Cover Image: Secrets of the Starcrossed

Secrets of the Starcrossed

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Member Reviews

Thank you to NetGalley for the audiobook copy of The Once and Future Queen - Secrets of the Starcrossed. 

When I began this book, I was getting real Orwell 1984 vibes. The Big Brother like city with it's cameras, microphones and medication. 

I was really intrigued by the concept, and what really drew me in was the courtroom scene where the public choose the fate of rule breakers of the code. 

Unfortunately, the story came away from that really edgy dystopian route, and turned in to more of a romance with *some* fantasy and dystopian themes in the background. 

If the author had taken that law/court idea and ran with it, we could of had the next Hunger Games. It really had that potential. 

Sadly, it ended up being lots of fluffy romance where our male and female main characters keep being taken apart and coming back together over and over again. 

More world building would have been good, and more focus on the magic and the dirty government. I'm not against the romance- its just the main theme when it shouldn't be. The constant mushy thoughts and actions really overpower the amazing concept ideas the author clearly has. Maybe if this novel had been written in third person it wouldn't of read like that as much.

This series has/had(?) a lot of potential and I will give the second one a try if I am able to the audiobook again. 

One thing to really praise (as I am reviewing the audiobook) was the narrator. They did a wonderful job making Catherine sound like a snooty upper class girl.
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Perhaps this may have been different if it had not been an audio book and I had read it myself. However, with the audio I just could stand the characters voices or personalities.

The idea of the book is fantastic and the Londinium world is amazing. The world is well put together and you can honestly feel the world starting to exist around you.

Maybe in a few years I'll pick it up again as a book. Grab this book as a book and prepare to travel to a Roman world that never was.
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I am all for a book which draws you in and leaves you wanting more, and this certainly made me feel that way. I really enjoyed the way the characters developed throughout the book, and especially the romance aspect! I found parts of it to be genuinely funny too, especially the first scene of the party. 

This book included a lot of different genres. Romance, historical fiction and fantasy, and i was living for each. I did struggle with the reader of this audiobook, I felt like it was dragging and it was too formal.
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I really wanted to love this one but I just didn't. There were too many things happening in one book, too many different combinations of retellings and mythologies coming together as one and just not gelling. 

DNF'd 20% in.
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This one is not for me. Although this was an easy read, the world building and mixing of history was rather confusing. I wasn’t drawn to any of the characters. The premise was good but this didn’t really hold my attention which was a shame. 

Thank you to Harper Collins UK for this advanced copy.
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This one was a miss for me, I thought the premise sounded quite interesting but the story just didn't do it justice. I also wasn't a huge fan of the narration, which can certainly make or break a book for me.
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This is an interesting new series aimed at a YA audience. I found it hard to get into and would have prefered a little more background to the culture we are launced into. The plot itself becomes pretty straight forward once you understand a little more. Indeed it is somewhat repetiitve. The escape and recapture happens once too many times really!

It is set in an altered version of London, England but that is neither here nor there, it could be set anywhere at anytime as it is a parallel universe to anything we would know or understand. I kept looking for reference points which I could relate to in out history or even geography but there were very few and those there are are pretty irrelevant. I think the author has missed an opportunity there as it would be an interesting twist.

However my major comment about this book is the sexual content and the way it is delt with. I am not suggesting that the author implies that what happens to Cass is good or to be promoted but reading this in a week when the right of women to be safe is parramount, I found the inclusion (especially for young adults/teens) of drug sex is disturbing. On the back of this I certainly could not recommend this as a book for the (sometimes disturbed) teens with whom I work. 

All in all I found the story rather drawn out towards the end and (spoiler here) there really is no ending as such, you really have to read the next book in the series to get any sense of conclusion. A clever ploy but I would like to see some level of completion for each enstallment with just a hook for wanting more rather than an absolute cliff hanger.

NB I read half the book and then switched to the audio. I prefered the experience of listening and it was well read.
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4.5 starlights ⭐️🌟⭐️🌟✨

When I heard this book was a touch of Hungers games meets Grushaverse with Marie Liu’s style of writing- I just had to read it! 

Set against the backdrop of an alternate reality, where the Roman Empire never falls, but instead thrives, advances and adapts with futuristic technology and creates a system fused with Celtic magic, legends and traditions - it was a truly stunning premise!

Secrets of the Starcrossed follows the story of Cassandra- a proud daughter of a wealthy merchant, loyal follower of the Code, fiancé to the most eligible bachelor in the City -  Marcus Courtenay and loyal citizen of Londinium. 
The people of Londinium live by a Code (the laws and norms of the land) and those who fail to follow the rules are punished on the sands and the citizens are happy to comply. 
However, once Cass meets Devyn, her world turns upside down. Cassandra had her life planned out but Devyn dazzles her, leads her to question the Code, unravel secrets and find love that completely captivates her.  

