Title: Jenna and Jonah's Fauxmance
Authors: Emily Franklin and Brendan Halpin
Publisher: Walker Books
Other Reviews for These Authors: The Half Life of Planets
Half-Life was a funny and cute romance from this author duo, and when I got an offer to participate in a blog tour for Jenna and Jonah's Fauxmance, I was eager to pick it up and see how the authors had taken this subject. I love looking into the lives of someone in Hollywood, be it in a gossipy way like Hollywood Wives or a more realistic way like Jen Calonita's books, so this seemed to be made of win for me. The ending was rough, but overall it's a great example of how I am one of the strange readers that can enjoy a good protagonist(s) that I dislike on sight given the right circumstances.
Jenna and Jonah are two super in love teenagers on a hit television show from the good old Family Network. Charlie Tracker and Fielding Withers play these two puppy-love centered teen pop singers, and they can't escape their television personae. They date for the cameras and reporters. Every bulb flash is of them smooching or talking intimately or giving gifts. It looks like the picture-perfect, young love romance. What the reporters and fans of the show don't realize is that the romance is completely and totally fake off-screen.
Charlie and Fielding don't even like each other. If it were up to them, the romance wouldn't even be going on. Charlie's been acting since she was really young, and to her it's about staying emancipated from her money-grubbing parents and keeping up her career. For Fielding, it's about trying to find himself, writing the Great American Novel, and getting past this part of his life. You can only play the same character on a tween t.v. show before things get old. He even has to hang out with a group of guys for 'guy time' to look balanced - even though two of the guys are closeted stars that are reputed to be playboys in their tabloid lives. For once, Fielding would like a life of his own.
Things for the star-studded duo quickly blow out of proportion, however, when photos of the two closeted love birds leak, implying that Fielding is also gay. Which means that the media finally realizes that Charlie and Fielding aren't really in love. A frenzy ensues, and the two have to lay low in a secluded property Fielding owns outside Hollywood. It's pretty obvious that their show won't be picked up for another season - especially since the Family Network was already iffy on its continuation to begin with. What can Charlie and Fielding do now that their futures are open books? And is it possible that, once the cameras and stage lighting goes away, they could like each other?
As it seems, the past week has been a slow one for me, but many of the books have had several similarities. Mainly - a character that is purposefully unlikable. In this case, two characters that are unlikable. Charlie is the female of the duo, written by Emily Franklin. She's concerned about her fame and the placement it has in her life as her only real way to have an income. Her attitude is portrayed in two different ways. To herself, she's struggling to keep things from going to shit in her acting life and dealing with Fielding, who has such an ego that he can barely move his big head. From Fielding's perspective, she's so focused on keeping her fame and stardom that she doesn't consider the other people around her. She's annoying from one perspective, sympathetic from the other. It provides an interesting juxtaposition that makes the reader see how easily one ignores their faults and actions. Charlie's humor is pretty spot on, and I like that she eventually learns to get over herself. The great thing about reading a book like this is that there's a payoff with the character development that you can see. She changes and grows and makes the reading experience pretty snarky and angsty, which I tend to like.
Fielding Withers, written by Brendan Halpin, is the second protagonist and love interest of the story. He's written differently from Charlie (obviously) and has a different kind of self-centered approach based on his fame. He's a good guy - much like Charlie is a good person herself - but lacks the ability to realize that he doesn't come across the way he thinks he does. He reads books and is more intelligent than most people would give him for, and he hangs out with people totally different from him (and doesn't judge them, either, which is awesome). He can get annoying in Charlie's eyes, though, because he tends to overboast and bullshit himself. His moments of the book were probably my favorite, as Fielding thinks more than Charlie about his fame and why he likes it (or doesn't). The moments with him and his parents post-scandal are so hilarious, too. He has some angst with them that doesn't get resolved (which annoyed me), but the humor with them is awesome. I LOLed at a distinct conversation where his father thought he was gay (even though he wasn't) and tried to tell his lovable son Fielding that 'guys can be jerks'. Major points for that.
Where the book succeeds and has major troubles is the writing. These characters are hilarious and grab your attention, and the world of acting is pictured pretty accurately and with enough snark to enjoy it as an actor and someone on the outside of Hollywood. I also appreciated that they made up a show/network and still mentioned Disney and stuff. That blend makes it seem less cheesy because it's not like the network being made up is just a stab at the company - which is never funny because it feels like a cop-out for not wanting to make it angry. The writers know how to work some good characters that work together yet have their own issues, and are kind of like Brad Barkley and Heather Hepler (Dream Factory and Scrambled Eggs at Midnight - both funny and cute romantic he said/she said reads) but with a better eye for humor. Their endings, however, need work. For Half-Life I could enjoy the over-the-top act of lurve because it felt more justified, but in Jenna and Jonah's Fauxmance the last 10-20 pages are rushed and don't involve the protagonists having the revelation they need to really show their affections for each other. Plus they reveal their love in such a cliche way that doesn't really give the story a good 'oomph' ending. While it could be considered a commentary and play on the cheese the characters performed as actors (they did it for fake, then they end up doing it for real) but it just didn't have quite the feel to pull that off.
My problems with the ending considered, this is a book I still want to keep on my shelf and read again. Halpin and Franklin make an adorable writing duo that know how to make a read that, for me, shares a lot of humor and heart with protagonists of all types. In Half-Life it was more of a problem romance, and in this one it's more of a bitch romance. Love both types, and love that the authors can get in the minds of different characters so easily. The writing is great except for the ending, and the characters are good unless you cannot stand characters that are intentionally unlikable. I can't wait to see what these two cook up next, and I hope that they spice up their ending to make it one that will so be hit out of the park. Jenna and Jonah's Fauxmance is a romp from Hollywood to a small Shakespeare festival that will give readers a good chuckle and something to think about concerning self image.
Cover: Love the pink and the heart. It's a nicely done cover but could have been more gender neutral (although it is a romance so it's not like the male demographic would be the main purchasers).
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Copy: Received from Bloomsbury for a blog tour. (Thank you Kate from Bloomsbury - you rock!)