I’ve been at this for 40 weeks now, which is plenty of time to give regular readers a solid impression of my favorite genre: mysteries & thrillers. They make up probably three-quarters of my reading diet, and have for most of my adult life. I rarely stray into other genres of fiction.
Romance, for example. I know there are a lot of very well-regarded contemporary romance novels being published today; I just have kind of a prejudice against them, figuring I already know what’s going to happen, so why bother? A man and a woman meet and fall in love, an obstacle tears them apart, but they get back together in the end and live happily ever after. At least with mysteries, there’s some suspense over the killer’s identity.
Well, you know what? I read a contemporary romance novel this week, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Linda Holmes, NPR’s pop culture critic, Tweeted out a link to Act Like It a few days ago, stating “I really loved this book” and noting that it was on sale for 99 cents. I really trust Linda’s taste (her recommendation got me hooked on “The Great British Bake-Off”!), and when I saw that it was set in the world of London theater, well, I couldn’t resist.
Lainie Graham is co-starring in a costume drama on London’s West End with her ex-boyfriend Will Farmer (he dumped her for another woman, but she still has to kiss him every night onstage) and the temperamental Richard Troy, whose bad behavior in public is bringing negative publicity to the play. Hoping to burnish Richard’s image, his PR team talks Lainie into embarking on a fauxmance with the actor. Each of them have something to gain: Lainie exerts a promise for a hefty donation to her charity (which, as we find, is very close to her heart), while Richard is angling for a position on the board of a stodgy national arts foundation. (Wait a second, the man is committed to increasing government funding for the performing arts? Definitely marriage material, if you ask me.)
Of course, you know they’re going to fall in love eventually, but Lainie is such a strong, appealing heroine and the theatrical setting is so much fun that I couldn’t put the book down. And while the ultimate destination may not be a surprise, how they arrive there most definitely contains a bunch of twists and turns. I don’t know if I’ll add contemporary romance to my regular repertoire, but I definitely plan to snap up Lucy Parker’s next novel.