Star Attraction by Vanessa Stubbs

In brief: Madison’s a serious reporter in need of a cover page worthy story. Interviewing movie star Jamie Hall is not what she’s about. But sparks fly and the initial interview sends both of them off track…

The good: Movie star drama and romance.

The not-so-good: A little slow to start for me.

Why I chose it: Looked fun, thanks to Penguin Australia and Net Galley for the eARC.

Year: 2013

Pages: 320

Publisher: Penguin Australia

Setting: Australia and USA

My rating: 7 out of 10

I’m a total sucker for Hollywood based stories (even though in reality, there’s no way I’d actually want to live that kind of life). Saying that, Star Attraction took me a couple of goes to get into and finish. The start is quite slow and not at all Hollywood glamour – it’s more of a chick lit feel as Madison, the heroine, is in a job that controls her life and she’s neglecting her friends to try to maintain an edge. We hear a bit about Jamie Hall, movie star extraordinaire and poster boy for The Rose Diaries, a series of films that sound like they have a huge following of girls/women. As the story establishes Madison’s despair at work and the distance she’s putting between her friendships, it’s not exactly happy reading.

As Jamie Hall comes into the same orbit as Madison, things pick up. He’s the all-round good guy, looking for somewhere to be himself without the movie star trappings. We start to get an inkling that things aren’t happy in what should be Jamie’s perfect world – his manager is a tyrant who controls his life and one hotel suite is just the same as the others. After a disastrous interview with Madison (who prides herself on her news abilities, not the gossip pages), the pair run into each other in an unexpected place and Madison’s scoop – the one that will see her by-line around the world – is found. The problem? She’s starting to fall for Jamie. After the pair are ‘papped’ (photo taken by the paparazzi) at a party, Madison herself is hot property. She doesn’t want the world to know about Jamie’s secrets – she wants him. But her editor is determined to run her story…will Jamie forgive her? Will Madison get her act together?

I think the reason why I didn’t like this book more is because of Madison. She’s not much fun and it takes her a long time – after she’s lost everything – to reassess what’s important in her life. Part of the reason why she’s not that exciting is that she’s very single minded towards her job at the exclusion of nearly everything else. I think I would have liked her more if she’d had an odd quirk that made her more human (e.g. she collects Lego minifigures, she writes One Direction fanfic …). I liked one of her friends, Lucy, much better. Lucy has a minor subplot about her mind-numbing work at a call centre and her unlikely love. I found her story much more real, even down to her Jamie Hall scrapbooks. Lucy was much more feeling and upfront that Madison. Madison’s other good friend, Sabine, sounded promising – she’s a beauty editor (cool), French (exotic) and has a photographer boyfriend (interesting). Unfortunately she didn’t get a lot of page time or a subplot, but I just know if she did, it would be fascinating.

Jamie is a very likeable character, being Mr Movie Star. He’s also not perfect, which makes him vulnerable, especially when he’s being manipulated by his manager. But for most of the book I found him too soft – agreeing when he hated the idea of something and only occasionally sticking to his guns. He does redeem himself later in a big way, so he’s forgiven. Plus, the ending is different, but lovely.

I wouldn’t rate this as my favourite Hollywood star/average girl book, but there are some solid moments that show Stubbs’ promise.

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