Adorable, G-rated, YA, romantic comedy
Reading Level: Young Adult
Release Date: November 22, 2019
Pages: 273 pages
Reviewed By: Kate McMurry
Chloe Travis is an 18-year-old, recent high-school graduate who experiences two huge events which lead to adventure and romance.
First, on the night she is celebrating graduation at a nightclub in Austin, Texas, with a coterie of her friends from her high-school dance squad, as well as with her boyfriend, Mitch, of the past several years, a gorgeous stranger around her age flirts with her and asks her to dance. Chloe tells him she has a boyfriend, who currently has disappeared. She searches for Mitch, and the stranger is somehow standing right behind her when she catches Mitch kissing another girl. Chloe tells off Mitch, dumps his cheating behind on the spot, and storms off. But later, recalling Mr. Gorgeous, she regrets that she didn’t exchange phone numbers with him.
Second, Chloe becomes involved in a contest against three of her four brothers. Her extremely rich, Texas-ranch-owning parents promise ownership of the enormous east pasture of their sprawling ranch to whomever can come up with the best plan for it among Chloe, her twin brother Dylan, and her older, twin brothers, Aric and Brice. Her ten-year-old brother, Felix, the only singleton among the siblings, is too young to participate in the contest. Currently the east pasture is planted in lovely, aromatic lavender, and Chloe is determined to keep it that way. She plans to major in landscape architecture in college, and she wants to expand and improve the lavender fields and open up a little store in the midst of them and send the proceeds from the sale of lavender products to a different charity every year. The boys’ ideas are all too painful to contemplate, because every one of them wants to tear out the lavender and develop the land. Each of the four are given $10,000 in seed money by their dad for the challenge, and by the end of the summer, whoever legally brings back the best return on the money, including not just expanding the amount of the money but creating a sound business plan to invest it in, will win the east field for a college graduation present.
Chloe comes up with the idea of going to California and spending the summer there touring multiple lavender farming operations. And it occurs to her if she could get a job and an inexpensive place to stay, she could avoid spending a penny of the $10,000 stake. She applies for an internship in Hollywood at the Herrington Movie Studios in the Human Resources Department, gets accepted, and sets off at once for California.
Chloe is soon struggling to tolerate working in HR, because she is stuck handling complaints from actors and staff, and is told by her supervisor that her answer must always be, “No.” She is considering quitting and getting a job that actually pays a salary when an actress around her age named Jane Jones shows up. Jane wants to take some time off, and in the middle of filing her request with Chloe, suddenly looks closely at Chloe and exclaims that the two of them look enough alike to be doppelgangers. She begs Chloe to stand in for her as an actress for a popular vampire soap opera that films at the Herrington Movie Studios. Jane has a very minor, continuing role as a rebellious, Goth teenager whose speaking part has never consisted of more than truculent grunting. Jane doesn’t want to lose her salary, saying she needs it to pay college tuition. She offers to split her earnings 50/50 with Chloe if she will help her out for a few weeks, and Chloe can also stay, rent free, in the tiny trailer on the studio lot that has been provided for Jane. Chloe is reluctant at first, but the prospect of working only a few days a week, and having her weekends free to explore the lavender farms, while not touching a penny of the $10,000, is ultimately too much of a temptation to pass up.
Then comes Chloe’s first day on set. The whole cast and crew are in a furor over the imminent arrival of a continuing guest star on the show, Hudson Cooper, Hollywood’s biggest teen, action-movie star. Chloe couldn’t care less, until she recognizes the actor. He’s the hot guy who flirted with her at the nightclub back home. And he recognizes her too.
This is an adorable, quirky, YA romantic comedy. It really engaged my attention, and I could hardly stand to put it down until I read all the way through to the end. I loved Chloe. She is a very strong, determined, confident heroine. I liked Hudson very much as well. The whole book is told in first-person point of view of Chloe, so we never get inside his head. But his actions reveal a lot about him. He is not arrogant, rude or a womanizer, as one might expect of a young man of his age and social privilege. Though this book is G-rated and the two romantic protagonists never share more than a few kisses, the author has created blazing chemistry between the two of them.
I greatly appreciate the fact that Chloe has wonderful parents who adore her. Her four brothers are a hoot as well. And there are multiple entertaining characters among the actors and support staff on the set of the vampire TV show.
Every setting of this story, from Chloe’s sprawling family mansion and fascinating ranch, to the sets at the Hollywood studio, to her trailer and Hudson’s, all are vividly drawn and made me feel as if I were right in the middle of the action.
The scripts and scenes from the vampire soap opera are all completely nutty, but since this is a comedy, I had no trouble suspending disbelief and rolling along with the punches of Chloe’s wild ride as an actress.
There is a surprising twist at the end of the story that was highly improbable but, again, because this is a comedy filled with crazy events, I had no trouble accepting that either. It fit in very well with every other whacky event in this rollicking story.
All in all, this is another terrific addition to my keeper collection of Emily Evans YA romantic comedies.
I rate this book as follows:
Romance Plot: 5
Fake Actress Plot: 4
Family Contest Plot: 4
Overall: 4.5 rounded to 5 stars