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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.
Source: advance e-galley provided in exchange for an honest review
If you've read any of my previous reviews on Lucy Parker's books, you'll know how much I love them. The Austen Playbook continues with Parker's trademark funnies and quick quips that have endeared me to her writing.
Freddie was first mentioned in one of the earlier books where she was a younger cast member in the play. Now here she is, still young but older and a veritable veteran in the business. But the shine of the stage that she's always loved has kind of lost its sheen lately. While she's been successful and done well for herself, she hasn't felt passionate about some of her more recent work. Her inner thoughts are confirmed by none other that her adversary, famous London stage critic, James Ford-Griff, or just Griff, who has been maligning her performances. No matter. She's dealt with critics all her life and she knows how to handle herself. But once she and Griff have to share a workspace, all bets are off.
I think I've mentioned this before but the thing I love about these books is how Parker always pitches her heroines against the heroes. Be the guys prickly or condescending, the women always step up. Freddie employs humour and sarcasm in every conversation with Griff. She playfully uses his critiques of her against him, teasing him constantly about how incorrectly he had her sized up. As for Griff, there's no begrudgingly falling for the girl. He just does and acknowledges how his bluntness about some of her performances, though true and she even agrees with him on some of them, doesn't come near to the kind of phenomenon that Freddie is in reality. She injects energy and vitality into his strictly ordered world, and her truthful perspective brings invaluable insight to him. When Freddie joins Griff in his research about a theatre legend they have in common, what they find could mean rewriting history for both their families and possibly change the budding romance between them.
I admire the women that Lucy Parker writes about so much so that I wish I could automatically absorb some of their self-assuredness and quick thinking. I swear that I'm always in an uplifted mood when I'm done reading these books. I can't recommend the London Celebrities series enough to people who simply want good humour and good feels. The Austen Playbook should be your next read!