Samantha Cathner knows all too well that it’s not so simple to be young and in love. Peter Everoad was her one true love, but he left her for a playwright’s career on Broadway. Now he’s back and he’s brought his new play with him to the Pasadena Playhouse.
Sam has moved on with her life, or has she? As assistant creative director at the Playhouse, she must work directly with Peter and she soon discovers that the characters in Peter’s play bear a close and uncomfortable resemblance to Sam, Peter and their close friends and family.
The sparks are still there and Sam wrestles with this undeniable attraction and her anger with Peter for leaving four years earlier, just as their romance was taking off. But Peter’s story is much more complicated than a guy fleeing when things get too involved. Pasadena represents good and bad memories for Peter. Now that he’s back, he’s forced to confront the painful reminders of his father’s suicide, including a mother who can’t make it to lunchtime without a drink.
I enjoyed reading this smart romance about the trials and angst that young professionals endure as they navigate love’s rocky road. It’s a great look at young lives when everything is on the brink of happening. The reader can see where things should head, but the characters struggle to find their way.
Ewens’ characters move within Pasadena’s privileged class and it is fun to jump into a world where money is no object. But Sam is not a princess. She is strong-willed and career-driven, like her grandmother, who is portrayed in Ewens’ first book, Catalina Kiss.
The story moves along at a nice pace with lots of romantic tension and fun, intelligent conversation. Ewens has a good feel for what it’s like to be a twenty-something young professional, with equal parts of romantic drama and serious personal conflict.
Suspense carries the reader through to the play’s opening night. With his personal life unsettled, Peter has struggled to write a satisfying ending, which he’s kept secret to all. As she sits in the audience, Sam shakes with nervous anticipation and can hardly watch as Peter’s final and unconventional scene draws her into its conclusion.
Premiere is an enjoyable romance, with the bonus of interesting and uncomplicated descriptions of behind-the-scenes drama production. The attraction between Sam and Peter is well-presented, with realistic dialogue and conflict. In addition, Ewens has managed to write love scenes that are nice and spicy, but not over-the-top, which gives the story class and separates it from popular bodice-ripping tales. I think the strongest scenes are between Sam and Peter in New York. It’s what the reader sees as an ultimate coming-together, but with more pages ahead, there’s a lot to figure out. But my favorite scene is towards the end between Peter and his mother, one of those conversations that has taken years to happen and is satisfying to witness.
Ewens also raises the important question of where writers get their material. Peter’s best writing comes from his own experiences, which he puts on stage for all to see, a catharsis for him, but a writer’s dilemma as well. Is it right to include these painful and personal experiences, at the expense of family, friends and, especially Sam?
Premiere is a seemingly simple story with more complicated layers and is best described by one of my favorite quotes from the book, “If only life were as simple as a good-looking guy and a great dress.” So true, but the complicated parts are just as entertaining!
I received an ARC to review Premiere, which will be released on October 27.
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