The Love Act By Zara Bell

“There is no way you’ve spent weeks snuggling into his abs and you don’t fancy him a little bit.”
“I’m physically attracted to him, I’m not a rock,”
I say irritably, swilling the rice with water. “But then he talks.”

My heart hurts after reading this. I always say this after I finish reading wonderful masterpieces, but I don’t think anything will be able to top this one. I truly don’t. I just can’t. They’re so fucking cute I could die.

“He cups my jaw in both hands and presses his lips to mine. They’re hot and soft, and camera flashes light up the insides of my eyelids like stars. It’s a soft, full, delicious kiss, sexy and sliding and deep. I sink into it like a plush sofa at the end of a long day. He scoops me closer, lifting me into him, right off the ground. His arms wrap fully around me and lock behind my back, holding me tight. Our chests wedge together. I fist a hand in his shirt and feel his heart going hard and fast through his clothes. He kisses me again, and again, lips sliding across mine, and my skeleton hums. My blood rushes. I flutter all over. He’s breathing hard into my mouth, like he’s struggling to fill his lungs. His fingers grasp at my waist.”

This book was so much more than what I thought it would be. Thank you to @SzarlottaSzott who recommended it to me. I really wanted to read a celebrity romance but one that was right and properly written, where both protagonists brought more to the table than the romance… and this book delivered. Boy, did it ever.

“You’re so bad at this,” he mutters.
“I know. I’m so sorry. You can return me if you like. Hey, are you smiling?” I tug at his sleeve, trying to see his face.
“No.” He says, turning back. His eyes are star-bright in the low light. He looks as flushed and restless as I feel. “I didn’t keep your receipt.”
I clear my throat, then fan my face. “Guess you’re stuck with me.” Am I flirting? Is this flirting? Have I lost the plot completely?

Both Jack and Cass did something to me. I feel like in the beginning Jack was annoying and Cass mysterious and I wasn’t connecting to either of them. But pretty quickly they became so much more. Every time I turned a page I discovered a new layer, something that made me like them and relate to them so much more. Like the way Jack rudeness was not rudeness at all but the way he showed he’s feelings or the real reason why Cassie was so against acting again.

His eyes reflect the sky. “I think you’re amazing. I don’t think you’ve ever tried to hurt someone in your life. Sometimes, I still can’t believe someone like you exists.”
The thought rushes out of me in an unstoppable blurt. “You know, when you’re not being a dick, you’re probably my favourite person.”

Cassie was so strong. I don’t think I’ll ever read a book where I relate to the main character so much. To her hardships and what she stands for. How hard normal, everyday life things could become for her. How independent she was and needed to be. How important it was for her to be her own person. I truly fell in love with Jack, because god, he’s everything I want in a partner. But Cassie? Cassie was the true heroine here. She was her own knight in shinning armor and throughout this book she learned to stand up for herself. I just can’t explain how much I loved her. And how completely taken back I was that this little indie book, that is not little at all, was so so so so so good. Yes, five so’s because this masterpiece deserves it.

He doesn’t say anything. I smooth his lapel, feeling how hard he’s breathing. When I look up at him, his eyes are dark. We watch each other for a moment, then he tilts back his head, baring his throat. I press a soft, open-mouthed kiss under his jaw, then suck gently. His body jerks under mine. “You’re so sensitive!” I marvel.

“I think I’m star-struck,” I admit.
His face flickers. “You’ve known me almost two months.”
“But your celebrity dick’s going to be inside me, a peasant,”
I insist.
“So that’s what you were hoping for.” His hands slide up to my shoulders and squeeze reassuringly.

The sexual tension in the audition with Mansen was off the charts. Seriously. I keep thinking about it and finding things I like more and more every time. I don’t know how authors can write scenes like that, where the characters don’t even touch, and they still take my breath away with just one look or with something astoundingly beautiful they say. Zara Bell was born to write books. And that’s not something I say lightly. The many times she made me feel like I was right there living through what Jack and Cassie lived through was amazing. And not something authors can make feel as often anymore. This book was truly one of kind. And what was so amazing was that this trope was been done a million times before, but she still found ways to make it life-changing, unique and so very special.

