Desert Isle Keeper
Lucy Parker’s début novel, Act Like It was – it seems – an instant hit, one of those books you suddenly see all over your Goodreads feed because all your friends are reading it. I’m confidently predicting the same for her follow up, Pretty Face, because it’s every bit as vibrant, funny, sexy and poignant as the first book – quite possibly even more so, on all counts. I finished the last page with a smile on my face and feeling uplifted – and wondering if I had the time to go back and read it all over again, which doesn’t happen very often, I can tell you.
Like its predecessor, Pretty Face is set amid the chaotic world of London’s West End, shedding light on all the behind the scenes activity that has to happen in order to mount a theatre production, and taking a good look at the impact of celebrity culture and media intrusion on the lives of those who work in that particular field.
Luc Savage is an extremely successful and respected director. He has the reputation of being something of a martinet – a stickler for discipline and professionalism and a hard task master, although not unfair or mean. The theatre is in his blood; his father is an actor, his mother an opera singer and over the past few years he has invested heavily – both in terms of money and time and effort – in renovating the Queen Anne Theatre, which has been owned and run by his family for generations, but which fell into disrepair some twenty-five years earlier. It’s a massive task for him both professionally and personally, but it’s nearing fruition and he has chosen to open with a production of 1553 a play by a multi-award winning young playwright and in which the three principal characters are Queen Mary I, Elizabeth Tudor and Lady Jane Grey. Having had to recast the role of Mary due to the fact that his long-time girlfriend, actress Margot Roy, recently left him to get married to an Italian opera singer, Luc now faces the prospect of having to re-cast Elizabeth, too, because the actress originally chosen has broken her leg. One of the young actresses on the list of potential replacements is Lily Lamprey, twenty-six, blonde, beautiful and the star of the hit historical drama-cum-soap opera, Knightsbridge, in which she plays the part of Gloria, a scheming man-stealer that viewers love to hate.
Luc knows that casting a popular TV star could be good publicity and increase ticket sales, but no way is he interested in bringing on board some Marilyn Monroe look-alike with a porn-star voice who probably needs direction to tie her own shoes. But his casting director – whom he trusts – thinks Lily has potential and eventually Luc is persuaded to give her an audition. And when he does, he’s surprised to discover that Lily definitely does have a certain something –
Under the soap-opera shit, an actor
– even though her voice is going to need work.
Lily landed the gig on Knightsbridge when she was fresh out of drama school, and now wishes she hadn’t been so quick to sign up for four years and wants to move on to something else. Her public persona has very much been shaped by the character she plays, and she is frequently depicted as being a blonde bimbo who will shag anything in trousers. It’s unkind and it’s upsetting, and she tries to ignore it – but there’s no doubt that it’s an image that’s going to be hard to shake, and has almost certainly counted against her when looking for other work. So to audition for Luc Savage is an amazing opportunity to change direction and make her name for something other than getting her kit off on a regular basis.
When Luc and Lily meet, their first impressions of each other are not good. Yet there’s something about Lily that slowly disarms Luc and before long he’s well and truly smitten; and when Lily starts to get to know the funny, charming man behind the persona, she is equally so. But with almost their every move under the microscope of the gossip columns – especially London Celebrity, whose editor has a grudge against Luc – there is no possibility of there being anything more between them than a working relationship. It’s a business in which image sticks and first impressions count, and Lily can’t afford to acquire a reputation for getting jobs via the casting couch – not like her mother, a well-known torch-singer who has never made a secret of using any means necessary in order to advance her career.
To say I loved this book is an understatement – I adored it. The romance is beautifully written and developed and the chemistry between Luc and Lily is explosive – their first kiss is one of the sexiest, most romantic I think I’ve ever read, and Ms. Parker has upped the heat level a little compared with Act Like It, writing a couple of sex scenes which are imbued with a gorgeous, tender sensuality that sends shivers up and down the spine.
One of the biggest draws, though, is the dialogue, which zings and sparkles with humour and wit in a way that left me slack-jawed with admiration – after I’d finished laughing, that is. Honestly, if I’d highlighted every brilliant one-liner, my Kindle copy would have one or more notes on almost every page; I’ve rarely read a book where the humour is so unforced and consistently funny, and that’s not easy to do. I also can’t deny that the book’s overall ‘Britishness’ made a really refreshing change. I read many, many books set in 19th Century England, and not infrequently find myself complaining about the number of words and expressions used that are not naturally English (i.e, Ye Olde Americanisms). But here, Ms. Parker – a New Zealander – is absolutely spot-on with British idioms and speech patterns and it’s both noticeable and noticeably different.
Luc and Lily are an extremely likeable pair who strike sparks off each other from the get go and are clearly perfect for each other. They click on every level, and I really loved the way in which their growing feelings for each other just … creep up on them. There’s no lightning strike or knocking sideways in the best dramatic tradition – it’s just a moment of gentle recognition:
And her pathetic, perverse, masochistic little heart went oh – it’s you.
