Freddy Carlton knows she should be focusing on her lines for The Austen Playbook, a live-action TV event where viewers choose the outcome of each scene, but her concentration’s been blown. The palatial estate housing the endeavor is now run by the rude (brilliant) critic who’s consistently slammed her performances of late. James “Griff” Ford-Griffin has a penchant for sarcasm, a majestic nose and all the sensitivity of a sledgehammer.
She can’t take her eyes off him.
Griff can hardly focus with a contagious joy fairy flitting about near him, especially when Freddy looks at him like that. His only concern right now should be on shutting down his younger brother’s well-intentioned (disastrous) schemes—or at the very least on the production (not this one) that might save his family home from the banks.
Instead all he can think of is soft skin and vibrant curls.
As he’s reluctantly dragged into her quest to rediscover her passion for the stage and Freddy is drawn into his research on a legendary theater star, the adage about appearances being deceiving proves abundantly true. It’s the unlikely start of something enormous…but a single revelation about the past could derail it all.
I am a big fan of Lucy Parker’s London Celebrities series which focuses mostly on the stars from the West End Theater. The Austen Playbook is the fourth in the series and might have narrowly beaten Pretty Face as my favorite of the series. I give the credit mainly to the main couple.
Griff and Freddy (Frederica) make for a compelling pair of main characters. Griff is probably the most brooding and the grumpiest hero of the series, with a marshmallow for a heart. My favorite kind.
It also helps that his hair was compared to Lucius Malfoy. He’s a reviewer of theater productions, a television presenter and a producer. Freddy is an actress, forever faced with a big legacy of a late grandmother who was a powerful theater actress herself.
I could relate to Freddy a lot. She is constantly torn between her own happiness and her life-long desire of making others happy. She wants to star in comedies and light-hearted productions, but has always put that behind to please her father who wants her career to be just like that of his mother who was a master at serious acting.
Griff is burdened with a dilapidated estate from his grandfather who was a producer himself. He could easily live his own life, but has time and again sold his own assets to make up for his parents’ lavish expenses, in order to maintain his family’s legacy.
In this way, Griff and Freddy are quite similar. Only been connected through his honest and scathing reviews of her productions, they finally get to explore these similarities when Freddy takes on the role of Lydia in a production of Austenland, a play with all of Austen’s characters, lively broadcast and subject to immediate twist in the plot according to live votes from the audience watching from their homes.
Griff and Freddy have sparks right from the beginning. I loved their chemistry. It was my favorite part of the book. But there are a lot of secondary plot-lines connected to the their main story. For example, Griff’s grandfather and Freddy’s grandmother had an epic love affair which ended abruptly. Griff is looking for finances to make a film based on that affair, but Freddy’s father will stop at nothing to stop his plans.
Although I initially liked the whole family history, I slowly lost my interest as the story progressed. The climax also could’ve been better. I’d have liked a better resolution to the live play. But I’m ready to forgive it all because of my love for the main couple.