ARC review: Famous by Jenny Holiday

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Emmy and Evan met at a wedding seven years ago.  What might have been never happened given their age difference and future plans, but neither Emmy nor Evan could seem to forget about each other.  Flash forward to the present, and Emmy is now Emerson Quinn, international superstar.  She’s the face of the Emerson Quinn machine, stuck in a constant cycle of press appearances and world tours, and she is absolutely sick of it.

Having just finished a ten-month world tour, her label is clamoring for the next album, and Emmy just isn’t feeling the neverending songwriting sessions with “middle-aged Swedish men” who crank out generic pop hit after generic pop hit.  She wants to go back to her roots and write this album herself, not stand idly by as somebody tells her what her next album will sound like.

For all her connections, Emmy can’t think of a single friend whose house she could escape to.  But then she thinks about the guy she met so many years ago, who believed in her and offered to do anything he could to help.  And before she can overthink it, she’s on Evan Winslow’s porch with her suitcase in hand, just hoping he won’t say no.

This is the first book I’ve read by Jenny Holiday, and I loved it!  Both Evan and Emmy felt like real people and I really appreciated that there was no over-the-top drama.  Emmy might be world famous, but she’s down-to-earth and legitimately just wants to stay out of the spotlight.

I got some serious Taylor Swift vibes while reading this book, which is totally fine with me – I am a huge fan of hers.  A lot of things about Emmy reminded me of Taylor Swift.  There’s the blond hair and red lipstick, the singer-songwriter with songs about the details of everyday life, but the thing that reminded me most of Taylor Swift was the ex-boyfriends. Emmy gained a lot of popularity writing about her exes, and that means that the media blames her for all of her relationships gone wrong.  I really felt for Emmy and I cannot imagine how difficult it must be to live your life constantly vilified every time you have a breakup.  (As if breakups aren’t emotional enough.)

Anyway. I really liked Emmy.  But enough about her.  Let’s move on to Evan, who was just trying to get on with his life after a huge family scandal made him re-evaluate his plans.  Evan, who was just trying to get tenure as an art history professor so he could have some stability in his life.  Evan, who was just trying to blend into the background when his long-lost friend, internationally famous pop star Emerson Quinn, showed up unexpectedly at his front door.

There’s obviously a period of adjustment, but Evan welcomes Emmy after only a slight hiccup.  (I don’t even know if I’d react that well if my own family showed up on my doorstep, let alone someone I hadn’t seen in seven years.)  He’s just. so. nice.  He hangs out with his elderly neighbor.  He runs an arts program for teenagers.  He’s volunteered to coordinate an art show.  And he never gets frustrated at Emmy for trying to hide from the paparazzi or lacking basic human skills.

It was so refreshing to read a romance where the main characters actually treat each other well throughout the entirety of the book.  Even the big conflict is honestly just these characters wanting what’s best for each other!

If I had one criticism, it would just be that the push and pull really got to be too much for me.  I understand that it was Emmy’s Summer Of No Men and that Evan was trying to focus on his career, but they clearly wanted each other and I thought that the amount of effort they put into fighting their attraction was a bit excessive.  It started to feel less like a legitimate problem and more like angst for angst’s sake, which always frustrates me.

BUT, the sexual tension just about killed me, which is the sign of an author who knows what she’s doing with her characters.  (And is never a problem for me.)  It looks like Infamous, the second book in this series, will follow Emmy’s ex as he comes to grips with his attraction to pediatrician Hunter Wyatt.  After seeing what Holiday did with Famous, I can’t wait to read what comes next.

Final rating: ★★★★☆

I received a free ARC of Famous from the author (via Indie Sage PR) in exchange for an honest review.