Review: How to Fake it in Hollywood by Ava Wilder


Title: How to Fake It in Hollywood
Author: Ava Wilder
Publication Date: 14 June 2022
Genres: Celebrity romance, fake dating, addiction

Author's links: Website / Twitter 

My rating: 5 Stars


Grey Brooks is on a mission to keep her career afloat now that the end of her long-running teen soap has her (unsuccessfully) pounding the pavement again. With a life-changing role on the line, she's finally desperate enough to agree to her publicist's scheme... faking a love affair with a disgraced Hollywood heartthrob who needs the publicity, but for very different reasons.

Ethan Atkins just wants to be left alone. Between his high-profile divorce, his struggles with drinking, and his grief over the death of his longtime creative partner and best friend, he's slowly let himself fade into the background. But if he ever wants to produce the last movie he and his partner wrote together, Ethan needs to clean up his reputation and step back into the spotlight. A gossip-inducing affair with a gorgeous actress might be just the ticket, even if it's the last thing he wants to do.

Though their juicy public relationship is less than perfect behind the scenes, it doesn't take long before Grey and Ethan's sizzling chemistry starts to feel like more than just an act. But after decades in a ruthless industry that requires bulletproof emotional armor to survive, are they too used to faking it to open themselves up to the real thing?


I read this on the recommendation of a friend whose taste in romance I trust and I was not disappointed. This is exactly the kind of contemporary romance I love - character focused, angsty, serious, I would say even dark at times, with a touch of humour and the promise of love and happiness in the end.

Celebrity romances are not something I naturally gravitate too. Too often they just are too cutesy, glammed up versions of real life, exploring rich people's problems and I am not very interested in reading those stories.

This one was about rich people and their problems but was also deeply human and made it super relatable for me. Yes, we get actors (Ethan is highly successful Oscar-winner, every girl's dream man in a downward spiral of addiction and depression, Grey - child/teen actress in her 20s still trying to make it big) in a fake relationship for publicity purposes but it's from here that things start getting interesting.

They inevitably fall for each other and discover there is more to the other person than their public persona. But with Ethan things are much darker than anyone wants to admit, not even Grey.

The second half of the story explores in depth their messy emotions while trying to have a real relationship. I loved both Grey and Ethan, we see things from her perspective most of the time, but I also fell for Ethan. I felt deeply about for both of them - his fear of messing things up, his conviction he is not good enough, her desire to be enough, to be seen and loved.

Ethan read very much a sad man romance hero but he felt real to me at the same time with his anxiety and depression and grief and desperate desire to be good enough for Grey, his ex wife and children and failing again and again. His spiral into addition and depression is very raw and hit me right in the feels. this is not one of those love cures all romances. they MCs need to admit their issues to themselves and to want to get better and until get the professional help they need.

There were wonderful moments of tenderness in their relationship but also a lot of volatile emotions and him acting out. His issues with addiction were handled sensitively in my opinion.

I appreciate how real Grey and Ethan's journey towards a healthy, happy relationship felt. There were no easy solutions, each making a gesture to the other one, finding a new path that works for them both.

Another element that stood out to me was their rich background, a story with lots of texture - friends, agents, publicists. I felt really immersed in their world. We get glimpses both of the bright and dark sides of celebrity life - the loss of any privacy but also fame that makes lots of dreams possible (from financial, professional point of view).

I absolutely loved this book, such a great debut and I am excited to read more books by this author.

CW; addition, depression, alcoholism, grief, strained family relations, revenge porn (of sorts)

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