In Fortier's debut, the rights to which have been sold in 29 territories around the world, a descendant of Juliet goes to Italy to search for her Romeo.
As children, twin sisters Giulietta and Giannozza were sent from Italy to live with their great aunt Rose in Virginia after their parents perished in an auto crash. The children were raised as Julie and Janice Jacobs by Rose and her flamboyant butler Umberto. Now Aunt Rose has died. According to her will, Janice inherits Aunt Rose’s entire estate. Giulietta inherits a key to a safe-deposit box in Siena, Italy, accompanied by a letter from her aunt explaining that her mother left a treasure for her which relates to her true identity: Giulietta Tolomei, whose family tree goes all the way back to the original Giulietta and her twin sister Giannozza. The Tolomeis and the Salimbenis were the actual feuding families, from Siena, on whom Shakespeare based the Capulets and Montagues. Once in Siena, Giulietta discovers that the rivalry is still roiling. Alessandro Salimbeni, the handsome policeman who helps her explore her past, is descended from the evil 14th-century nobleman who forced Juliet to marry him after he arranged not only for the murder of her entire family but also for her fiancé Romeo’s assassination. Romeo was the scion of the Marescotti clan, a military family often embroiled in the Tolomei/Salimbeni wars. Alternating with the present-day story are chapters set in 1340, presenting a far gorier retelling of Romeo and Juliet’s doomed love than Shakespeare imagined. And what of Romeo’s present-day counterpart? As Giulietta grows closer to Alessandro, after he deters a thug who has been tailing her, she’s on the point of deconstructing the family curse, when Janice shows up, claiming that Aunt Rose’s will was a scam serving some nefarious Salimbeni plot. The same dark forces were behind the deaths of their parents, which may have been no accident. And who is Umberto, really?
The promising premise bogs down too often in repetition and excess verbiage.