I love the idea of fake relationships in romance books. It’s probably my favorite romance trope, so when I heard about How to Fake It in Hollywood my interest was piqued. This romance book combines two Hollywood stars searching for a boost for different reasons. And if you like the premise, then keep reading this book review for my full thoughts.
A talented Hollywood starlet and a reclusive A-lister enter into a fake relationship . . . and discover that their feelings might be more than a PR stunt in this sexy debut for fans of Beach Read and The Unhoneymooners.
Grey Brooks is on a mission to keep her career afloat now that the end of her long-running teen show has her (unsuccessfully) pounding the pavement again. With a life-changing role on the line, she’s finally desperate enough to agree to her publicist’s scheme: fake a love affair with a disgraced Hollywood heartthrob who needs the publicity, but for very different reasons.
Ethan Atkins just wants to be left alone. Between his high-profile divorce, struggles with drinking, and grief over the death of his longtime creative partner and best friend, Ethan slowly has let himself fade into the background. But if he ever wants to produce the last movie he and his partner wrote together, Ethan needs to clean up his reputation and step back into the spotlight. A gossip-inducing affair with a gorgeous actress might be just the ticket, even if it’s the last thing he wants to do.
Though their juicy public relationship is less than perfect behind the scenes, it doesn’t take long before Grey and Ethan’s sizzling chemistry starts to feel like more than just an act. But after decades in a ruthless industry that requires bulletproof emotional armor to survive, are they too used to faking it to open themselves up to the real thing?
(Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)
TW: alcohol abuse, ageism, sexism
How to Fake It in Hollywood begins with this idea of, “what’s next”? After the career decision we thought would be it for us, what do we do now? After the loss of someone we never thought we’d have to live without, what now? Beginning with this premise for both Ethan and Grey, their fake relationship is designed to help give them both a boost. For Ethan he needs a reputation boost after the death of his best friend, and dissolution of his marriage, if he ever wants to make the movie they always said they would. And for Grey, she wants to bounce back after the ending of her long term project to find some more projects she loves.
How to Fake It in Hollywood doesn’t shy away from the ageism and sexism in Hollywood. The ways in which her decisions, and their fake relationship, effect Grey differently than Ethan. While I was prepared to love Grey immediately, I felt like the story ended up focusing more on Ethan. Ethan’s struggling with grief, self-loathing, and alcohol abuse. He’s stuck thinking everything he touches will be ruined and that he’s the cause. So granted, his POV ends up being deeply emotional almost from the get go. Whereas with Grey, it took me a bit longer to figure out her central character.
Even though Ethan’s POV was emotional from the get go – especially as he descends into these spirals of toxic thoughts – I did feel like more of the book had her POV. So for me, it was a difficult balance where I felt like I was more invested in Ethan, but ended up spending more time with Grey. In general, How to Fake It in Hollywood is certainly entertaining, while also touching upon some difficult issues of addiction and of needing to be honest with ourselves. There’s plenty of tension and it was a smidge too slow burn for me – even though I’m a good fan of a slow burn romance.
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It’s a romance book that examines how we can be our own worst enemy. And how if we don’t want to change, no one can truly help us. It’s not someone else’s job to fix us and certainly not our partner. How to Fake It in Hollywood tries to balance romance with these difficult issues especially as cracks form whispers tracing back to our ghosts and former memories. Until they stretch over dark walls like tree branches cast in moonlight – causing panic and fear with the slightest movement. I certainly enjoyed the read, I just felt like the balance it tries to maintain tips over in places in regards to characters and pacing. Find How to Fake It in Hollywood on Goodreads, Amazon, Indiebound, Bookshop.org & The Book Depository.