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Monday, April 12, 2010

Just Like Me, Only Better by Carol Snow

Just Like Me, Only Better by Carol Snow
Publisher: Berkley
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full (303 pages)
Heat: Sensual
Rating: 4.5 Books
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

Ever since Veronica's husband found the love of his life-not her-she's been a walking zombie with runny mascara. It doesn't help that she keeps getting mistaken for Haley Rush-the Hollywood starlet whose dazzling life is plastered on every magazine.

When Haley's manager offers Veronica a job as a celebrity double, it only takes a moment before she says yes. Veronica gets to drive Haley's car, wear her phenomenal clothes-and have fun with her hot celebrity boyfriend, Brady Ellis. Too bad the job's only part-time, and at the end of the day she has to return to her life as a cash-strapped substitute teacher and cub scout mom.

But when real sparks fly with Brady, is it a fantasy come true or a disaster in disguise?
This is the perfect book that answers the question of what it’s like living the Hollywood life while living your regular one at the same time. It’s hectic, demanding and nothing can prepare an everyday woman for the reality.

Veronica is the main character; a woman trying to make the best of her new status as a single mom after her husband left her for an older woman. Veronica is an ‘every woman’, someone I may have met or might meet as far as a lady trying to make ends meet while doing her best to provide for her son. The unique aspect of Veronica’s character is her uncanny resemblance to a Hollywood star. It’s the stepping stone into another stratosphere of living, on a big scale. Through it all, she never totally loses her sense of self. Sure she made a few mistakes -- she’s human and all the more relatable for it. She’s a breath of fresh air to the people she meets because although she looks like her famous doppelganger, inside she’s as honest as they come. The fun moments in the story come from when she forgets a little here and there about who she’s supposed to be. Then again, the same can be said for the not so great parts, when she gets carried away and disconnects with her common sense and people get hurt, including herself.

The people in question are varied. Ms. Snow has some very quirky secondary characters surrounding Veronica on her journey. Most don’t help her but either use her, hurt her or tolerate her. Oh wait, there is one I just adored and I want him to do my hair too. Anyway, the trick is figuring out who is going to do what and when. That’s the challenge – to make the reader wonder who is a true Hollywood fake and who can really be trusted. What I also found nice was Hank, the ex. I was all set to dislike him but that’s not what Ms. Snow wants. There’s some great dialogue during a scene which truly showed him to be a good man and I really felt bad for both of them. The thing is, these kinds of situations really happen. Not everyone can work out an amiable solution to their reality but it was sure nice seeing Veronica and Hank being able to and it allowed the plot to stay focused where it needed to be. It added just the right amount of emotional connection and sympathy to reach a reader.

Ms. Snow has this nice quirky first person POV delivery that kept me entertained. I liked Veronica’s voice and little sotto voce moments. I liked that she never lost sight of being a parent even among the chaos. Yes she was a woman who had needs but she was always a parent. I appreciated the respect shown that vocation.

This story doesn’t have a traditional happily ever after but it did lead me to believe that it’s there. After wading through all the chaff and distraction of the Hollywood types, there is that one person who stood out, who wasn’t a fake and very probably is the one for Veronica. Again, very much like a life personally lived, every person we meet and interact with leaves an indelible mark upon our psyche from which we learn and grow from. Veronica did a lot of growing in this book and ended up knowing exactly who she was and whom she wanted and I believe the ending is just the beginning. Just Like Me, Only Better is a delightful and engaging read with a voice rich in personality and charm. Well worth kicking back a couple of hours and reading it from cover to cover like I did.