I am still suffering from whiplash after reading Crashing The A-List. If I had to compare the experience of reading this book, I’d say it’s like following six seasons of The Vampire Diaries all the while being emotionally torn apart by the push and pull of a certain couple – sans the supernatural element but all the more gushing and ripping out your hair at the characters’ actions. However, I would gladly suffer through that hell over and over again if it means having as much fun as I did reading Crashing The A-List.
Crashing The A-List follows Clara who, after four months of unemployment, resorts to sleeping on her brother’s couch until she can find another position in publishing. To earn some money in the meantime, she accepts a job offer to clean out abandoned storage units, spending her days sorting through other people’s memorabilia, helped emotionally and actively by her best friend CiCi.
When Clara stumbles on a dark secret of an actor both she and Cici adore hidden in a box one day, they joke about making some money with that information. Alas, not able to do something so morally abhorrent, they laugh about it and Clara tries to put it out of her mind. However, after an attempted move of altruism is construed as a sinister act, none other than the actor himself, Caspian Tiddleswich, shows up at Clara’s front door, demanding repentance. And how does he plan to make her atone for her sins? By pretending to date him to help him promote his latest movie, all while exchanging barbed puns behind closed doors…until a fake romance for the cameras might turn into something more…
Hate-to-love romance? Fake dating? Sign. Me. Up.
This book had me laughing out loud quite a lot of times. The dialogue between the characters is hilarious, especially when Caspian meets Clara’s mother. There were genuinely heartwarming moments as well (we all need a best friend like CiCi) and the pacing of the novel was incredibly engaging. The wit and humour of the characters bounced naturally off each other and you could feel the chemistry between Caspian and Cici, especially in the hate-part of their hate-to-love romance.
The second half of the book gets a bit more frustrating. We essentially have the same conflict again – Caspian not believing Clara that she has nothing to do with information being leaked – which added a great ton of vulnerability to the pages and I would lie if I said I didn’t shed a tear or two – but it was also frustrating because Caspian should have known better at that point. He essentially resorted to his mean persona instead of letting Clara explain. The drama was real.
It frustrated me so much I was trying not to pull my hair out – see the first paragraph of this review – but it was also amazing?! Often in romance novels, we get bland characters that don’t have a lot of personality where the focus is too much on the romance and not enough on the individual characters and their conflicted feelings outside of that romantic plot.. “Oh, woe is me because this guy likes me and I like him but *insert excuse here* is keeping us apart.” Hard to stay engaged in that been there, done that character arc.
Thankfully, this was not the case with Clara nor Caspian. Clara is struggling, yes, but she never compromises her integrity. I raged with her when Caspian wouldn’t believe her, cried with her when she was feeling overwhelmed by the paparazzi treating her like an animal at the zoo and threw my fist in the air Nelson-style when something finally went right in her career. Clara is dealing with Caspian, yes, but she is also an editor passionate about finding a way back to her career, a good friend and sibling, and kind to the people around her.
And Caspian Tiddleswich. Boy oh boy. There were so many plot twists concerning him – I basically liked him half of the time and wanted to chuck him out of a window the other half, which is how Clara probably felt, so, I guess that’s fine. Caspian is a conundrum within a conundrum. An actor who has a real hard time taking off his mask, but somehow, that made him all the more intriguing. Without spoiling too much, there are some moments where I good and well wanted to lock him up for what he did and I just want to thank the author for how she handled Clara’s reaction to these moments. Sometimes, there’s a thin line between intimidating and terrifying, a misunderstanding and verbal abuse and I love how this was clearly pointed out in this novel and dealt with instead of pushing it under the rug, and resolved without resorting to clichés.
Admittedly, Crashing The A-List is not without its flaws. The plot meandered a bit at the beginning and the repetitiveness of the first few chapters made it drag a bit. The secondary characters could have done with a bit more development. CiCi, best friend extraordinaire, was so quirky and interesting that I would have loved to learn a bit more about her. The same can be said for Clara‘s brother Tom whose only spoken words are in concern for his sister, which is nice, but there was room to make him a bit more fleshed-out. But these are minor points that did not affect my overall enjoyment of this very summery, emotional and exciting read that I hope you’ll give a chance!
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Synopsis | Goodreads
After four months of unemployment, former book editor Clara Montgomery is still stuck sleeping on her little brother’s ugly couch in Queens. Determined to keep her minuscule savings account intact, she takes a job clearing out abandoned storage units, but is in no way prepared for stumbling upon dead snakes or trying to identify exactly where the perpetual stench of beets is emanating from.
When Clara comes across a unit that was once owned by an escort service, she finds the brothel “résumé” of a younger Caspian Tiddleswich… an astonishingly famous British actor. Her best friend thinks she should sell the gossip to a tabloid to fund her way off the couch from hell, but Clara instead manages to track down Caspian’s contact info, intending to reassure him that her lips are sealed.
Unfortunately, Caspian misinterprets Clara’s attempt at altruism and shows up on her doorstep, accusing her of blackmail. When the paparazzi capture a photo of them together, Caspian’s PR team sees an opportunity to promote his latest film—and if Clara wants to atone for her “crimes,” she’ll have to play along. Pretending to be Caspian’s girlfriend seems like it will be a tolerable, if somewhat daunting, penance… until their fake romance becomes something more than either of them expected.