Scripting Love | Romance

Fall in love with Hollywood while reading these romance novels about the film industry.

Callender, Kacen. Stars in Your Eyes. Forever: Grand Central. Oct. 2023. 352p. ISBN 9781538726037. $28. LGBTQIA+ ROMANCE

Callender (King of the Rising) delivers the heart-wrenching and riveting love story of two damaged actors. To the outside world, Logan Gray seems like a typical Hollywood bad-boy jerk, while Mattie Cole appears to be a sweet and doe-eyed innocent in his first starring role. They’re cast together as the romantic leads in a new film, but after Logan insults Matt, the powers-that-be convince the pair to fake-date in order to drum up publicity and save the film. The pair begins to catch feelings for each other, but both men have deep emotional wounds that threaten their burgeoning relationship. The story will have readers reconsidering the roles that Hollywood stars play in public, particularly when reading the extremely effective interludes from blogs and YouTube videos about the couple that Callender scatters throughout the book. The novel does have a happy ending, but it’s a particularly hard-fought HEA. The beautiful conclusion to Logan and Matt’s story is well worth the emotional journey and will leave readers in tears. VERDICT This gorgeously written, romantic story of growth and healing tackles deep subjects while still giving audiences the optimistic ending that the characters deserve.—Jenny Kobiela-Mondor

Giglio, Juliet & Keith Giglio. The Trouble with Tinsel. Sourcebooks Casablanca. Oct. 2023. 320p. ISBN 9781728250212. pap. $16.99. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE

Kerri Williams and Jon Romano broke up professionally and personally after failing to make it as a screenwriting duo and as a couple. Several years later, Kerri must put her East Coast teaching career, her new fiancé, and her Christmas traditions on hold after an old rom-com script she and Jon penned together is suddenly greenlit for immediate production in Los Angeles. Kerri finds that Jon is still pining for her after all these years, and to make matters worse, their pilot’s tempestuous star Amari is convinced that Kerri and Jon are a perfect engaged couple who must stay on set to inspire her. Acting like the perfect couple Amari believes them to be leads to Kerri and Jon realizing that maybe they have been right for each other all this time. VERDICT This soapy rom-com from married screenwriting couple Juliet and Keith Giglio (The Summer of Christmas) may appeal to library patrons looking for read-alikes for Jenny Bayliss or Sophie Cousens.—Elizabeth Gabriel

Howe, Jenny L. On the Plus Side. St. Martin’s Griffin. Dec. 2023. 368p. ISBN 9781250837882. pap. $18. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE

After losing her grandmother, Everly Winters has coasted through her early twenties, ignoring professional aspirations and avoiding personal relationships by hiding in drab neutral clothes—because if she doesn’t put herself out there, she won’t ever be Too Much. Then the hosts of her favorite makeover show tornado into her office and announce that she’s been nominated for the next season. Overwhelmed by the fast-paced production schedule, Everly finds an unexpected companion in Logan, the grumpy, gruff cameraman who seems to not mind her being Too Much—he might even actually enjoy it. As weeks pass, Everly and Logan connect both off- and on-camera, and fans of the series start shipping their budding romance. While being on the show boosts Everly’s confidence, it also throws a wrench into her perfectly ordered life, forcing her to juggle her own self-doubt, a ratings-hungry showrunner intent on a dramatic story, and growing feelings for Logan and finally makes Everly stand up for herself. VERDICT Featuring a curvy heroine finding confidence while falling in love, Howe’s (The Make-Up Test) latest is a fun mix of What Not To Wear and Queer Eye. Recommended for fans of Spoiler Alert by Olivia Dade and The Charm Offensive by Alison Cochrun.—Rachel Alexander

La Rosa, Erin. Plot Twist. Canary Street. (The Hollywood Series, Bk. 2). Nov. 2023. 336p. ISBN 9781335458117. pap. $18.99. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE

Romance novelist Sophie never expected an extended bout of writer’s block to stall her second novel. With only six weeks left to turn it in or face dire consequences, she gets extremely drunk and then goes viral for accidentally admitting that she has never been in love. To capitalize on the attention, Sophie decides to bring her growing social media audience with her as she talks with men from her past relationships to see where things went wrong. Her hot and reclusive landlord Dash, an actor of minor note from a major Hollywood family, is a social media genius and offers his assistance. Maintaining his sobriety is Dash’s priority, so when increased proximity to Sophie strengthens their mutual attraction, they decide to enter into a friends-with-benefits situation. With so much on the line for both of them, what they initially view as harmless fun ends up affecting them and their goals in unanticipated ways. Secondary characters add depth and humor to this witty and sexy novel that doesn’t shy away from serious topics like substance addiction. VERDICT La Rosa’s second “Hollywood Series” book, after For Butter or Worse, is recommended for all collections where contemporary romance is popular.—Nicole Williams

Martin, Alexa. Next-Door Nemesis. Berkley. Nov. 2023. 368p. ISBN 9780593337257. pap. $17. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE

Living with her parents at almost 30 years old is not how Collins pictured her life. As a TV writer in Los Angeles, she’s been working her way up in the industry—until she has a major meltdown that goes viral. Mortified, she flees to her parents’ home in suburban Ohio, where she runs into Nate, her nemesis who was once her best friend in the world. He’s now running for president of the neighborhood housing association, and Collins decides to run against him out of spite. Through their campaigning activities, Collins and Nate have plenty of opportunities to reconnect and figure out what happened in the past, allowing them to revisit their dormant childhood affection and find that it has transformed into full-fledged love. But now Hollywood is calling Collins back, and she has to decide whether to go back to LA for a chance at a successful career or stay in the sleepy suburbs with the love of her life. VERDICT Martin’s (Better Than Fiction) sexy friends-to-lovers rom-com is full of endearing characters and emotional plotlines, set against a whimsical Midwestern backdrop. Will appeal to readers of feel-good contemporary romances.—Migdalia Jimenez

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