“You are vastly underestimating how attracted I am to you,” he murmurs, tracing my collarbone. I shudder as he trails his finger lightly down the neckline of my dress. Stripes of amber light roll over our bodies as we zoom past streetlamps, but his eyes don’t leave mine as he slowly cups my breast, lifting and squeezing, like he’s testing the heaviness. All the breath dissolves out of my body as silk slides over my skin. His thumb rubs a tiny circle over my nipple, and I arch into him with a quiet noise. “That feel good?” He asks softly. I nod. “We’re doing perfect, then.” His lips press to the side of my throat. My eyes close. “Jesus, Cass. I don’t know what you think I’m expecting. I just want to feel you. I want to be close to you. That’s it. You can’t do anything wrong, okay?”

It broke my heart reading about what Cassie went through. Sexual assault is such a delicate matter and she was suffering, breaking inside, having anxiety attacks and people still came for her. Tearing her apart. But what really brought tears to my eyes was the way she was punishing herself, saying it was her fault and telling herself how could she have been so stupid. I feel like victims go through this every day and I simply can’t cope. How does one survive that? And why do feel like it’s our fault when someone violates us? When someone’s touches our body without our explicit consent? Somehow blaming ourselves when the only people to blame are the fucking predators who molest and harass and intimidate and take advantage of ourselves? Why does this keep happening?

She sighs. “I get why you blame yourself. It’s natural. Everyone does it. But it’s a stupid habit, and you need to stop. If you wouldn’t say it about me, don’t think it about yourself.”

Mental heath was so important here. I feel like every person who feels they have anxiety or depression should read this book. And if you feel like anything Cassie felt throughout this book, the anxiety attacks, the self-harm, the guilt, the self-loathing, the physical pains and exhaustion that comes with dealing with those very real illnesses… please, get some help. Be kind to yourself and ask for help. Talk to a professional, if you can. Because mental illnesses will eat you alive. And no one, and I mean no one, should have to live like that. And I would like to say that if you’re reading this review and need someone to talk to, about anything and I mean anything at all, message me. At the very least, I will listen.

“I lie in my gross sweaty sheets for a few hours, drifting in and out of sleep and reflecting on what a shitty person I am. Eventually, though, I have to stop being mean to myself and face the day. I fall out of bed and stumble, bleary-eyed, to my bedroom window, shoving it open and leaning my forehead against the glass.”

God. Both characters were so strong. So many layers. My heart has been shredded to pieces. I don’t think I’ll be whole again until Zara Bell releases another book. This was just- so so beautiful. Zara Bell is everything that is good in the world and she deserves that this book gets to so many more people. I promise you that if you decide to read this, your life will be changed forever. I don’t know how this literal work of art hasn’t been picked up by a mayor publishing house. It truly deserves all the stars.

As soon as he sees me, his shoulders loosen. “I like the shirt.” He reaches up and drags it off my shoulder. “Take it off.” I climb into his arms, and he pulls me down onto the mattress, gathering me up. Oh, my God, he’s cuddling me. Jack Hale is honest-to-God post-sex snuggling me. Every part of my body is being gently cradled. I wasn’t this comfortable in the womb.

Suffice to say, this book isn’t getting the attention it is due. It is so well written, it touches on real life subjects that matter and it, simply put, made me feel seen. I would go as far as to say it’s up there with The Love Hypothesis. I really tried to write a meaningful, long review but I just can’t. No words will ever be able to explain how I felt about this book. What really transpired between these pages. Zara Bell you have my whole entire heart. It’s yours.

“I can’t believe I met you,” he murmurs, and I crack open inside. I press our foreheads together, and we just lie like that, as our breathing evens out and our skin cools. I never want to move. I never want to let go of him.

Kindle Edition This was pretty outstanding. It has a wish-fulfillment foundation, but layers in more depth than you might expect. And sure, that's at least in part to ramp up the drama and provide conflict, but it felt natural to the characters and engaged me strongly.

