How To Sleep With a Movie Star, by Kristin Harmel

>> Thursday, July 22, 2010

TITLE: How To Sleep With a Movie Star
AUTHOR: Kristin Harmel

PAGES: 310
PUBLISHER: Little Black Dress

SETTING: Contemporary New York
TYPE: Chick Lit

REASON FOR READING: I got all the Harmels I could find out of my library after liking Italian For Beginners.

26-year-old Claire Reilly is on top of her game as one of the youngest celebrity reporters and editors in the business. At Mod magazine, she is a consummate professional, interviewing dreamy Hollywood hunks and staying on top of every story. Unfortunately, her live-in boyfriend seems intent on setting the world's record for celibacy, yet she finds herself penning articles like 'Ten Reasons You Should Have a One-Night Stand.' When Claire lands the plum assignment of interviewing Cole Brannon, Hollywood's #1 hottie, she knows better than to mix business with pleasure, but the next morning, she finds herself in Cole's bed...without her clothes. After the tabloids pick up the story, Claire's life is turned upside down. In struggling to regain her reputation, she'll learn a great deal about herself...and that you shouldn't always believe everything you read.
Claire Reilly is celebrity editor at Mod magazine, quite a senior post for someone in her early 30s, and one she enjoys very much. She especially loves interviewing and doing profiles, and her job allows her to do that to her heart's content. The pleasure of doing work she enjoys compensates for a really asinine editor, who has the stupidest ideas, and for the hideously horrible fashion editor, Sidra, who clearly has it in for her.

All is going well until Claire is assigned to interview the big movie start of the moment, Cole Brannon. Well, actually, the interview itself actually goes really well. Claire and Cole hit it off immediately, and Claire enjoys the interview. Cole's like no other movie star she's ever met. He actually seems interested in her and what she's saying, and he's not pretentious. In fact, he seems like a pretty down to earth guy.

But things go downhill soon after that, when she finds her boyfriend cheating on her (I don't think that's a spoiler, it's obvious from the first time you hear about the bastard's behaviour). Heavy drinking ensues, and a fortuitous meeting with Cole ends up with them being seen together in Claire's appartment, by the worst possible person. So now Claire is in the middle of a big crisis. She knows exactly what happens to celebrity journalists who are known to sleep with their stories: they become a complete joke. And given that Cole won't leave her alone, it's quite likely she'll be in that position soon...

I think I need to stop reading Harmel for a little while, as I'm starting to see too many repetitions. Her heroines always, but always have a nice guy clearly showing an interest in them, and showing it quite clearly, too. And they always, but always, completely miss the plot and immediately assume that there's no possible way this guy could be at all into them (even though they couldn't be more obvious about them), and are quite rude to them to make them go away. They jump to the most unflattering conclusions and assume the guys are lying based on the flimsiest evidence, and refuse to ask for explanations, or even listen to them when they are forthcoming.

However, while I liked my previous Harmel heroines and forgave them for being a bit clueless about their men actually liking them and being really nice, Claire I just wanted to strangle. She's not just clueless, she's willfully blind. Her boyfriend couldn't be more clearly a complete user if he wore a sign on his forehead. He treats her like crap, never does anything for her, hasn't slept with her for a month, and the twit is still hoping for an engagement ring from him. To her credit, Claire does kick him out immediately when she finds out he's cheating. However, she does come quite close to forgiving him and giving him another chance (and I therefore came quite close to just throwing the book against a wall and not finishing it), and only comes to her senses because he misjudges and goes a bit too far too soon.

As for Cole, I wasn't too bothered with her initial incredulity about him liking her (he is a huge movie star, after all, and the handsomest man in the world), but after a point, you just have to accept that he wouldn't go to the trouble he does and spend so much time pursuing her if he didn't! And much, much worse than that is the way she immediately believes the stories published about him in the scummiest of the scummy tabloids, even though 5 minutes earlier she had been perfectly clear that they printed nothing but lies. "A picture doesn't lie". Really? This from a celebrity journalist? That's beyond stupid.

It didn't help my liking of Claire that I absolutely despise celebrity culture and the type of magazine she works for, so I never had much respect for her and her achievements in the first place. Good for her that she sees the shallowness of it all in the end, and makes the right decision, but it was too little, too late. The completely pointless drama of the magazine didn't do it for me, and I didn't enjoy reading about it.

The secondary characters were not great either. Oh, I loved Wendy, who's a wonderful, supportive friend and actually has a life of her own (and I was very happy that she gets her own HEA). But too many of the other characters are cartoonish. Like Claire's arch-enemy in the magazine, Sidra. Claire herself thinks that the woman's actions are way over the top and don't make sense, but that doesn't mean I bought them any more for that. I could have got that she hated Claire and resented her, but not that she would go to some much trouble to screw her over, exposing herself so much in the process. And as for her sister (who by all accounts is a clone of Sidra), I didn't believe for a minute that she would go for someone like Claire's boyfriend. No money at all, no drive, content to mooch from his girlfriend for years, not particularly handsome... why would this woman even want him? All in all, too many women are stupid / materialistic / man-crazy sluts in this book. And if Cole couldn't see that his publicist was a psycho, then he's pretty much as clueless as Claire.



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