Behind the Scenes
by Dahlia Adler
Read: July 16 - 17, 2014
Published: June 24, 2014 by Spencer Hill Press
Source: BEA/Kindle purchase
Category: Contemporary YA, Romance, Celebrities
Find: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | The Book Depository
Goodreads Description: High school senior Ally Duncan's best friend may be the Vanessa Park - star of TV's hottest new teen drama - but Ally's not interested in following in her BFF's Hollywood footsteps. In fact, the only thing Ally's ever really wanted is to go to Columbia and study abroad in Paris. But when her father's mounting medical bills threaten to stop her dream in its tracks, Ally nabs a position as Van's on-set assistant to get the cash she needs.
Spending the extra time with Van turns out to be fun, and getting to know her sexy co-star Liam is an added bonus. But when the actors' publicist arranges for Van and Liam to "date" for the tabloids just after he and Ally share their first kiss, Ally will have to decide exactly what role she's capable of playing in their world of make believe. If she can't play by Hollywood's rules, she may lose her best friend, her dream future, and her first shot at love.
I'm a sucker for celebrity-regular people romances, and was really excited to read Behind the Scenes. I enjoyed watching the beginning of Liam and Ally's relationship. I liked their banter, and could definitely see a connection between them. It was fun watching their relationship develop, especially as they began to open up to each other.
I also loved the friendship between Ally and Vanessa, as well as the book's commentary on the limited amount of roles for non-white people in Hollywood (Van is Korean). It is a secondary part of this book that added complexity to the story. Ally even has a great relationship with her parents, though her family is in upheaval with her dad facing stage IV Melanoma. That is the reason Ally starts working for her actress best friend Van and meets Van's co-star Liam - to make some money for college, because Ally's parents' funds are going into her dad's cancer treatment.
I could understand Ally's struggles and insecurities about dating a celebrity. Although Ally is dedicated to her best friend, she doesn't want to be famous herself, and is rather judgmental about other celebrities at first, especially Liam. But for some reason he seems to want Ally, even though she sees herself as a normal girl. And Ally can't help but fall for Liam, as she realizes that under that glossy public veneer, he's actually a great guy with his own personal struggles. But things become tricky when Liam and Van have to start fake dating in the public to boost interest in their new show. Ally wants what's best for her friend, but that means she has to hide her relationship with Liam. It is a hard situation to manage and becomes worse the more Ally falls for Liam.
Neither Ally and Liam were perfect, and they definitely each had some missteps. I could understand Ally's resistance to celebrities in the the beginning of the story, and her resulting banter and building tension with Liam was nicely balanced against that. But unfortunately Ally lost a lot of my sympathy as the book wore on. I can only do so many contemporaries at a time, because I start getting very irritated by the repetitive plot flow. The 'obligatory' breakup/angst fest around 75% really grates on me, especially when it's accompanied by one or both of the main characters (in this case Ally) acting like idiots.* She let her fears overtake her ability to communicate and hurt her relationships. The added Nate storyline was especially irritating.
Overall, Behind the Scenes was a fun and swoony romance, with some deeper and relatable themes imbedded. It was a fast read and definitely kept me turning the pages. I just wish the storyline in the second half hadn't been quite so conventional in its descent into drama before everything is fixed at the end.
Love Triangle Factor: Mild (None, really. But some mild irritating action)
Cliffhanger Scale: Standalone
* I'm over sensitive about my dislike for the Standard Romance Plot so I doubt most people will be as irritated as I was. But check back Friday when I'm going to be sharing my feelings about the SRP.