Thanks to Margaret K. McElderry Books for giving me a free digital copy via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
First for 2021 is a review that I’ve been meaning to write since early last month. Yes, hello, woe is me that I’m WAY BEHIND on reviewing this book since it released…last year. Oops! The struggle is REAL when it comes to trying to write a coherent review that isn’t just, “I liked it. Go buy it.” lol
Title: These Violent Delights (These Violent Delights #1)
Author: Chloe Gong
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Release date: November 17, 2020
Genre: Young adult, historical fiction, fantasy
Length: 464 pages (hardcover)
Synopsis: (via Goodreads) “The year is 1926, and Shanghai hums to the tune of debauchery.
A blood feud between two gangs runs the streets red, leaving the city helpless in the grip of chaos. At the heart of it all is eighteen-year-old Juliette Cai, a former flapper who has returned to assume her role as the proud heir of the Scarlet Gang—a network of criminals far above the law. Their only rivals in power are the White Flowers, who have fought the Scarlets for generations. And behind every move is their heir, Roma Montagov, Juliette’s first love…and first betrayal.
But when gangsters on both sides show signs of instability culminating in clawing their own throats out, the people start to whisper. Of a contagion, a madness. Of a monster in the shadows. As the deaths stack up, Juliette and Roma must set their guns—and grudges—aside and work together, for if they can’t stop this mayhem, then there will be no city left for either to rule.”
Oh man, this was like the worst but best torture. The angst, the wanting is literally all I could ask for in a romance, let alone in a re-telling of Romeo and Juliet. This is the best kind of enemies-to-lovers story as well, and hopefully it’ll be without the tragedy that is the actual play. I seriously had enough mini heart attacks reading this book anyway.
First, let’s talk about Juliette and Roma. I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again, Juliette could stab me and I’d be happy about it. I can’t remember the last time I loved a female character so much, outside of those in my favorite series. She tries to hide her softness, revealing it only to those close to her, but she sees her father’s business, her inheritance, falling between her fingers thanks to one of her awful family members. Juliette wants to be more involved with her father’s business, but I almost feel like he never really gives that to her. She cares, obviously, especially when the monster and the madness take hold of those in Scarlet Gang territory. Here, we see the contrast between her and Roma Montagov, the heir to White Flower gang and her rival. Roma’s softness almost became the death of him. It’s this softness that his father hates and created a rift between him and Juliette when they were younger.
If you told me this written by a debut author, I would be shocked because it doesn’t feel like that. We have the rich world of 1920s Shanghai, a city that the British and French want to sink their claws into. I am all about Juliette getting in jabs at the white people she comes across and how they’re trying to take over the city. I liked how we got the smallest glimpses into what Juliette and Roma’s lives were like when they were actually nice to each other (four years ago), and you get the faint idea that they were something more, but we don’t know what caused the riff. But then we do, and oh boy. The fact that Juliette and Roma actually tried to stay away from one another considering their past until these events bring them together… Insert THE ANGST.
When it comes to the side characters, I am skeptical! Okay, maybe not so skeptical about Benedict and Marshall. But Juliette’s “friends” who are also her family? Are they even vying for her side? I don’t know.
This is definitely a book I plan to add to my personal library. I can’t wait for the sequel either. If you’ve read this book, I’d love to know your thoughts!
Check out these other reviews:
- Nyan at BiblioNyan gave this book 5 stars and provided a great review!
- Fanna at FannaforBooks also rated this book highly!
- Chloe at Marshmallow Pudding really loved the historical setting and the diverse characters.