Review: Unmasking Juliet


Title: Unmasking Juliet
Author: Teri Wilson
Publisher: Green Darner Press
Release Date: May 2014
Length: 368 pages
Series?: no
Genre: Retelling, Contemporary

Ever since she was a little girl learning to make decadent truffles in her family’s chocolate shop, Juliet Arabella has been aware of the bitter feud between the Arabellas and the Mezzanottes. With their rival chocolate boutiques on the same street in Napa Valley, these families never mix. Until one night, when Juliet anonymously attends the annual masquerade ball. In a moonlit vineyard, she finds herself falling for a gorgeous stranger, a man who reminds her what passion is like outside of the kitchen. But her bliss is short-lived when she discovers her masked prince is actually Leo Mezzanotte, newly returned from Paris and the heir to her archenemy’s confection dynasty.

With her mind in a whirl, Juliet leaves for Italy to represent the Arabellas in a prestigious chocolate competition. The prize money will help her family’s struggling business, and Juliet figures it’s a perfect opportunity to forget Leo…only to find him already there and gunning for victory. As they compete head-to-head, Leo and Juliet’s fervent attraction boils over. But Juliet’s not sure whether to trust her adversary, or give up on the sweetest love she’s ever tasted…

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my review

My Thoughts 

This is a contemporary retelling of Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet set in a feuding chocolatier’s world. A decades-old disagreement and theft has put a rift between the Arabella and Mezzanotte families that has been fanned into flames just as much as the forbidden love between dutiful Juliet Arabella and newly returned Leo Mezzanotte.

There is a growing passion between the two that is sweet, endearing, tear-jerking, feisty. And forbidden.

The book is filled with personality! All of which were realistic but also binge-worthy. That awful behavior you just can’t stop watching – all because of the betrayal and hatred springing from the feud. Juliet Arabella is a dutiful daughter to her family and the family business, The Chocolate Boutique. The isolation is beginning to outweigh the love she has for her job. She is also manipulated by a controlling mother, to whom everyone in the family defers to and does her bidding, no matter how ludicrous. Her father and brother also add to the pressure like a couple of mob bosses. All of the conflict and hatred begins to boil over for Juliet’s saucepan. She wants to take a stand for herself and what she wants, but it is a hard task with her busybody, no-nonsense family.

Leo Mezzanotte is a very manly guy who has just come off of a plane from Paris and a broken engagement. Despite his mindset to reject any type of commitment – almost including to his family’s chocolate business  after the duplicity and deceitful means in which they tricked him there by – he is a man full of love, kindness, and compassion in addition to his masterful chocolate skills.

Leo seemed to struggle more with internal conflicts than Juliet did. From the beginning, he was a take-stand character. Whereas that is what Juliet said she wanted, but her actions didn’t really show it at all. The only real stand she took was at the very end of the book in Rome in the final pages.

The supporting cast of characters added depth, humor, and disbelief to this family-feuding story. There is Alegra, Juliet’s cousin taken in by her family who is like a sister, and a little more sympathetic to Juliet’s feelings. George Alcott III, the conceited gold digger heir to Royal Gourmet Distributors. Joe Mezzanotte, Leo’s almost-to-the-point-of-evil uncle. Gina, Leo’s mob wife-like sister and her husband Marco, who is just as much embroiled in the family feud he married into. All of these characters add to the mystifying family feud with their energy, passion and hatred.

The family rivalry was believable and engrossing. Juliet receives her grandmother’s recipe book, which also contained personal journal entries that detailed from her perspective how the feud began all those years ago with her best friend, the Mezzanotte grandmother. Leo does not believe in the feud. His attitude is “So what? It has nothing to do with us. We have no reason to hate each other.” Juliet shows him the recipe book and the entries. The final few entries take root in Leo’s heart. He does his best to make a concession and extend an olive branch to Juliet that she does not discover until the last few chapters of the book. It was incredibly sweet and a little tear-jerking, just like the ending.

Wilson is a master of the craft of detail. Some of the descriptions were so vivid and striking, especially those from the very beginning when Juliet and Leo meet in the sunflower garden at the masquerade ball. Such beauty! I almost want to buy a print copy of the book just to mark up those passages and keep around for the simple beauty of the carefully crafted writing.

This was my first book by Wilson, but it seems she has found her niche in carefully retelling classics in our contemporary world with her own flair and mark. I can’t wait to see which story she will re-spin next.


Teri Wilson writes romance and women’s fiction for Harlequin and Gallery Books. Her novels UNLEASHING MR. DARCY and THE ART OF US are both now Hallmark Channel Original Movies, and her third Hallmark film, MARRYING MR. DARCY, is set to premiere on June 2.

Teri also writes an offbeat fashion column for the royal blog What Would Kate Do and is a frequent guest contributor for its sister site, Meghan’s Mirror. In 2017, she served as a national judge for the Miss United States pageant in Orlando, Florida, and has since judged in the Miss America system. She has a major weakness for cute animals, pretty dresses and good books.

