Racy romance novels are making a comeback into the mainstream, thanks, in part, to the phenomenon that is Fifty Shades of Gray.
The landscape may be a little edgier than the days when Fabio adorned the covers of Harlequin romances, but the quality for the genre remains mostly substandard.
One of the few exceptions is Julia Dumont’s Starstruck Romance and Other Hollywood Tails, which strikes an intelligent balance between titillating exploits and well-rounded character development.
Heavy on humor and sharp detail, Starstruck Romance has the gravitas and honesty that is reminiscent of a top notch “Sex and the City” episode.
The story, which is part of the “Second Acts” series, revolves around the busy life of Cynthia Amas, who owns and operates a high class dating service. Unable to find romance for herself, she has become adept at matchmaking for friends and strangers alike.
In this tale, Cynthia’s personal life gets complicated when she takes on a famous A-list actor, Jack Stone, as a client. He wants a woman who is not after him for his celebrity status, and it turns out that Cynthia might be that someone. But Cynthia is torn between the chance at dating a star and the possibility of rekindling an old romance with musician Pete Blatt.
Dumont’s world is loaded with other intriguing people, in particular Cynthia’s best friend and dog whisperer Lolita Albion. Her comical mess of a life provides some of the book’s best humor, highlighted by a raunchy ride on a scooter with Cynthia’s sometime lover Max.
Dumont shows remarkable detail when it comes to the Los Angeles landscape. Her use of real locations and insider info will be fun for locals, and fascinating to outsiders. Also, her quick wit and ability to keep the story moving means there are no dull moments throughout the 160 page novel.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a romance novel without the love scenes, and there are several steamy ones. There is definitely an art form to using graphic language and strong sexual situations without sounding smutty or pedestrian. Dumont knows exactly how far to push the envelope. She gradually draws readers in with tenderness, and builds to the kind of scene that romance readers expect.
Starstruck Romance is fun-filled and lighthearted escapism that delivers laughs AND passion.
REVIEWS FROM AMAZON READERS:
By Anne Wingate (Salt Lake City) — This was theater of the absurd in an extremely funny way. The sex was more funny than titillating; the heroine wasn’t interested in the leading man who kept coming onto her while insisting that he wanted to find his One and Only; everybody lies to everybody; the heroine wants her childhood boyfriend whom she manages to insult and drive off; the heroine loses her best friend (temporarily) because of lying; her mother becomes engaged to a philanderer of the first water; and everybody gallops off in all directions. Chaos is not the word for it, but I can’t think of a stronger one. I laughed myself sick over it.
By Patty Militello (SHERMAN OAKS, CA) — I picked this book up because my girlfriends kept insisting how hot the romance scenes were–and they were certainly right. There’s a three page love scene that I actually had to stop in the middle of so I could collect myself–now that’s sexy. What I didn’t expect, however, was how funny and smart the book would be. Like I said, I was pretty much just in it for the sex, if I’m being honest, but the lead character Cynthia is so funny, and the exchanges between her and Jack were so snappy and witty they reminded me of Cybil Shepherd and Bruce Willis on Moonlighting. Dumont also packs the book with lots of cool references to old Hollywood, which I really loved. I must say, it’s refreshing to be able to get some titillation and some quality reading from the same book.
“In this wildly seductive romp through the lush canyons and lavish neighborhoods ofLos Angeles, the line between business and pleasure quickly blurs in a dizzying rush of sex and celebrity… Things get complicated. And funny. And excruciatingly sensual.” -Jackie Burris, Amazon
“The second of Second Acts is a winner!… It imbues the kink with a humor that doesn’t overpower the romance.” -C’est LV, Amazon, NetGalley
“This was theater of the absurd in an extremely funny way… Starstruck Romance is hilarious.” -Anne Wingate, Amazon
“Ladies, I can’t recommend this book for your book clubs enough–it was funny, it was well-written, but most of all it was SEXY!” -cmvaldes, Amazon
“I must say, it’s refreshing to be able to get some titillation and some quality reading from the same book.” -Patty Militellio, Amazon
“I loved that there was a lot of humor in this book as well and some steamy romance.”
-Ashley Young, Amazon, NetGalley
“The misadventures of matchmaker Cynthia, her crazy mom and friends with even hotter guys make for a fun sexy read.”-TP, Amazon
“This second installment certainly didn’t disappoint!” -J.Newell, Amazon
“These are not only sexy, they are smart! I whipped through the first book, Sleeping With Dogs, so I couldn’t wait to follow Cynthia on her next crazy adventure in Starstruck Romance.” -PippaWS, Barnes & Noble
“All in all another hilarious look at some of the pitfalls of being involved in the loves and lives of Hollywood’s players, even though Cynthia is on the outside looking in it still can get pretty intense when all those egos collide in dramatic fashion!” -Jacaburn, Barnes & Noble
“Even better than the original!” -JonesBT, Barnes & Noble
“Interesting book that has some wacky characters that will have you chuckling.”
-Beckey White, GoodReads
“There are some steamy moments, a few laughs, and crazy characters…in a good way.”
“Funny, sexy, and entertaining… Hot movie stars, lots of romance, and paranormal dogs — what more can you ask for when you’re looking for a good book to curl up with?”
“Funny and memorable characters- had me laughing out loud at times.”-Amanda Ray, GoodReads
“This book will keep you laughing through all the twists and turns that evolve.”
-Kay Cisneros, NetGalley