Saturday, 26 March 2011

Book Review: Act Like We're In Love by Christi Barth

Title: Act Like We're in Love
Author: Christi Barth
Number of pages: 258 pages
Release Date: 8 October 2010
Publisher: Damnation Books
Formats available: ebook, paperback
Purchasing Info: Goodreads, Author's Website, Amazon, Kindle store

Grade: 5 stars

Novellus perfectus!

Goodreads appetizer: When two people make beautiful music together onstage, can their love survive once the curtain falls? Linnea Larson is willing to do anything to keep her family's Minneapolis dinner theatre from going under. Anything, that is, besides accepting a date from the Hollywood hunk her father hired to inject a dose of star power into their production of Guys & Dolls. It's a toss up whether his greatest claim to fame is playing a superhero on screen, or a super stud off screen. Neither fact convinces her he's got what it takes to share her stage. And thanks to a life long pact with her best friend, she never dates actors.

Luke Powell has fame, fortune, and an endless string of women, but also a lingering dissatisfaction with his picture perfect life. Looking for a change, he escapes to his theatrical roots. What he finds are wary cast mates, a nervous best friend convinced the show will ruin Luke's career, and an adorable costar who stubbornly refuses to go out with him. Suddenly singing and dancing aren't the only challenges he'll tackle over the summer. Far from the spotlights of Hollywood, can he find happiness in the footlights of a tiny theatre?

Despite Luke dragging her into his daily paparazzi nightmare, Linnea can't deny her mounting attraction to his irresistible charm. And even if she's crazy enough to chance getting involved, their fling would have a guaranteed expiration date. He's leaving at the end of the run, and she's tied to her family's theatre. Why risk the inevitable heartbreak? Their job is to act like they're in love, but will they decide it's worth the leap to fall in love for real?

My Thoughts: Act Like We're in Love is a wonderful contemporary romance. It is sweet, it is fresh, it is funny and very importantly: it is very well written!

The story is set in Minneapolis showing the life of a local (musical) theatre company whose routine is quite shaken up by an international movie star being cast in their latest production.

Linnea is the heroine, whose parents own the theatre. The theatre is going through some difficult times and to save its precarious financial situation the director of the company (Linnea's father) casts Luke a world famous action movie star to play the lead in their new production of Guys and Dolls. Most of the company is simply surprised and excited to finally meet and work with such a celebrity, but Linnea is quite hostile. First of all she is a bit hurt that her parents instead of discussing the theatre's situation with her chose to remedy it this way, secondly she truly fears that even if Luke is a good movie actor he won't be able to be a good stage actor and will endanger their production.

All characters, be it main or supporting are well created and interesting, Christi Barth gives them flesh and some characteristics even if they just pass through a scene. But the main four characters: Linnea, Luke, Wes (Luke's manager and good friend, also romantical hero for Ingrid) and Ingrid (dancer of the company, best friend of Linnea) are truly well developed (I even resented Wes and Ingrid some of their showtime, I would have loved to see more of Luke and Linnea, but that is just a personal preference :-p), fresh and three dimensonal.

Luke is so much more than a cardboard Hollywood movie star, and Linnea shows endearing vulnerability besides being a gorgeous and talented actress/singer. And then when these two get together, not spraks but fireworks fly! The chemistry between Luke and Linnea is so potent, the very first scene they meet, you will feel all tingly, Christi Barth does an amazing job conveying this extraordinarily powerful attraction and chemistry between these two! Every one of their interaction is full of life, teasing banter or sweet innuendos.

The romance is sweet and interesting, I loved how Christi Barth included other characters and aspects of the H/H's life and not focused only on developing the romance. I particularly enjoyed reading about the daily life of the company and how they prepare for the premiere, all these behind the scenes glimpses were executed with finesse keeping the reader enthralled in the story and loving the discovery of the mechanism of the theatre.
"Hey Sky, your mission doll's looking for you."
Luke loved getting to this point in the rehearsal process, when everyone called you by your character name. When the show took you so deep, you lived and breathed it. Almost as if the character you played was more real than you.

The sweet and sexy tone of the novel is peppered with humour:
"Nathan and Adelaide have been engaged for fourteen years at the start of the show. Can you imagine? I can't keep a woman for fourteen months. " Stu barked out a laugh, and his self-deprecating grin encouraged the circle of men to join in on the joke.
"I bet Luke's gone through fourteen women in a day," piped in a voice from the back. Catcalls snd whistles ensued. Luke buried his hands in his pockets and gave a who-me? shrug
"A gentleman never tells." Luke's voice dropped to a whisper. "But when I run out of fingers, I just stop counting for the night." A roar of masculine approval filled the hallway.

But don't fear, there is plenty of sensual too:
"Enough talk. I'm going to kiss you now," he whispered in her ear. "If you like it, i'll keep going. All night." Then he licked the rim down to the lobe, and gently bit down.
"I want my hands on you, Linnea. I'm going to discover you. What makes you happy, what makes you moan, what makes your eyes roll back in your head. Mostly I'm going to discover how good we are together." He levered himself up to look her square in the eyes. "If you don't feel the same way, you'd better stop me right now."
"Wow" she said and instantly regretted it.
I can only echo that: Wow... doesn't it give you those good kind of shivers?


And then there are all the heart-thundering, "aww" melting moments:
He picked up the pace, his long legs eating up the pavement. Temper pushed him faster till Linnea practically trotted beside him to keep from being dragged along. She flat-out pissed him off. Couldn't she see how difficult this was for him? Did he really have to spell it out?
"Listen to me. I don't care whether Mom wants to see you - which, by the way, she does. Don't you get it? I want her to meet you. It's important. Not to be polite. Not to torture you as payback for your parents breathing down my neck every day. But because you both matter to me, damn it!"
"Linnea, [...] how can you believe when I kiss you it's anything less than the best moment of my day?"

Verdict: Act Like We're in Love is an amazing contemporary romance! If you like your romance with an interesting background story, three dimensional quirky supporting characters and charismatic, powerful main characters, if you like your romance to be sweet, sensual yet funny, then Act Like We're in Love is the novel for you!
"When you see a guy reach for the stars in the sky, you can bet that he's doing it for some doll."

Plot: 8/10
Characters: 10/10
Ending: 9/10
Writing: 10/10
Cover: 6/10
 
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