For the first 100 pages or so, this book was a literary Krispy Kreme doughnut: utterly devoid of nutritional value, but glazed in pure happiness. And then, like the best junk food, my joy immediately turned into regret, and my proverbial teeth felt like they were rotting out of my skull.
Act Like It is about a man (Richard) and woman (Lainie) who star in stage production in London. He’s a celebrated actor (emphasis on the last syllable), she’s a budding young star. He’s a rogue with a devilish reputation, she’s squeaky clean and noble. To rehabilitate his image, his agent and the play’s director hatch a plan to have the two pretend to date in order to drum up publicity and sell tickets. Lainie agrees to the charade only after it’s agreed that some of the profits will go to her favorite charity.
You still with me? If you haven’t bailed, then this book might be for you. I must admit that it didn’t seem particularly interesting to me, so it’s probably no surprise that it left me with the feeling of rotten teeth in my head. But, I only read it because it’s in contention for being the most popular book of the year.
Let’s get one thing out of the way: I find the unrepentant asshole in need of redemption the single most mind-numbingly idiotic trope in fiction. There’s nothing I hate more than someone who loves Jane Austen a little too much attempting to create their very own Mr. Darcy. Stop it. His ultimate and inevitable redemption belies the unerring truth that the romantic hero is, in fact, an asshole.
I say all that, but I will concede that there were legitimately enjoyable moments in the beginning. The relationship between Richard and Lainie almost had a Sam-Diane from Cheers quality, except Lainie didn’t give as much as she got from Richard. Their back and forth was largely one-sided.
This didn’t really affect my opinion of the book, but at one point Parker uses the word “propinquity”. That word doesn’t really mesh with other sentences written in this book, and its use is jarring and inexplicable. I know this is absurdly nit-picky, but it was so out of place I actually remember it.
Anyway, the story is just…..so utterly predictable. There were no turns from the expected. Lucy Parker hit every note, and struck every chord. This book was as paint by the numbers as you’re likely to see. I mean, I could write this plot in my sleep:
1. Two characters don’t like each other.
2. They get thrown together under fairly contrived circumstances.
3. Against their better judgement, they fall for one another.
4. There’s got to be some kind of jilted ex-lover or deep, dark secret (turns out, this book has both!)
5. Jilted ex-lover/deep, dark secret comes in between the budding romance and the two break up.
6. Just kidding! They still end up together.
There you go. Generic romance in six easy to remember steps.
I don’t understand why so many loved this, nor do I think I’ll ever be a fan of the romance genre. I’ll still give Courtney Milan a shot – because you guys seriously love her.
15 reviews in CBR8, for an average score of 4.00. The Mama is the only one to give it a rating under 4.0. Whoever you are, I tip my glass to you in solidarity.