Reviews

The Austen Playbook by Lucy Parker

hgoravec's review against another edition

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emotional funny lighthearted medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? It's complicated
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? No
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

3.5

Number four in this series that I mainly started because the next and final book is an interracial couple. Listened to the audiobook, much of it on the drive to Pennsylvania. I find this enjoyable if forgettable, and it’s a series that is not super closely connected. So our heroine Freddie originally popped up in book 1, and her sister is introduced here who gets book 5. It does mean some of the larger arcs or Easter eggs are missed, but that could also be the audiobook nature as well. 

For a book called The Austen Playbook, I was expecting the main couple to feel more Austen-y. Freddie and Griff are sort of enemies to lovers, sort of proximity. It’s also a good example of timing -Freddie is going through a career crisis and trying to decide what type of roles she wants to pursue, while Griff the critic has picked up on how this has affected her performances. 

I mentioned this for the last book, but one of the things that bugs me about this series is that often you have younger women who need coaching by the man to reach the next level in their career, or some other support that she’s unable to provide for herself. So you end up with a woman who does change and grow, but with the impression she could ONLY have gotten there by men. While the men go through very little growth, generally because they are more established in their careers. 

This is not the worst offender of the problem by far. Freddie is already questioning her career choices and Griff largely allows her to do her own thing. The more interesting side comes from the family history between the two that is woven throughout the book, so you’re unraveling a mystery while their rather predictable (but what romance novel isn’t) romance develops. The family mystery did not go in the direction I was expecting (Griff was actually the dead aunt’s kid) so those reveals were quite fun. And of course, they have to stay the night at an old manor due to the weather. 

Basic, inoffensive, formulaic. This aren’t really insults, but I don’t really expect anything too deep. I am happy the next one is the final one and can put this series to bed 

bhnmt61's review

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5.0

Freddy is an actress who is unwinding in a bar after a performance when she overhears a popular theater critic in the next booth trash her performance. Then she ends up with a role in a one night televised event that is set on a crumbling estate in Surrey, and the estate is owned by the critic. Sparks fly, complications ensue, family secrets are revealed, etc and it all ends happily, as romance novels do. But that is exactly what I wanted, so I devoured it. There are a lot of characters, which often annoys me, but for some reason I was able to keep them all straight in this one. My only major complaint is that the live show is a Jane Austen mashup and there isn’t nearly enough of it. I wanted to know way more. Four and a half stars rounded up.

isobel33's review against another edition

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emotional funny lighthearted mysterious relaxing medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

3.5

anhistorianabouttown's review

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lighthearted
  • Plot- or character-driven? Plot
  • Strong character development? No
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? No
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

3.0

I normally love Lucy Parker's books, but this one never grabbed me. However, I still love this series!

amlibera's review

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4.0

This might be my favorite of Parker's romance novels set in London's theatre scene. Great characters, good romance, some terrific Austen references along with a kind of Bloomsbury group mystery/scandal that adds a layer that wasn't quite in the previous books.

esdeecarlson's review

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2.0

2.5 stars.

I just didn't find the characters in this book all that compelling. The 'Hufflepuff/Slytherin' romance everyone's enjoying felt a little one-note to me, and honestly Freddy's personality, bumping between happy-go-lucky and hand-wringing, was a little grating to me. I also felt that Freddy and Griff clicked perfectly far too soon in the book, forcing the author to bombard them with outside aggravations.

And for a story that ends delivering a quote about how no one's really a villain, and everyone has many facets to themselves, this story had a cardboard cutout of a villain in Sadie, who just gave me a headache to read about. Perhaps it's because the story is told from Freddy and Griff's (both very shallow) points of view, but I found myself rolling my eyes whenever Sadie was introduced. The foreshadowing to the next book, which is focused on Freddy's sister Sabrina, felt heavy-handed and time-consuming as well.

I wish that the catty drama between the West End actors and movie stars had been cut significantly, and more time was spent slowly developing Freddy and Griff's personalities and relationships in the mystery hunt for the truth about their grandparents. I think the interpersonal drama between shallow side characters that bumble violently into the main storyline just isn't my cup of tea.

The story builds up to a big moral decision that Freddy feels she must make, but she's prevented from making that decision by other people finding out about the thing she must tell them almost immediately after she discovers it herself, which is a bit deflating. Her moral hand-wringing is also colored by an event from her past, which is hugely built up and then, once explained to Griff, immediately resolved. In fact, pretty much all conflicts between Freddy and Griff are immediately resolved, and solved by trust and true love. It makes for kind of a bumpy, unsatisfying story.

That said, the book has some fun qualities: the prose is hilarious, Griff's brother was a delight, and Tara's best friend Akiko was a breath of fresh air. I'm very open to reading more of Lucy Parker; I think Griff and Freddy just didn't do it for me.

alie374's review against another edition

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lighthearted medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Plot
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? No
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? No

3.5

rebroxannape's review

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5.0

Set in the glittering world of London’s West End theatre and a country estate, this is a sparkly, light, and frothy romance between a scary theatre critic and one of his frequent targets, an actress who comes from a long line of theatrical leading lights. Freddy Carlton, our bubbly light-hearted heroine is torn between wanting to please her illustrious father, who wants her to be a “serious” actress like her grandmother, and her own love of musical romantic comedies, the genre in which she shines.

When she accepts a role in a new interactive live TV production called The Austen Playbook behind her father’s back, it throws her together with her nemesis, James Ford-Griffin, because it is to be filmed at a private theatre on his family’s estate. Not only has he been very rude when reviewing her serious dramatic performances but their grandparents had an affair that did not end well and the two families have been enemies since.

Taking an equal stage with the satisfying “opposites attract” romance, are numerous other plots, seamlessly woven together. We have family drama and reconciliation, imminent financial disaster, a plagiarism scandal that threatens to bring down a family and their legacy, professional rivalries, and many more!

This book was just delightful. The romance was solid and well-paced, the dialogue sparkling and witty, and the plotting intriguing and intelligent. The theatre-world setting seemed authentic. There was a lot going on, but each character and story were given their due with plenty of suspense, mystery, and tension as well as romance. Lucy Parker is definitely on my radar.

I listened to this on audio, read at breakneck speed by Billie Fulford-Brown. Take a tip from me and turn the speed down to 90% so you can keep up.
**4 1/2 stars**

kikkireads123's review

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emotional funny lighthearted medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? No
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

2.0

perjacxis's review against another edition

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3.0

3.5 stars.