This is an oldie but goodie book, but it was a newbie for me. I came upon this book by accident; I was going through my parents’ library and found this one hidden under a pile of dust. I googled the book and since the reviews were great and the description sounded interesting I read it. Once I started it I couldn’t put it down.
The book is set in the world of soap operas. The hero, Alec, is a very famous soap opera star who after having a lot of troubles with his current show gets fired and starts working in another one. The heroine, Jenny, is the head writer of that show. They have an instant connection, he is attracted to her refreshing attitude and she is just plain nice and friendly, so they become fast friends. He is the first one to realize that his feelings have developed into something more, but the problem is that Jenny is in a very serious relationship with one of the show’s actors.
The first thing that caught my attention was the writing, I can’t pinpoint what it was about it that I found to be so wonderful but it just flows. There is a lot of introspection in this book, the characters talk to themselves as much as they talk to each other, and even if is written in third person and you get both lead’s POV, it almost seemed that I was reading a first person narrative because you really get to know the characters.
Alec was sweet, hardworking, devoted and responsible, this wasn’t a conventional alpha male, he was very down to earth and realistic. He wasn’t afraid to show his feelings and to appear vulnerable. The best part about him was that he was a partner, he was in equal ground with Jenny, they were both successful and supportive of each other, he not only loved Jenny, he respected and admired her. The reason he got fired from the soap wasn’t that he was a troublemaker, this is no bad boy hero; on the contrary, he gets blamed for the failure of the show, the low ratings and everything that went wrong, and he feels very disappointed because he worked very hard for that not to happen.
Jenny was one of the sweetest, most likeable heroines I have read in a long time. She was a bit of a tom boy, she was an outsider her whole life and just wanted to feel like she was part of something, she had a great imagination and she was on first name basis with Georgette Heyer. Once you hear her backstory her character really comes into perspective, you get to see her flaws and insecurities and how she deals with them, she was far from perfect and that made her a lot more relatable.
The soap opera is set during the Regency era (hence the first named basis with Georgette) and if you are a fan of romances set in that period you are going to love this one. There is a bit of a story within a story in this book, and when you start reading about the soap opera you will laugh at all of the inside jokes, the show uses all the plot devices that you can expect from a regency romance and a soap opera.
There is a lot of humor, the book is not a comedy though, in fact there are some serious topics in it, Alec and Jenny have some drama going in their life, but they deal with it with humor and optimism. As I said there is a lot of introspection in the book, but the inner dialogue was fantastic, I laugh so hard reading Alec’s thoughts that is no wonder I fell in love with him, and I think that so will you. The cast of secondary characters is another part of why this book was so good, they were a blast and a joy to read.
The book is full of details about daytime television and soap operas; you can tell that Kathleen did a lot of research. I didn’t find it boring though, I believe it added to the story, but you might find the book a bit slow, I was very invested in the characters so maybe that’s why I enjoyed those technical parts, but it might not be your case.
The only thing that bothered me was that the “villain” of the story was a bit one-dimensional. He was Jenny’s boyfriend and friend since childhood and she loved him, but his behavior made him seem like a jerk. I understand that he needed to be unlikeable for us to root for Alec and Jenny, but he could have been more complex. Sometimes good people fall out of love without someone having to be a jerk you know? That is how life works, and I would have loved for them to fall apart because they weren’t in love anymore and because they were different people, not just because someone was an asshole. I couldn’t understand why she was with him in the first place, or why she stayed with him, and in the end he was the one who forced her hand into choosing Alec instead of being her who made the decision.
Overall this was a feel-good story. It was filled with incredible charming characters. It was funny, it was sweet and I have a new favorite author. This is an out of print book so it might be hard to get (I should know because I’m trying to get my hands on her other books) but if you can find them, they are worth it. Look beyond the publishing date, and the cheesy covers, this book wasn’t dated at all, and I’ve got a feeling that the same can be said about the rest of them. Sadly the author is no longer writing romance, I think her latest books are more women's fiction than anything else, but this is an author worth reading no matter the genre.
Review by Brie
Just when your life seems to be going exactly as planned; just when you think you are probably happy; and just when you think there will be no surprises, along comes the love you never knew you needed...
Jenny Cotton is having the time of her life as the head writer of daytime's only historical soap opera. But beneath her dashing sparkle is a vulnerable woman who can't seem to write herself out of a longtime relationship ...until Alec Cameron walks before the camera and into her life. Jenny can't imagine being able to love ...again.
Alec had perfected his craft with the same broad-shouldered courage that got him through his failed marriage. He thinks of himself as "one of the good guys," and yet he hides wounds no one, including himself, can see. And he can't stand to watch the woman he loves run from happiness ...again.
Now, suddenly, the story that unfolds on weekday afternoons is more than just a script for Jenny and Alec--it's their story. But can they see how close they are to happiness, or how close they are to losing it ...?
Onyx. September 1, 1994.