Dear Readers: We all know the ending to Shakespeare's tragedy, but this novel takes another step - a giant leap of faith, really. We begin when Romeo Montague, who died for his Juliet, travels through the darkness of lose-love and awakens in present day Hawaii. Almost immediately he meets a Zen Master who is a lot like Pat Morita was in the Karate Kid. He is there to help Romeo through his struggle and teach him about the modern world. The Master is actually a funny character and does very well beginning this "suspend your disbelief" plotline. As the years pass, Romeo travels to New York and then back to Hawaii to live. He is thirty-two years old, sells software out of his home to support himself, and has become a Zen Buddhist.
Our lovely Juliet now goes by the name of Emma Gallant (Emilie is what her friends call her), and she is an eighteen year old actress. She is the "next big thing," "the up and coming star." All the girls look up to her and all the men want to be with her. Her young, naive heart is taken at the beginning of our story, by Johnny Perfection, a 40-year-old actor who was once the most beloved bad boy in Hollywood but now finds his body sagging in all the wrong places. He is also happily married with children and wants to keep his affair with Emma Gallant as quiet as possible. This way, no reporter can knock him off his "heroic" pedestal.
Romeo & Juliet (I mean, Emilie) meet in the modern-day dating world of the Yahoo internet chat rooms. Of course, they fall madly in love and realize through the Zen power of the computer that they are, in fact, soul mates. (You'll have to excuse or enjoy, depending on who you are, the hot and heavy cyber sessions that are had throughout the novel between these two star-crossed lovers).
Past lives are told through Romeo's hours of meditation that include a time when Juliet was an Egyptian Pharaoh's daughter and, in the lost city of Atlantis, where Juliet and Romeo were married but, of course, didn't survive. For me, this story was a lot like seeing the movie Romeo + Juliet. It was a modern-day attempt at a script that should really be left alone. I found Romeo completely unromantic in just about every way and was disgusted more than anything else during their conversations over the internet that he was in his thirties and Juliet was still only a teenager. If someone were to meet this guy in a chat room, he'd have polyester pants and live with his mother. Unfortunately, Juliet (Emilie) is pretty much a simpering twit through most of the dialogue and you wonder why Romeo would be interested in the first place.
There are two bright sides: The use of Shakespearian names throughout the book (i.e., Emilie's agents are the Capulet Agency) are well-done; and the descriptions of the locales - especially the Hawaiian island - are lovely. You can imagine yourself walking hand in hand on a beach with the man you love. Only problem is - you'd make sure that it WASN'T the Romeo in this book.