In Development by Rachel Spangler has so many of my favourite things that it makes me wonder if she got a hold of the “Tara’s jams” list. It’s a celebrity romance (check) between an actor and a pop star (check aaaaand check). It has a fake relationship (check), and an opposites attract pairing (check) with an ice queen (check) and a boi next door (which I didn’t even know was on the list, but whoooo, is that ever a CHECK).
Cobie Galloway is ready for the next step in her acting career, but her manager can’t see her stepping out of the teenaged girl-next-door roles that have netted her a fistful of Teen Choice Awards. She’s determined to play the edgy parts that she’s been dreaming of and is ready to do whatever it takes, even if that means taking steps to show the paparazzi and the world that she’s not a kid anymore.
Lila Wilder is at the top of the pop game, with her own fashion and fragrance lines to boot. Always in control of her image, she’s been seen with all kinds of man candy on her arm, but now that she’s working on her new album, Lila needs the next thing that will keep her face on the front of the tabloids. Luckily for her, her manager has an idea.
Cobie and Lila’s managers (who happen to be married to each other and are adorable) know just what will help both women get what they want—a fauxmance. They get their script and they just need to stick to it. But what happens to a fake relationship when the feelings start to feel real?
From the first page to the last, I was team Cobie, 100%. And you know what? I still am! She’s my biggest lesfic crush in a long time and not just because she’s super hot. Cobie is sweet, thoughtful, genuine, and funny. I love how grounded she is, which we see in her relationship with her sister, Emma, as well as the way she interacts with everyone, including Lila. I also found her physical transformation interesting because she starts out with an “America’s sweetheart” kind of style and lets Lila groom her into that boi next door I mentioned in my intro. It’s nice to see a woman who doesn’t fall into either end of the butch or femme binary, because so many of us don’t!
So Lila… was not easy to like for a lot of this book. She runs hot and cold with Cobie, very much the prickly ice queen for a lot of the story. And yet, she goes through an incredible character arc, far more so than Cobie. I was reading this book with a friend (*cough* Kelly *cough*) and we were texting each other, wondering if Lila could actually turn it around and DID SHE EVER. I can’t believe I ever doubted Rachel Spangler, because she is the queen of giving unlikeable characters believable romances and frankly, I think she’s the co-queen of ice queen stories alongside Lee Winter.
There are a bunch of side characters in this book, between their managers, Emma (who is the cutest teenager going), Lila’s entourage, and others. Two in particular that I want to bring up are Cobie’s friend Talia, who wrote the book that Cobie wants to star in an adaptation of, and Cordelia, a singer that shows up at a party. I really, really, really hope Rachel Spangler writes books for both of these characters—or maybe writes a romance between the two of them!—because I want to be back in this universe and see how Cobie and Lila are doing.
The Writing Style
As always, the writing is excellent, just like I’ve come to expect from Rachel Spangler. The plotting is good, the pacing is tight, and she knocked the conflict out of the park. My gut was in knots when that big scene happened, and I was very happy with how things ended up.
Cobie! Cobie! Cobie!
Okay, for real though, just about everything worked for me. The character work is excellent, the writing is on point, and it’s just a damn good romance.
This is definitely not a con, but my only complaint is that I’d like to have seen a little more to the epilogue, especially more direct interaction between Cobie and Lila. It’s a solid piece that I really enjoyed, but I just wanted a little more because their happily ever after was so hard won.
I loved this book. Like, big fighty feelings loved it. If you like celebrity romances, opposites attract romances, coming out stories, or ice queens and the bois who love them, you’re going to want to pick it up. I sincerely hope it gets turned into an audiobook, because not only will I be reading this book again in the future, I want to listen to it too.
Excerpt from In Development by Rachel Spangler
She took another bite of her crème brûlée, closing her eyes to savor the sweetness across her tongue before admitting, “I will give you points for the dessert call. This is divine.”
“You should try mine.”
“I think I will.” Lila stuck out her fork toward the tiramisu, and Cobie knocked it away with her own.
“I’m not sure we’ve reached the dessert-sharing stage of our relationship yet.”
Lila’s eyes went wide, and her mouth fell open.
“Sorry,” Cobie said in a way that made it clear she wasn’t. “I’m all for doing a lot of things on the first date, but I’m not the kind of woman to just give up tiramisu right away.”
“I’m not used to being told no,” Lila said, still not certain if Cobie was serious.
“Shocking.” Cobie took another bite.
Lila stared at her a little longer, and the corner of Cobie’s mouth curled up.
“You’re playing with me, aren’t you?”
Cobie lifted another forkful of espresso-drenched goodness to her lips. “If I am, no one will ever know.”
Lila’s chest tightened at the low timbre of the comment and the sultry slide of Cobie’s tongue around the fork as she placed it in her mouth. Both the action and the reaction were so thoroughly unexpected, she needed a second to compose herself.
“Do you really want the tiramisu?” Cobie finally asked.
Lila shook her head. “Why do I suddenly feel like that’s a loaded question?”
“Because it totally is.”
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Bits and Bobs
- ISBN number: 9780998790725
- Publisher: Brisk Press
Rachel Spangler Online
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