Pretty Face (London Celebrities #2) by Lucy Parker (audiobook) – Narrated by Morag Sims

This title may be downloaded from Audible via Amazon.

The play’s the fling.

It’s not actress Lily Lamprey’s fault that she’s all curves and has the kind of voice that can fog up a camera lens. She wants to prove where her real talents lie – and that’s not on a casting couch, thank you. When she hears esteemed director Luc Savage is renovating a legendary West End theater for a lofty new production, she knows it could be her chance – if only Luc wasn’t so dictatorial, so bad tempered, and so incredibly sexy.

Luc Savage has respect, integrity, and experience. He also has it bad for Lily. He’d be willing to dismiss it as a midlife crisis, but this exasperating, irresistible woman is actually a very talented actress. Unfortunately their romance is not only raising questions about Lily’s suddenly rising career; it’s threatening Luc’s professional reputation. The course of true love never did run smooth. But if they’re not careful, it could bring down the curtain on both their careers…

Rating: Narration – B+; Content – A-

Pretty Face, the follow-up novel to Lucy Parker’s successful and hugely entertaining Act Like It, is a funny, sexy Rom-Com set amid the hustle and bustle of London’s Theatreland that clearly proves that Ms. Parker is no one-hit-wonder. This book is every bit as charmingly well-written as its predecessor, just as full of zinging one-liners, and equally possessed of an attractive and engaging central couple and small, but well-drawn supporting cast. And in the midst of all the humour and delicious sexual tension are moments of true poignancy, too, moments that show the author is as gifted at creating three-dimensional characters with flaws and insecurities and shedding subtle insight onto their emotional lives as she is at writing wonderfully witty banter.

Actress Lily Lamprey was lucky enough to land a job on the popular costume-drama-cum-soap-opera, Knightsbridge, when she was fresh out of drama school, but four years later she is looking to move on and shed the image of man-eating vamp she’s acquired as a result of the part she plays on the show. She knows it has prevented her from getting other roles, but is determined to break out and show that she is capable of more than getting her kit off week after week on TV. And now she has the chance to do just that, as she’s been called to audition for Luc Savage, one of the most widely respected directors in the West End. Savage has a reputation for being cold and dictatorial, but there’s no denying his shows are incredibly successful and that working for him could really kick-start her career… even though Lily doesn’t think she’s got a snowball’s chance in hell of landing the part.

You can read the rest of this review at AudioGals.

Pretty Face (London Celebrities #2) by Lucy Parker

pretty-face

This title may be purchased from Amazon

The play’s the fling

It’s not actress Lily Lamprey’s fault that she’s all curves and has the kind of voice that can fog up a camera lens. She wants to prove where her real talents lie—and that’s not on a casting couch, thank you. When she hears esteemed director Luc Savage is renovating a legendary West End theater for a lofty new production, she knows it could be her chance — if only Luc wasn’t so dictatorial, so bad-tempered and so incredibly sexy.

Luc Savage has respect, integrity and experience. He also has it bad for Lily. He’d be willing to dismiss it as a midlife crisis, but this exasperating, irresistible woman is actually a very talented actress. Unfortunately, their romance is not only raising questions about Lily’s suddenly rising career, it’s threatening Luc’s professional reputation. The course of true love never did run smooth. But if they’re not careful, it could bring down the curtain on both their careers…

Rating: A

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.

*swoon*.

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.

Act Like It by Lucy Parker (audiobook) – Narrated by Billie Fulford-Brown

Act Like It

This title may be downloaded from Audible via Amazon.

This just in: romance takes center stage as West End theater’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?

Rating: Narration – B+; Content – A-

Lucy Parker’s début romance, Act Like It has been on my radar since one of my fellow reviewers at All About Romance rated it very highly at the end of last year. As often happens, I never find the time to squeeze in all the books I want to read alongside the ones on my review TBR, so I pounce on them when and if they come out in audio format instead. Set among the world of West End Theatre, Act Like It is a thoroughly enjoyable, feel-good Rom Com which revolves around the fake relationship engineered between a bad-boy actor and his likeable, popular co-star. It’s well put-together, there’s plenty of wry humour and digs at celebrity culture; and although the author isn’t British (she’s a New Zealander) her English is idiomatic so that the whole feel of the story – language, tone and rhythm – is naturally British and not located three thousand miles West of Galway Bay.

Byronically handsome star of the West End stage Richard Troy has recently been living up to his bad-boy image rather too much for the liking of his agent, his publicist and the manager of the theatre where he’s currently performing. Never one to suffer fools gladly, the gossip columns gleefully report that his latest tantrum involved a shouting match with a notable chef and a full-scale offensive on the tableware at a posh London restaurant – and there comes a point at which the public’s good will towards the antics of a likeable jack-the-lad turns into dislike. And Richard has passed it. Although he is undoubtedly a hugely talented actor, his reputation is causing a drop in bums-on-seats, so it’s time for a concerted PR campaign to try to restore some of the good faith his recent behaviour has lost.

You can read the rest of this review at AudioGals.