Saturday, March 5, 2016
Review: Act Like It by Lucy Parker
Title: Act Like It
Author: Lucy Parker
Rating: 4 Stars
Lucy Parker's debut is phenomenal. Her writing reminded me, quite often, of Sara Manning's work. She has the same style of British romance, complete with a brooding hero and a heroine who doesn't seem to be quite right but, nevertheless, is perfect. Act Like It is a classic fake boyfriend/girlfriend trope and I ate it up completely.
Lainie, a theater actress, finds herself kissing her ex-boyfriend every night on stage--a painful process, to say the least. Will, the lead in the drama she is starring in, is every bit as handsome as his role boasts but when he cheats on Lainie, she is left feeling more embarrassed than bitter. The media has cast their pity with her and, as such, she seems to be the perfect candidate to help change the reputation of Richard, the talented actor who plays the villain in Lainie and Will's show. Richard is known for his skill on stage, but not so much for his ability to keep his temper off stage. When Richard and Lainie are thrown together by their stage director and PR managers, they are both reluctant and highly skeptical of their ability to even act as if they like one another. But with time, the act seems less and less like a burden and more and more like...reality?
Parker paces this romance perfectly, which is absolutely key. Lainie and Richard don't hate one another, but they also don't have feelings for one another and, in some ways, that indifference is almost worse. It's a tougher hurdle to cross, but also a much more interesting one. As Lainie and Richard are forced to spend time together at various events, they grow to surprise one another. Lainie isn't quite as silly as Richard believes and Richard isn't nearly the grouch he's portrayed by the media. Their banter, their snark, and their tender moments shine in the midst of seamless prose, all surrounded by a cast of secondary characters which brings the theater world to life. I couldn't tear my eyes away from the page and simply had to know how these two would find their way to one another.
Moreover, I adore that Richard instills a confidence in Lainie she didn't have before, just as she adds a much-needed dose of balance to his life. They're both actors but their lives don't have the glamorous, too-fake-to-be-real quality that often bothers me in these types of set-ups. Yet, I especially appreciate that their qualms are never dealt with through drama; instead, these two talk through their issues like the reasonable adults that they are. It's refreshing and, believe it or not, still utterly romantic. Act Like It is an absolute pick-me-up read, sure to brighten your day and have you flipping through its pages for days, unwilling to let go of the characters or the words that paint their life. I still find myself re-reading my favorite passages and though a surprise, this is sure to be a favorite of the year for many--myself included.