Romeo Cacciamani and Julie Roseman are rival florists in Boston, whose families have hated each other for as long as anyone can remember (although no one can recall why). After 15 years apart, these two 60-somethings meet again at a small business convention where both are trying to salvage their family business. At last, animosity withers and attraction blooms instead.
The two quickly become lovebirds, and they aren't about to let something as trivial as a generations-long feud stand in the way of romance. But their respective families feel differently. Romeo's octogenarian mother, Julie's meddling ex-husband, and a cast of Cacciamani and Roseman children intervene with a hatred that matches the couple's love.
Julie and Romeo is the first novel from Jeanne Ray, mother of Ann Patchett, the best-selling author of The Magician's Assistant. Ray, a 60-something herself, has created a funny, sexy leading lady who shows that there is life and love after children, grandchildren, divorce, and age 60. The novel picks up the pace with each chapter as Ray falls into an easy rhythm. Her characters get funnier and each situation zanier than the last. Ray never fails to find the humor as Julie and Romeo face just about every obstacle on the road to romance. You'll be laughing out loud at the crazy things the two families do to spite one another, and one or two of the down-to-earth, flawed characters are likely to remind you of someone from your own family.
Julie struggles to maintain her sanity as she tries to keep her new relationship under wraps, her two daughters turn into nagging mothers, and the flower shop gets closer and closer to going under.
Think Montagues and Capulets, but unlike that tragic story, it's hard to guess what Julie and Romeo's outcome will be. This is a love story, but after some family feuding lands Romeo in the hospital, the future doesn't look too rosy. With just the right amount of sassiness and assertiveness, Julie feels like every woman fighting for love. Her characters fall in love early on, but Ray does a fine job keeping us guessing who will end up with whom. Wise, witty, and thoroughly modern, Julie and Romeo is a fun novel for anyone who thinks love is easy.
Stephanie Swilley, who graduated from college in May, wonders if she'll be 60 before she finds her Romeo.