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Ratings and Book Reviews (8 27 star ratings
8 reviews
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4.5 out of 5
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    It didn't work for me.

    While I still haven't read Act Like It, book 1 in the London Celebrities series, I had loved Pretty Face, book 2; disliked Making Up, book 3, and I took a chance on THE AUSTEN PLAYBOOK. So, no need to summarise, the blurb is sufficiently explicit. Lucy Parker possesses phenomenal writing skills, her characters are vibrant and real, the physical environment as clear as HD TV, the dialogues snappy and realistic, and she displays a biting sense of humour. The whole show business angle is fascinating, as is the case for the whole series; I love it. But the romance was very problematic for me. I felt it was never given a chance to develop organically; I kept being told there were sparks where I felt none; I felt no chemistry between Griff and Freddy. There was this whole theatre story to be told and there had to be a romance. Freddy was interesting; at 23, she is at a crossroads: should she do what she really wants or what is expected of her. Her romantic interest, Griff, to be polite, left me cold; I found him completely lacking in charisma, stiff, mostly unpleasant and unengaging; to put it bluntly, I found him exceedingly dull. We're never told how old he is; his brother Charlie is 26, Griff is older, but how much older? To me, he seemed much, much older. I presume he is in his thirties, but I saw an old fuddy-duddy. Also, Freddy is 23; Charlie 26; and it's written, at some point, that he is "several years older" than her. I beg to disagree: three years is literally a couple of years plus one; that does not constitute "several". There are numerous characters, and while it's not difficult to keep track of who's who, I got the impression that the author was setting up an entire series, with all the subplots for at least a few more enemies-to-lovers books down the line. I did love Charlie and Dylan; they were entertaining and charismatic, if very different. At around 30%, I started to get bored, and I don't quite know why. Possibly because the romance failed to captivate me or because so many subplots started to crowd the main plotline. There's the obligatory mean girl, whose meanness should have been limited to a couple of characters instead of being mean "because". The promising mystery became extremely convoluted, and one big reveal was so farfetched, I can't believe someone would be so stupid. Then around 75%, I grew increasingly annoyed at all the drama; it was one thing after another, the intrigue was bogged down in superfluous details and the mean girl's shenanigans; I thought the book would never end. This along with the overlong epilogue and its fairytale solutions had me shave a star from my rating. Freddy grew as a character, but Griff very little: he never did anything about his problems with his parents; it was magically resolved, and part of it was rather puzzling with regards to another character. I love Lucy Parker's writing and her priceless insights in the world of theatre and show business, but will I read another book in this series? At the moment, I doubt it. THE AUSTEN PLAYBOOK had all the ingredients for a fabulous story, but it just didn't work for me.
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    Lovely book with nice intrigue

    I really enjoyed this book. Lucy Parker creates a beautiful world full of characters I both loved, and a few I hated. Luckily, Freddy and her Griff were both fantastic to get to know. Her description of the places brought the story to life, from the old “scooby doo” house, to the theater, and finally the velvet room everything was detailed perfectly. Freddy takes an acting job on a televised play based on a Jane Austen board game. Little does she know that the play is at the home (with private theater originally built for her grandma) of her biggest and most cynical critic Griff. As the two of them come together to explore their grandparents illicit affair and the renowned play her grandma wrote at the estate, their relationship builds along with the mystery they discover.
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    Contemporary Romance

