Lucy Parker is an auto buy author for me, one of very few. The stories she is telling in her London Celebrities series use the extravagant backdrops of theatre, television, and movies to tell small scale, human love stories. I am an unabashed fan of Romance books – I am here for the guaranteed happy ending – and Parker is perhaps the most reliable author I’m reading right now.
There is a lot of plot packed into this one. We meet Frederica “Freddy” Carlton and James “Griff” Ford-Griffin as the latter is recounting one of his more critical analyses of the former’s current performance in London’s West End. Freddy agrees with Griff’s assessment and begins to mentally work through what would make her happy and bring back the spark to her performances. A few months later Freddy takes the role of Lydia Bennet in The Austen Playbook which is being rehearsed and performed at Griff’s family estate in the very theatre that Griff’s grandfather built for Freddy’s grandmother during their tumultuous affair.
Freddy comes from a centuries long family dynasty of actor’s and her grandmother expanded the family business into playwriting – producing one of the most studied plays of the past century. Griff’s family has fallen on a bit of tough financial times as large English estates simply eat money and Griff’s parents spend wildly, seeming not to realize that the money is coming to an end. Doing his best to help, Griff’s brother brokers a deal to host The Austen Playbook production for a cut of the profits while Griff is working diligently to bring the story of Henrietta and her play to film. However, a budding attraction that is blossoming into something more between our leads is far from the biggest problem facing them across several avenues.
The Austen Playbook has many, many things I enjoy. We’ve got a grumpy hero who never smiles, a witty heroine who is a ball of energy, so much banter, sexy times, a bit of soulful pining, two meddling troublesome families, and good old-fashioned shenanigans. While it is lacking in Austen tropes; it does have the backbone of Austen’s works in the background. Its difficult to pick a favorite of Parker’s books, but this one might be it. I think I need to revisit them to make a firm decision, but this is the only one I’ve rated five stars on Goodreads. I am now excitedly waiting for book five, Headliners, to arrive next month because after the events of the end of this book Parker gave herself quite the mountain to climb, but emmalita’s review of the ARC tells me she succeeded once again.