This book was pimped on Smart Bitches Trashy Books and everyone who read it seemed to like it, so I caved and dropped $4 for it (which is about $2 more than I ever spend on an untried author). It was totally worth it.
This is a contemporary romance about Lainie Graham and Richard Troy, two stage actors in London’s West End. Richard and Lainie are co-stars of a struggling production and share the stage with Lainie’s recent, cheater, ex-boyfriend. Richard is set up as a brilliant actor who is temperamental and too often in the tabloids for his bad behavior. His PR team decide his public image needs some rehabilitation, and getting some extra attention for their struggling show wouldn’t hurt either. The solution – Lainie and Richard pretend to date. A modern marriage of convenience plot! (One of my favorite tropes).
Lainie actively dislikes Richard and his diva-esqe antics at the beginning while he merely ignores her existence. But, the author does a lovely job of moving them along quickly to where they start noticing each other as people and she really builds the relationship slowly and at a realistic pace. I don’t enjoy ‘I hate you, I hate you, I love you’ storylines very often, so I was relieved that this book avoided that. They went from antagonism to tolerance to friendship to dating to love in a well-paced progression.
I was worried about several issues when starting this book and was so relieved with how the author dealt with them. Richard really is set up as a total d-bag – rude to everyone around him and *very* sure of his talent. My fear: option 1: that he could not be properly redeemed and turns in to one of those asshole heroes who is only nice to the heroine as a way to show she is special (WHY do authors think that is appealing?!) vs. option 2: he is overly redeemed and becomes sweetness and light. Parker managed to keep Richard’s self-confidence and coldness realistically in place while also showing more layers of his personality and opening him up emotionally. I was really pleased with how she handled it. A lesser concern was that Lainie was going to end up a Mary Sue since her set-up was that she agreed to the fake relationship to help out a charity close to her heart. This was totally unfounded – Lainie is real and sassy in the best way, and her past relationship with another co-star is handled in such a great way totally avoiding any slut-shaming. People have past relationships! And can move on! And shouldn’t be embarrassed about them!
This is a very “current” book. There are references to hashtags and Kardashians and a few other things that make it very of-the-moment. I don’t mind it right now, but I suspect it won’t hold up over time because of some of these details. Overall I loved this book and will be looking for more from this author.