Thursday, November 1, 2018

Love and Rumors (The Summer Sisters #1), by Jean Oram (author), Vanessa Moyen (narrator)

Oram Productions, ISBN 9781928198505, July 2018

Hailey Summer is the oldest of the Summer sisters, and the one her mother, incapacitated by a stroke, asked to take on the responsibility of keeping their island cottage in the family, as it has been for generations. Unfortunately, her mother had to pass it on to her with back taxes owing. Her younger sisters don't know this, and they don't realize, because Hailey hasn't told them, that the taxes have gone up a lot in recent years. The reason for protecting her sisters from this is that they were in school. Now they're all out, and working. But Hailey is still protecting them, and keeps convincing herself that she can't tell them what's going on. She's trying to make her career as an art photographer, not a commercial photographer, but in the short term, of course, that's less profitable in the short term.

Finian Alexander is a Hollywood actor, who stars in action movies, and has a carefully cultivated bad boy reputation. Taking a vacation in a small Canadian town where there's no trouble to get into, because he needs a break from that, is getting him less attention from the tabloids faster than he anticipated. His agent is annoyed with him, and he's worried himself. He needs is currently profitable career because he's made big promises to his home town, to his family, and to a variety of charities, to raise the money to solve the problems that plagued his family when growing up.

Hailey needs to save the cottage from a tax sale. Finian needs some bad boy pictures to boost his tabloid coverage again.

Hailey has almost convinced herself to compromise her artistic and ethical standards to stalk the bad boy actor until she catches him in behavior that will give her the shots she needs to sell to a tabloid for big bucks.

It would seem they could cooperate and both benefit, if they didn't both keep stumbling over both their principles, and their desire to be seen by the other as a real person, not, on Finian's part, the bad boy image, and on Hailey's part, the rather hostile image of the money-hungry, cynical paparazzo.

Oram manages this quite neatly and believably, with bonus points for not having anyone be overly stubborn about insisting on doing stupid things because the plot requires it. As an older sister myself, I found Hailey's certainty that asking her younger sisters for help would make her a shameful failure as an older sister all too natural and believable. (No, that doesn't mean her sisters, or for that matter mine, would agree with that, or necessarily react that way. It's just a thing that can happen inside your own head when you've been the older sister and proxy parent much of your life.) Even Hailey's ex-boyfriend and real cutthroat paparazzo, Austin, turns out to have real depth and interest to him.

This is a light, fun romance, with no purpose but being entertaining, but it's just better written, and therefore more satisfying, than it needs to be for that purpose. I'm glad I listened to it.

I received a free copy of this audiobook from the author, and am reviewing it voluntarily.