Jack is a closed off jerk through much of the start of the story, but Bell is author enough to show his motivation beyond Cassie's understanding. So you can see that at least part of his trying to push her away is that he can see that the fame and attention are damaging her. She's a bit caught up in her own story to see it, but in a completely understandable way.

So it's a good thing that Cassie is an engaging protagonist. I liked her immediately, and loved getting to know her. She's a bit complicated as a heroine because she's still processing the fallout from a bad experience in the past. She could totally have come across as weak because she's avoidy and withdrawn as part of her emotional defense. Bell does a fantastic job here, too, giving us enough detail to see where she is coming from and the strength needed to take the measures she has to carve herself some calm out of the tumult she experiences.

That's an impressive amount of talent in the author, frankly. I find it likely this is a pseudonym for someone with some experience under her belt because this doesn't feel anything like a debut novel. At any rate, it's well-told and with some great nuance. Which is good because it's taking on a difficult topic with sexual assault and the abuses that seem endemic to the entertainment industry. At the height of #MeToo I remember someone describing Hollywood as a sex grooming operation and it's hard to argue against that interpretation. It comes out early enough that I don't consider it a spoiler to say that Cassie is still dealing with fallout from her early experience with an abuser and kudos to Bell for making it present and real, while showing Cassie's strength and growth even as she collapses under the weight of it at times.

Which all sounds pretty heavy for a book that didn't come across as an issue book to me. As I said, Bell is very good at making it all present without letting it overwhelm the story. Cassie was fun and I really enjoyed figuring Jack out. He's a big softie, at heart, and dealing with his own traumas. And seeing him gain trust and understanding with Cassie was outstanding.

I'm going to pull this in at four stars, losing one for the rather grim dark moment. I hated every moment of it and hated even more that I almost buy the resolution and reconciliation.

A note about Steamy: There's a single explicit sex scene putting this on the low end of my steam tolerance. It was so sweet and perfect for the characters even if a bit, um, unlikely. Kindle Edition 4 1/2 to 5 stars

I had so much fun reading this and the heroine cracked me up often.

This was the author's debut novel. I'm looking forward to reading more from her in future.

I recently learned that Ms. Bell is revising/editing this version. It will, hopefully, be available for sale again in July (or later this year):

I'm sure I'll reread it someday to see what changes were made and to enjoy the journey all over again...

Kindle Edition Trigger Warnings:


I adored this book oh my goodness. After our last buddy read fail, my friend Bookish Opinions and I decided to give this one a go. After reading the Deception trilogy and being book hungover and choosing the wrong book to read, I thought I was gonna be in another slump but damn this book saved me. I loved everything about it, it was exactly what I needed, it was so cute, I loved how real this was despite it being predictable. So by real I mean the realistic approaches to people who struggle socially (which I related to on a personal level), having panic attacks (I haven’t personally had any but I thought it was dealt with very well, correct me if I’m wrong), realistic body images (we got stretch marks boiii), and actual COMMUNICATION. It took a bit of time to get used to the writing style, there are bits that I would reword or edit, but I’m not a professional author or anything so don’t take my word for it. We see the struggles of celebrity life in a realistic way which was interesting. I loved how the arguments were handled except for two of em, I loved the communication between the characters and I loved ALL of the tropes in this. Like bro, we got grumpy/sunshine, fake dating, hate-to-love, we got SO MANY HUGS AND CUDDLING (EMPHASIZE THAT CUDDLING YESSS) WHICH I LOVE LOVE LOVE. It was such a pleasant surprise, a hidden gem, I can’t wait to read more by this author.

After Cassie and Jack are caught up in a misunderstanding painted by the media, Jack’s reputation is in shambles. In order to fix this, Cassie is asked to pretend to date Jack and win the public eye. But this is difficult since Jack doesn’t wanna cooperate and they may do more harm than good.

Just a heads up though, despite this book being EXTRA, EXTRA cute, it does deal with some heavy topics so just be aware of that.


