Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Review: SHAKESPEAR BURNING by Charisse Moritz

Image Graphic designed by Sandra Lopez

He’s the boy who wants to disappear.

One mistake and seventeen-year-old Shake LeCasse lost everything. Now there’s no going back and no way to move forward. The once-popular Varsity hockey captain is living in the basement of a grandmother he barely knows, ditching school, avoiding friends and working hard on self-destruction.

She’s the girl nobody sees.

Cleo Lee survives however she can. Lie, cheat, steal, whatever it takes, and saving Mr. Popular isn’t part of the plan. Telling him the truth about the night that destroyed his life is downright dangerous. She needs to keep quiet, be smart and let the guy she’s been half in love with since middle school throw away a future she’d do anything to have. Too bad she sucks at playing it safe.


Excerpt from Shakespeare Burning:

He sits on the edge of the bed, his knees bent up grasshopper-style.  I check out his tangled navy blue sheets and feel slightly naughty, like I'm peeking into Santa's bag on the twenty-fourth. 

I should go.  Before I do something crazy, maybe mess around with the wasted hottie.  But that sounds more like a once-in-a-lifetime chance than a problem, so I linger. 

Shake catches hold of my fingers and sort of smiles.  His lips are full, a little pouty, and the stuff of high school girl legend.  No lie, I once heard three cheerleaders spend an entire forty minute study hall talking about nothing but his mouth and his kisses.  I was so fascinated, I considered taking notes.  He also has straight white teeth. I remember him in seventh grade with braces, but haven't seen his smile in a really long time, and never for me.
"Shoes," I tell him.    
He offers an enormous foot.  Lucky me gets the job of plucking the knot outta his laces.  I could row downstream using his sneaker as a canoe.  Once his shoes are off, he suddenly stands, unzips and steps out of his jeans.  His ten-mile-long legs are nicely muscled with just the right amount of blonde hair.  He wears boxer briefs from Gap and his socks don't match.  I may someday use this information to piss off Dripass-Deanna.
Snagging the hem of my shirt, he tugs me close and stares down.  I look way up and wonder what he sees.  I am not something he has ever bothered to look at before.  I don't blame him.  I am the social equivalent of pocket lint.  

Fingering the chain looping my nose to ear, his lips tip crooked.  "Weird," he says.
This is beyond weird.  It's so far beyond weird, it should be studied under a microscope and tested for harmful side-effects.  Racing pulse.  Shortness of breath.  Dizziness.  A sudden urge to slide palms over naked abs.
"Shirt?" I say, testing my power, and he peels it off.  I am suddenly a winning contestant on a game show.  I bounce in place but stop myself from clapping.  This is the best day ever.  His naked chest is everything I've imagined.  Maybe better.  Definitely better.  And I've devoted a lot of time to that mental picture.  I'm happy to report, the reality offers up all sorts of flat muscles, interesting ridges and mysterious hollows I'd like to get to know better.  It will take time, but I'm prepared to give my all to the job.  
Shake drops onto the bed, reaches for me and hell yeah, I jump right on top.  He's so long and lean and hard, he is my own personal life raft. I'm definitely floating, wondering at the places this boy could take me.  Which is silly, because this ride won't last long and at best, he'll abandon me on the shores of a bad reputation.  At worst, well, I don't wanna think about the consequences I'm flirting with here.
I'm just stoked to finally get my hands in all that blonde hair.  It's soft and thick and curls around my fingers like strands of pale July sunshine.  I grab fistfuls, and he kisses me so deep, so fast, the world must be ending at any second.  

His kiss doesn't last long enough. Ten years wouldn't be long enough, but he's in a big hurry.  He pulls off my shirt, shorts and tights as if we're playing beat the clock.  He's not careful. I worry he's going to rip everything, so I help him.  Maybe I'm in a hurry too. I need to stay far ahead of the voice of reason.
Once he's peeled me down to my bra and panties, he rolls me over and tilts his head into a hungry kiss. His tongue sweeps into my mouth, and holy hallelujah, Shakespeare LeCasse takes my breath away.  His mouth lives up to the hype, and even though I've never been a big fan of beer, the taste of it on his tongue is pure heaven. I want to make him my steady diet.