Lily is beautiful and talented, but she has trust issues relating to the fact that she is the result of an affair between her career-minded mother and a married man, neither of whom have ever had a great deal of time for her. And everything she knows about Luc tells her he’s a workaholic who never prioritises his personal life, so she is just waiting for him to put work first and her second, even though it’s clear to the reader from his every word and action regarding her that he’s head-over-heels and in it for the long haul.
As for Luc, well he’s my first book-boyfriend of 2017. I mean, honestly, this?
Luc Savage looked like Gregory Peck, circa some dapper time between Roman Holiday and To Kill a Mockingbird. There was more bulk in the shoulders, silver in the hair and darkness in the soul; otherwise the resemblance was uncanny.
But beneath the good looks is a genuine, caring man; a perfect mix of warm, funny, and irresistibly attractive, he’s a tough, determined professional but also someone who will move mountains for those he cares about.
Pretty Face is a terrific read and one I’m recommending wholeheartedly. Along with the funny, the romantic and the sexy, the author also makes some great points about sexism and celebrity culture, and writes moments of true poignancy that will have you reaching for the Kleenex. Act Like It put Lucy Parker on my auto-read list; Pretty Face has put her damn near the top of it, and I’m eager for more.
|Review Date:||February 14, 2017|
|Book Type:||Contemporary Romance|
|Review Tags:||London Celebrities series | theater|
I need to reread Pretty Face soon as I liked it slightly more than Act Like It, which I really liked also. It’s definitely one of my favorite reads of 2017 and one the reasons is because I found the banter so much fun here. I forget the name of Lily’s roommate, but it looks as if her story is up next.
Is there a date for the third book yet? I’m looking foward to it with much anticipation.
I check Lucy Parker’s website every week and do not see a date yet. I did see images of the next couple pop in within the last few days, and the heroine has pink hair and the hero has lots of tattoos. Should be a fun read :)
Trixie is her name. If her book is next, I’m looking forward to reading her story.
I enjoyed this a lot. Really, I did.
However, I feel that there was too much banter between the H/h. (I never thought there could be too much witty banter in any book.) Sometimes I need the H/h to speak to each other plainly, without dressing it all up in cleverness, sarcasm, etc. I feel that we don’t see enough of that in this book. The continual–well, the word “badinage” comes to mind–was actually a little exhausting.
Also, I felt that Lily and Luc (and Lainie and Richard, for that matter) all had the same voice. Like, if you quoted me one of their witty lines, I probably could not tell you who said it. Because they all talk like that..
While I loved the witticism, I agree with you; it was too much. Like I said, sometimes I need things spelt out for me in plain language.
Right,…I purposely avoided reading this book when it was first released for: a) I loved Act Like It so much, I wasn’t sure Parker’s next book would live up to the on-line hype that the second novel was producing; and :b) rave reviews, anywhere, make me question well, rave reviews. Kinda of like the Hating Game–everyone was raving about it, except a few, and although those sources don’t have huge fan-bases, I trust them enough when they raise legit objections as to why a book isn’t all cracked up as to it wants to be, which is almost a guarantee I won’t like it either; and : c) I shouldn’t question my own instincts, especially after I had previously read this author’s other work, Artistic License, under the pen-name of Elle Pierson. Needless to say, Lucy Parker/Elle Pierson is a gifted writer.
However, after a second read (within 24 hours, which usually = an A+ in my review books) I am still not sure how I feel about Pretty Face. Saying I’m overwhelmed by the subtleness of this delightful, witty romance would put the expression “don’t blink or you’ll miss it” to shame. Yet, I cannot say that I was underwhelmed, either. The LOVE is there, if the reader cares to dig deeper. At the same time, the sentiment ” I feel cheated….that the author ought to have been hitting me over the head with more clues as to why that these two terrific protagonists belong together” was still lurking at the back of mind, while I re-read this book a second time.
Mea culpa, to fans of this book, but Sometimes I do need it spelled out for me.
This love story did have its *sworn-worthy moments, but I wanted more…more background into Luc’s persona, more of his POV, BUT Pretty Face IS Lilly’s story, and so the reader must trust the author/director, read between the lines (unintentional pun on theatre) and decide if these worthy protagonists will have the HEA that defines the romance genre.
In the end, (even after a second read) Pretty Face was a solid B+ read. Too much of the romance, for me, relied too heavily on secondary characters/dialogue/ circumstances, to make it a solid A.
Count me among the many who loved Act Like It too. Wendy – thanks for the update. Click!