I hope to read more by Zara Bell in the future, this book was great! Stay safe folks!
Kindle Edition 𝟱 ✩
❝Everything about you is so small. And soft.❞ His hand touches my hair. ❝And… fluffy. You make me feel huge. Are you warm, now?❞
❝Yep.❞ Apparently we’re changing the subject. ❝I like that you’re a giant. Makes me feel…❞ I trail off. The wine is going to my head. Everything is humming.
He nudges me. ❝Makes you feel what?❞
I flounder. I don’t remember where I was going with that. I can’t really say ‘catastrophically horny’, can I? He nudges me again, completely unhelpfully. ❝Safe. Comfortable. Like… coming home after a day of work.❞
❝I make you feel comfortable?❞ He echoes faintly. ❝Relieved and comfortable and happy. You’re the human manifestation of the feeling I get when I take off my bra in the evenings.❞
❝I’m not sure how to respond to that.❞

You guys, The Love Act came out of nowhere and stole my damn heart. I was supposed to be writing a research paper last night, but then this book demanded that I read it (and that's what i'm gonna tell my professor).

Moreover, I was so surprised to discover that The Love Act was a debut effort from author, Zara Bell. Simply put, this book was fabulous, and I sincerely hope she continues to write romance.

ᴘʟᴏᴛ ´ˎ˗

Cassie (h) never wanted to be famous. Content to work as a runner on a popular talk show and spend her nights with her best friend and roommate, Robin. However, one fateful meeting with London's most famous celebrity Jack Hale (H) changes the trajectory of her life.

What follows, is an epic slow-burn romance between Jack and Cassie as they navigate fake dating, the London celebrity scene, and invasive paparazzi.

ᴄʜᴀʀᴀᴄᴛᴇʀꜱ ´ˎ˗
❝I’ve made so many mistakes. Sometimes my life just feels like a whole chain of my own fuck-ups.❞
❝Yes, go on, say it like that.❞
❝Cassie. I’m starting to feel like maybe, maybe, I’ve finally got something right.❞

☀ ᴄᴀꜱꜱɪᴇ — ꜱᴜɴꜱʜɪɴᴇ ɪɴ ʜᴜᴍᴀɴ ꜰᴏʀᴍ

What else can I say about Cassie other than, I adored her. Cassie is one of those rare multi-dimensional heroines who visibly grew over the course of the book. She starts out as a failed stage actress, and slowly morphs into this confident, take charge, and absolutely badass woman.

☁ ᴊᴀᴄᴋ — ᴀɴ ᴀᴄᴛᴜᴀʟ ꜱᴛᴏʀᴍ ᴄʟᴏᴜᴅ

If you ever look up the definition of grumpy you'll most certainly stumble across a picture of Jack Hale's face. Because, wow. My mans Jack was hella grumpy. In fact, the first half or so of this book Jack basically has resting bitch face, and is perpetually brooding in the corner. I mean… I thought it was cute, tbh.

ʏᴇꜱ ´ˎ˗
❝Jack Hale, Cass! Jack Hale! Pure fucking Greek God Jack Hale! You literally don’t feel the gentle touch of a man for five years, then you pull Jack Hale?!❞
❝Stop saying his name, you might summon him.❞

♥ ᴛʜᴇ ʀᴏᴍᴀɴᴄᴇ …

The romance in TLA was absolutely perfect, and any detractors can kindly seem themselves out the door. Seriously, it was near perfect and I pretty much blocked out any negatives that I could have had with it. See, there was something so real about Cassie and Jack. They both complemented each other, while also challenging one another. They provided a safe place to land for the other. Moreover, they truly cared about each other. You could tell that Cassie would walk through fire for Jack. And Jack clearly thought the world of Cassie.

♥ ʙᴇɪɴɢ ꜰᴀᴍᴏᴜꜱ ...

