Blue cover of Love Scenes with a man and woman sitting in director's chairs with a film camera in the backround

About the Book

Title: Love Scenes
Published: 2021

First Impressions: Box Office Bomb
What’s Your Type?
Enemies to lovers, Hollywood behind the scenes, fake (i.e. acting) dating, lifestyles of the rich and famous, sprawling and eccentric family
The Lean: Action on the Set!
We Need to Talk: And the Oscar For Best Cast Goes To…
Was It Good For You?
Starry-Eyed

First Impressions: Box Office Bomb

Usually I’m a fan of illustrated covers but this one feels like the artist completely forgot about the deadline until the night before, panicked, then drew some basic line figures and threw in some clip art. Like, if this was a movie poster, I would not be buying tickets. 

What’s Your Type?

  • Enemies to lovers
  • Hollywood behind the scenes
  • Fake (i.e. acting) dating
  • Lifestyles of the rich and famous
  • Sprawling, eccentric family

Dating Profile

The daughter of two movie stars, Sloane Ford grew up in the spotlight, but she’s still not sure she belongs there, and she’s burnt out AF. After a series of subpar movies, she joined the cast of a crime scene procedural, but now she’s been killed off of the show, and with her musician ex-boyfriend releasing a whole album about her (and we’re not talking love songs), Sloane is ready to walk away entirely. Her family, however, has a different idea, and they rope her in to being a consulting producer on Horizons, a 1940s drama written and directed by her stepdad, Guy, with her sister, Tyler, co-directing. Despite her severe misgivings (more on that below) and a complicated relationship with her mother, Kitty, who is also starring in the film, Sloane finds herself heading to set, because Hollywood might be fickle, but her family is forever. 

The son of iconic Irish actor Michael Donovan, Joseph Donovan is a recovering alcoholic whose sobriety has helped him rise from rom-com heartthrob to potential Oscar winner. He’s handsome and charming, but like any good romantic lead, he’s nursing a secret pain. Growing up with a father who was never around, Joseph became extremely close with his mother, and after her death, he can’t seem to stop grieving. So he’s channeling all of that emotion into his work, including his next project…

Meet Cute

Years ago, when Joseph was still a drunk asshole and Sloane was still optimistic about acting, they made a movie together in Ireland called A Little Luck. And Joseph was THE WORST. Fast forward to Guy writing the lead role in Horizons for Sloane, who gives it a hard pass when she finds out Joseph has been cast as her onscreen romantic interest. While Joseph is clearly a changed man, he understands that he has to earn Sloane’s forgiveness, and it ain’t gonna be easy, because girl is b-r-u-t-a-l. But she’s also loyal to her family, and when the lead actress is abruptly fired, Sloane agrees to take her place to save the production. Though she’s too stubborn to admit it, rehearsing scenes with Joseph is actually gratifying, and their chemistry sizzles–even when the camera’s not rolling. 

The Lean: Action on the Set!

From While You Were Sleeping, Bill Pullman explains attraction to Sandra Bullock

I’m a sucker for enemistry, but for any purists out there, I should point out that only half of this couple is feeling the enemy vibes, which does diminish some of the sparkage. With that said, Joseph’s desire to make things right with Sloane doesn’t come off as as too earnest or puppy doggish, because he cloaks it under a lot of wit and sarcasm (and an Irish accent). The fact that there is genuine hurt in their past makes it easy to understand rather than be exasperated by Sloane’s refusal to let him in, but you WILL be frustrated by the subsequent mind games.

Nevertheless, they develop an emotional connection that I found very compelling, especially as they shift back and forth between their movie characters and themselves, though when it came to their physical connection, I may have enjoyed their on-set hanky panky even more than the real thing (insert hilarious exchange with the intimacy coordinator here).

Dirty Talk

Teacher types on laptop while talking to student
Typing a romance novel on a computer screen

Gotta admit, this is where Love Scenes kinda let me down. I don’t need the smuttiest of the smut, but I also can’t ABIDE by a fade to black, and that happened several times, which is ironic given the title. This book feels more like chick lit* than a romance novel, and that makes sense knowing that it’s Bridget Morrissey’s adult debut. Rather than fully paint a picture, Morrissey merely provides a sketch, leaving your mind to color in the blanks. There’s nothing wrong with that, obviously, but let’s just say that if you’re more of a full-on oil painting aficionado, you’ll be disappointed. 

*No hate, I dig that genre too!

Ms. Perky’s Prize for Purplest Prose

To further prove my point, this is about as risqué as it gets:

He slides down and down until he’s at my underwear, all the while whispering something that sounds faintly like worship, praise for all of the soft places so few get to touch like this. His fingers move the fabric, and his tongue works exactly as it does when he speaks, quick and smart and eager to make corrections.

We Need to Talk: And the Oscar For Best Cast Goes To…

While Morrissey’s sex scene skills might need some work, she excels at writing unique characters who are so real, they practically jump off the page. My favorite aspect of the book was Sloane’s family, a glorious hodgepodge of dynamos including her sassy little half-sister, Sarai; her Tom-Hanks-meets-Harrison Ford dad, Alexander; and her no-nonsense mother, Kitty, who is the most fascinatingly complex of the bunch thanks to her decades spent working in misogynist Hollywood. Speaking of, Morrissey also does a bang-up job of offering glimpses into celebrity life without going overboard, and consequently that makes Sloane’s perspective feel authentic rather than the stuff of tabloids. 

Was It Good For You? Starry-Eyed

Phyllis Nefler doing a little happy dance in Troop Beverly Hills

I had a blast walking down the red carpet with this book and living vicariously through its famous characters. Sure, it never got as steamy as I would have liked behind closed doors, but everything behind the scenes, from the family antics to the on-set drama to the actual making of a movie, made me want to break out the popcorn. I wouldn’t be mad if there was a sequel, is what I’m saying.

FTC Full Disclosure: I received my free e-copy of this book from Berkley. I received neither cocktails nor money in exchange for this review.

Sarah lives in Austin, TX and believes there is no such thing as a guilty pleasure, which is part of why she started FYA in 2009. Growing up, she thought she was a Mary Anne, but she's finally starting to accept the fact that she's actually a Kristy.