Act Like You Love Me by Cindi Madsen (Book two of the Accidentally in Love series)

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Title: Act Like You Love Me
Author: Cindi Madsen
Series: Accidentally in Love
Genre: Contemporary
Published: 2013
Rating: 3 stars

Brynn McAdams had a rough time of it in high school, and has never gotten over that fact. Two events in particular have stuck with her through the years, bringing her fresh pain whenever she remembers them: accidentally flashing the entire school during a dress rehearsal (this earned her the nickame McFlasher) and getting turned down for the prom by her crush, high school superstar Sawyer Raines. Time has passed, though, and she’s more poised, more confident, and a pretty good actress. Or is she?

Sawyer Raines has returned to his hometown temporarily, to help out his mother by fixing up his late father’s lake cottage and his aunt by directing the community play that she’s the costume director for. He’s a screenwriter, and has had some success in Hollywood–though a very bad experience with an ex has made him leery of relationships with actresses.

Sawyer doesn’t recognize Brynn at all when he first sees her starring in the production of The Importance of Being Earnest, though she knows who he is immediately, and lets her old resentment of him show. Sawyer can’t understand her attitude, yet finds himself drawn to her looks and acting ability. Brynn makes the decision not to tell him who she really is (she doesn’t use a fake name or anything, just lets him believe that she’s been living in LA that she hadn’t grown up in the same small town he did) and that “acting” like she’s in a relationship with him would help her get ready for the real thing eventually–she’s had some problems in the past with relationships. Add to that her older brother’s advice of NOT being herself to get a guy, and Brynn’s plan of attack is starting to look like a bad idea all around.

This book had some cute moments–in particular, I loved the scene where Brynn and Sawyer “meet” for the first time (he thinks–of course it’s meet again, in reality)–and Brynn’s web of lies results in some funny situations. As a whole, though, I just couldn’t really connect with the two main characters. They spent way too much time inside their heads, and what was going on in there didn’t always make sense, at least not to this reader. Brynn’s refusal to get over her high school years in particular began to drive me crazy. More than once in the novel her assumptions about her past were proved wrong, yet she continued to cling to them. Even when given a darn good reason for Sawyer’s “rejection” of her in high school, she still felt angry about it. It was frustrating. Sawyer too was a little over-the-top with his anti-actress stance, though he at least was more willing to put aside his preconceived notions in favor of the possibility of a different reality than Brynn was. Living in a small town myself, it also seemed odd to me that Brynn’s and Sawyer’s mothers could know each other well yet not realize that their children had gone to high school together. How had that never come up?

Cindi Madsen is a new-to-me author, and while this book didn’t quite do it for me, her writing intrigued me enough that I’m definitely willing to give another of her books a try in the hopes that it was just this particular heroine’s story. The first book in the series, Falling for her Fiance, sounds cute (plus, I really do like the friends-to-lovers troupe), as does the next, Cinderella Screwed Me Over (with that title it has to be entertaining, right?).

In a nutshell: this story has an interesting premise and some cute moments, but the characters fell flat for me. Three stars for the ideas, if not their execution.

(I was given a copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)

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