Actress Lainie Graham is the sweetheart of the London stage, and her wholesome public persona is now especially sympathetic because she’s recently been dumped. In contrast, her co-star Richard Troy is the quintessential bad boy. His Byronic good looks and considerable talent have counterbalanced some of his negative behavior, but the public is no longer willing to overlook his violent temper. Desperate to get public opinion back on their side, the theater manager and Richard’s agent concoct a plan: Richard and Lainie will pretend to be in a relationship so that her positive image will rehabilitate Richard’s negative one. At first, Lainie objects to the plan — she can’t stand Richard’s obnoxious behavior and inflated ego — but she is eventually convinced to play along. As she spends more time with Richard, however, she learns that there’s much more to him than meets the eye. Meanwhile, Richard is surprised to discover that Lainie is intelligent, kind, and more than willing to match him quip for quip. But how can these two actors be confident that their so-called fake relationship has evolved into something real?
After a streak of books that weren’t grabbing my attention, I was delighted to discover this sweet romance! I always enjoy the “fake relationship becomes real” trope, so I was predisposed to like the book anyway. But the adorable banter between Lainie and Richard is what really sealed the deal for me. Their sarcastic jabs at one another soon become playful teasing, and these interactions really made their chemistry believable. I appreciated how their careers as actors added another layer of complexity to the relationship; I especially enjoyed watching Richard seethe as Lainie had to pretend to be in love with her ex, another actor in the same play. The book does contain some of the romance genre’s more annoying clichés, such as a physically perfect hero with piercing blue eyes and a Big Misunderstanding that needlessly threatens the relationship. But overall, this book was a lovely surprise that came along at just the right time for me. Definitely recommended for fans of romantic comedies!