A great plot and interesting setting and world building. The romance was beautiful, albeit a little predictable but good.
Cassandra , Marcus and Devyn were all intriguing/ dynamic characters but something felt forced with the relationships. 

Overall, the book was great but fell a little flat and complex at times, like it was trying too hard, too much going on maybe? Nevertheless, A great start to a potentially brilliant trilogy - a wonderful take on a dystopian adventure with a touch of SciFi and fantasy and forbidden romance. 

The narration to the audiobook is fantastic. 

4.5 starlights 

** I was given an audiobook  by the publishers Harper Collins Uk, One more chapter through @netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
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I was really looking forward to reading this after reading the synopsis and im thankful to netgalley for allowing me early access however this book could have been so much more than what it was, i just felt like what the plot was and how it was written were on two different levels. The writing wasn't bad at all, i mean i finished this book in a couple of sittings however it just felt too easy on how the story played out and as a reader i knew how it was going to go.
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Secrets of the Starcrossed by Clara O’Connor 

This is book one in The Once and Future Queens series. Overall, I did enjoy the book. It was interesting. I liked how it was set in Britain, but with a twist. It’s mainly set in a walled city previously known as London, which is set apart from the rest of the country, to prevent mingling with Britons, and magic wielders. This London is mentioned as being technologically advanced, but we don’t see a lot of it in action. I hope the second book goes into more detail. Character-wise, there were some interesting characters. I liked the development and growth of Cassandra the protagonist and found Devyn fascinating, I look forward to seeing where his story takes us. 

This book does have quite a few tropes, like love triangles. I didn’t mind that, I quite like reading tropes. 

I feel the narration didn’t hit the mark with this book. As a fan of audiobooks, I feel narrators can make or break a novel and this one just wasn’t the right fit for the character. 

I will be continuing the series as I’ve been told book two ends very well.
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I wanted to love this book, but I just couldn't. So many tropes that I don't enjoy, and the one that I do enjoy was so barely there that I just didn't know what I was reading. 

I also wasn't a fan of the non-consent No one can be drugged and be of sound mind to give consent, even if the drugs were supposed to make her hypersexual. It felt wrong to me. That alone made me want to throw the book from my hands (but I didn't want to ruin my phone). 

Overall not a huge fan of this book.
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This was a book that for me, was conceptually interesting but pretty much failed in the execution. The setting is interesting, being a future London with technological advancement, but also a London in which the Romans never left and the Britons live outside the wall. Unfortunately, the plot was incredibly garbled and jumped from scene to scene and leap of logic to leap of logic with little cohesion. The characters were utterly stereotypical and the romance felt forced and unbelievable. As such, I won't be continuing with the series.
I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.
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Thank you to One More Chapter for my copy of this book via Netgalley. This is only the second audiobook I have listened to on Netgalley shelf. The app has come a long way since the first one I tried and I will definitely be requesting more. 

Our main character is Cassandra. She's not the most likeable of characters if I'm honest. She's a bit winy and has only really just noticed the world she lives in is not the same as those of the poor. Then there's Marcus, her intended and Devyn, the bad boy. 

The dating seems to be in the dark ages with chaperons and scandals when two characters merely kiss but then you have the code and the technology of the future. 

This book is set in a world like ours but it's not quite right. The places and the names are the same or similar but it is very much not the London we know and love. This sort of thing. I love working out the differences between our world and theirs. Working out things like the code and who is controlling everyone. And of course why, This book is big on intrigue and secrets. There's a much bigger plan than just what we see on the surface. 

The non-world building parts were really easy to read. I was very interested in this sickness. Why were these people getting sick? Could anyone help them? Would anyone help them or did they simply not care?

I liked the world but some of the world-building was a bit clunky. It wasn't easy to follow for someone like me who isn't a history buff. I hope we get to see more of the Britons as the series progresses as I think there will be some interesting characters there. I am excited to see more of their powers and what the hell is going to happen next!
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At first I thought my struggle with this laid at the feet of the audio narration - the most dramatic audio narration imaginable. But actually, I think the romance just is uncomfortably cringeworthy and dramatic, and that couldn't be further from my preference. 

The premise is interesting, albeit a little confused with multiple ideas/genres/timelines weaving somewhat imperfectly. In this world, the Roman Empire didn't collapse and instead persists as the normal way of living. The problem with this is that an unusual combination of modern technology and Roman convention blends. This actually was what drew me in, but there were so many inaccuracies or impossibilities that I couldn't see past them(Hades is a Greek God, not a Roman one!).

Frankly though, even putting that aside I just could not cope with the romance. The two characters in question are instantly overwhelmingly attracted to each other, with dribble practically visible on the page, and  the dramatic thoughts of the protagonist as she gazes longingly at her love interest made me genuinely feel second hand embarrassment. Perhaps even this would be something I could overlook if not for the "on again, off again" approach to their love story as well.

