Wednesday, April 19, 2017

#TBRChallenge Reading: Act Like It & Pretty Face by Lucy Parker

2017 TBR Reading Challenge
Book: Act Like It and Pretty Face
Author: Lucy Parker
My Categories: Contemporary RomCom
Wendy Crutcher's Category: Contemporary

Act Like It was recommended to me on Twitter, and I loved it so much, that I immediately turned around and read Pretty Face. AAR and Twitter folks, recommended PF over ALI, but while PF was a 'A' read for me, ALI was a decided 'A+'.

In Act Like It, actress Lainie Graham has a lead role in a play running at the Metronome Theatre in London. In her off-stage life, she'd been involved with lead actor Will Farmer, but she has recently found out via the tabloids that she's been dumped. I admired how well she was coping, personally and professionally. The other leading man, Richard Troy, comes from wealth and the upper classes and has an overly-developed sense of self-importance to go with it. His temper tantrums and bad behavior has been affecting his public image and starting to affect the box office, so his publicist and the director ambush Lainey to convince her to commence a faux relationship with him so that her London's Sweetheart image will burnish his image. In return, the director will donate some of the box office take to Lainey's favorite charity.

In Pretty Face, actress Lily Lamprey has a body, face, and high, light voice that's well-suited to a sexy TV soap but ill-suited for West End London theater. Luc Savage is a highly respected director, who's coerced into taking Lily on. To their dismay, they discover instant chemistry, which would be highly detrimental to Lily's reputation and future theater career ("dumb bunny sleeps her way into a role" being the expected headline).

The simple setups of the enemies-to-lovers story for ACI and the May-December Romance story for PF ensure that all the focus is on the relationships. Usually, I look for complexity in a story with more happening around and to the characters than simple relationship development. However, with these two books, perversely, I felt glad that they were lacking in a plethora of calamities being visited upon their characters. Lucy Parker's talent is in building tight, complex relationships that don't feel rushed or smoothened out. All the problems are out in the open, and they are all dealt with. There're no deus ex machina events that magically get characters out of tight spots they put themselves in.

The writing in both books is sharp and funny, and the stories move along swiftly and very assuredly. The books have a breezy irreverent tone to it that belies the serious nature of the choices the characters have to make. The language felt London-based to me as did the characterization and the setting of the London theater scene. The theater details are well-researched and used sparingly and very effectively—a smooth immersion for the reader. I always find myself noting in my reviews when characters behave in a mature manner to resolve there differences since it's not that common in romances, so I was very pleased to find that there was none of the pouting and flouncing in these books for which I have very little patience.

ALI was by far the funnier, tighter, well-integrated book as compared with PF. If you will read just one book, do make it Act Like It.


Dorine said...

They both sound great. Congrats on reading two. :)

Keira Soleore said...

They're great books! If you haven't read them, you're in store for a treat.

And right?! Most times, I barely get one read and the review's late. This time, I got two read and reviewed on the right day. :)