When I approached hybrid author Tina Reber for our interview a couple of weeks ago at an event in the Simon&Schuster offices, she took one look at my camera and called out, “No paparazzi!” I was confused, until I read her once-self-published romance, Love Unscripted. Her title, which was picked up and re-released by Atria Books, presents a very intriguing look at what could happen if one of the A-lister celebrities whom we fawn over in the tabloids were to actually fall in love with…a normal person.
Taryn Mitchell lives a comfortable life, running her third generation family-owned bar and getting by with her few close friends. A string of failed relationships, culminating in recently breaking off her engagement to a womanizer, has left her solidly single and not eager to step back out on the dating scene anytime soon. When her small Rhode Island town is turned upside down by the filming of a blockbuster movie, she finds herself on one quiet afternoon harboring a fugitive: the film’s heartthrob leading man, Ryan Christiansen, who arrives with his shirt nearly torn off by the crazed throngs of screaming admirers who camp outside her door to get him. Her one act of kindness grows into something more, until she finally finds herself on the wrong end of the paparazzi’s lenses and the victim of hatred from the obsessed fans who would kill to take her place.
Reber’s work, which is already followed by Love Unrehearsed and the upcoming final installment, Love Ungrounded, is at times both refreshingly new and infuriatingly predictable. While the story line is fresh and takes readers on a behind-the-scenes look at the carefully scripted personal lives of the celebrities we think we know, at times Reber’s heroine is so excruciatingly insecure and emotionally damsel-in-distress that it’s easy to believe Ryan should cut his losses and run. Where are the romance novels for women readers who aren’t emotionally insecure and completely lacking in any self-confidence?
Overall, Love Unscripted and its companion titles are no dimestore “beach reads” to be skimmed through in an afternoon and tossed aside. The depth of character development and intricacies in all of the relationships in the series means Reber’s fans will be obsessing over Ryan and Taryn for the foreseeable future.