I like the idea a lot, but the execution was lacking and the ridiculous romance utterly destroyed it.

ARC provided from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
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Dear Publisher, thank you for the opportunity to listen to this e-arc via audiobook. I am said to say that about 25% in I decided to DNF this book. I enjoyed the concept of this book, but the execution in my opinion was poorly done. It might have had something to with narrator, who was a times difficult to listen to. I have not written reviews on public sites such as Amazon and Goodreads as I did DNF this book. If you would still like me to publish a review online, please let me know. Once again, thank you for my copy it's just a shame that could not get into the story or the audiobook.
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My thanks to HarperCollins Audio U.K. One More Chapter for a review copy of the unabridged audiobook edition, via NetGalley, of ‘Secrets of the Starcrossed’ by Clara O’Connor. It was narrated by Jan Cramer and has a running time of 13 hours, 18 minutes at 1x speed.

This is Book One of O’Conner’s The Once and Future Queen YA fantasy trilogy. It had a assumption that immediately grabbed my attention. The book had many twist and turns and at times it could be hard to connect to the main characters through the book this got better. The narrator was clear and brought life to the book.
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My thanks to HarperCollins Audio U.K. One More Chapter for a review copy of the unabridged audiobook edition, via NetGalley, of ‘Secrets of the Starcrossed’ by Clara O’Connor. It was narrated by Jan Cramer and has a running time of 13 hours, 18 minutes at 1x speed.

This is Book One of O’Conner’s The Once and Future Queen YA fantasy trilogy. It had a premise that immediately grabbed my attention: an alternative history in which the Roman Empire never fell. While the date of events isn’t specified, at one point twentieth century fossil-fuelled cars are referenced as outdated. So Roman yet also futuristic in terms of technology. Sign me up!

Londinium is the last stronghold of the Romans left in Britannia. It remains in a delicate state of peace with the ancient kingdoms that surround it. The novel’s protagonist and narrator is Cassandra, the only daughter of a powerful Londinium merchant. Since the age of twelve she has been betrothed to Marcus, the most eligible bachelor in the city. She is now twenty-two and about to graduate. Following this she’s expects to marry Marcus and abide by the Code that all loyal citizens follow. 

However, she then 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…” well this proves a game changer.

Even though overall I enjoyed this fantasy with its fascinating core premise including the blending in of Arthurian lore, I did have a few quibbles. Like the Sky historical fantasy series, Britannia, at times the plot was a bit bonkers, which wasn’t a huge issue. Yet having Cassandra constantly referring to Devyn and Marcus as ‘boys’ and Devyn in turn calling her ‘little girl’ when they are all in their twenties had me rolling my eyes. Cassandra’s rollercoaster angst over her feelings may well be catering to a YA/Teen readership but didn’t particularly strike a chord with me. 

I was also a bit disappointed that religion had been jettisoned in Cassandra’s world even though there’s magic outside Londinium. It could be that the usage of ‘boys’ is down to Cassandra’s immaturity and that the dismissal of religion as outdated is her perspective. We shall see as the series continues.

I appreciated Clara O’Connor including a Q&A on her world building and notes on Roman London following the main text. 

In terms of the audiobook while I have enjoyed a number of audiobooks narrated by Jan Cramer, I did feel that her voice was a little mature for Cassandra. There is no doubt that her delivery is crisp, clear and posh but it did take me a while to settle into her narration. When Cassandra was being very flighty about ‘boys’ and the like it was disconcerting hearing what was clearly a woman’s voice. 

I do hope that further audiobooks will be produced for the series as it has a rich plot and experiencing it as an immersive read/listen brought it vividly to life.

Overall, I enjoyed this very much even with my quibbles and I am looking forward to reading more. The second and third books in the trilogy are scheduled for publication in March and June 2021, so not a long wait for the continuation.
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Romans and King Arthur's legend all mixed into one equal one very good story! I listened to this in a day I just  couldn't stop, so many twists and omg's. Its a definite yes from me and that ending! 
Only downside is i felt the voice of the narrator didn't match with the voice of the main character, it seemed to old.
Otherwise a fantastic book and Please can I have the next book now!!
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Sadly I could not get on with this book at all.  From early on, I felt I was going to be annoyed by the soulmates and romance stuff, and I was correct. I really wanted to like this, the synopsis sounds so good.  But in reality, I really wanted everyone in it to drown and Cassandra annoyed me throughout.  She kept swinging between opinions like a metronome.  

The narrator was really good though, and I enjoyed her work on the book.
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The book in general was an okay read. However, I found this book to be really confusing with an over complicated world. I tried really hard to get to connect with the main character but I found them to be very immature. It was almost like the character didn't belong in the world described. Really disappointing.

The narrator was clear and brought life to the book.
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