Touch Up by Katey Hawthorne and J.A. Rock is a sexy, enemies to lovers romance set in the crazy world of Hollywood.
Dina Gilbert went from working retail to millionaire after landing the lead in the blockbuster film adaptation of Harbinger. She is black, queer, and publicly anti-photoshopping. The public loves that Dina is relatable and has a ‘real’ body. However, she also has a little coke problem.
Colleen Thomas is an ex-model with a long-term eating disorder and obsession with beauty. Photoshopping Dina Gilbert’s body for the Aires cover turns out to be a huge mistake when Gilbert sends her Twitter fans after Colleen.
Both have promised to help private women’s club, the Rose, with an upcoming gala for young queer filmmakers. Can they put aside their differences or will they implode publicly?
It took almost half of the book for me to decide I liked these characters. Dina comes across as a bit of a whiny party girl who jumps between partying and complaining. On the other hand, Colleen refuses to take responsibility for her own actions. She knows she made a poor choice by photoshopping Dina, but chose to do it anyway, then refuses to apologize.
However, as I got to understand more about the characters, I found that they were both far more nuanced than I had first understood.
Dina has this adorable geekiness to her and she’s really sweet when she’s not partying or high. Likewise, Colleen has a lot of pain in her past that goes a long way to explaining her behavior.
Much like the glossy world of Hollywood, neither of these characters are what they seem, and both are far more relatable than they appear at first glance.
The Writing Style
At first, I struggled with the writing style because there are a lot of internal thoughts. However, the voices of both characters are really funny so there is also plenty to enjoy. There is a really wry sense of humor that gels with my own.
The sex! Gosh, this one has some great toy play that I feel like I don’t see enough of in books. Dina’s favorite toy Alphie makes a few appearances. I won’t spoil it for you, but they’re very well written.
The authors really made an effort to tackle what it’s like for Dina to be different. Dina is black, queer, and fat, at least by Hollywood standards. I love that Dina didn’t try to become this anti-photoshop, pro body-positivity type actress but fell into the role and doesn’t quite understand how to balance that with who she is.
I’ll cover a slight trigger warning here. This may be obvious given the description, but if you have some struggles with body image, eating disorders, or drug abuse, this may not be the best fit for you. This isn’t graphic, and will be fine for most readers, just something to be aware of.
Touch Up is a really unique read. If you enjoy celebrity or enemies to lovers stories, pick this one up. It’s oh so relatable, just like Dina Gilbert.
Excerpt from Touch Up by Katey Hawthorne and J. A. Rock
She smiled into the lens as Brian introduced her, said a few words about Harbinger, and asked how she was feeling.
“Pretty good. Not planning on causing any chaos when I present, so…”
He laughed. “Good goal. You got any Snickers?”
“Not this year.” She’d been photographed at the SAG awards eating a Snickers bar in her ceremony dress, and the media had eaten it up—no pun intended. So relatable! “I was gonna bring some Twix, but this dress doesn’t have pockets.” She froofed the skirt a little. “Dresses almost never have pockets. Men are so lucky.” Cue: someone calling her anti-feminist on the internet tomorrow. And possibly binarist.
“Well, you’re a big enough star that I’m sure you could get someone to design a gown with pockets for you.”
A splash of hurt, as though Brian were insulting her—thought he clearly wasn’t. I don’t just snap my fingers and get what I want, all right? And, simultaneously, a flush of pleasure. Because she was a goddamn huge star.
Brian continued. “I wanted to ask—This is kind of a major day for you, right? You have the UPick Awards, but then there’s this whole business with the cover. I’m interested to hear your thoughts.”
She stared at him confused. “Cover?”
He opened his mouth slightly, started to speak, then stopped and placed a fingertip against his pursed lips, cocking his head. “Oh, I thought you—Your Aires cover hit the stands today. And now Twitter’s all aflutter. That was such a big shoot.” He spoke quickly and nervously. “And people are saying that the cover is Photoshopped.”
Dina tensed. “What?”
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