The Once and Future Queen | Secrets of the Starcrossed by Clara O’Connor – ARC Review!

Goodreads synopsis.

In a world where the Roman Empire never fell, two starcrossed lovers fight to ignite the spark of rebellion…

Londinium, the last stronghold of the Romans left in Britannia, remains in a delicate state of peace with the ancient kingdoms that surround it. As the only daughter of a powerful merchant, Cassandra is betrothed to Marcus, the most eligible bachelor in the city.

But then she meets Devyn, the boy with the strange midnight eyes searching for a girl with magic in her blood.

A boy who will make her believe in soulmates…

When a mysterious sickness starts to leech the life from citizens with Celtic power lying dormant in their veins, the imperial council sets their schemes in motion. And so Cassandra must make a choice: the Code or Chaos, science or sorcery, Marcus or Devyn?


Thank you to the publisher for giving me an early review copy of this book. I can confirm all thoughts and opinions are my own.

This is it guys, my first negative review and I’m so sad because the premise of this book made it sound so interesting, unfortunately the characters and authors writing style really let it down.

I want to start off by saying the world the author builds in this book is really interesting. A mixture of Fantasy/Sci-Fi and Historical fiction, Londinium is a Roman settlement in Britain, technologically advanced whilst the rest of the ‘natives’ of Britain waste away outside the walls. There were plenty of throwbacks to ancient Rome, senators in charge, an almost Gladiator ring, but all with a modern twist that made it a really fresh and fun take. Unfortunately the main characters made it impossible for me to like this book.

The main character Cassandra is pretty spoilt and entitled, which would be fine if she redeemed herself throughout the book, and while there were one or two moments where her ‘good side’ came out, she was entirely self-serving for most of the story, consequences be damned. It could have worked, the world she grew up in was not one where women are treated as equals so if she has been ruthless, determined to bring down the leaders, I could have lived with that. Unfortunately she was just a bit of a brat, unused to not getting her own way. Devyn was a bit of a dick if I’m being honest, and another character who was overly self-serving. He leads Cassandra on so many times, leaving her with more unanswered questions every time they meet. He turns her world upside down, but is unwilling to be there for her.

There are a few other characters mentioned, Marcus is Cassandras ‘chosen’ and they have been promised since she was 12. Marcus was pretty much the only character in the book that I liked, he grew up with a life of luxury but went against his fathers wishes to become a doctor helping both the rich and the poor. Cassandra pretty much treated him like crap, and yet he still came through for her in the end instead of turning her in. The rest of the characters were not well developed and it was hard keeping track of who was who.

The romance was way over the top and honestly took up so much of the story line which I felt could have been better spent developing the world. Because I didn’t really like the characters, I wasn’t invested in it at all. There was too much will they/wont they. I think the author was aiming for angst but it just came across as two people who really shouldn’t be together. For a YA book this was just a really bad example of a relationship to be sending people. There was a moment where one character was under the influence of drugs and basically forced another character into having sex, even after multiple instances of them saying no. In fact the whole relationship was based around one person saying no, and the other not caring and just throwing themselves at them.

I’m really sad with just how much I disliked this book because it has so much promise, but just fell so flat. Had the author developed the world better and given us an MC with better motives than wanting an unlikable boys d*** it could have been so much better. Alas, it just didn’t work for me and the only reason I powered through was because I enjoyed the ‘world building’ parts.

17 replies »

  1. I’m just so proud of you Becky. Just. So. Proud.

    This… your first salty review. 👏👏👏👏🥂

    Also…. what the fuck with the whole relationship revolving around one person saying no and the other not caring… like no and but why and let’s not … I mean… wow.

    Liked by 1 person

      • I have faith in you!!!!! You can do this. I mean I’ve only written 4. There is one waiting in the wings lol. And that YA is on the best seller list. So it isn’t like I do it all the time. I’m not a hate reader. It has to be honest. When you feel it, you do it.

        That isn’t romance. That is rape, abuse… I mean Jude and Cardan were tortured but not abusive.. well not physically.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Yea it was bad. And I guess I went into the book really thinking I would like it 🤷🏼‍♀️ I’m definitely not someone who would read a book to give it a bad review, but this was just too bad to not tell people.


      • That is even more egregious. It is one thing to want to read a book and its horrid but to anticipate a book and it disappoints you? Unforgivable

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I didn’t care for it either – except the world and the premise. I think the biggest problem for me was you never knew what the main theme was. Why is it so important that she be returned to Briton and what happens if she doesn’t. Does the disease continue ravaging the land and kill everyone or is there some other thing going on that only restoring her to Briton can achieve. That dire tone that keeps you wanting to read more is just not there.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Well done for sticking by your principles, Becky, and writing your true feelings about it.
    Reading the blurb I’d have been tempted with this one too but the aspects of the protagonists that you mention would have driven me INSANE! You’ve saved me from spending money on this as I would have had to DNF it. Hope the next read lives up to your expectations and it blows your socks off!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I love this omgggg. I recently got the arc for secrets of the starcrossed and I agree with like everything you said. Cassandra was such a brat…and whilst the world was pretty interesting, more time was spent describing guys’ chests?! 😂 I got bored about half way through and ended up listening to it at 2x (that and the fact I was cutting it *very* close to the publish date…) so I might have missed some stuff lol. Not the best book. Here’s my review of it 🙂 https://hundredsandthousandsofbooks.blog


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