OK if you've been following me on twitter, my quest for this book has taken a while. What I Did For Love is popular, really popular, in my library system, and it was a good month and a half before I could get hold of it. The reason why I wanted to read it was the 70 page excerpt of the book that HarperCollins had up on it's Browse Inside feature.
The Premise: This story is about Georgie York, a famous television actor. She's most famous for her starring role as Scooter Brown, a feisty young heroine in the wildly popular sitcom Skip and Scooter. Her costar Bramwell (Bram) Shepard was Skip, the responsible son of the Scofield family and who always took care of Scooter whenever she got into trouble. In real life however Georgie was a responsible, well brought up kid, while Bram was the bad boy who came to the set drunk and disorderly and ultimately was the cause of the show going off the air.
Now Georgie is all grown up, and fodder for gossip magazines. Her marriage to famous movie star Lance Marks has just broken up in a very Brad/Angelina way (with Georgie as a spurned Aniston), and she hasn't had a hit movie for a long time. Her young crush on her costar Bram has withered away a long, long time ago, and now she just actively dislikes him. Their paths cross in Las Vegas, and after an unfortunate incident which left them both incapacitated, Georgie finds herself married to Bram. In an effort to make lemonade out of lemons, Bram and Georgie agree to pretend the wedding was planned. This gives Georgie a way to save face against her ex-husband, and Bram a way to show his respectability. After all, if America's Sweetheart Georgie agreed to be his wife, he can't be that bad, can he? Of course they both have a hard time convincing the people around them, including Bram's surly young punk housekeeper Chaz and Georgie's emotionally cut-off father Paul.
My Thoughts: I thought this was really well written and I could see why it was in high demand. I read most of the book in one sitting and just zoomed through easily. The dialog was especially humorous, with many laugh out loud moments. I truly liked the banter between the main characters, their give and take was well written and the romance wasn't taken over by sex early on. No purple prose either. And I really liked the secondary characters who played large roles (Georgie's father, her assistant Aaron, Bram's housekeeper Chaz). There are also a couple of other secondary romances which I also liked which good because sometimes I find secondary romances more cheesily done than the primary one. I'm not really a big romance reader, and I'm not as sensitive to some of the romance cliche's that I'm sure romance readers are used to, but I still noticed some things that I've heard people rant about in contemporary romances. For instance, we keep seeing characters from other books (or their grown-up children) and I couldn't care less about them. I think we see people from Glitter Baby and other books here, but I haven't read much SEP to tell and so they were just extraneous people to me and didn't add much to the book. There was also an epilogue with the happy family, including precocious kids, which I also noticed in Match Me if You Can. I've decided I'm not a fan of this.
These things lowered my enjoyment of the book, but I could live with them. What really didn't make this book a home run was two things. First of all, I never understood one of Bram's terms to the marriage – he has to have sex, because he just can't go without months of no sex. And Georgie doesn't really question the believability of this (is this just a given, he HAS to have sex)? So that was weird and it put me off a bit in terms of believing the story. The second thing was the ending and the way Bram declared his love. I honestly thought "What was that?" when I read it. Bram, after acting like an ass, suddenly *realizes*, very dramatically that he loves Georgie, and then he chooses to tell her through metaphor. Which Georgie accepts. Sorry, it didn't work for me at all, it was too hokey and unbelievable, and as the last thing in the book, it stuck in my head.
Overall: Really close to wowing me and being one of my better reads for the year, but doesn't quite make it because of the ending and my inability to suspend belief in the romance. But still a really good read with great banter and secondary characters, so worth an afternoon for contemporary romance or SEP fans. For an idea if you will like it, I recommend reading the excerpt.
Review at Bookbinge (I agreed with their 4/5)
Haiku at Dear Author (they gave it a C)