Act Like It by Lucy Parker
This just in: romance takes center stage as West End theatre’s Richard Troy steps out with none other than castmate Elaine Graham
Richard Troy used to be the hottest actor in London, but the only thing firing up lately is his temper. We all love to love a bad boy, but Richard’s antics have made him Enemy Number One, breaking the hearts of fans across the city.
Have the tides turned? Has English rose Lainie Graham made him into a new man?
Sources say the mismatched pair has been spotted at multiple events, arm in arm and hip to hip. From fits of jealousy to longing looks and heated whispers, onlookers are stunned by this blooming romance.
Could the rumors be right? Could this unlikely romance be the real thing? Or are these gifted stage actors playing us all?
I think I read this too soon after The Hating Game.
And I loved that book far too much to favorably compare another hate-to-love themed romance to it. Beyond that, this book still would have been an issue for me.
This male lead, for instance, was not my cuppa. First off, he was an insufferable prick to not only the female lead, but to literally EVERYONE else. And not in a redeeming way. At least not for me. It’s one thing if I’m told that a male lead is a smarmy douche and given one or two scenes depicting his behavior. It’s another thing entirely if I’m shown that he is on every single page for the first half of a book. He almost seemed to go out of his way to be an asshole, and in his own words, is one of those elitist pricks that hates the rest of us because we’re not “smart enough” for him.
How hot. Oh, baby. Oh, baby.
Then he and the female lead get together and – wham! – he’s now a decent guy. It’s that classic cliche of nice girl redeems asshole, and it’s not handled well enough for it to work. There’s no slow transition from jerk to empath, no moment when he realizes that he judged the female lead incorrectly, and, woah, maybe that meant that he’s been treating others unfairly as well.
And I did NOT understand her attraction to him at first. You see, she gets the hots for him before he starts being nice to her. Because – drum roll, please – he’s handsome. Ugh. This shit again. It was really off-putting, and made me fear that this was going to turn into another one of those alpha-douche romances, despite the fact that a lot of my friends who dislike those types of books enjoyed this one.
The female lead was…meh. Not very memorable, if I’m being honest. Overwhelmingly, the times she shows some real backbone and gumption are told from the male lead’s perspective, so it kept me pretty disengaged from her.
Also, there was a strange meeting of feminism and misogyny in here. The male lead thought some INCREDIBLY sexist things about the women around him throughout the entirety of this book. Most of those he interacted with, even after being introduced to them, remained faceless and nameless, described as stereotypes. And then he would randomly say some really forward, pro-woman, sex-positive thing that struck an off note because of all the offensive shit to come before it.
Keeping with this theme, we have how this book handles periphery females. This female lead and the women she directly interacts with (her sister in law, the other women at the theater she performs at, etc) are all given voices and enough depth to not feel one-dimensional. The women who are mentioned in passing? Whoo-boy. They’re all bimbos, or gold-diggers, or vainglorious social media addicts.
That last was a recurring theme in here. If you use instagram or twitter or facebook, if you post selfies or food pictures or ANY pictures, in these characters’ eyes, you’re insipid and obnoxious. I strongly recommend people STOP it with this type of judgement. So many people use these social media outlets for an endless amount of reasons. Take me, for example, and my closest friends, who live thousands of miles away from me. I gladly *heart* pictures of their meals, because this helps me keep up with their day-to-day lives in a way I never could before. It brings us closer. It unites and helps so many people to feel less alone in this shitty world.
Oh, and the sex. Was basically fade-to-black, with little buildup, so it made it hard to buy into their increased chemistry after it happens.
Still, this wasn’t all bad; at times it showed real promise. The male lead does become tolerable. There were some good messages in here. And there was enough humor sprinkled throughout that it kept this book from being a chore to read. In fact, it was only after I set it down and went back through my notes that all the problematic elements started to stack up. Now, the morning after finishing it, they’re all I can seem to focus on, which is why I decided to give this two stars instead of three.
That said, this is the author’s debut, so to expect perfection would be completely unfair. There were enough positives in this for me that I will absolutely give her another shot, and I already have the second book in this series, so fingers crossed I enjoy it more than this one!