Series: London Celebrities #4
Published by Carina Press on April 22, 2019
Source: the publisher
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In which experienced West End actress Freddy Carlton takes on an Austen-inspired play, a scandal at a country estate, an enthusiastic search for a passion outside of acting…and the (some people might say icy*) heart of London’s most feared theater critic.
*if those people were being nice
Freddy Carlton knows she should be focusing on her lines for The Austen Playbook, a live-action TV event where viewers choose the outcome of each scene, but her concentration’s been blown. The palatial estate housing the endeavor is now run by the rude (brilliant) critic who’s consistently slammed her performances of late. James “Griff” Ford-Griffin has a penchant for sarcasm, a majestic nose and all the sensitivity of a sledgehammer.
She can’t take her eyes off him.
Griff can hardly focus with a contagious joy fairy flitting about near him, especially when Freddy looks at him like that. His only concern right now should be on shutting down his younger brother’s well-intentioned (disastrous) schemes—or at the very least on the production (not this one) that might save his family home from the banks.
Instead all he can think of is soft skin and vibrant curls.
As he’s reluctantly dragged into her quest to rediscover her passion for the stage and Freddy is drawn into his research on a legendary theater star, the adage about appearances being deceiving proves abundantly true. It’s the unlikely start of something enormous…but a single revelation about the past could derail it all.
“There’s more drama offstage than on, the writing is outstanding, and the bit of mystery blends well into the romance. Theater fans will devour this lovely contemporary romance.”-Publisher’s Weekly, starred review, on The Austen Playbook
“The London Celebrities series-some of the wittiest, smartest dialogue to come down the romance pike in years.”-Kirkus Reviews of London Celebrities series
I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
I think I will always fall for a grumpy guy that meets his match in a happy, upbeat gal. I love love love it, and The Austen Playbook by Lucy Parker was a really good example of one of these stories. Griff is a theater critic; Freddy is a London stage actor.
What is fun about the set-up between these two is that Griff has consistently given Freddy negative reviews throughout her career. He initially doesn’t seem to be a big fan of her acting. So to find that they have this really great chemistry-in spite of that tension in their work-is delightful. Freddy is positioned to be one of the cast of The Austen Playbook, which is this neat little murder-mystery that will play for one night only at Highbrook, which is where Griff lives, and the cast will live on the estate grounds while they rehearse the upcoming show. Naturally Griff and Freddy run into one another on the grounds frequently, and this is where they realize they have a spark between them that turns into a really wonderful relationship.
I love Freddy because she seems down-to-earth and level-headed. She struggles between this desire to have the career that she wants vs. the career that her family expects her to have, and she carries guilt from an injury her father sustained that ended his career. He quit acting himself and became her manager, so instead of thinking of herself first, she usually thinks of what he would want her to do. And she has this honesty with Griff that is really refreshing in a romance story; I love the way she seeks him out to discuss what she is feeling rather than keeping big secrets or making assumptions. And I love Griff because even though he is grumpy, he isn’t the grumpiest. He isn’t mean-spirited or nasty to be around. Griff actually has a lot of responsibility and feels the weight of adulting, and this comes through in his facial expressions and his lack of joking around, things like that. He does come across as grumpy, but I think that he really just is a little on the stressed side and hasn’t found anywhere to channel that stress. When he and Freddy begin to connect, he finds someone that does not judge him, someone that listens to him, and someone that is a good match for him in terms of fun, companionship, and chemistry.
There are other elements to this story: the murder mystery production itself is very cool, and there is an actual mystery involving Freddy’s family members and Griff’s family members from a few generations past-the two families were connected. This mystery actually plays a big part in the development of the romantic relationship between Griff and Freddy. And there are little subplots involving Freddy’s and Griff’s parents. All of these things add to the story, but they were less interesting to me than the romance.
So this one was a lot of fun, and it was mostly because of the romance. I enjoyed many of the secondary characters, and am hoping to find out more about a few of them as I read the previous three books or watch for more books to be written in this series. (Namely Griff’s brother Charlie and Freddy’s sister Sabrina). I adore Griff and Freddy, and I was genuinely happy for them at the end of the story.