I went into The Love Act expecting a run-of-the-mill celebrity romance, instead I got a deep story about the darker side of celebrity. Now, TLA is not some dour and depressing book, but it does tackle the reality of what being a celebrity means in the twenty-first century. Which I really appreciated. It was almost refreshing the serious way in which Bell acknowledged the darker side of fame and celebrity. It felt very topical and it was kinda heartbreaking in the way it was so realistic.

♥ ᴄᴀꜱꜱɪᴇ …

Best heroine ever? I mean… there's no reason to lie. Simply put, Cassie was one of, if not my absolute favorite, heroine of the year. She was all the adjectives. She was strong, funny, confident, kind, fierce, but also vulnerable, soft, scared, and uncertain. Cassie is the kind of heroine who feels so fleshed out that you can't help but feel a connection to them. Honestly, I'd read another hundred pages of Cassie doing mundane shit, she was that great.

♥ ᴛʜᴇ ʙᴀɴᴛᴇʀ …

I think what makes or breaks a slow-burn / enemies-to-lovers romance is good banter. If the banter is shit, then what are you left with? Thus, what got me so invested in The Love Act was the compelling banter between Cassie and Jack. It was both funny and informative. See, there was a distinct shift in the type of banter they were having. In the beginning, the banter was pretty much Cassie saying shit to Jack in an attempt to rile him up, or call him out on his shit. But, as the book went on the banter became softer and more loving. You could tell it was their love language (along with cuddles). They would give each other shit, but in a soft and adorable sort of way.

ɴᴏ ´ˎ˗
❝Please stop apologising. I forgive you. I am incredibly generous, probably an angel.❞

🅾🅺 ᴊᴀᴄᴋ ...

This is a tricky one… On the one hand, I really felt for Jack. He's been through it. He's basically only has one person in the entire world he can trust, and that's it. Moreover, he's been burned and betrayed by those closest to him time and time again. And, I thought Bell did a fabulous job demonstrating that. Jack wasn't a person to a lot of people, instead he was a projection or a fantasy. He was constantly at the whim of the general public, and that's a cold and lonely place to be. And yet, hmmm… Well, he hurt Cassie, a few times. But, in particular he hurt her after truly knowing her. His reaction to a certain event at the end of the book basically derailed his entire character growth, which… sigh. I don't know… It was decidedly not it. That said, this book was so good up until that point that I just… ignored it. That's right, power of denial people. Because, Jack was a really great hero (the just right kind of asshole hero) for almost 80% of the book. Thus, I'm gonna pretend he groveled wayyyyy more than he did.

ᴄᴏɴᴄʟᴜꜱɪᴏɴ ´ˎ˗
❝I love you, too,❞ I confess, and he lets out a breath, closing his eyes.
❝I’ve never been in love before,❞ he admits. His palms curve around mine.
❝It’s easy. Are you scared?❞
He nudges my nose with his. ❝Yes.❞
❝Be brave,” I tell him. ❝We’ll do it together.❞

I can admit, this review was supposed to be way longer… what can I say, I'm a lazy bish. That said, my love for this book remains, even after four days. For a debut effort The Love Act was simply amazing. You could tell author Zara Bell put her entire heart and soul into writing this story. Moreover, Cassie was one of, if not thee, greatest heroines I have had the pleasure of reading about in a long while. Honestly, if you're a fan of enemies-to-lovers, fake-dating, slow-burn, and banter to the max, then you'll absolutely adore TLA. This book has all the tropes and it absolutely delivers. Kindle Edition


free read ´ PDF, DOC, TXT or eBook õ Zara Bell

The camera-man creeps closer, and my loving boyfriend pulls me into his chest. “Keep your tongue in your mouth, or you’re fired,” he mutters, bending to kiss me.

I never wanted to be famous. I’m perfectly happy working backstage at a late-night chat show, safely hidden off-camera. But when a paparazzo snaps a misleading photo of me and a bratty celebrity guest, my life is ruined overnight.

Suddenly, the whole world is convinced I’m having a torrid affair with the snarly, stuck-up cinema star Jack Hale. And thousands of people hate me. Excellent.

To make things even weirder, now Jack is demanding that I pretend to be his fake girlfriend for two months, in exchange for a cool half a million. It’s an offer I can’t refuse, literally, for financial reasons.

