Review of ‘Breaking character’ by Lee Winter.

When famous British actress Elizabeth Thornton shares the set with American former child prodigy Summer Hayes, a series of random accidents made the press portray them as girlfriends. The mistake escalates when a French director offers the pair a career changing role assuming that they can act on set the intimacy they share as a couple. How hard could it be to fake a relationship for a while?

Lee Winter knows how to write a story about older ice queens and inexperienced younger women who idolise them. For instance, icy political correspondent Catherine Ayers and entertainment journalist Lauren King in ‘The red files’; or ruthless assassin Natalya Tsvetnenko and her naive target Alison Ryan in ‘Requiem for immortals’; or media mogul boss Elena Bartell and crime reporter Maddie Grey in ‘The brutal truth’. In ‘Breaking character’, Ms. Winter explores a fake relationship of the celebrity variety between two actresses playing as a couple and how their relationship evolves as they share more than their professional lives.

This book is great on character building, from the mains and the secondary to the ‘real’ and the ‘fictional’. Winter does a great job at portraying each one. Some you’ll love, others you’ll despise, but every single one of them have their defined nuances. So much so that the reader is able to witness the transition from actress to film character, how they cope with the emotional strain of acting and how they bare themselves literally and metaphorically. The same happens with secondary characters. For example, each one of Elizabeth’s friends represent a different type of Hollywood celebrity: the self-centrered, the womaniser, the introvert, the eccentric genius, etc.

‘Breaking character’ gives a good insight about an actress’ profession: how they expose their feelings and bodies, how they get typecast by their looks or age, how high is the price of fame and how competitive and cut-throat Hollywood could be. The romance is very slow-burn but, in my opinion, it feels a bit rushed at the end. However, this is an entertaining and engaging read that won’t disappoint Lee Winter’s fans.

Overall, a very good read using the fake relationship, celebrity romance trope. Critical, entertaining and absorbing. 4.5 stars.

ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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Review of ‘Casting Lacey’ by Elle Spencer.

Quinn Kincaid is a famous actress at the top of her game but also extremely private. When she decides to come out as gay, her publicist suggests that she hires a fake girlfriend as a publicity stunt. Who better than Lacey Matthews, a sexy former soap opera star who got fired for coming out as gay?

This is a very good debut novel that combines the fake girlfriend trope with celebrity lifestyle. The main characters are two famous actresses in their 30s; Quinn is a typical ice queen and Lacey a bit of a rebel but both definitely diva material.

The characters are well portrayed and have off the charts chemistry. The story is full of humour, wit and saucy dialogues but also has angst and drama. I think that the book is at its best in the humorous parts which are really well written. For me, the drama and angst scenes were sometimes forced as a plot device rather than a result of the natural flow of the story.

Overall, ‘Casting Lacey’ is an entertaining and enjoyable read. Highly recommended if you are into the fake relationship trope and don’t mind a side of angst. 4 stars.

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Review of ‘Contract for love’ by Alison Grey.

Madison Fielding is the only heiress to her family fortune, that is, if she stops partying non-stop and being a womaniser. To convince her Grandmother that she is a responsible adult worth of getting the inheritance, she has to prove that she’s changed. She decides to get herself a fake girlfriend and who could be better candidate for the job than straight, poor, single mother Sherry who is the exact opposite of Madison. Nothing can go wrong with that plan for sure…

This is another fake relationship/sham marriage novel which lately are commonplace in lesfic. The main characters couldn’t be any different from each other: Madison, a self-centrered, superficial, indolent and rich woman, and Sherry, a dedicated, down to earth and hard working single mother. Could they be more different? Well, yes, Madison is gay and Sherry is straight. The story goes from low to high so if you don’t like it at the beginning I suggest that you stick with it and give it a chance as it gets better. As the story goes by and their fake relationship evolves into a real one, the reader witnesses their transformation and how their personalities change (specially Madison) and their chemistry builds up. The final result doesn’t seem unrealistic or forced and here lies the beauty of this book. The secondary characters are well rounded and realistic, specially Sherry’s 6 year old son and her friend Rita Mae.

Overall, ‘Contract for love’ is a slow-burn romance, low in the level of angst, sometimes funny, others emotional. Recommended for those looking for a feel-good and light entertaining read. 4 stars

ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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