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Audiobook Review: Anne of Green Gables

814060Title: Anne of Green Gables
Author: L.M. Montgomery
Publisher: Post Hypnotic Press
Release Date: May 2013
Length: 320 pages
Series?: Anne of Green Gables #1
Genre: Classics, Children’s

Find the book: Goodreads | Amazon

As soon as Anne Shirley arrived at the snug, white farmhouse called Green Gables, she knew she wanted to stay forever…but would the Cuthberts send her back to the orphanage? Anne knows she’s not what they expected–a skinny girl with decidedly red hair and a temper to match. If only she could convince them to let her stay, she’d try very hard not to keep rushing headlong into scrapes or blurt out the very first thing she had to say. Anne was not like anybody else, everyone at Green Gables agreed; she was special–a girl with an enormous imagination. This orphan girl dreamed of the day when she could call herself Anne of Green Gables.



The Skinny

Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert had decided to adopt an orphan. They wanted a nice sturdy boy to help Matthew with the farm chores. The orphanage sent a girl instead – a mischievous, talkative redhead who the Cuthberts thought would be no use at all. But as soon as Anne arrived at the snug, white farmhouse called Green Gables, she knew she wanted to stay forever. And the longer Anne stayed, the harder it was for anyone to imagine Green Gables without her.

The Players

Anne – the spunky red-headed orphan who comes to Avonlea

Marilla – the strict disciplinarian, sister to Matthew

Matthew – the sweet and gentle spirit, brother to Martha

Diana – Anne’s one true friend

Gilbert – the boy Anne loathes and then loves

The Quote

 “You’d find it easier to be bad than good if you had red hair.”

The Narration

Colleen Winton does a fantastic job of portraying Anne and everyone of Emerald Isle. The variation and inflection in her voice and the bursting enthusiasm as Anne, with Marilla’s stark and drudgerly contrast was excellent.

The Highs and Lows

  • The Enchantment. Green Gables, Avonlea, and Anne are simply charming and enchanting. The setting couldn’t be more picturesque and lovely.
  • Years Gone By. Anne comes to Green Gables as a child, and the book spans the years sending her into young womanhood and becoming a mature young adult. It is hard to believe any of the characters except Anne and her schoolmates age over the years, but the last few chapters of the book reveal just what toll time has taken. And Anne handles it all with grace and strength.
  • Anne. She is spunky, wildly imaginative, long-winded, and stubborn. As Anne grows, she learns. She is not perfect by any stretch, and she understands the importance of learning from her mistakes, which are quite funny. She chooses to see the world in the best of lights, brimming with possibilities. Anne’s character is endearing and warms your heart.
  • Gilbert. From the moment he pulls Anne’s braids and calls her carrots, Gilbert has marked himself with a scarlet letter…at least in Anne’s mind. The two are such competitive rivals that they act as if they hate one another, refusing to speak to one another. They are young and ignorant, and as the years go by, the hate has been swallowed up in Anne to be replaced with fond feelings for Gilbert.
  • Marilla. She is old-fashioned for even 1908, and a strict disciplinarian. While the town’s girls are dressed in the modern fashion, Anne’s dress puts her at least twenty years in the past. Marilla is very hard on Anne, but she is also fair. As Anne seeks out the world without apprehension, the same cannot be said for Marilla, who took some time warming up to Anne.
  • Matthew. He is kind and warm and the opposite of Marilla. It is like they are two halves of one whole, and together they make everything work right. He understands things about Anne that Marilla refuses to recognize or bend to, like Anne’s desire for puffed sleeves.
  • The Chapters. While the book spans several years from Anne’s childhood into the late teens, each chapter is like a stand-alone story. For every chapter tells its own little story of Anne and her family and friends, usually with some scrape she has gotten herself into. By the end of the chapter, the incidents typically reach a conclusion.

The Take-Away

My two favorite scenes in the entire book were the big debacle over Marilla’s missing amethyst brooch (which sounds quite lovely), and Anne getting her dear Diana drunk on what she believed was raspberry cordial. In all, Anne is a little piece of all of us at some point in our childhood, and another piece of us for the rest of our lives: wanting to be wanted and loved. And she shows the best way to do that.

Recommendation – Buy, Borrow or Skip? 

The series is quite lengthy, so if you’re inclined to keep this around for re-reads or sharing with daughters/grandaughters/nieces, I’d say buy the books. I know I am looking forward to reading the rest of the series in the future.


About the Author

5350Lucy Maud Montgomery was a Canadian author, best known for a series of novels beginning with Anne of Green Gables, published in 1908.

She was born at Clifton, Prince Edward Island, Nov. 30, 1874. She came to live at Leaskdale, north of Uxbridge Ontario, in 1911 after her wedding with Rev. Ewen Macdonald on July 11, 1911 in Prince Edward Island. Her three children were born at Leaskdale, and she wrote close to a dozen books while she was living in the Leaskdale Manse before the Macdonald family moved to Norval, Ontario in 1926.

Maud died in Toronto April 24, 1942 and was buried at Cavendish, Prince Edward Island.