When the Lights Go Down by Amy Jo Cousins

When the Lights Go DownWhy I read it:  I received a review copy from the author. It’s part of the Harlequin E Contemporary Boxset Volume 3.

What it’s about: (from Goodreads)  Opposites attract, but then what?

Maxie Tyler is Chicago’s toughest stage manager. Her latest gig is just the break she needs, and she’s not going to let anyone get in her way. Not even the producer with dreamy blue eyes and bespoke suits that fit him perfectly in all the right places.

A successful venture capitalist, Nick Drake is used to calling the shots. He doesn’t care about art unless it turns a profit. This show might prove to be a good investment, but he’s not sure if Maxie Tyler will. Her need to control every detail of the show makes him nervous. So does the fact that they can’t seem to keep their hands off each other.

Scandal and disaster threaten her career, his reputation, and the success of the play. Two people accustomed to being in control will have to trust each other if the show will, indeed, go on. And they’ll have to trust their feelings if their passion is going to last after the last curtain goes down and the lights go up.

What worked for me (and what didn’t):  I was waffling a bit with what to read next – my reading mood was undefined and that never helps anyone.  So I started a couple books, just read the first page or so to see whether it might be “the one” for that day.  When I opened When The Lights Go Down, I found myself swiping to the next page and the next and so on until I realised I was 30 pages in. Given I was feeling kind of “meh” and had an Outlander Wedding hangover (this review has been in the queue for a while), that was a substantial feat.

My interest did fade in the middle of the book but honestly I think that was more to do with me and my mercurial reading mood than the book itself.  I haven’t read any of the earlier Tyler books and perhaps if I had, I would have cared a little more about the babies Maxie’s sisters were having – that is exactly the sort of think I do like in series when I know the characters.  Here, I was far more interested in Nick and Maxie.  Their interactions sizzled – anytime they were in the same room together (or even on the phone together) their chemistry sparked off the page.

Maxie is very defensive and wanted to do all the things for herself. That’s a noble goal but I don’t think it’s a sign of weakness or incompetence to be able to accept help from others.  At the same time, I didn’t think Nick had made his own needs all that clear either.  He wants to be needed by Maxie; she doesn’t want to need anybody. So, in terms of the relationship, I felt that there were a few conversations missing along the way.  I felt like I knew things only because I’d spent time in each of the characters’ heads, rather than because the other person knew them.  (That made more sense in my head).

What else? The sex was super hot and a lot dirtier than I was expecting.  That’s not a complaint by the way.  I will admit that the phone sex got my heart rate up – Nick is very good at the dirty talk.

I thought the ending was abrupt and a lot of time was telescoped in there. I felt a little lost.  While I laughed (a little embarrassedly but still, it was a laugh) at Nick’s “grand gesture” I was wondering how he knew that’s what it would take.

I thought the Romeo and Juliet with guns subplot was a little over the top but I suppose it could happen – I hear theatre people can be outrageous. I did like the somewhat unusual (for me anyway) theatre setting and I felt like the author had some authentic insight into what it takes to put on a play.

There was a lot to like in When the Lights Go Down.  It was entertaining and sexy and funny – I just would have liked a little more clarity in the relationship between Maxie and Nick.

Grade: C+



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