Review – Love in the Afternoon by Alison Packard

packard_loveaft_final.inddPublisher: Carina Press
Publish Date: Out today
How I got this book: NetGalley

Kayla Maxwell is eager to shed her slasher-flick bimbo image—and she plans to do just that in her new role on daytime’s most popular soap. With a chance to showcase her dramatic range, Kayla will be able to wash away the lingering betrayal and public humiliation left by her controlling, philandering ex-boyfriend.

Sean Barrett, the son of an influential, award-winning actor, is the hottest soap star in the country. Paired on-screen with the talented and beautiful Kayla Maxwell, Sean is determined to keep her at arm’s length, burned before by fame-seeking actresses who had no qualms about using him to get to his famous father.

But when Kayla receives threatening letters, her past as a scream queen seems to be coming back to haunt her. Succumbing to an attraction neither one of them can deny, Sean and Kayla must face down her stalker and their own personal demons before trusting what they both feel—a love that lasts long after the cameras stop rolling.

*Blurb from Goodreads*

Kayla is hoping that her new role on daytime’s hottest soap opera will help her expand her acting portfolio and give her a chance to be taken a bit more seriously. When she finds out she might be partnered with Sean, only the hottest man in daytime TV and the best actor on the show, she is alternately scared, nervous and excited for the opportunity. Her only wish is that she could get control over her hormones before she and Sean have to get hot and heavy.

Sean loves his job as the hottest man on daytime TV, and his role is one he’s become comfortable with. But that’s about the only thing right in his life – his relationship with his father is strained at best and he is scared to trust any woman after getting burned by them over and over again. Being paired with Kayla on set is something he never wanted, yet after only one scene together he’s drawn to her. When Sean finds out about the threatening letters Kayla’s been receiving, his protective instincts roar to the surface and Sean finds himself sucked into a life he never imagined he wanted.

I think that this may be my favorite debut novel of 2012! There was so much to enjoy with this story, and I was immediately sucked in by sweet and caring Kayla was. I stayed up until 2 am finishing this book, and couldn’t put it down. I can’t even recommend this book enough for fans of contemporary romance. Anyone who likes Jill Shalvis, Carly Phillips, Susan Mallery or Victoria Dahl will probably fall in love with this book as much as I did!!

I adored Kayla. She was so sweet and honest and caring and loving and genuine. She came across as almost too perfect at times, but there was enough vulnerability to her as well that she also seemed to be the kind of woman I would want to be friends with.  I could somewhat understand why she didn’t take the threatening letters more seriously at first, and was glad to see that once her friends pointed out how stupid she was for ignoring them, she didn’t do the typical TSTL heroine thing and ignore it all even more.

Sean was one of those heroes that I had a bit of a love-hate relationship with. I wanted to smack him upside the head for judging Kayla before getting to know her. Then once he did and started falling head over heels he became such a real character and person to me that I started to fall for him along with Kayla. But then he had to go and be a stubborn dick about his father, and he went right back to being a bit of a douche-canoe. However, I really thought he did a damn good job of redeeming himself in the end, and the way he went about winning back Kayla was super sweet.

I think the thing I adored the most about this book was the romance between Sean and Kayla. Not only were they both hesitant to get involved personally, but they also had to go along with their soap and their characters involvement on-screen. The fact that Sean fought with the show for a slow buildup in romance on-screen just added to the sexual chemistry they had both in front of the camera and off. Watching them get to know one another both as their characters as well as themselves just added to the intensity of their relationship – it gave their relationship and romance so much more.

I thought the stalker plot was fairly solid. It wasn’t a super intense suspense plot with lots of twists and turns, but it worked well within the story. I was pretty sure I knew who the bad guy would end up being, and while I wasn’t surprised on one front, I was a bit on another. So I count that as being a well done story line by Packard.

All in all I think Packard has become a new favorite contemporary romance author for me. If she can write another set of incredible hero and heroine as well and secondary characters that keep the book engaging and moving, I’ll forever be a fan. I loved the romance and the sexual tension between Sean and Kayla and hope that we can get to see more from this world that Packard has created. Like I said before, I think that this book is probably my favorite debut novel of 2012.
I give Love in the Afternoon an A.

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