I went into Crashing the A-List by Summer Heacock expecting a celebrity romance with RPF (Real Person Fiction) overtones. I love celebrity romance and I could even overlook the fact that the hero’s name is Caspian Twiddleswich and that he looks a lot like a certain Sherlock star.
This book is light on the romance, though, and reads a lot more like the novels I devoured in the early aughts that were frequently labeled “chick lit.” Crashing the A-List wasn’t what I was expecting, and as much as I liked the heroine and the parts of the story that focused on her relationship with her best friend, I was bummed at how weak the romance plot was.
The book is told entirely from the POV of Clara Montgomery. Clara is having a little bit of a life crisis: she’s lost her job in publishing due to a buy-out and has burned through her savings. As a result she’s sleeping on her brother’s couch and having no luck finding a new job in her industry. To make a little extra cash, Clara takes a part time job cleaning out some abandoned storage units and is told to be on the lookout for anything valuable.
She’s sorting through paperwork when she finds the files of a now defunct escort agency from the 90’s. There are photos of the escorts, and now-famous British actor Caspian Twiddleswich is among them. Clara calls her best friend Cici, and they discuss what to do with the discovery. Cici suggests this could be Clara’s way to earn some quick money and even goes so far as to get Caspian’s phone number from a friend of a friend (because super famous people have readily available personal cell numbers, I guess). After getting super wine-drunk, Clara leaves Caspian a message telling him what she found and assuring him she would never resort to blackmail no matter how much she hates sleeping on the couch.
Caspian assumes that Clara really is trying to blackmail him and that the message is a veiled threat. He shows up on her doorstep (well, her brother’s) to threaten legal action and intimidate her. Clara tries to convince him it’s all a terrible mistake. The next day, a paparazzi photo of them hits the tabloids, claiming that Clara is Caspian’s girlfriend and that they had a horrible fight
Caspian assumes Clara is responsible for all of this, too. Caspian’s PR has been pushing him to be in a more public relationship so he gives her an opportunity to make all this up to him. She can be his fake girlfriend while he stars in a play in NYC, and then they’ll stage a fake breakup at his next movie premiere.
If you’re like…what? you aren’t alone. Questions that I had that were not answered were:
- Why does his PR team want him to be a public relationship? I can assume its for media attention, but nothing is ever explained.
- Why can’t he find anyone else to fill the role? He clearly loathes Clara so it makes no sense that he’d want to spend any time with her.
Anyway, for reasons I don’t understand, Clara agrees and they enter into a fake relationship wherein Clara stands by Caspian and smiles for the press and then he’s a dick to her in private. Because we never get Caspian’s POV, we have nothing to soften his dickishness. As a result, he wasn’t especially appealing as a hero.
Caspian goes out of his way to be unkind to Clara, at one point taking her to a fancy dinner, where he abandons her for two hours before having his car drop her at the nearest subway station just before the last train to her stop leaves.
When Caspian discovers that Clara didn’t sell the photo of them to the paparazzi he feels bad and apologizes, and their time together turns into something more romantic.
The issues I had with the romance were that:
- Caspian comes across as a jerk much of the time and since we don’t know what he’s thinking or how he’s feeling (and he doesn’t articulate these things to Clara) it’s difficult to like him.
- Caspian does a 180 between hating and mistrusting Clara and then having feelings for her, and then does a 180 back to hatred and it’s all based on assumptions and misunderstandings.
- I never really figured out why Clara and Caspian fell in love at all. They don’t have much of a connection or anything really in common, and their interactions felt superficial.
So, yeah, the romance didn’t really work for me. On top that, not as much of this book was dedicated to their romance as I expected. In fact as much time is devoted to Cici and Clara’s friendship as was to Clara’s relationship with Caspian.
That portion of the book dedicated to female friendship – to Cici helping Clara out when she felt at her lowest – worked really well for me. Clara is struggling when Crashing the A-List opens. She feels like a failure, she’s forced to rely on her family in a way that makes her feel uncomfortable, and her constant job rejections are whittling away at her. Cici is endlessly supportive, sometimes even bailing from her own job for a time to help Clara dig through abandoned storage units just so she didn’t have to be alone. Cici is available to Clara, even if just by text, whenever she needs a boost.
Between the first person POV, the limited information about Caspian’s emotions, his frequent changes of heart, and the amount of time devoted to Clara and Cici versus Clara’s romance with Caspian, this book disappointed me. While Crashing the A-List did offer a really loving and supportive relationship, it wasn’t a romantic one, nor was it the reason I picked up the book to begin with.