Think Crazy Ex Girlfriend meets Legally Blonde, but instead of law, it’s porn and meticulous business management. Got your attention yet?
Plot: our heroine is a recent graduate from a PhD Program in Art History. Her family is stinking rich (plus all the negative stereotypes therein). She’s had a life long one sided crush on her best friend (though we never see on the page how they’re best friends, maybe because she has no others). He’s off in California chasing a career as a rock star while she rots away in New York, so she decides on a whim to chase him across the country (getting the CEG vibes yet?). Except the second she lands he fucks off and sticks her with some random he found on Craigslist. You know, like a best friend would do. Anyway, turns out this Craigslist guy is awesome, and also an A-list adult entertainer currently embroiled in negotiations over his contract to get more control over his career. Her family would never approve, his career would suffer, but shenanigans ensue.
This book needed to grow on me. It took a long time for me to get invested in either character. Clara is your run of the mill rich snob and I hated her from the first word. Josh (another CEG nod? Or is it that all contemporary romances with a white male protagonist must be named Josh? Did I miss a memo?) started out as pretty two-dimensional too.
But they grow. And that’s kind of the point. Clara transcends being an uptight, judgemental prude and Josh realizes that if he wants to succeed he really needs to actually commit to things and do the hard work to get them past the finish line. They both had prejudice to learn to overcome both within and from society, and I think the book tries very hard to impress upon us the value of literally just meeting people from different walks of life. That if you enter into conversations open minded and curious, you can come out a completely transformed person (so long as both participants have a common ground of all people deserving basic human dignity and rights).
It’s not a perfect read. The intense drama in the third act had me rolling my eyes because it was such a Built Up For The Plot thing, rather than something that felt earned. The way that drama is resolved is also weirdly Generic Big Public Grovel Rom Com for a story trying so hard to call out the damage of how unnecessarily dramatic representation of romance in media is (and the Big Public Grovel is one of its worst tropes). Also, for a book where one of the leads in a romance is a porn star, they side stepped his entire career and the inherent complexities of dating someone who professionally has sex with other people entirely. Even in the epilogue, set two years later, we never learn what Josh is doing now, and if he’s gone back to performing, how they navigated that. I think it would have been a valuable addition to the story.