I initially gave this book four stars, however upon reflection I don’ think it’s quite a four star read and I downgraded it to three stars, so we’ll say a solid three and a half stars. This book is set in the same world as Act Like It, which I read last year and loved. This book isn’t as good and features a trope that I strongly dislike, even if that trope is fairly well handled and disguised it still bothers me. However, there were moments that I laughed out loud despite the fact that I was flying while reading and thus subject to the judgement of my seatmates. It is for those moments that I give the book that half star.
Lily Lamprey is a young actress trying to live down her curvaceous figure and porn star voice. I have NO idea what exactly ‘porn star voice’ is supposed to mean except that it’s somehow bad? IDK, this issue felt super pasted on. But sure, ok, we’ll go with bad vocals being her flaw. Even though she has a decent singing voice, and her mother is an opera star, and the idea that she NEVER had vocal training EVER before our hero introduced it seems super ludicrous to me. Our hero is Luc Savage, a talented director who is trying to revive and old theater in London’s theater district. Obviously he would like the first play he puts on to be a success, and so last thing he wants is to be mocked for casting an air-headed, if super gorgeous, TV star like Lily Lamprey. Lily is not air-headed, but because she’s curvaceous along the Marilyn Monroe lines that’s the role she was type cast in and he starts out thinking that like the sexist jerk he is. And that right there is my major issue with the novel. Lily may call Luc out on his sexism, but honestly I don’t really think that he changes he just puts Lily into the ‘exception’ slot. He apologizes to her, but it still doesn’t sit right with me as she’s not the only person insulted by the assumption that a curvaceous blond has nothing between the ears.
My other issue is that there are hints of Pygmalion to the novel, and that is a story I do not like. I’m sure the Pygmalion story can be done without the ugly pressure of patriarchy bearing down on the idea of a man molding a woman to be perfect for him, but I haven’t really seen it and this novel isn’t it. This is definitely one of the better versions of that story, the lessons to improve Lily’s voice is something that Lily wants and will help to improve her career but we’re still looking at a story where a man takes a woman and molds her in such a way that she becomes attractive to him. In the story’s defense, it tries to show that the romance happens despite Lily’s voice and that Luc’s attraction happens before the change in Lily does. However, the elements of Pygmalion are still there. It is well hidden enough that I didn’t realize it until I’d finished the book, but it bothered my subconscious enough that I had to think it through and once I realized what was bothering me it put the book into an ugly light.
There is still enough good in the book that I really enjoyed it. Like I said, it was funny enough to overcome the social stigma of laughing out loud when strangers are around. I was fully entertained, and Parker knows how to tell a good story. I will definitely be checking out her future books.