Monday, January 21, 2013

Love in the Aftenoon by Alison Packard

Why I read it:  I picked this one up from NetGalley.  Given that I was addicted to Days of our Lives in the 80's, the theme piqued my interest.

What it's about:  (from Goodreads)  Kayla Maxwell is eager to shed her slasher-flick bimbo image—and she plans to do just that in her new role on daytime’s most popular soap. With a chance to showcase her dramatic range, Kayla will be able to wash away the lingering betrayal and public humiliation left by her controlling, philandering ex-boyfriend.

Sean Barrett, the son of an influential, award-winning actor, is the hottest soap star in the country. Paired on-screen with the talented and beautiful Kayla Maxwell, Sean is determined to keep her at arm’s length, burned before by fame-seeking actresses who had no qualms about using him to get to his famous father.

But when Kayla receives threatening letters, her past as a scream queen seems to be coming back to haunt her. Succumbing to an attraction neither one of them can deny, Sean and Kayla must face down her stalker and their own personal demons before trusting what they both feel—a love that lasts long after the cameras stop rolling.

What worked for me (and what didn't):  I enjoyed this one quite a bit.  The writing style was easy and friendly and the stuff about working on a soap opera was fun.  I kept trying to imagine whether Sean and Kayla's on screen pairing was based on anyone - but I haven't watched soaps for ages so I don't know who the supercouples are anymore. When I was watching, in my teen years and just into my twenties, it was Bo and Hope on Days and Eden and Cruz on Santa Barbara (I'm dating myself big time here!).  I think many soap fans like the idea of their favourite couples being real life couples and this book taps into the fantasy.

Kayla is a very good actress, but lacks confidence in her talent because of the number her ex did on her.  She is beautiful, but not a stick - more curvy and she is nice to her fans, even answering her fan mail personally. In other words, she is practically perfect in every way.  I wouldn't have minded a few flaws because she did come across as a Mary Sue (which was something Brie from Romance Around the Corner pointed out in her review.  I completely agree). 

Sean is more troubled.  He had a difficult relationship with his famous father and after his previous publicist planted false rumours in the media about him, he has some trust issues.  

Both Kayla and Sean have sworn off dating other actors, but their chemistry is so off the charts, they are forced to revisit their plans.

Throw in a stalker plot for Kayla, some (a lot) of sequel baiting for the next book and mix well.

I enjoyed the slow burn of the romance between the Kayla and Sean - they go to know each other and spent time together and their relationship progressed fairly cautiously.  Although (and this is unusual for me), when they finally did make it to bed,  I found myself skimming over the sex because they felt a little... overwrought to me.  A little too flowery for my tastes I think.

I thought the dynamic between Sean and his father was really interesting and there was a fair amount of build up through the book.  I did find it a little hard to accept that it took nearly 17 years before they had an actual conversation about the circumstances of Sean's mother's death and the events that led to their estrangement.  But that's possibly because I don't work that way myself more than anything else.  Their problems weren't solved by the end sure, but I felt that the one conversation they did have went a little too easy considering how long they'd been at odds.

I don't mind a stalker plot.  But in this book, the stalker's grand finale fell flat for me.  Without giving too much away, the stalker's motivations and later actions didn't make a lot of sense given what had gone on before.   I felt like it was mainly there to give Sean an excuse to stay over a few times and for him to act the hero in the final scene.  

Toward the end, Sean's conflict with his father spills over into his relationship with Kayla and he says some awful things to her.  I don't think she made him grovel anywhere near enough once he came to his senses.  And, I wondered, if his father hadn't pushed for a confrontation with him, would Sean ever have come to his senses? 

There is plenty (too much) of sequel baiting for the next book which will feature Kayla's sister Kelly and Sean's BFF Matt - the setting will be baseball rather than soap operas however.  I felt a bit taunted with Matt's super secret trauma.  I expect I will read the next book but it won't be because they were so prevalent in this one.  It's because I enjoyed the story and the author's writing style. 

Grade: B-

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