Book: The Austen Playbook
Series: London Celebrities #4
Author: Lucy Parker
Release date: 22 April 2019
Main characters: Frederica Carlton, actress from a distinguished literary family, who really just wants to entertain; James ‘Griff’ Ford-Griffin, theatre critic, long-suffering son and brother to a family of dreamers.
Plot: Freddy Carlton is a talented actress who is desperate to do more work in musical theatre. Her father/manager however, has grander plans in mind. They both descend from the great Henrietta Carlton, renowned playwright and all-round legend. Her father Rupert wants Freddy to ascend to her potential and take her place amongst acting royalty. Under this weight of heavy expectation, Freddy has to tread the balance between making dear old dad happy, and pursuing her own dreams, which don’t necessarily include high drama.
When Freddy’s new project, The Austen Playbook takes her to theatre critic James Ford-Griffin’s country pile, that’s when things get really interesting. He’s been the bane of her professional life for some time. His acerbic barbs about her performances always found their mark. She finds herself drawn to his prickly exterior, and enjoys verbally jousting with him. She’s very much in danger of nursing a little crush…
Griff is not impressed when his brother tells him that a TV crew will be descending on them for the live performance of The Austen Playbook. It will entail no end of inconvenience, expense and general stress. Barely holding on to his sanity, he’s forced to go along with it while trying to wrangle his own work in progress. After his daily run ins with Freddy, he feels confounded by his feelings. She’s his complete opposite, but he finds himself looking forward to their interactions more and more. She’s endlessly optimistic while he bleeds cynicism. It can’t possibly go anywhere…
Why you should read it: Oh my goodness, where to start? There’s the fact that you have all of Austen’s greatest characters on one stage, but the biggest action and intrigue is happening in the wings – there’s back-biting, flirting and secrets – oh so many secrets! It’s delicious – all of it! The chemistry and straightforward relationship between Griff and Freddy was also very satisfying – they have misunderstandings but are mature enough to hear the other out – there’s no overblown drama for the sake of it. Their romance is steeped in realism too – the depiction of their sexy times was totally realistic – shower sex is just not possible for most of us! I wanted to cheer the fact that the heroine has some very realistic issues that made me sit up and notice. You just don’t read that in a lot of romances these days, which is fine for fantasy, but this was so refreshing.
What you may not like: I can’t think of a darn thing – the dialogue was en pointe, the characters were varied and entertaining, the story developed consistently. I was drawn into their world completely. It was so vivid. This is a series I recommend again and again.
Rating: 5/5 for a really novel concept and plot – I think the show idea would get picked up in a heartbeat! Loved every page.