Act Like It was one of the book choices for May in the Unapologetic Romance Readers group, but I got stuck at the bottom of a long wait list for it at the library and didn't get my hands on it until now! I'll pop back into the old discussion, but I'm a bit sad that I missed out on it when it was happening because I really did enjoy this.
The main character is Lainie, a West End actress who's one of four main actors, one of them being her ex-boyfriend, who she has to passionately kiss onstage six nights a week, plus rehearsals. But Lainie loves acting, loves her theater--just doesn't quite love the awkward social dynamics that can arise. One of the other main actors, Richard Troy, is known about town as something of a bad boy, yelling at chefs and generally causing scenes--not exactly great for his image. So his publicist and the theater's publicist, afraid that his bad image is hurting ticket sales, convince Lainie to put out the idea that she and Richard are together to help publicity and give the impression that she's rehabilitating him into a normal human being--in exchange for the profits of two Saturday night shows going to the charity Lainie works with. She doesn't love the idea, but for the donations, she agrees.
Of course, Lainie and Richard are prickly with each other in all the right ways. They snipe back and forth, jab at each other, but mostly do it in relatively good humor, and of course they grow on each other, a little bit at a time, and then all at once. Richard can be a proper jackass, but Lainie gives as good as she gets, doesn't let him really get to her, and doesn't let him walk all over her, so their relationship is actually very equal. She also starts to put the reins on letting him act like an ass to other people, though of course some things can never entirely change. The "fake relationship that becomes a real one" is a favorite trope of mine, but just like any trope, it has to be carried off well, and I think that Parker accomplished that.
The characters are both actors by trade, so clearly they at least somewhat live for drama. So are parts of this book unnecessarily dramatic? Yes. But I do think it fits the story and the characters, melodrama included; Lainie muses at one point how when she leaves the stage, she doesn't always feel like herself, but rather like she's playing the role of Lainie in another production; I think that was a particularly good musing to include because it helps to add context to the drama. They don't necessarily seek it or crave it, but they do at the same time, because that's their natures. (There's also some melodrama that's situational rather than caused by the characters, which was a bit ridiculous, but ah well.) Still, in the end they of course come together and manage to communicate and work out their differences--and it doesn't hurt that this isn't a book based on a miscommunication to begin with, and that the characters have been open and honest with each other throughout.
Overall, I really enjoyed this one and look forward to reading more from Parker.
4 stars out of 5.