The novel's Romeo is Lucien, the manic, self-important son of a French diplomat, and Juliet is Tessa, the querulous daughter of an American FBI agent. The story takes place far from Verona, in Argentina, an exotic locale that functions as one of the few appealing characters in the book. Lucien's penchant for dangerous behavior is well known in diplomatic circles and ostensibly the reason why Tessa's father has forbidden her to see him. The two must meet in secret, and so begins the downward spiral of an astonishingly dysfunctional, co-dependent relationship. Lucien is a teen Svengali, lazing about in a silk kimono, working on "guerilla" art projects and threatening to consume Tessa with his neediness. It's difficult to even characterize narrator Tessa, because the harder she falls for Lucien, the more frustratingly weak and subservient she becomes. The love scenes, at least initially, are steamy, and the narrative, particularly when describing the setting, is often rich and sensuous, but neither of these things can make up for the novel's shortcomings.
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