, in her latest novel, set in Italy at the beginning of the Renaissance. Juliet Capelletti is a headstrong, intelligent young lady who is facing an arranged marriage to Jacopo Strozzi, her father’s new business partner. She does not look forward to her match but knows that it will make her parents happy. Juliet’s entire future is forever changed one night at the engagement party of her best friend, Lucrezia, when she meets the handsome Romeo Monticecco. Romeo is at the party to seek reconciliation between his family and the Capelettis, who have been feuding and retaliating against each other for years.
Juliet and Romeo find a chance to talk together alone under the stars, and their destiny unfolds. Both are surprised by the other’s passion for poetry and shared interest in Dante Alighieri’s Vita Nuova. After their first meeting, Juliet is determined to find a way out of her upcoming marriage to Jacopo, even though this means defying her family’s wishes for her and possibly destroying the business between her father and her betrothed.
What unfolds is a beautiful love story between the soul mates Romeo and Juliet. Maxwell realistically portrays the torment with which Juliet is faced as she wonders what her future holds. The things I enjoyed the most about the novel were how Maxwell drew parallels between Dante and his love, Beatrice, and Romeo and Juliet, and her use of poetry and quotes from Dante throughout the novel. Readers will savor this exquisite and magical love story.