Friday 27 December 2019

#CBR11 Book 93: "Headliners" by Lucy Parker

Page count: 400 pages
Rating: 4 stars

Disclaimer! I received this as an ARC from NetGalley, but this has in no way influenced my review. 

While this works fine as a standalone contemporary romance, both characters and some of the events that complicate their relationship early on are introduced in The Austen Playbook, which I can also heartily recommend.

Official book description:
He might be the sexiest man in London, according to his fan site (which he definitely writes himself), but he’s also the most arrogant man she’s ever met.

She might have the longest legs he’s ever seen, but she also has the sharpest tongue.

For years, rival TV presenters Sabrina Carlton and Nick Davenport have traded barbs on their respective shows. The public can’t get enough of their feud, but after Nick airs Sabrina’s family scandals to all of Britain, the gloves are off. They can barely be in the same room together—but these longtime enemies are about to become the unlikeliest of cohosts.

With their reputations on the rocks, Sabrina and Nick have one last chance to save their careers. If they can resurrect a sinking morning show, they’ll still have a future in television. But with ratings at an all-time low and a Christmas Eve deadline to win back the nation’s favor, the clock is ticking—and someone on their staff doesn’t want them to succeed.

Small mishaps on set start adding up, and Sabrina and Nick find themselves—quelle horreur—working together to hunt down the saboteur…and discovering they might have more in common than they thought. When a fiery encounter is caught on camera, the public is convinced that the reluctant cohosts are secretly lusting after one another.

The public might not be wrong.

Their chemistry has always been explosive, but with hate turning to love, the stakes are rising and everything is on the line. Neither is sure if they can trust these new feelings…or if they’ll still have a job in the New Year.

To say that I was eager to get my hands on this ARC is an understatement. I renewed the site once or twice a day, checking whether I'd been granted a copy. Of course, about the point when I was starting to give up hope and stopped checking, I received an e-mail confirming I was one of the lucky ones to get this book early. Lucy Parker is one of the few authors writing, in any genre, who has the honour of being not only on my auto-buy list, but one of the few who deserves the very coveted pre-order treatment. So even before I was granted a copy of this, I had paid money for it, because all of Parker's previous four novels have proven excellent reads, and I was pretty sure this would be too.

While Sabrina and Nick may initially detest each other, they are also professionals, who do the jobs they are hired to and don't let their animosity for their closest co-worker get in the way of doing their very best. Of course, neither of them are stupid, either, and it doesn't take them long at all to figure out that there is someone trying to sabotage the show. They're unsure of whether the guilty party has it in for one or both of them, but once they join forces to try to flush the culprit out, they also end up spending a lot more time together, and all that passionate dislike starts turning into something a bit more affectionate.

For those readers who have read The Austen Playbook, there are cameos from Freddy, Griff, Charlie and some of the Carlton sisters' friends who we were introduced to in that book. The two sisters are still really close, and Nick's thoughtless behaviour taking advantage of the Carlton family's scandals affected both of them, and pretty much ruined his long friendship with Griff. So obviously Sabrina takes her sister's opinions into consideration when her feelings towards Nick start to change.

Sadly, there is also a re-appearance of Sabrina's douchy movie star ex-boyfriend, and I was deeply grateful that there didn't appear to be any jealousy drama to complicate the plot, and that his appearance was relatively brief. I'm a little bit worried that movie-ex is going to feature as a hero in one of Parker's future books, but at the same time, she's written enough of my keeper shelf novels by now that if that's a choice she ends up making, I will probably end up loving him as much as I do Richard, Luc, Leo, Griff and now Nick.

It was going to take a lot for me not to like this book. I've never rated a Lucy Parker novel lower than four stars, this features enemies to lovers (one of my favourite tropes), while also displaying a lot of competency porn. Both Sabrina and Nick are amazing at their jobs and work really hard for the things they've achieved. The book gives fun insight into the behind the scenes bustle of a popular talk show and there's an amusing minor subplot where both Sabrina and Nick have to scramble to secure a horrible electronic toy, the most sought after present of the Christmas season, for a child they care for.

All I can say is that if you've enjoyed any of Parker's former novels, you will absolutely like this one too and should consider pre-ordering it. I still think The Austen Playbook is my absolute favourite, followed by Pretty Face in second place, but this may edge out Act Like It for third (because it doesn't have that slightly shaky last act with the overly dramatic building collapse). The book will be on general release on Janurary 20th, 2020.

Judging a book by its cover: While I think Act Like It still has my absolute favourite of Lucy Parker's book covers, this comes in at a close second. There is such utter joy on both of the cover model's faces and the background and lights is magical and romantic. They seem utterly besotted with one another, which is exactly what you want from a romance cover.

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