This is it; the big break Valerie has worked hard for. The problem is it is for an erotica movie. She’s worked in a couple small parts like movies and commercials so this one is kind of freaking her out . She knows that if she lands this job her name will bring success if only she can get past the sex scenes. What she didn’t count on was the attraction to its director. Valerie knows it looks wrong to have a romance with him only because of their age difference. People talk and they’re definitely talking like she is a gold digger and slept her way into the lead. How can she prove to everyone that she is the right person, and how can she prove to Roland that her love is real?
I received a request to read and review this book and was surprised to see that it had been published four years ago. In doing some research, I found that this author has a number of books to her credit and even though she is new to me, has developed a following among romance fans. So reading this book was something of a stretch in that its subject was right at the edge of the adult movie industry, highlighting a film maker in Roland Westwood, a movie mogul who had come up through the ranks of the adult movie world, made it big, and was now planning to film a series of films that were completely in a different direction. Still rated NC-17 and shown only in specific adult theatres, Roland wanted to film stories--real scripts that told a story, that had plot and story line and literary substance, yet erotic and graphic sex. Yet the sex was not the thing; the story was the thing.
Into this situation comes a young actress that has experienced a small amount of success in stage productions, small film parts and commercials. Yet now her finances were exhausted to the point that she was living in her car and that was about to be repossessed. Together with her faithful cat as a companion, Valerie was making the rounds, following up every lead given her by her agent, and still finding that unless she agreed to sleep with the casting directors, her auditions were curiously lost. She almost didn't show up for the auditions at Midnight Interludes Studios. But the reality of her personal situation forced her to take a chance. She found out that Mr. Westwood never slept with potential employees but was a man who treated all the actors with respect and professionalism. What she hadn't anticipated was the electric reaction both she and Roland experienced the first time they shook hands.
This story is filled with a cast of characters that is as varied as Hollywood and as challenging as any group of human beings can be. When Roland found out about the repossession threat and the fact that Valerie was homeless, he immediately loaned her the funds to get her car out of hock, tried to find her weekend accommodations, and ended up taking her home to his San Bernardino mansion when not hotel rooms were to be found. His staff treated her with kindness and she found Roland to be a gentleman. He never expressed any inappropriate intentions toward her. Yet their attraction continued to grow and eventually they became lovers.
This story is really an inside look at the dynamics between people during the making of a film, the stresses that are an ever-present factor in keeping actors focused, film crews coordinated, support services in place and available as needed, and managing the personal issues that can often rupture a good shoot. The envy and mean-spirited words that were directed toward Valerie when her relationship with Roland became known were hurtful and threatened the future of the project. Valerie proved to be a balanced, mature young woman in her responses, in the way she handled her relationship with Roland and with the other actors, and her innate kindness and generosity even toward those who would do her harm personally and professionally. She ended up making some friends out of those who appeared to be her enemies initially.
The love story between Roland and Valerie is a warm and winsome one, filled with kindness, gentle caring, authentic respect and affection, and, of course, steamy sexual encounters. Yet it is delightful to watch this man, aged 46, who discovers love for the first time in his life, and who ultimately has to decide if the opinion of society about the 20 year difference in age will decide his future. As Roland's love keeps surrounding Valerie, she blossoms as a woman, and as Roland makes professional possibilities available to her, previously undiscovered talents are made evident such as Valerie's ability to sense the right actor for parts in an uncanny way. That she never demands any kudos because of her relationship with Roland is a testimony to the inner integrity that makes her who she is and makes it possible for Roland to come to trust her and their love for each other. This kind of trust is also a new experience for him. The reader watches him relax and allow himself some joy in his life perhaps at a whole new level.
I found this novel to be extremely interesting and one that had all the ingredients of a love story, an expose on the movie-making industry from one studio's point of reference, and a lesson on how to handle a room full of egos. Any one of these factors would make this a good book, but having all three definitely made this a very satisfying reading experience. And in the final analysis, this was a wonderful treasure to uncover amid all the new publications that are appearing daily. I give this book a 4 out of 5.