Title: Pretty Face (2017)
Series: London Celebrities – Book 2
Author: Lucy Parker
Publisher: Carina Press
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Extent: 222 pages
Release Date: February 20, 2017
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…
I don’t usually write reviews for the romance novels that I read, but Pretty Face is a bit of a special case for one simple reason: I liked it so, so much, I pretty much started rereading it right after I finished it. It’s actually the second in a series but it’s more of a companion novel, and while I also enjoyed the first one, I like this one just that much better. I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that this is the level I think contemporary romance should strive to be at, and I’ll be following Lucy Parker’s work for years to come. ✨
This is the story of two unlikelies who, despite all odds, fall in love. We meet Lily Lamprey, a screen actress with a sexy, breathy voice rivalling Marilyn Monroe’s, and Luc Savage, an established director who is about to open a renovated theatre and direct a new play. When Lily auditions for Luc’s play, they both assume the worst in each other — at least until Luc sees Lily’s potential as an actress and decides to take her on. Of course, sparks start to fly.
This was Luc Savage. Award-winning, career-making, ego-curdling Luc Savage. Get-in-my-way-and-I’ll-crush-you-like-a-bug Luc Savage. And her driving instinct was to touch the tips of her boots to his—and then stand her ground until he stepped back first.
Her spine prickled.
After a long pause that was too charged to be awkward, he stepped forward and extended a hand. “Luc Savage.”
She glanced down at his fingers wrapped around hers. “Lily Lamprey.”
They released each other’s hands; their eyes met again.
You might think: that’s great and all, Reg, but what’s so special? Well, I’ll tell you what, and it’s actually very simple: both Lily and Luc behave like mature adults in a relationship. This is not a romance novel where the characters deny their feelings for one another and play games. No one makes the other jealous on purpose. No one hides their thoughts and expect the other to read their minds. Instead, these two actually talk. These two actually communicate. 🙏
Another thing that is also special (unfortunately, and I say that because it really should be the norm) is that when Luc says something sexist, he’s made to be responsible for them. Lily calls him out on it and not only does he acknowledge it, he actually apologises and never repeats the same mistake again! And it’s not an “I’m sorry I hurt your feelings” type of apology either — it’s an actual apology. For context, here is Luc’s response after Lily calls him out on referring to her as ‘a Marilyn Monroe impersonator who probably needs direction to tie her shoelaces’:
“I’m sorry for what was repeated to you after that casting meeting. I’m sorry that I said it in the first place. I’m very sorry that it’s such an everyday occurrence to you that you barely blink an eye when a couple of little fuckers make totally inappropriate comments almost to your face. I wholeheartedly apologise for being a prejudiced, sexist dick.”
With most romance novels, what you cherish is the journey. We know the protagonists are going to end up together no matter the obstacles, so we care more about the in-between: the how, instead of the what if you will. In Pretty Face, the how is more of a slow burn rather than instant attraction, a reluctant friendship instead of immediate lust. The pacing is great, too — the book gives just enough in every scene to keep you reading. 😉
Not only that, I’m not particularly picky with the setting of my contemporary romances and for good reason too: it usually doesn’t matter to the romance. Here, though, the backdrop of London’s theatre world really brings something new to the table and even somewhat shapes the characters and the relationship. When it becomes clear that Lily and Luc attracted to one another, it’s acknowledged what this might mean for their career. After all, neither of them exist just for the sake of being a love interest.
“He wasn’t thrilled about the increased media attention on anything except the play, but he found it a lot easier to ignore than Lily did. […] If their relationship affected anyone’s career, it was likely to be hers. He was more established than she was, and there was a double standard to contend with.”
I could probably ramble about this book for much longer, but I don’t want to scare any of you guys off! My final words are: please, please give Pretty Face a chance, you guys. It hasn’t been that long since the book came out and already it is my top comfort book pick. The characters are so wonderfully likable, the romance so mature, and Parker’s writing so witty, the book is more than worth it. 💕