With one very large hand pressing at the small of my back, his other slips under my bra, finds what little treasure there is, then chases right down to dip fingertips under the waistband of my panties.  We are officially entering uh-oh territory, and I'm without a map, all tangled up in the heat of his mouth and still tingling from the light tug he gave my nipple.
The guy is too blitzed to take off his own shoes, but he's got what feels like four extra hands and they're not wasting time.  He's turned me into a complete melting mess, and I'm really tempted to just go with it. Except, he's got no idea it's me in his bed.  He's horny.  I'm here.  I'm kind of OK with that, kind of not and can't decide who's taking advantage of who. Whom? Whatever. Him. Me. Match. Gasoline. I will get burned in the end.
"Wait, wait," I mumble against his lips.  It takes a while to slow him down.  I'm not convincing.  "Wait."  I push him onto his back and straddle him. I feel his hard-on through my panties and am tempted to make bad choices. Let's just say he's a very big boy in every way. 
"Take it easy."  I grab his wrists and pin them against the bed.  If I let them roam again, I'll cave.  "You've done enough damage for one night."
His eyes open slowly.  They are so blue they remind me of pictures of faraway islands.  I wish I could dive in and find him.  This boy is lost. 

I let myself kiss his lips.  Just once more.  Twice more.  A third cuz I'm greedy and his mouth is really something.  His full lower lip is tastier than a red velvet cupcake.
"I should go," I whisper.  "You'll be OK?"
"No," he says back. 
His eyes fall closed on a sigh.  I slide my hands back into his curls and lay down on his chest so I can hear his heartbeat.  Funny how they all sound the same.  Even the broken ones.


My review: Shake’s life is, to sum it up, f#@d up. What does he really need?

Cleo has a strange fixation on Shake. It’s almost to the point that she likes the smell of him. She’s entranced by him, although, at the same time, she can’t stand him. To sum it up: he was stupid hot.

Story is narrated through the eyes of Shake and Cleo. The crass and candid monologues are fitting for this teen drama. The language was almost like dark poetry. “I can hear his heart beat. Funny how they all sound the same. Even the broken ones.” (28)

The remarks can be funny sometimes. I especially liked that jab about the loincloth mishap at the production of The Jungle Book and a show of The Bare Necessities. Ha, ha, ha!  There’s a lot of fast-talk in the monologue that you almost lose track of what’s going on. I didn’t always get the sayings. I’m guessing they made sense in some infantile fashion, but I couldn’t be sure. There were also some odd sentences. For example: “I turtle my head and ignore her.” A turtle is a slimy amphibian, not a verb.

Ultimately, Cleo wanted to save Shake, who happens to be burning—with anger, resentment, and loss—and she’s aiming to do whatever it takes. She doesn’t do it gracefully; in fact, she often has to kick him in the pants to get his butt moving. She definitely lights a fire in Shake, who, in turn, was trying to be the biggest a#@hole so that he could sink further into despair peacefully.

“He’s not supposed to poison himself, sabotage his future, and end up a piece of sh#@ like every other guy.” (51)

I liked Cleo’s determination to save him. She was like the fly the kept buzzing all around you, but you couldn’t crush it no matter how hard you tried.

Witty and crude at times, story ultimately is on the salvation of two lost and stubborn teenagers finding a common ground and connecting in some weird, twisted way. And it kind of makes sense. They were like two jagged puzzle pieces that clearly don’t fit, but they somehow stick together and hold in place. Just that weird.

The cover could use a little spruce to make it more eye-catching, but, overall, this was a decent YA read.

My rating: 3 stars


  1. I read this one too and enjoyed the witty talk in it. I agree Cleo had the spunk let me tell ya!

  2. I think Cleo was the best character in the book.