Review: Work in Progress by Staci Hart

Posted August 15, 2019 by Kate

Review: Work in Progress by Staci HartCheck out on Goodreads | Buy on Amazon
Genres: Adult, Contemporary Romance
Series: The Red Lipstick Coalition #3
Publisher: Independently Published
Source: Kindle Unlimited

An alternative cover edition for this ISBN can be found here.
I never thought my first kiss would be on my wedding day.
But here I stand, clutching a bouquet of pale pink roses behind the doors of a Las Vegas chapel, and at the end of the aisle is the absolute last man I imagined would be waiting for me.
Thomas Bane.
Bestselling author. Notorious bad boy. Savagely handsome, dark as sin, chiseled as stone. And somehow, my soon-to-be husband.
Marry him, and I’ll land my dream job. Save him, and I’ll walk away with everything I’ve ever wanted. All I have to do is remember it’s all for show. None of it is real, no matter how real it feels.
But first, I have to survive the kiss.
And with lips like his, I don’t stand a chance.

I should note that this is my second read-through of this book, and I picked it up in order to take a break from Priory of the Orange Tree during the Book Junkie Trials. I picked to reread this one because I really enjoyed my first read-through of this book, and it was just the kind of light-hearted, enjoyable read that I needed as a break from the intensity of Priory. I was also able to use Work in Progress towards the Crimson Peaks challenge, which is to reread a favorite. Now I wouldn’t say that Work in Progress is a huge favorite of mine, but I am very affectionate towards it.

Work in Progress follows Amelia Hall, a book blogger who wants to be a book editor/publisher, and Thomas Bane, a writer who can’t seem to write. Amelia hates his books – or so the world thinks, based on her scathing reviews – but truth is, she loves his writing and world-building and hates his characters.

When he gives her an offer she can’t refuse to get him out of his rut and help him write a book, she accepts. This is despite the fact that she’s a timid, shy flower who can’t even go grocery shopping she’s so anxiously shy. But when their little business arrangement turns into a Marriage of Convenience to save his public image… sPaRkS iGnItE.

This second read was a little more illuminating than I was anticipating. The first time, I read this book in one sitting and just enjoyed the adorable whimsicality it had. But I was definitely a little more pessimistic – or maybe just down-to-earth – during this read. I initially loved it so much because of Amelia, who is everything I want to be. She loves books, is cute and quirky with high morals and a strong backbone when it comes to those ethics and her opinions, and she wants the same job I do! But this book does require a high suspension of reality, because it’s pretty unbelievable. As in, basically it would never happen in reality, for a variety of reasons. 

Not to mention it carries several tropes that I adore:

  • Marriage of convenience – what can I say? It’s an overdone one, and the plot around this one is pretty unbelievable in reality, but I do enjoy a good marriage of convenience. There’s something about the suppressed feelings, the living together, the farce slowly becoming real… it’s addicting and I love it!
  • Friends-to-lovers – this is similar because when two lovers start out as friends, there’s usually a slow-burn involved in there. Or unrequited love! You know I love my characters to suffer *devilish look* Insta-love is a hard pass for me in 90% of cases, so when they are friends first, forging a real connection that leads to intimacy, that’s a huge turn-on for me in my books.
  • The shy female – I feel like I might get some flack for this, but hey. I also love a strong, independent character, too! But done right, I love a shy mouse of a human that becomes a strong character in the right situations. When you get to see a character blossom across the page, it’s truly special and I connect and relate to it all. Plus I do love to see the doting, yet over-protective male that often accompanies this heroine. 
  • Bad Boy Hero – While Thomas Bane was a doting and over-protective lover, he was also a typical bad boy. Amelia is elected into the marriage of convenience because Tommy can’t keep his fists to himself during intense situations, and chooses physical altercations over any other method of resolving an issue. This was a bit of a tough issue for me to swallow because he did have a bit of a *brawling problem*, but he gave absolutely no other indication of being a violent person. He was such a ~charming~ and ~charismatic~ character, I’d have thought that he’d silver-tongue his way out of issues. But alas, we needed conflict. 
  • Writers! Readers! Bloggers! – This one probably doesn’t need explaining. As a book blogger, I love to read about bloggers. As a reader, I love a character who is as attracted to books as I am. And I may not be a writer, but with writing comes books! It’s the circle of life….

But this book does require a high suspension of reality because it’s pretty unbelievable. As in, basically it would never happen in reality, for a variety of reasons.

  1. First of all, there are the muscles. Tommy is described as having ropey thighs, muscles on muscles, and huge biceps with tight abs and a very defined V. In fact, I believe Amelia and Ms. Hart waxed poetic about his V for at least a full-page, probably three in total over the whole course of the book. Yet, Tommy described for us a full schedule of their day while Amelia and Tommy were “married,” and the man never worked out. He did once during the book, where his brother made a wisecrack about it being nice to see him at all, let alone working out, so we know it’s not often. Where can I find me a man that just grows spontaneous muscles with hardly any maintenance? In fact, where can I get that recipe for myself? Asking for a friend …
  2. Second, I got suuuper tired of Amelia’s “inexperience” being used as a balmy excuse for her every mistake. I highly doubt that her having a prior boyfriend would have changed her reaction to damning evidence she was being cheated on, among other things. Yes, she was experienced, but she wasn’t a little girl. She was a woman with logic and emotions who is entitled to react how she wants without them being chalked up as “silly” and “because she didn’t know any better.” She’s a goddamn woman, not a three-year-old toddler. Not that it happened often, maybe two times, but it happened in quick succession and pissed me off. Let the woman own her decisions!
  3. Third, no author has the celebrity status that Tommy did, unless it’s JK Rowling. He had fake girlfriends, he changed his last name, got rid of his Bronx accent, his mother changed her name, he couldn’t eat out without getting clamored and photos were taken, paparazzi followed him on every move he made outside his house, even his daily walks, and even broke into his home if he stayed in there too long! Really? What kind of author do you know that lives like this? He was a popular author, but by no means was he quite to the status of JK Rowling. Even Sarah J. Maas can leave her house and carry on with her life!

So the whole fact that he had to engage in a marriage of convenience to cover up bad publicity so the publishers wouldn’t fire him just seemed improbable. Authors, feel free to correct me in the comments below, but I don’t think I’m wrong about this. He even had an Instagram about his hair! With the level of publicity he got, you’d think he was a Kardashian :(

I know I just spent a while on three things that really bothered me throughout the novel, but I did enjoy it. As I said, this book does require a suspension of reality. Once you let that go and just sit back and let the story take you, it’s a fun, entertaining read that I do recommend. It has flaws, but I still love the book evermore for it, not just in spite of them. Like I mentioned earlier, it’s a very sentimental, adorable, whimsical romance that’s centered in reality but often plays outside of those bounds. A worthwhile read, but don’t expect it to mirror real life! 

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Are you participating in the Book Junkie Trials this month? What’s the last book you read that took place on the sea? Let me know in the comments below, I’d love to hear from you!

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