by Kim Culbertson
Amazon / Goodreads
Plot Summary:A deliciously charming novel about finding true love . . . and yourself.
Nothing ever happens in Little, CA. Which is just the way Carter Moon likes it. But when Hollywood arrives to film a movie starring former child star turned PR mess Adam Jakes, everything changes. Carter's town becomes a giant glittery set and, much to her annoyance, everyone is starry-eyed for Adam. Carter seems to be the only girl not falling all over herself to get a glimpse of him. Which apparently makes her perfect for the secret offer of a lifetime: playing the role of Adam's girlfriend while he's in town, to improve his public image, in exchange for a hefty paycheck. Her family really needs the money and so Carters agrees. But it turns out Adam isn't at all who she thought he was. As they grow closer, their relationship walks a blurry line between what's real and what's fake, and Carter must open her eyes to the scariest of unexplored worlds - her future. Can Carter figure out what she wants out of life AND get the guy? Or are there no Hollywood endings in real life?
Review:This was a very sweet story that had cute character interactions and a very enviable situation for the main character. However, I did feel that the story never really delved too deep into the world or the characters - it all felt very insubstantial. Even though I enjoyed the book, I felt like I could have easily stopped reading it because it was predictable and I didn't really connect emotionally with the characters.
I feel that because contemporary stories are grounded in the real world, it needs wonderfully written characters to really lift it out of the mundane. And in this story, I felt like the characters never achieved that. Even Adam Jakes, the celebrity, was mostly functional and turned out exactly as I expected he would. He was nice and cute, but nothing terribly special. Carter was practically the same but I should say there were a few layers peeled away from these characters as the story developed, so their growth was not completely flat.
I think the commentary on the real and the unreal in Hollywood was the most insightful part of this book and it was interesting to consider just how much the media and individuals manipulate their image. The author also works in some interesting facts and information on astronomy and the inner workings of Hollywood. The setting was very believable and the small town life of Little was very engaging.
The romance was cute, but again nothing substantial. Carter's best friends Chloe and Alien were nice additions to the story, but I felt like they didn't really develop which was a bit of a surprise because I felt like they had some things to learn too about how they saw celebrity. Even though my feelings for this book are lackluster, I think that if the premise interests you, it is an enjoyable read and well worth checking out for yourself.
(I received this book from the publisher or author for a fair and honest review. I was not compensated for this review.)