Neither an appreciation for, nor a familiarity with Shakespeare is needed to enjoy this delightful take on “Romeo and Juliet.” The characters’ chemistry is there from the start, and their families’ antipathy for each other, while aggravating, makes for an entertaining story and a captivating romance.
Juliet Arabella attends the annual Mezzanotte Masquerade Ball in an unhappy state after refusing a marriage proposal she knows her family wants her to accept. That numbness disappears after she meets a masked stranger in the vineyards. But the stranger turns out to be Leo Mezzanotte, whose family runs a chocolate shop on the same street as the Arabella family chocolate boutique. Both families are vehemently against any contact with one another, much less a relationship, but as Juliet gears up for a chocolate competition in Italy, she lands in Leo’s company — and in his arms. In Rome, Juliet discovers that Leo has a secret that could destroy his family business. (HQN, Jun., 368 pp., $14.95)