Ballantine, Aug 2010, $25.00
Following the death of her Great Aunt Rose who raised her and her twin sister Janice, the will left twentyish Julie with nothing; all went to her sibling. Heartbroken, a stranger Umberto gives Julie Jacobs a safety deposit box key. Inside allegedly is a treasure her late mom left to Julie. Curious, Julie travels to the bank in Siena, Italy where she opens the box.
What she finds confuses Julie as the contents are a battered copy of Romeo and Juliet and letters. However, as she reads the correspondence, Julie learns she is a direct descendent of a member of one of the feuding families, fourteenth Giulietta Tomei, whose love for Romeo Marescotti inspired the Bard to write Romeo and Juliet. Additionally her mom left her clues to find the treasure of "Juliet's Eyes"; precious gems supposedly implanted in a golden statue. As she investigates, she meets her kin and the descendents of Romeo; still feuding after all these centuries.
Juliet is an engaging modernization of the classic play using terrific historical references from the fourteenth century to anchor the original still going strong blood feud. The story line is fast-paced as Julie, supported by Janice, follows the clues to the real gems of the heart though she distrusts Alessandro who has her falling in love with him. Ironically though Julie is the star, the fourteenth century cast is deeper as the pure blood feud seems more genuine with it difficult to accept the blood has not been watered down after six plus centuries. Still readers will fully relish this historical-contemporary amateur sleuth romance as the Romeo and Juliet curse remains powerful in modern day Siena.