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Book CoverStevie‘s review of America’s Next Reality Star (Reality Star, Book 1) by Laura Heffernan
Contemporary Romantic Comedy published by Lyrical Shine 07 Mar 17

I don’t watch many reality shows, but I work with a lot of people who do, so it’s impossible to avoid having at least a passing knowledge of how the genre works and the type of characters to be found within any given series. Having said all that, the aspect of this book’s blurb that intrigued me most was the part where it was implied that the show this story was about would feature more tests of intelligence and reasoning than most real reality series seem to manage. The heroine’s description grabbed me less intensely – she sounded like the protagonist of far too many romance clichés – but I wanted to see the puzzles, and so I started reading.

Jen is a twenty-something marketing assistant plagued by crippling repayments for a medical bill, an often absent boyfriend, and an intensely boring job. When a contact links her with an ad for a reality show that’s looking for particularly intelligent contestants, Jen is convinced all her problems will be solved by the prize money on offer. Then she loses both her job and her boyfriend, while winning a place on the show.

Whisked away to a distinctly odd house in a secret location, Jen quickly discovers that not all the contestants have been chosen for the same attributes she tried to show off to the selection committee. Most of them have at least one quirk that is sure to grab viewers’ attention for good, or ill, and various of them quickly rub Jen up the wrong way. Apart, of course, from Justin: the cute guy who Jen met at her audition. While the book features some of the promised puzzles in amongst the other antics of Jen and her housemates, I didn’t find their description or execution particularly satisfying. The assorted misunderstandings between Jen and Justin and with others of the housemates did nothing to endear any of the cast to me, and the ending felt distinctly flat, as well as mainly being a set-up for the next book in the series.

All in all, not a book, series, or author I’m planning to revisit.

Stevies CatGrade: D



Twenty-four-year-old Jen Reid had her life in good shape: an okay job, a tiny-cute Seattle apartment, and a great boyfriend almost ready to get serious. In a flash it all came apart. Single, unemployed, and holding an eviction notice, who has time to remember trying out for a reality show? Then the call comes, and Jen sees her chance to start over—by spending her summer on national TV.

Luckily The Fishbowl is all about puzzles and games, the kind of thing Jen would love even if she wasn’t desperate. The cast checks all the boxes: cheerful, quirky Birdie speaks in hashtags; vicious Ariana knows just how to pout for the cameras; and corn-fed “J-dawg” plays the cartoon villain of the house. Then there’s Justin, the green-eyed law student who always seems a breath away from kissing her. Is their attraction real, or a trick to get him closer to the $250,000 grand prize? Romance or showmance, suddenly Jen has a lot more to lose than a summer…

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Other books in this series:
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