- Carina Press
- Release Date
- January 2020
- Book 5 of London Celebrities
Chick-lit, Contemporary Romance
He might be the sexiest man in London, according to his fan site (which he definitely writes himself), but he's also the most arrogant man she's ever met.
She might have the longest legs he's ever seen, but she also has the sharpest tongue.
For years, rival TV presenters Sabrina Carlton and Nick Davenport have traded barbs on their respective shows. The public can't get enough of their feud, but after Nick airs Sabrina's family scandals to all of Britain, the gloves are off. They can barely be in the same room together—but these longtime enemies are about to become the unlikeliest of cohosts.
With their reputations on the rocks, Sabrina and Nick have one last chance to save their careers. If they can resurrect a sinking morning show, they'll still have a future in television. But with ratings at an all-time low and a Christmas Eve deadline to win back the nation's favor, the clock is ticking—and someone on their staff doesn't want them to succeed.
Small mishaps on set start adding up, and Sabrina and Nick find themselves—quelle horreur—working together to hunt down the saboteur…and discovering they might have more in common than they thought. When a fiery encounter is caught on camera, the public is convinced that the reluctant cohosts are secretly lusting after one another.
The public might not be wrong.
Their chemistry has always been explosive, but with hate turning to love, the stakes are rising and everything is on the line. Neither is sure if they can trust these new feelings…or if they'll still have a job in the New Year.
Book Review by Pip (reviewer)
Jan 07, 2020 [ OFFICIAL REVIEW ]
77 people found the following review helpful
Nick Davenport and Sabrina Carlton are petty rivals on and off tv, but there's good cause for it…up until the point where both their careers are suddenly in jeopardy. A twist of events forces them to co-host the dreaded early-morning show which no one bothers with, since it's not quite the 'serious' stuff compared to what they used to do, and with the list of grievances sitting between them, neither's looking good at all. This status quo doesn't look like it's about to change, until mishap after mishap spring the comedy into the story and Nick/Sabrina find themselves in various compromising positions which make everyone else think that they are public enemies but secret shaggers.
I've never felt so rewarded by a Lucy Parker book as I have with HEADLINERS. (To be fair, I had a good feeling about it when I read the blurb and got started.) I can't entirely remember what transpired at the end of the last book even, but as a standalone, HEADLINERS functions perfectly legitimately. Characters from Ms. Parker's previous books who have already found their HEA do flit in and out however, and if you've not read the rest of the books, there's a bit of an insider-wink-wink sort of joke that you could miss out on.
Still, Ms. Parker crafts a holiday rom-com with so much panache and style and comedy--it's hilarious to read how one thing after another befalls the ill-fated couple as they wear out the enemies-to-lovers trope to the fullest. In the previous books, I'd always found a particular sort of imbalance when it came to quirk, dialogue and characterisation, but HEADLINERS seemed to have perfected these somehow: not too many quirks, snappy and funny dialogue and spot-on 'Love-Actually' type characters. Might be a bit of a bias here, but I'm voting this as Lucy Parker's crowning glory.
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BOOK INTERVIEW on April 2020
Enjoy this excerpt!
Nick leaned forward to speak to another of the students, and grinned at the teasing response.
At his side, Sabrina shivered violently again, and pressed--probably involuntarily--against his shoulder. She'd gone very quiet the past few minutes; she usually talked happily with guests on the show.
As the student finished abusing the opposition and reconcentrated his efforts on his oars, Nick glanced at Sabrina again. Her teeth had been chattering since they'd left the dock. The wind was picking up, and he moved, angling his body to try to shield her from the worst of its bite.
The boat juddered as the coxswain, a lanky teenager with messy brown hair and spots, called out encouragement to the crew and they shot forward. Sabrina put a hand down to grip the edge of her seat.
The active camera view switched back to a panning shot from the motorboat, and Nick saw her swallow hard. He suddenly realised how pale she was beneath her makeup.
"You all right?" He pitched his voice low, although with their mics lowered, he doubted they'd be heard over the lap of oars and creaking of wood and the constant shouts and cheers from the banks.
Her lips parted, then clamped together once more. More sharply, he said, "Sabrina."
"Motion sickness," she got out between her clenched teeth. "I don't do well in boats. Or the backseats of cars. Only okay in trains and planes." She took a few shallow breaths. "Which is lucky when 'Planes, Trains, and Automobiles' is the unofficial theme for this month."
This weekend, they were both flying to France for a night, for the wedding of a network colleague at a resort in the Alps. And at some point during this advent calendar joy, they were doing the Murder Train, which had switched up its usual dinner-theatre format for a special Christmas-themed whodunit and was running a one-off daytime excursion for charity.
"For charity" was the other unofficial theme of the month, which was both fantastic, for the causes receiving aid, and ensured that neither of them could balk at any activity without looking like a selfish dickhead. The more cynical atoms of Nick's brain couldn't help thinking Hania and Fenella had taken that into account.
In this case, however-- "Why didn't you say something when we got word about this?"
The boat crested, and she made an awkward movement on the wooden seat. He switched his mic to his right hand and reached out to grab her leg, steadying her.
"Good cause," she managed. She was staring at his fingers on her knee; he immediately removed his hand. "And I took a tablet. It just isn't working."
The water moved them in a rocking movement that made even him feel a bit nauseous; Sabrina put her hand over her mouth. She looked miserable--and understandably horrified, considering where they were if she did get sick.
"Can I try something on your arm?" he asked abruptly, and she frowned.
"I interviewed an acupuncturist once. She said you can naturally ward off motion sickness if you apply pressure to a certain point on the wrist. It could be bullshit."
Sabrina made a sceptical sound, but they had another close-up and more commentary coming any minute.
She flicked a look into his face, and moved her arm fractionally in his direction.
Keeping the movement subtle, his attention seemingly fixed on the finish line in the distance, Nick pressed his thumb under the heel of her palm, and rubbed a slow circle over her pulse.
Reflexively, her hand gave a tiny jolt against his leg.
"Is it helping?"
"Um. Maybe. A bit. Thanks." She sounded strained.
One side of the rowers suddenly got completely out of sync with the other and the boat took a sharp turn. This wasn't the serious business of the annual Boat Race. The kids were hamming it up for the cameras. Caught off guard, Sabrina jostled into him, and her hand slipped down, sliding against his. On pure instinct, their fingers linked.
Two seconds later, with the coxswain ordering everyone back into formation, they were back on a straight route, gliding across the water, and he and Sabrina were holding hands. For a frozen moment, Sabrina stared at their entwined fingers, before she lifted her gaze to his face.
They simultaneously remembered that they were sitting in front of a live camera, just as the wind caught at a student's lightweight novelty hat. Sabrina was already in the process of jolting away from Nick when the cardboard Viking horns smacked right into her cheek, almost getting her in the eye. She stumbled back and up, promptly caught her shoe on something, and tripped sideways towards the edge of the boat.
Nick lunged forward to grab her arm.
And, with quite a lot of momentum behind them, they both fell into the Thames.
Copyright Lucy Parker, Headliners, 2020