Friday, April 19, 2013

Playing the Part by Darcy Daniel

Why I read it:  I was provided with a review copy from the publisher via NetGalley.

What it's about: (from Goodreads)  Anthea Cane is a successful actress—well, action star. Her films are mostly about how hot she looks silhouetted by fiery explosions. But Anthea is determined to prove she's more than just a body. With the role of a lifetime up for grabs—a serious adaptation of her favorite novel—Anthea sets off to her small hometown in the name of research.

Cole Daniel is a blind farmer with no patience for divas, especially one who mercilessly teased him as a young boy. When Anthea shows up using a fake name and pestering him into letting her stay, he can't pass up the opportunity to torment her just a little.

But Anthea won't let the stubborn farmer deter her from her goal, even if he is hotter than any man she's ever met. Cole finds his form of payback less than satisfying when Anthea keeps turning the tables on him, proving her mettle and gaining his respect. Will Anthea's research land her a man, as well as the part?

Warning:  This review may be mildly spoilerish.  It is also a bit on the ranty side.

What worked for me (and what didn't):  Anthea Cole is an action movie star who wants to be taken seriously as an actress.  When she receives notice that her favourite book, The Farmer’s Wife, is being made into a movie, she begs the producer for an audition.  She has 3 weeks to prepare and convince him she’s perfect for the part.  She returns to her hometown of Mayfield in New South Wales, determined to find a farmer to help her win the role by letting her work on the farm.  Cole Daniel is a blind farmer who was teased mercilessly as a child by Anthea.  Even though Anthea uses a fake name, Cole isn’t fooled.  He agrees to ‘help’ her, intent on exacting some revenge for her past treatment of him and teach her a lesson. 

There were things I liked about this book. I liked the premise.  When Anthea was given a sack of potatoes and fell flat on her face; that was pretty funny.  Anthea did change and grow as a character – she was not very nice at all in the beginning and had learned some humility and kindness by the end of the book.  Unfortunately, I’m sorry to say that I disliked just about everything else about it.

Even though I liked the concept of successful actress and a blind farmer together, I did have some reservations about the deception both engaged in.  I’m not generally a fan of the h/h lying to each other, especially for such petty and unattractive reasons.  I had hoped that the fake name was because Anthea was going incognito so as not to attract media attention but it really wasn’t.  It was entirely to fool Cole.  

Anthea begins the book very much the Hollywood diva; a spoiled princess, severely lacking in self-awareness.  She decides to go home to Mayfield to see her “best friend”, a woman we are told is the only one who truly knows her – but it turns out that Anthea has neither seen nor spoken to Karin for 20 years.  Their last conversation was when they were both 8.  Which, while it is sad, does not speak well for Anthea’s sense of reality.

After Anthea determines to stay with Cole, despite a most inauspicious meeting the day before, she lets herself into his house, moves his furniture and spills dog kibble on the floor (remember the hero is blind) and then helps herself to breakfast.  She then proceeds to leer at the naked Cole as he exits his bathroom after a shower and fails to warn him about the hazards she has created in his kitchen – once she finally makes him aware she has, without invitation, entered his house.  I cannot imagine anyone doing such a thing in my house.  I cannot imagine on what planet Anthea thinks this behaviour is okay.  But she does.

When I read that Cole’s grandmother wanted to take him to a psychiatrist after he lost his sight, I had a very unhappy foreshadowing of future events.  Because Cole is hysterically blind.  He lost his sight due to emotional trauma.  When he finally has some treatment toward the end of the book (because he has to regain his sight to win the girl – and don’t even get me started about what message that sends about disability), his “breakthrough” is so appallingly quick as to be ridiculous and insulting all at once.  

Cole is a virgin – and I would have given massive points for that – blind virgin hero?  WIN! Oh, the things which could have been done with this!  But then there was this: 

As he replayed last night in his mind, he was glad he’d listened to those romance books. They were worth their weight in gold. Because of what he learned from them, he’d been able to make the night as special for Anthea as it had been for him. Without that knowledge, he imagined he would have been a bumbling, awkward fool.
Yes, that’s right. Cole has learned his moves from romance audiobooks. [insert groan here]

Near the very end of the book, Anthea auditions for The Farmer’s Wife and the part of the script we see is so cheesy, I had great difficulty in accepting it was classic literature.  The “screen test” was so unbelievable and dangerous as to stretch the limit of my credulity beyond all reason.

Anthea did learn how to be a better person but I don’t know why Cole wanted to be with her really and I didn’t understand how she could want to be with him when he had lied to her and set her up and effectively had the whole town laughing at her for the entirety of her stay.  Perhaps they deserved each other.

This could have been a fun light sexy book (and I suspect it was, for other readers).  But, for me, it was not. The only thing which saved it from being a wallbanger was that I value my ereader too much.

What else?  I feel bad that I didn't like this book. Even worse, this is the author's debut and she is Australian. (Bad Kaetrin.) But I really didn't like it.  That said, I do appear to be an outlier (it has a 4.07 average at Goodreads) so maybe it's just that I had more buttons than I knew or maybe I was just having a really bad day when I read this book.  Here are some links to some other reviews which may be helpful for potential readers:

Grade:  D 


Roslyn said...

As you know, I agree with you wholeheartedly on this, Kaetrin.

I also felt really bad disliking this book. I wanted to like this, but just couldn't. Far too much of my time reading this book was spent shaking my head, or wanting to shake the hero and heroine.

Kaetrin said...

Snap :)

Marg said...

A blind, virgin hero would have to be done very, very well to make it a great read. Doesn't sound like this is that book!

Kaetrin said...

@Marg I had high hopes, but alas...