Author: Emily Snow
Summary: *New Adult Romance*
Now that Willow Avery is out of rehab, she's got one chance left to prove herself before she’s officially on every producer’s shit list. At least, that's what her parents and agent are claiming. She doesn't really give a damn if she never makes another movie or not—she just wants to get on with her life, get back to her friends, and find her next escape. But Willow is broke. And whether she likes it or not, acting is the only job she knows how to do.
When she accepts the lead in a beach drama, Willow finds herself in Hawaii. And in Hawaii, she finds Cooper, the gorgeous surfer hired to train her for her new role. With the bluest eyes she’s ever seen and the sexiest Australian accent she’s ever heard, Cooper’s different from the men she’s used to. He doesn’t want to use her. And he refuses to let her fail. But when an old friend re-enters Willow’s life—a friend whose toxicity she’s been drawn to time and time before and whose presence brings about the painful memories she's tried so hard to suppress—Willow will have to choose between the girl she was and the person she’s becoming. The lifestyle that helps her forget the pain and the guy she’s falling hard for.
Review: I think, more and more nowadays, that our Hollywood illusions are being shattered. I don't know about the rest of you but, when I was young, I was under the impression that being famous meant you were happy, got everything you wanted, were rich, dated hot people, and that your life was perfect. What we're finding out is a much darker picture. Women are pressured and put under contract to maintain a certain look or weight. If they cannot do this they can be let go from their jobs or put under further pressure. When your health is lacking, a lot of studios still (this was a practice commonly done in the Judy Garland/Marilyn Monroe era) supply their stars with "uppers" and "downers to help them with the rigors and demands of their haranguing schedule. With people like Demi Lovato coming forward with their struggles with body image, drug abuse, and mental illness we're learning that her story is not the exception in terms of what she's been put through. What's exceptional is that she got help, came clean about her issues, and her career continued to thrive.
Willow was a big deal in Hollywood, until the fast life caught up with her. Faced with rehab or a grave? Willow "chose" rehab. Now she's got one last shot and on top of that? She's got no cash flow. She is at rock bottom and she has to keep this job. That means showing up on time and staying away from the party scene that was once her entire universe.
Cooper has his own baggage and the last thing he wants is to deal with another strung out actress. He's seen how that plays out and, no thanks, he's better off away from that world. Willow finds herself wanting to prove him wrong and pushing herself to exceed his, and the everyone else's, expectations.
Willow was a really interesting character to me. She'd led a very different life from mine, but I found myself relating to her on a very visceral level. It got to a point where Willow was genuinely trying, where she was figuring out 'hey I need to change and that girl I was isn't the woman I want to be.' It was great seeing her grow as a character. And it wasn't just driven by wanting to impress or be with Cooper. It got to a point where Willow just wanted to be good enough for her.
I also liked Cooper's arc. Don't get me wrong, this was definitely Willow's story. At the end of the day she was the most developed character. But Cooper's impact, the curveball that threw. It was definitely interesting.
And when Willow had to face her demons she did. It was not an easy thing, her kryptonite was underhanded in more than twenty ways. Willow didn't just try, she overcame. And she realized that part of recovery is realizing that it is something that you have to continue for the rest of your life.
A great story, a great ending, and an even greater message. There is no easy way out and there is no miracle cure. You work your ass off. In a culture that feeds off instant gratification, the only way to be sure is to be thorough. And Willow learned that and more.