Thank you to Berkley Romance for the gifted copy of Love Scenes
I’m a total sucker for Hollywood set rom-coms – something about the glitz and the glam and the gritty underbelly really grabs my attention every time. Naturally, when I got the opportunity to read an early copy of Love Scenes, I was thrilled – a family dynasty in Hollywood and enemies-to-lovers romance? Sign me up.
Out-of-work actress Sloane Ford is in desperate need of something to do after losing her steady TV gig. When her famous family ropes her into working as a producer on their World War II-era romance, they neglect to mention that the film will be headlined by Joseph Donovan, her least favorite former co-star of all time. The roguish actor made her life a living hell the last time they worked together, using his movie star good looks and Irish charm to cover for his erratic professional behavior. On their new film set, he promises he’s different now, but Sloane is far from convinced.
As filming gets underway, it becomes clear that anything that can go wrong will go wrong. When the lead actress is abruptly fired, Sloane agrees to step in and take over the role, and she starts to remember why she fell in love with acting in the first place. On camera, she and Joseph share an electric chemistry. Off camera, they’ve been honing their characters and, much to Sloane’s surprise, growing closer. But playing the role of a woman in love with Joseph Donovan is a dangerous business, and the more time they spend together, the less Sloane can tell what’s real between them, and what’s just for show.
I found the plot of Love Scenes to be overall lackluster. There were so many storylines that were set up that just sort of fizzled out before they could realize their full potential. For example, I kept waiting for a bigger conflict with Sloane’s ex, but he just sort of disappeared despite his competing benefit / revenge album storyline. Overall, the story was just slow – towards the middle it was a bit of a slog and I just kept waiting for something more exciting to happen.
The root of my problems with this book comes from the main character, Sloane. I liked who she was pitched as: an out of work actress trying to cut her own teeth in Hollywood (rather than taking the opportunities her celebrity family afforded her). Unfortunately, as the story moved forward, I found her characterization to be muddled at best. She kept highlighting her desire for Hollywood to treat women better, and then she just rolled over when her family steamrolled her. The real nail in the coffin on Sloane’s character for me was her choosing to work with Joseph again.
I really was not a fan of the relationship between Sloane and Joseph – their start was super toxic and though there were some apologies made, their rocky start felt insurmountable to me – particularly given Sloane’s passion for the betterment of treatment of women in Hollywood. It felt exceptionally out of character for her to fall for the guy that almost made her quit acting. They had their cute moments, but their rough start loomed over their whole relationship for me. I also never really liked Joe – he never really earned Sloane’s forgiveness in my opinion.
Love Scenes suffered from an overabundance of characters – several could have been cut out (her dad’s ex and his current girlfriend, for starters) and the story would have been overall unaffected. All of these characters being shoehorned into the story really took away from the overall plot for me. Also – I kept waiting for redemption arcs to happen for Sloane’s family – they regularly walked all over her and disregarded her feelings and very legitimate concerns, but they never really grew or changed.
I’m really bummed that Love Scenes fell flat for me – I had high hopes that it would be not only a rom-com but also a story about the experience of women in Hollywood. If you’re looking for books that cover the experiences of women in Hollywood, I would highly recommend The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, If The Shoe Fits, and One To Watch. 1/5