luc savage is in the family business, his mother is a world-renowned opera singer, his father an acclaimed actor, while he is a big-deal director on the london stage scene. he's in the process of opening his own theater and setting up the world premiere of 1553, a tudor-era period drama. for a host of reasons, lily lamprey is in the running to play elizabeth. except she has one big problem, her speaking voice is not good. in fact, it's especially terrible when you consider that on a stage you need to project and do it for an extended period of time. it's described as being somewhere in the range of film noir and chipmunk, or marilyn monroe on acid. and i actually know someone who speaks like that and oh dear god it's the most irritating sound a person could make and there would be no way i'd sit through a performance if one of the leads spoke like that the whole time. especially if she has a lot of lines.
but, luc sees that there is a possibility. there is the chance that she can be properly trained. and she's otherwise perfect for the role. and maybe perfect for him, even though he doesn't date younger women, and dating actresses is a terrible idea, which he knows from previous experience. the thing is he can't keep away from her. he finds her so compelling, enchanting, irritating and confounding. and she feels the same way. and the attraction that builds and builds between them is so well-paced and when they finally reach the breaking point it's so perfect.
except, lily is hoping this play is her big break into acting. she's well-known, but not for anything good. she's played a twit on the popular soap opera knightsbridge and she's yearning for something more respectable, more aspirational on her résumé. and sleeping with the director is possibly the dumbest thing she could do. because of course everyone is going to think that she slept her way into the role. but they work through all these things. and it's all so wonderful, they are adults, real adults. yes they have their foibles, they aren't perfect. they're human. and these characters are so real, and their feelings run so deeply through every word, that you almost forget that you're reading a story.
and yes, there is a moment of crisis, and luc and lily separate, take some time apart. but their feelings are never really in doubt. luc is clear that he loves lily and that he will be there for her when she is ready. and she is grieving and lost and sad and angry and maybe taking some of her abandonment issues out on luc. but she does figure these things out. and when they do come back together, it's so freaking romantic.
and then we get this bonus epilogue scene. and it's like the final scene in the kiera knightley-matthew macfayden pride & prejudice where the characters are incandescently happy and you are so happy and so sad because the story has ended and you just wish you could live in that world forever. it's seriously the best ever. and god, i can't wait to read whatever lucy parker writes next.
**pretty face will publish on february 20, 2017. i received an advance reader copy courtesy of netgalley/carina press in exchange for my honest review.