Two months of swanning around on a sexy actor’s arm sounds like a good deal, but Jack isn’t going to make it easy. We don’t get on. At all. He’s cold, bad-tempered, rude to his fans, and convinced that I’m secretly in love with him.

Being stunningly hot and disgustingly famous doesn’t make up for being a prick.

But my behaviourally-challenged fake boyfriend is the least of my worries. Getting thrust into the public eye has made me a target. I can’t leave the house without being followed and harassed. Paparazzi are going through my rubbish and enraged fans are sending me death threats.

If I’m getting out of this alive, Jack and I are going to have to work together to play them all. The Love Act

4 stars 💫

ʜᴇ ɢɪᴠᴇs ᴍᴇ ᴀ ʟᴏᴏᴋ ᴛʜᴀᴛ sᴜɢɢᴇsᴛs ʜᴇ ɴᴇᴠᴇʀ ᴊᴏᴋᴇs. ᴘʀᴏʙᴀʙʟʏ ᴅᴏᴇsɴ'ᴛ ʜᴀᴠᴇ ᴛʜᴇ ᴘʟᴇᴀsᴜʀᴇ ᴄᴇɴᴛᴇʀs ғᴏʀ ɪᴛ.

🎬 very witty, funny, relatable writing
🎬 the hero is an idiot
🎬 the heroine is a doe-eyed saint
🎬 this was interesting. i wasn't completely wild for the romance but the heroines character development was so satisfying, compelling, and easy to root for that i was super invested by the end. watching women realize they're not asking for too much.... just inject that shit into my veins
Kindle Edition DNF @ 77%

I know, I know! I made it so far, so why not finish?! I hadn’t been feeling it for a while and then they decide they want to be in an actual relationship out of nowhere and when they’re finally intimate (@77ish%) it was too much of a cheesefest for me. I didn’t get their change in feelings other than the h feeling a crush because he’s so “hot” and the H having protective feelings with associating the h to his deceased mother. The H was all of a sudden making big declarations when I just didn’t feel it and then their first sexy time felt clinical to me. I’m just over it, sorry! I know lots of my friends liked it…🤷🏻‍♀️

Potential triggers: Kindle Edition not to be dramatic but

the lack of grovel in this book was some disgorsting shit altogether. WHERES THE SUFFERING. WHERES THE MAN TEARS. WHERES THE FUCKIN JUSTICE

yeah ive read plenty other stories where the H did horrible stuff (like ruthlessly bully, rape, kidnap, lied, manipulate, abuse, cheats, all in all treated the girl like shit and/or make their life difficult), and they didnt so much as apologizes + maybe did a bit confessing ‘ily’ before the h dumbly takes em back easily, mucho worse than jack but um. those h were no cassie. girls like the main h here deserves so much better

it wasnt as bad as i made it sound yall. but it was for me

3+ stars for the heroine & first half (their buildup)
2- for the 2nd & the eventual romance execution

1) bcs somewhere along the middle or so, i felt like the connection & chemistry between the two started fading. idek how to explain it. it was there, then it wasnt

2) tbh i didnt rlly like the H all that much. aside from his lack of grovel (and the fact that hes a self centered prick), i thought his diva act when him & cassie interacted in the beginning was amusing, but as time goes he became boring and just not all that anymore

3) the conflict & the last 50% ruined how i felt originally (was giddy lmao) for this book but still liked it overall Kindle Edition 4.5 Not Meant to Hate You Stars ⭐

For a debut, The Love Act was unexpected. Impressively good, funny as hell and slow burn goodness. Featuring a movie star hero who is completely insufferable, rude and borderline irredeemable and an anxious ridden heroine who you'd never expect to beat him into submission; this story was a delight.

Sorry to have to break it to you. I know you think you’re the Big Bad Wolf, but you’re completely lovely inside.