    You know that book that puts a smile on your face from page one and then lingers throughout the story? That was this book for me! When I saw a new book in this series I was thrilled because I have enjoyed every book by this author that I have read so far...and I loved this one, too! Freddy Carlton is everything I might want in a female lead. She is smart, honest, talented, affectionate, open, a great friend, professional and a whole lot more. Her ancestors have been in theater for generations and her talent is exceptional but she does question at times if she is taking on the roles she is meant to do – ones that make her happy. When a break occurs and she is offered a take part in The Austen Playbook she is ready and looking forward to the change it will provide. She expects to spend some time away from London, go on country walks, relax with a script she can enjoy and spend time with actors she likes...until she gets a look at who those actors actually end up being. James “Griff” Ford-Griffin is a man who has critiqued many of Freddy’s plays. She believes he is honest in his writing but he is not always kind. Griff’s brother Charlie has a hair-brained idea to bring The Austen Playbook to their estate and utilize a theater their grandfather built for the project. Money they need to keep the estate going MIGHT come their way...or not...as a result of this and a few other projects. Griff has a heavy burden to carry with flaky parents and a brother he sees as less than responsible but he will make the best of it. When Freddy and Griff meet there is definitely chemistry and watching their relationship develop was so much fun...and kept that smile on my face throughout the story. I loved them individually and loved them together as they were definitely meant to be a couple. This story has a wonderful romance, secrets that are exposed, dramatic fireworks between some of the actors, interesting family dynamics to contend with and times that I was drawn in so much that I felt a part of the story...or wanted to be anyway. I love this author and this series and would gladly read anything she writes! And, I would like to thank NetGalley and Carina for the ARC – This is my honest review. 5 Stars
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    Absolutely delightful contemporary romance

    A frothy, heartwarming and highly enjoyable romance featuring an opposites attract couple, who turn out to complement each other beautifully. As well as an engaging story and excellent banter, there is an underlying mystery, a low key secondary romance, a very well done set-up for the next book in the series and the concept for a live TV event I wish existed in real life. I already knew Lucy Parker was a great romance author, this is her best book yet!
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    Wonderful Blend of Theater, Austen, and Mystery

    Originally posted on Tales to Tide You Over Thanks to reviewing for NetGalley, I read a lot of “new to me” authors. Enough so the names don’t always stick. I started reviewing for this very reason…so I could remember why I wanted to pick up another of their books. Why am I bringing this up now? I’m an Austen fan, but once I read past the title, the author’s name brought back the delight I’d felt when reading Pretty Face some two years earlier. At the time, I recommended the novel to my father. He is the main reason I’ve spent my life on the edge of theater from up front to backstage, at least until my son took over the charge. Lucy Parker folds you into the complications of live theater so completely with her subtle, nuanced writing. She does a wonderful job capturing the absolute love of theater that draws people to the stage as well as the quirky, sometimes poisonous personalities found there. She gets to the heart not just of people but of theater people, who have their own set of motivations. The Austen Playbook has many similarities to Pretty Face, but I quickly discovered the only true similarity is love of theater itself. Playbook focuses on theater dynasties and the pressure to live up to your family legacy, but it doesn’t stop there. Layer on two families at odds over three generations, with economic and social consequences, add in a grand betrayal that echoes down through time, and you’ve only touched the surface of this story. While there are elements of melodrama, the characters bring the events into sharp focus through their strengths and flaws, keeping the story from tipping over into an exaggerated caricature. It’s powerful and poignant as two people from opposing families discover they’re stronger and better people when together. And it’s not all deep drama either. Lucy Parker turns her skillful hand not just to writing revealing body language when words are not enough to convey the complex situations. She includes deadpan humor that made me look around for someone to share the joke with. Or maybe joke is the wrong word. The humor comes into the situation not tacked on but as a natural outgrowth. Simple things like the cast assuming a building designed to mimic older theaters would lack ventilation or Freddy’s attempt to distract working more because she failed to carry it off than because she succeeded. These are not setups, but rather circumstances that provoke empathic chuckles. I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t mention the plot seeding. I was able to intuit the impending crisis from body language combined with events, but then doubted my interpretation enough to be led astray for a bit. That’s the best of possible worlds because the answers are there and yet not heavy handed enough to spoil the fun of exploring possibilities. There are open door relations between Freddy and Griff for those who care, but it’s not explicit or detailed, and plays into the story events well. There are also many secondary or minor characters with quirky and conniving natures to turn even the simplest complication into something more. If you haven’t figured out this second taste has won me over, know that I picked up the rest of this series as soon as I finished The Austen Playbook. This novel had me from the start and kept me going until the final moment when Freddy turns formal plans into exasperated laughter. Freddy and Griff are far from similar people, but together they are a perfect match in blended humor, love, and support. P.S. I received this novel from the publisher through NetGalley in return for an honest review.
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