The Austen Playbook
Freddy Carlton knows she should be focusing on her lines for The Austen Playbook, a live-action TV event where viewers choose the outcome of each scene, but her concentration’s been blown. The palatial estate housing the endeavor is now run by the rude (brilliant) critic who’s consistently slammed her performances of late. James “Griff” Ford-Griffin has a penchant for sarcasm, a majestic nose and all the sensitivity of a sledgehammer.
She can’t take her eyes off him.
Griff can hardly focus with a contagious joy fairy flitting about near him, especially when Freddy looks at him like that. His only concern right now should be on shutting down his younger brother’s well-intentioned (disastrous) schemes—or at the very least on the production (not this one) that might save his family home from the banks.
Instead all he can think of is soft skin and vibrant curls.
As he’s reluctantly dragged into her quest to rediscover her passion for the stage and Freddy is drawn into his research on a legendary theater star, the adage about appearances being deceiving proves abundantly true. It’s the unlikely start of something enormous…but a single revelation about the past could derail it all.
This book! First of all, I love all the literary and pop culture references, and not just to Jane Austen. Freddy repeatedly refers to Griff as a Slytherin (which I love, being someone who likes to assign characters to houses in the books I’m reading), and at one point teases him and his platinum blonde hair by calling him Norma Jean (Marilyn Monroe’s real name) and Malfoy (another Harry Potter reference).
Also, points for male body positivity:
“She couldn’t stop touching him. His torso was long and his body was mostly stretches of taut muscle, but not in a super pumped-up gym way. Parts of him were softer, and areas of skin roughed into scars and the odd stretch mark, and he was real and here and him.”
And just general hilarity:
“If she were a man, she’d soon be in danger of waving a giant flag that she was really, really enjoying the backrub. One of the many perks of being a woman. Willies were fun to play with, but occasionally they just seemed inconvenient. And kind of odd-looking.”
I adore Freddy. As a fellow Hufflepuff, I am on board with her cheerful, sunny, musicals and fantasy novel loving self. And while sometimes I wanted to punch Griff, I also wanted to hug him even more sometimes. His snark is really witty, and while it can be terribly cutting it’s also very candid and honest as well. Griff is very much a Darcy-type, so if you’re into your Darcy Slytherin heroes, this is for sure the book for you! Also, this book is just further proof that Slytherins and Hufflepuffs are the OTP of legend. They’re also so veryreal together (exhibit A: the shower sex scene that actually reads like what two people trying to have sex in the shower looks like, instead of every other romance novel where I find myself going ‘NUH UH, THEY WOULD DROWN.’) and have realistic squabbles and troubles – despite their very extraordinary circumstances of being an actress in the world’s wackiest choose-your-own-adventure style play and an historian/art ciritic with a zany family trying to save his crumbling down manor home. You would think they wouldn’t be very relatable, but they are and it’s wonderful and gorgeous.
The Austen Playbook is the 4th book in the London Celebrities series, and can be read as a stand-alone with no spoilers for the earlier books. I think Leo from book 3 (Making Up) is the only character from earlier in the series that makes an appearance in this book, and it’s a super minor cameo.
An ARC of this book was provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.