tl;dr: enemies-to-lovers trope perfected on a London stage
When you keep hearing good things about a book from many different places, it’s usually a good sign that the book is a winner. I first heard about this title from Sarah MacLean’s romance novel recommendations list, which I’ve been burned by. (Made for You by Lauren Layne was seriously awful.) But it kept coming up in discussions, and I knew it was an enemies-to-lovers romance which is one (of many) of my favorite tropes. And happily, it delivered everything I was hoping for.
Richard Troy and Lanie Graham are an unlikely pair, mostly because Richard has a giant self-important stick up his arse and Lanie is a nearly angelic. The Powers That Be are worried that Richard’s tantrums and general bad behavior are going to sink their entire production. (Oh, did I mention they are London theater actors? LOVE IT!) So, they lump him in with Lanie, hoping some of her cherubic identity will rub off. She doesn’t want to do it at first, but she grudgingly agrees, and then ends up having a grouchy man by her side at several charity functions that she devotes her free time to. Things start to change when Lanie gives Richard a few sharp words about not being a total prick when it comes to supporting a children’s charity, words that he evidently takes to heart.
Eventually, sparks start flying. There’s some continued plot about Richard being jealous (or at the least, wary) of Lanie’s former beau, one of their co-stars, and Richard’s political goals and his dark family past. The enemies-to-lovers transition was done so well here, because they truly despise each other at the beginning and the journey from that to falling in love is minute, moment by moment. I didn’t need to suspend my disbelief here. It’s a rich world of cattiness, professional jealousies, and having to be aware of tabloids and gossip at all times, surrounding the love story.
I listened to the audiobook. This means that I wasn’t really able to see the sentences and offer any critique on structure at all, but I have a couple of thoughts on the audio production.
First, I loved that the narrator had a British/UK accent (it was a little more lilty that regular British, but I’m no connoisseur and sadly can offer no more commentary than that). I equally love that the other book in the series has a different narrator, because often, authors re-use narrators in their books, whether by publisher agreement or whatever. But it gives this particular book a unique voice that makes it distinct from the next, which as far as I know, is in no way a sequel and contains a completely new story.
Second, most chapters start with what I assume is a Twitter post. I didn’t figure this out until about halfway through the book, because of the way it’s said. The syntax of a Twitter post (@username) is quite visual, and hearing “London Celebrity at London Celebrity post 3 hours…” etc does not imply a Twitter post/tweet. It did not come across naturally in the audio format.
This book definitely will appeal to a lot of people. Famous celebrities, tabloids, enemies-to-lovers, jealous exes–it’s got a lot of favorite catnips. But I would recommend that even if these aren’t your generally favorite tropes, to check it out. It’s a really lovely story and the character arcs are brilliant.