Saturday, March 5, 2016

Someone Else's Fairytale (E. M. Tippetts)

Someone Else's Fairytale
(The Someone Else's Fairytale series, Book 1)
E. M. Tippetts
Amazon Digital Services
Fiction, Romance
*** (Okay)

DESCRIPTION: Chloe Winters doesn't know why she let her roommate Lori talk her into being an extra with her on a Jason Vanderholt movie shooting in town; Lori's the one with the crush on America's hottest star, not her. She certainly didn't do anything to attract the man's attention. Working on a double-major at the University of New Mexico and angling for a career in forensics, she doesn't have time for a love life, and being the daughter of a teen mother via a married man makes her disinclined to sleep around, a trait that's cost her a few relationships. But Jason didn't get the memo, and somehow an awkward conversation becomes a movie premiere and Skype calls. Anyone else would be swooning over their fantasy come true, but "anyone else" isn't Chloe Winters. She's not the Hollywood type, and he has a reputation as a partying man. As nice as he proves to be off-camera, romance would be completely disastrous for both of them. Besides, Chloe's seen what love does to people's lives, and she just plain can't afford it. Not even with a man like Jason Vanderholt.

REVIEW: At the outset, I enjoyed the promise and the characters. Chloe's been scarred - literally - by a hard life, raised by a mother who never grew up and despised by her wealthy half-siblings to the point of physical attack. Few of her friends can understand her seemingly old-fashioned relationship ideas, especially as she's not chaste for religious reasons. (Indeed, several subplots deal with the role of sex in various people's lives and relationships, good and bad.) Chloe seems fairly on the ball - at first. As the story goes on, though, she becomes more and more oblivious to blatantly obvious clues, particularly about men, jumping to an awful lot of conclusions for someone who aspires to a scientific career. Jason starts off fairly flat, a guy pursuing Chloe because she's the lead in a romance novel and that's what the love interest does, though he gains a little depth later on... only to lose some of that depth toward the end. The relationship between Jason and Chloe has some ups and downs, as one might expect in a romance, many of the "downs" precipitated by Chloe and her unresolved issues about love and her own rocky past. Jason's life is no fairytale, either, dogged by fans and paparazzi, with nearly every moment of his life laid bare by scoop-hungry tabloids. There's a smattering of insight into the cult of fame and life as a Hollywood A-lister, here. Adapting to that kind of lifestyle, especially for a private girl like Chloe, is no easy task, a believably steep obstacle to overcome.
What really held this one back in the ratings were the multiple subplots and peripheral characters, many of which seemed to exist largely to draw out the story. The half-brother who once attacked Chloe comes back... only to go away again long before the end. Chloe's best friend Matthew plays heavily into a possible love triangle... but that fizzles out awkwardly. Other subplots deal with Chloe's immature mother, Jason's family (particularly a teen girl looking to follow in Chloe's mother's footsteps), roomie Lori's relationship, and more. Early focus on Chloe's career choice and personal interest in forensics falls by the wayside, just one of a tangle of competing side-tracks. The later parts of the book feel downright disorganized, as though Tippetts didn't have quite enough romance to fill the word count and scrambled to fluff and stretch the plot with unneeded filler. When I saw that the rest of the Someone Else's Fairytale series transitions from romance to mystery, some of the extra weight made sense, but not within the context of this ostensibly stand-alone tale. By trying to do too much and establish so many extra things for future installments, it becomes weak. The ends a little too neatly, with the finale feeling both stretched and oddly abrupt.

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