REVIEW: On the Same Page by Penelope Janu

In brief: Miles Franklin is a lawyer by day, and successful historical romance author by night. But when her alter ego wins a prestigious literary award, the publisher wants to meet the author. That’s not going to happen.

The good: A great idea for a story!

The not-so-good: Not quite as polished as the author’s other novels.

Why I chose it: Enjoy Penelope Janu’s novels, thanks to the author for the ARC.

Year: 2018

Pages: 360 (ARC)

Publisher: XO Romance (Brio Books)

Setting: Sydney, Australia

Rating: 8.5 out of 10

I love books about books and authors. Secret authors are even better. And of course, I enjoy romance. So it was a no brainer that the plot of On the Same Page would be my catnip. I wasn’t expecting such a fun story, complete with secret fake carriage trysts and pole dancing classes! For me, On the Same Page is a romantic comedy that is pure delight. It would be a great read for the busy holiday season or for relaxing post-festivities.

The story is about Miles Franklin (yes, named for the Australian author). Despite her prestigious literary parents, Miles is a lawyer who has an embarrassing blushing issue and is quite sensitive. Her parents show their disappointment in her frequently, so it’s no wonder she’s a bit of a mess. Her business as a lawyer isn’t going fantastically, but she has a lot of great author clients. The most famous one is Emma Browning, who has taken the historical romance genre by storm. Miles does all of Emma’s correspondence happily, because Miles is Emma. She loves writing, but she knows that her parents find the genre distasteful so she keeps it secret. She suspects that her PA Pippy knows and best friend Jack helps to act out the more technical details. Then Emma wins one of the biggest awards for literature in Australia and the fun starts. Pippy entered Emma secretly, but now there are contractual obligations to fill. Miles is determined not to carry them out, but CEO of the sponsor and publisher Lars is determined to seek out Emma and make her comply.

This is where the fun begins as Miles and Lars dance around each other and the attraction grows. Miles’ demands as Emma become more grandiose with hilarious results. But Lars is well versed in dealing with difficult authors/their representatives and he’s prepared to wait…for a little while anyway. Add in the pole dancing class Miles joins to help her research how to climb a drain pipe, trying to get Jack’s ex back and a young girl called Crystal and it is madcap fun. But there are some intense and very sweet moments as Lars tries to woo Miles in various ways. I thoroughly enjoyed this battle of wits and hearts.

Miles was a great character, and adding Emma to the mix made her more fascinating. Miles is shy and lacks confidence (no wonder, because her parents are truly awful). Miles admits that Emma is happier and friendlier than her. Emma is what Miles would like to be and as the story continues, she gains some of that confidence. Sometimes Miles’ constant aversion to being ‘outed’ as Emma got me a little annoyed with her. Surely she knew that the same techniques would wear thin? Lars combines the grumpy CEO/personal enigma character well, showing off a caring side and a helplessness when it comes to Miles. Minor characters such as Crystal (tough kid who needs guidance) and Grandma Myrtle (foster mother and romance devotee) add a light-heartedness to the narrative. I would have liked to know more about Pippy, friend and PA of Miles. She has an interesting background and proved herself to be more than savvy in promotion of Emma! Likewise Adam (personal trainer and wannabe love interest for Miles) was a bit confusing to me. I wasn’t overly certain of his role in the story – I felt it could have been used equally as well by Jack (without the romance).

While I found this story a little less polished than In at the Deep End and On the Right Track, it’s still a gem. Penelope Janu isn’t afraid to twist the conventional ideas of heroines, heroes and plots and make them super compelling.

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