I just finished reading this–got the notification that it was available around midnight last night, and I have been fitting it in around work/family stuff and that stupid need for sleep ever since. I really enjoyed it. I also loved Act Like It, but I don’t remember it being as funny as this one. Lily and Luc’s banter had a very Jennifer Cruise-esque feel to me.
Thank you for leading me to Ms. Parker’s previous book! I loved _Act Like It_ and was thrilled to find a new author for my auto-buy list. I’m really looking forward to this one.
I really enjoyed Act Like it and I cannot wait until Feb 20 to download the ebook. I didn’t realize she wrote under a different name so thanks for posting the title. I’m off to check it out.
Act Like It was my favorite book from last year. I’m thrilled about the new book.
Can’t wait for this one! Add me to the list of people who loved Act Like It.
I loved ACT LIKE IT, truly one of my top ten for the year it came out. But in some ways I liked PRETTY FACE even better, though even as I say that I think, hmmm, but I loved ACT LIKE IT. I think what PF had was a bit more emotional depth/complication. Lily has real, relatable trust issues that come both from her childhood and the way that she is judged for her looks that really added an emotional underpinning to the story. ACT LIKE IT was fast and funny and snarky and sweet and charming. PRETTY FACE is all of that, but also made me tear up just a little bit.
I agree completely, Jane. There were some really poignant moments in the book that brought a lump to my throat.
I can NOT wait to read this book. I think Act Like It is a witty, smart and very romantic novel Ms. Parker is now an auto-buy for me too. I hope she is busily at work writing more, more, more!
Lucy Parker writes wonderful romances. I enjoyed this very much – though not as much as you! Your affection for the book transcends the review. I hope our readers trust your wise words & give this one a try. I liked Act Like It better, but this is a charming, delightful follow-up that I think most romance fans will also love.
I’m looking forward to whatever she writes next.
I agree there – it’s going to be a while before those references become “classics” – if ever!
I really hate it when the author uses a real life celebrity to describe one of the MC’ s looks. It always messes with the vision in my head and pulls me completely out of the story. Aside from that I really enjoyed Act Like It and sounds like this one will be just as good.
I tend to agree with you BUT I think there are a few icons that transcend that limit: Monroe, Peck, Connery, (Grace) Kelly, for example.
Audrey Hepburn, Cary Grant, Errol Flynn… it’s quite a list!
It doesn’t really worry me either way – and as I read mostly historicals it isn’t usually an issue, as there were no movie stars to compare to! (Unless you count the number of times heroes are described as “Byronic”!) But as is obvious from my comments, that description didn’t bother me at all, and actually, I am someone who tends to like visual clues sometimes, although I do recognise it can be unhelpful if you don’t happen to find that particular celebrity attractive! (But seriously – is there any woman who could say that about Gregory Peck?!)
I don’t like it when that reference dates the book – the Meg Ryan heroines and George Clooney heroes of the 90s in particular stand out to me. But like Dabney and and Caz said I let more classic references slide.
I generally agree because if I don’t find the famous person attractive, it kinda messes with my head :(
I liked her Elle Pierson book more than ‘Act Like It’ – I think I didn’t entirely buy into her London theatre world. I think I will read this one, but I’m coming to it with reservations.
That aspect – the theatre world – did work for me. Back in the dim distant past, I worked in the entertainment business – more music than theatre, I admit – but it all rings very true to what I experienced and the experiences of friends and colleagues.
I’d have to reread to know what I had thought was off. And I’ve no direct experience to draw on – I’d have been comparing it to my daughter’s stories, I suspect. Her dh is an actor in London, as are a lot of their friends, but they’re not – as a rule – performing in the West End yet. (Though she did work in administration at a West End theatre for a bit: it was a fairly dire experience..)
I didn’t realize that she wrote under another name! I just downloaded Artistic License. Thanks for the tip.
I didn’t realize she also wrote under the name Elle Pierson. I just downloaded ARTISTIC LICENSE. Thanks for the tip.
Parker’s use of the London theater scene is one of the things I most like about _Act Like It_ and so I’m personally really happy that her new book will continue with this setting. I love theater and it’s not a setting that I see often in romances. She did a great job with it and it felt very authentic for me.
I read the sample of Act Like It and found the English slang a bit overpowering, even though I grew up in Australia immersed in British culture through mystery novels and BBC TV shows. The main female character was funny but also exhausting with her relentless snarkiness, and it didn’t quite feel natural to me. I wasn’t surprised to find that the author isn’t English. But this review makes me want to check out this book, since it seems very romantic.
The Britishness is what makes both books stand out for me. I don’t know what to say about the slang being overpowering, other than to say – obviously! – that I disagree. But if you do read this one, I hope you enjoy it. It really is a terrific romance. Come back and let me know!
Very excited and so happy Parker’s follow-up to _Act Like It_ is generating such positive buzz.
I hope you enjoy it, Blackjack. I found it to be a real breath of fresh air.