Cassie chooses to bury her head in the sand. With a past that's left her scared of her own shadow, she is content working a shit job that has her at the beck and call of high maintenance celebrities. So meeting famous Jack Hale should have just been another day on the job, except they get snapped together by the paparazzi in a compromising position.

Known as being a bastard and a PR's worst nightmare, Jack finds himself in damage control yet again. This time around it's a fake relationship with none other than another gold digging fan to get him out of this pickle. However he will eventually realize how wrong his perceptions are.

You don’t strike me as someone who likes Shakespeare.

He’s probably surprised I can read at all. What can I say? I think all good love stories should end in a double suicide. I imagine most of his come close.

This arrangement won't be easy. A man who can't and won't leave himself exposed, and a girl in desperate need of money. Will goodness melt his cold heart before they maim each other?

I’ll call when your services are needed.

Cool, cool.” I lean against my front door. “Love when you talk about me like a prostitute. So… Bye?

Be prepared to laugh, to sigh over the wrong assumptions and altercations, but to also fall in love with both characters. This would have been perfect had it been steamier. But I will say if you're a Mariana Zapata fan, you will love this, it's that good! Kindle Edition i want to be Cassandra Ray when i grow up, please.

Cassie may be my no. 1 heroine now tbh. i seriously love this woman sm.

if Cassie has a million fans, then i am one of them. if Cassie has ten fans, then i am one of them. if Cassie has only one fan then that is me. if Cassie has no fans, then that means i am no longer on earth. if the world is against Cassie, then i am against the world.

she’s probably the funniest heroine i have ever read. girly really had me

the whole damn book.

i wanted to include excerpts of the funny things she said but then i may as well just copy and paste the whole damn book bcos she was constantly making me giggle. it was the perfect deadpan humour without trying too hard, and then her back and forth with Jack was perfect since their humours complimented one another.

i just adore this woman. i will never stop gushing about her. you can’t stop me.
“I’m feeling sentimental,” I confess. “Bins remind me of you.”
“I’ve missed how sweet you are.”

“Jesus, Cass, I’ve put you through Hell.”
“Turns out I’m fireproof. Who knew?” I run my lips across his Adam’s apple, making his breath stutter. “Please stop apologising. I forgive you. I am incredibly generous, probably an angel.”

“There are three photographers outside.”
“I think they live there, now.” They’re not too bad. One of them put our wheelies out on bin day the other morning.

Con falters. “Well… you work backstage at a TV show. Surely you want a job in media. Isn’t that the reason most people take those entry-level jobs?”
“Not me,” I tell him earnestly. “I’m just really passionate about making people tea. I think it might be my calling.”

Cassie was just wonderful to read, honestly. such a breath of fresh air and so unique. the whole book is told her her single POV which usually feels like a death sentence to me, bcos i loathe not being able to get inside the hero’s head and being stuck with a heroine who’s bland, boring and like every other bitch.

Cassie though? i could read her POV all day long. she just gripped me from the get go, initially with her humour then the more i got to know her, the more endearing, vulnerable, kind and selfless i found her to be. she was the star of the show.

her character development and personal growth truly had me all misty-eyed while simultaneously grinning like a loon. the way she grows into herself, takes life by the balls and doesn’t let anyone take her autonomy away from her was so beautiful to read. i was just rooting for her the whole damn time.

i cried a few times too. any time i watched her break down, my throat closed up and i felt like i couldn’t breathe along with her bcos i was so connected to her and her journey. the mental health issues and trauma she battled were handled with sensitive poignancy that i adored. everything was very subtle that just made the story and Cassie’s character that much more impactful to me.

seriously any time she cried i was literally ready to stab a bitch.

which segues perfectly into the man of the hour... Jack Hale. grumpy. aloof. cold. broken. defeated. complicated.

i despised this man for at least the first... 20-30% of the book? maybe longer? he made me so damn mad with how rude he was to Cassie— particularly bcos of how much i adored her. no one hurts my bestie🔪

then, he slowly but surely started to win me over around the 50% mark. it was all of the little things. giving her his jacket. encouraging her to audition again. playing with her hair. not wanting stylists to change the authentic parts of herself. their publicity dates (even if they were staged, they were cute).

