On the red carpet at the SAG Awards two women who work closely in Hollywood film projects are photographed together then rumored to be romantically involved.
Jo is the show runner on a popular program and is about to sign a deal to write and direct the latest film in a big movie franchise. She is rich and powerful with lots of connections in Hollywood.
She has her PA, Emma, accompany her to the SAG awards telling Emma that she hates the reporters’ questions and, with Emma next to her, she hopes to avoid them.
But things become complicated when they are photographed together in a seemingly intimate moment and articles pop up claiming the women are a couple.
Emma is much younger and more affected by the gossip. She waits for Jo to deny it, but Jo’s position is that the press will settle down. It eventually does but not before the damage is done.
Can these two women overcome the fact that they have a work relationship and an age gap or are there too many obstacles standing in the way of true love?
The Writing Style
This is a well-done, slow burn romance between two very different women.
The women are skillfully drawn.
Wilsner manages a clever and believable plot full of conflict. The writing is straight forward, and never gets in the way of the story.
We see both characters, as they both have narrative sections. Emma is warm and emotional. We see everything about her: thoughts and feelings. Jo, on the other hand, never really lets the reader see inside of her. We are left to think of her by what she says and does, not what she thinks or feels.
Jo is less vulnerable to the romantic rumors than Emma. We follow the thoughts of both women alternatively as each realizes that she has feelings toward the other.
Emma is tall, attractive, cool and level headed. She is an excellent assistant and works hard to please her boss.
Then something places them near the other, and they are surprised by their magnetism, and then interrupted, before they ‘almost kiss.’ Readers will be amazed how much mileage can be drawn from that ‘almost kiss.’ Twists and turns are further complicated by the fact that each woman longs and for the other.
The way Emma is treated by Jo reminds me of The Devil Wears Prada in that Jo never thanks Emma for her hard work. Jo, though isn’t really an ice queen.
Wilsner handled some difficult situations well, here are examples:
1 Jo arranges for Emma to job shadow a well-known director, someone both women admire. At lunch when the director is alone with Emma, he says something sexual and crude. What follows could be, with the exception of arrest, made into a blueprint for managing sexual harassment in the workspace.
Emma reports him, he is never allowed on the sets again and Jo makes sure others in the business will no longer work with him.
2 After the “almost kiss” Jo and Emma try to see each other quietly but the paparazzi has their picture in the papers the next day. There is a leak inside the company and that is resolved, with little excitement. No tar and feathering, he’s simply fired.
This story is told in multiple third person points-of-view; however, we see inside Emma’s thoughts and inside her heart. She does everything she can to please Jo.
Jo’s point of view is distant. She refuses to permit us to see past her surface, giving us her actions and motives, but little more, making it hard to get to like her.
There are some clichés used that drew me out of the story.
Heads up: We struggle through a long slow burn romance but are rewarded at the end with a hot sex scene.
Readers who prefer slow burn romances will enjoy this book.
Women who prefer the act of reading and getting to know each character as events unwind and there are moments where the older character alternately draws in and pushes away her new love.
If you want May-December lovers and are looking for good character development as well as the background of Hollywood and the business of films then Wilsner doesn’t disappoint.
Excerpt from Something to Talk About by Meryl Wilsner
Jo Jones in the running for silver gig, the headline on the screen said. Right beneath that, in italics, it read, But should she be?
Emma huffed as she scrolled through the article for the fifth time. She didn’t normally spend her mornings reading gossip columns about her boss, but earlier that week, Jo had had a meeting with the studio producing the next Agent Silver movie. As her assistant, Emma knew which appointments were on Jo’s schedule but not what happened within them. She wanted to know how the meeting had gone.
The article didn’t clear that up for her. Jo was on the short list, at least, but was apparently a terrible choice. No experience writing a movie, certainly not an action flick. It was like they forgot she was the showrunner of TV’s top drama five years running. Sure, Innocents didn’t have explosions or fight scenes—except that one time in season 2—but it was good. It was quality television. Jo had the Emmys to prove it.
Not good enough for this columnist, though. He didn’t come out and say it was because Jo was a Chinese American woman. Instead the article was filled with worries about too soft a touch and a concern she would somehow miss the truly American essence of Silver. Emma rolled her eyes. Jo was born and freaking raised here.
Emma wasn’t going to tell Jo about the column. While it might be good for Jo to know what people were saying about her, it would also be an unnecessary distraction that did nothing but hurt her feelings. Emma wouldn’t bother her with it. Jo had more important things to do with her time anyway.
The click-clack of Jo’s heels came from the hallway, and Emma quickly closed the browser tab. She stood, tucking her long hair behind her ears. By the time Jo rounded the corner, Emma was ready with her coffee and a smile. “Thanks,” Jo said, taking the latte without breaking stride. That didn’t bode well for the day. Neither did her ponytail, high and tight enough to look severe. “Clear the afternoon for the both of us.”
Emma stopped analyzing Jo’s hairstyle choices and grabbed her tablet off her desk. “Sure, boss,” she said, pulling up Jo’s schedule as she followed her into her office. Most of the afternoon was blocked off for writing. All Emma had to cancel was a check-in with an assistant producer. “What do we got?”
“Dress fitting.” Emma stopped in front of Jo’s desk and looked up at her. She tilted her head, confused.
“You need me at a dress fitting?”
“Given that it’s your dress fitting”—Jo took a sip of her coffee—“that would be ideal.”
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Bits and Bobs
- ISBN number: 9780593102527
- Publisher: Berkley
- Meryl Wilsner Online
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