I don’t think I really have anything to say about this one that hasn’t been said already – yes, Lucy Parker consistently writes very good contemporary romances. This one was good but not quite as engaging/addictive as her previous novels. I think she chose a heavier subject for this one, and it reflected in the novel. That’s not a negative at all but it means it wasn’t quite as light and fun as her previous two novels (and certainly Pretty Face had some darker turns but those were later in the novel). However, what that does mean, is that Parker creates two very human and realistic characters in her leads, Trix and Leo.
While Trix and Leo have known each other since they were teens, they have always been very antagonistic towards each other due to some misunderstandings. Fortunately, Parker decides that ten years of misunderstanding was long enough, and gets them to clear the air rather quickly. Now the only thing standing in their way is their own recent baggage and ambitions.
Parker introduced Trix in Pretty Face when she was still involved/had just ended things with an emotionally manipulative and abusive boyfriend. While Leo may resent Trix at the beginning of the novel, he also quickly recognizes that something is different about her, and that the flamboyant, confident performer he remembers is plagued by self-doubt and has settled for a role she is comfortable with rather than striving for more. Leo, on the other hand, tried to transition to a career as a makeup artist for movies, and one disaster has him unemployed, returning to theater. However, if he does well at a makeup artist competition, it could be exactly what he needs to revive his career. He has to accept an open position at Trix’s show, leading to frequent interactions between the two – especially since one of the perks of the job is a room in the artist subsidized housing, making him Trix’s third roommate.
One thing other reviewers have consistently mentioned is the realism with which Parker approaches the after effects of abuse. There is no magical fix. While many things Leo does and suggests help Trix regain some of her confidence, for every day that goes better, she might still have one where she feels just as bad, doubts herself just as much. But, she slowly makes progress, in a two steps forward, one step back kind of way. It is slow, it is hard, it is real.
I mostly gravitate towards historical romance though I have branched out a bit lately so I can’t speak too much about how Lucy Parker compares to other contemporary romance writers but I have yet to be disappointed with any of her novels. While this one might be a bit subtler, and the sparks between Trix and Leo more of a smolder than a fire, it is absolutely still worth the read!