Size Doesn’t Matter (208): Pretty Face; Dating Ryan Alback

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Size Doesn’t Matter (208): Pretty Face; Dating Ryan AlbackPretty Face by Lucy Parker
Series: London Celebrities #2
Published by Carina Press on February 20, 2017
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 400
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher
AmazonThe Book DepositoryAudible

Highly acclaimed, award-winning author of Act Like It Lucy Parker returns readers to the London stage with laugh-out-loud wit and plenty of drama

The play's the fling

It's not actress Lily Lamprey's fault that she's all curves and has the kind of voice that can fog up a camera lens. She wants to prove where her real talents lie—and that's not on a casting couch, thank you. When she hears esteemed director Luc Savage is renovating a legendary West End theater for a lofty new production, she knows it could be her chance—if only Luc wasn't so dictatorial, so bad-tempered and so incredibly sexy.

Luc Savage has respect, integrity and experience. He also has it bad for Lily. He'd be willing to dismiss it as a midlife crisis, but this exasperating, irresistible woman is actually a very talented actress. Unfortunately, their romance is not only raising questions about Lily's suddenly rising career, it's threatening Luc's professional reputation. The course of true love never did run smooth. But if they're not careful, it could bring down the curtain on both their careers…

Lucy Parker’s Act Like It was super fun and completely Christina-bait all the way through. The tropes are classic me, every one of them. Pretty Face, though, primarily uses tropes I don’t usually like…but I love it way more? How did that happen? I have no goddamn clue, but I loved this book. In some ways it even reminded of me The Hating Game, which is high fucking praise come from me.

The title of this book turned me off, and I wasn’t actually that excited about it even though I knew I should be excited. Heroine Lily does indeed have a beautiful face, which both helps her and gets her consistently underestimated. No surprise that she’s constantly fending off unwanted advances and catcalls. Lily’s the star of a TV show that basically sound like if Miss Fisher’s had been made on the CW but with HBO’s love of sex scenes, but she dreams of a career in the theater.

Lily works really hard, and she’s very careful to avoid relationships with coworkers, because her reputation is already bad enough just because she’s a beautiful woman who plays a promiscuous woman on TV. What she didn’t expect are the sparks she feels with her new director on her big break in theater. Though their first couple of meetings go abominably, and they hate each other, the loathing quickly makes way for passion and humor.

This ship really, really works for me, and it’s weird because there’s a fairly large age gap (I don’t remember their exact ages but he’s 10-15 years older) and he’s her employer and neither of those things do I usually enjoy, but they’re just so perfect for each other. Lily and Luc work because, underneath his stern surface and her young, beautiful one, they’re actually quite similar people. They have similar (weird) senses of humor that most other people don’t appreciate. They get each other. They also talk things out, and Pretty Face avoids the easy melodrama plots this sort of romance usually has; there are a couple of fights, but they get resolved quickly (but not unbelievably). It’s also super excellent that his ex-girlfriend and Lily are friends from the beginning with no lazy jealousy plot.

Pretty Face is a really excellent romance, one where, like with The Hating Game, you go “oh this is why these two incredibly attractive and wealthy people are single and also they’re just so perfect together. This book put a huge smile on my face, and I recommend it to all my ship-loving friends.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:


I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Size Doesn’t Matter (208): Pretty Face; Dating Ryan AlbackDating Ryan Alback by J.E. Birk
Published by Riptide Publishing on February 20, 2017
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 250
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
AmazonThe Book Depository

Ryan Alback has almost everything he’s ever wanted: a successful acting career, a dog who adores him, great family and friends, and a life outside the closet. The only thing missing is a boyfriend — but Ryan’s been burned by Hollywood relationships before, and he’s not eager to try one again.

Jason Santos has almost everything he's ever wanted: a fulfilling career teaching middle school, a house in a city he loves, and parents who support him in every way. Too bad he can't seem to forget the ex-boyfriend who rejected his marriage proposal.

When a talk show host launches a dating contest to find Ryan a boyfriend and Jason accidentally wins, neither of them expect anything to come from it. Yet somewhere between a disastrous massage and a mud sinkhole, they both start to wonder if this date could be more than just a public relations stunt. But before they can move into the future, they'll both have to learn to let go of the past.

In the last couple months, I’ve read a LOT of m/m romance, which I’d actually never read before outside of YA. Dating Ryan Alback I requested ummmmm a while ago on a whim because the cover and premise were both fucking adorable. I’d never read anything from Riptide Publishing at that point, and I’m always skeptical of publishers I’ve never read before. That adorable golden retriever and Hollywood romance suckered me in. Unfortunately, the prose and characterization aren’t strong enough to make the great premise shine.

The concept here is basically and m/m Win a Date with Tad Hamilton, which I was totally all about. Jason Santos’ best friend signs him up for the contest on a talk show to win a date with star Ryan Alback. Of course, he didn’t want to win, but of course he does. Ryan’s deeply sensitive about the media, and he’s surprised and pleased to not be paired with a huge fan determined to instagram every moment.

The character development just isn’t strong enough. There’s no emotion behind anything, no heat to the sex scenes (even the clever one where they draw out of a hat), and no real impact to the character arcs. Ryan’s arc is to learn how to trust again after his first serious boyfriend threatened to out him; he doesn’t. Right at the end, he once again accuses Jason of talking to the tabloids; this only resolves because they catch the snoop and Jason forgives him. His emotional arc is half-assed at best.

Jason’s emotional arc is to get over his ex who he thought was his one true soulmate. He’s given a choice between the two at the end, and he makes his decision because, as he fades to unconsciousness in a climactic scene where he’s injured, he thinks of Ryan. Good plotting this is not. The two seem to have very little to talk about ever, their banter is painfully awkward, and also very little chemistry. The best character is Ryan’s dog Alby, but he’s under-utilized imo.

Of the twelve of these I’ve read in the last two months, Dating Ryan Alback was the worst. It’s a cute idea but the writing just was not strong enough to pull it off.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:


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