i loved just how nervous he was around her even if she was oblivious to it. there were times he was blushing and a bit fumbly. he was scared she’d never love him the way he was falling in love with her and it kinda hurt my heart to see after all he’d been through.

so, you see, the moment i fell for Jack, i fell hard. it really happened in the blink of an eye one minute im staring him down like

the next he had me kicking my feet and giggling. i am embarrassed.

once he opened up and we find out more about his life, his past, his relationship with his mother, the way fame has treated him... i was a goner. bcos at the core, he was a gentle giant with a very soft and battered heart, and i couldn’t help but swoon.

i think the author did a really good job at fleshing him out without giving us his POV? idk how she did it, but she nailed it. and i could go back and trace his behaviour, the times i was pissed at him and shaking my head while reading, and it all clicked into place once i knew his past and the exhausting life he’s led. when an author can make me fluctuate like that with a character and make my forgive them, humanising them in a way that i can’t help but root for them, it’s an automatic win.

...i just wish the “conflict” hadn’t been what it was :/ it didn’t make sense to Jack’s character development. and it was painful to read the aftermath from Cassie’s perspective and everything she had to deal with.

and there’s zero grovelling. like none. at all.

BUT, it’s not that Jack wasn’t willing to grovel. the man was miserable, honestly. but Cassie was just very forgiving and insisted he didn’t need to... which you can take either way. in the end, as much as his actions really annoyed me, i felt and saw Jack’s blatant remorse and misery so i was able to move on quickly. if he’d been a defensive prick about it, i would have ran for the hills but he truly wasn’t. i guess i respected his apology enough to forgive him too.

”Thank God. Now I feel safe,” he mumbles into my neck. I can tell he means it. How strange. This massive, muscly superhero feels safe when a barely-five-foot girl wraps her scraggly arms around his neck.

the fake dating aspect?? *chef’s kiss* truly the best fake dating romance i have ever read. and lemme tell you why:

the awkwardness.

these two bitches were so stiff and awkward with each other in the beginning. literally zero chemistry. it was hilarious. Jack’s manager and best friend kept saying shit like ”It’s incredible. You really do both look like you’re being held at gunpoint” or ”There are decomposing corpses lying on top of each other in mass graves with more sexual chemistry than the two of you”.

i revelled in their awkwardness, it was so funny to me. bcos it’s realistic, right? i mean, you’re being paid to fake-date a complete stranger who you know nothing about, it’s gonna be weird and stilted af. none of that “instant chemistry” with longing looks and shit. nah i want what these bitches have— fumbling awkwardness accompanied by god-tier deadpan humour that blossoms into a romantic relationship like theirs. bcos the way Jack was obsessed with her and her hair and freckles??? stop it.

in addition to this, like i said early with the subtle little details, i loved how Cassie was very aware of her safety going into this fake-relationship. she refuses to sign an NDA bcos she knows if something were to happen to her, since she doesn’t know these men, she would be legally bound to keep quiet. in other romances, heroines just jump into decisions like this all of the time and i read it like ??? “girl just bcos he’s hot doesn’t mean he’s not gonna hurt you or bcos you feel safe with him after 0.5 seconds of knowing him doesn’t magically mean you actually are safe”.

so another round of applause for the bestest girl in the world, Cassandra Ray.

“I want to beat her up,” I decide.
He looks at me for a moment, then strokes a thumb down my cheekbone. “I’m going to kiss you,” he warns me, and before I can respond, he hooks his thumb under my chin and drags it up, pressing our mouths together.

i can’t believe this is the only book by this author :( i need her to release more!! i would read her entire backlist at this point if she had one. i really want a book for Rob and Con, they were awesome side characters.

and anything to see my bby Cassie again in a cameo. especially after such a perfect epilogue. just all around obsessed with this. highly, highly recommend!!

and i respectfully decline the information that Jack is blonde... no he isn’t❤️

“I can’t believe I met you,” he murmurs, and I crack open inside.
Kindle Edition