Saturday, April 11, 2020

Review: Slow Dance with the Best Man

I've said it before, I'll say it again - I'll suspend a lot of disbelief when there's a skilled writer driving the bus.  I'm not sure where Sophie Pembroke has been all my category reading life, but if Slow Dance with the Best Man is any indication I need to go diving into my Kindle to see what else I have languishing there.

Eloise Miller has spent a lifetime fading into the background thanks to an actress mother (big fish, small pond of local theater) who had a habit of falling in love with her leading men, humiliating Eloise's father (who always took her back, natch) and made Eloise the target of local mean girl, Melissa Sommers.  Well, Melissa Sommers is now an "actress" - or at least another Hollywood pretty face ("actress" might be overstating things) and she's engaged to "actor" Riley Black and has a giant ring to prove it.  Now Melissa is back in her small English hometown, at Morwen Hall, the Gothic manor estate that is now a world-class hotel to get married and run everyone ragged.  Eloise worked there as a teen and once she finished university she went back to her hometown and is vying for the manager role.  Pulling off Melissa's wedding will be a serious feather in her cap, assuming she can keep from strangling the bride.

Noah Cross got his start in traveling Shakespearean theater troupes, but these days he's the personification of superficial leading man - shallow action movies where lots of stuff blows up and parts that play heavily on his charm.  He feeds into this with superficial relationships and being seen about town with an impressive variety of pretty faces.  But he's getting restless and his agent has sent him a script for a part he would kill to land.  The problem? It's a serious movie, a serious part, and Noah has been placed in his typecast box.  So when his agent somehow manages to get a video call set up with the script's writer and director, she makes Noah promise to keep a low profile and behave himself.  The problem being he keeps getting distracted by a certain pretty hotel manager....

This is a light, fluffy concoction set around The Wedding Of The Moment that ticks all the boxes.  You've got Melissa, a villain you can't help but hate, and a main couple both hiding behind past baggage neither has begun to unpack.  Given Eloise's childhood she thinks of actors in much the same way as cockroaches in a kitchen, and Noah has been playing Mr. Superficial Good Time in response to a past tragedy he's refused to deal with.  However once these two lock eyes, they both recognize that there's something between them - something that frankly scares the heck out of both of them.

How well a reader enjoys this story depends entirely on how much they can suspend their disbelief.  Noah and Eloise fall for each other right away and the flirting kicks in immediately.  They fight the attraction until they can't any longer, tumble into bed, and then do a disaster job of trying to keep the fling (which isn't really a fling but they're both deluding themselves at this point) on the down low.  Until, of course, it all comes tumbling out into the open.  We're talking a matter of days here.  So the reader has to buy into the idea of a Hollywood star falling in love with A Nobody in a matter of days when they both have baggage that have kept them from "serious relationships" for some time.

I could do that, mostly because I was utterly charmed by the story, the couple and the sparks shooting off between them.  The Romance line is an on-the-page low heat line but that doesn't mean the books can't sizzle - and this one does, thanks to Noah's roguish charm and Eloise's push back to his flirting.  The sex scenes may be closed door but believe you me, I had no doubt these two were hot for each other in the all the right ways.  It also doesn't hurt matters that Pembroke can write.

A new-to-me-author, an enjoyable romance, a pure fun escapist delight.  Now I'm off to scour my TBR for more Sophie Pembroke....

Final Grade = B+

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