Narrated by January LaVoy
Length: 12 hours 2 minutes
Faith Brightstone is convinced that she is going to make it big in L.A. Her dreams of success, money and handsome eligible bachelors are soon quashed when she realizes that Hollywood wants someone other than who she is. When she finally lands an acting job, she discovers the sleazy side of Hollywood and is off in a flash, back to New York to begin anew. Fast forward five years, and Faith is flourishing in her own way, with a bakery that serves the finest muffins New York has ever tasted. And in a moment of pure luck, her charisma and muffins attract a television producer at food festival. The producer has the dream of a lifetime for Faith. Would she like to be on a reality television show hosted by the domestic goddess, Sybil Hunter? There is no hesitation for Faith, and soon she is back in L.A. with a motley assortment of other contestants vying for their own television show on Sybil’s network. But the tasks assigned to Faith are harder than she can ever imagine, and her new housemates on the show are not only volatile, but also sly and nefarious. Add to this a seductive but elusive gentleman that not only shows interest in Faith but is filthy rich in his own right, and Faith has got her hands and mind full. Full of endless possibilities. Full of romance. And most of all, full of dreams to land her own cooking show on Sybil’s network. Like the firecracker that she is, Faith is determined to keep up appearances, but for some reason, Sybil seems to be taking Faith’s ambition as an assault upon her senses. Faith struggles and struggles, while contestant after contestant are packed up and sent home. Will Faith really get her dream and have it all? Or will it all comes crashing down around her, ending her dreams of fame and fortune?
There once was a time, when reality shows were new on the scene, that I just couldn’t get enough of them. Those days were long ago. Now, I know that there are millions out there who love a good reality show, but these days, I just don’t seem to have the time for them anymore. I guess that’s why I was so surprised at how exciting and vibrant this book was. I thought I had seen it all, but Frankel is so skilled at creating the perfect combination of drama, romance and hijinks that I couldn’t stop listening to this wonderful book. In the past, I’ve had problems with January LaVoy’s narration, but for this book, she was a natural fit. She was Faith, in all her potty mouthed, exuberant splendor. I loved her narration and felt that, unlike her other efforts, she wasn’t stretching into the bounds of the unbelieveable or the smugly coy.
Faith is a big girl with big dreams, and like so many who go to L.A. to make their fortunes, Faith just can’t seem to get a callback. She’s not shy, that’s for sure, but something about her doesn’t translate into television or movie material. Her naiveté in the matters of Hollywood make her easy to manipulate, and when she finds herself in a soft porn movie shoot, she knows her dreams are not about to come true and leaves before she can be set up again. Her departure leaves her broken-hearted and bitter, and Faith decides that Hollywood is just not for her.
Back in New York, Faith seeks to cast out her dreams by recreating herself and her image, and she does it in a way that nobody ever expected. Faith has always loved to bake, and her muffins are a hit with friends and family alike. This gives the battered Faith confidence, and on a whim, she decides to buy a bakery and produce her muffins for all of New York to devour. It’s here that she meets a handsome stranger, one who will consume her thoughts, even when she’s immersed in her work. Though Faith hasn’t made it in Hollywood, she will make it here. Her tenacity and grit begin to shape her in ways that she can’t yet understand or appreciate. I loved her gumption, and I loved that she never even knew she had it.
At a local food fair, Faith’s muffins are a hit! So much so, that she runs out of samples and begins to take orders to fill coffee houses all over New York. But it’s the three strangers who approach her that change her future forever. In what feels like a whirlwind, Faith is on her way back to L.A. to endure the hellish reality show that will leave one contestant very rich and very successful. But it's also where Faith’s true mettle will be tested and where people will betray her like never before. Before Faith even realizes it, a scandal breaks out around her and her place as a contestant is jeopardized. And as Sybil becomes more and more unmanageable and cruel, Faith must work harder and harder to become the final contestant, the last man standing. Raw emotion and hard work become Faith, and her trials only make her stronger, but sometimes even her best efforts don’t seem like enough for the harsh taskmaster, Sybil. In Faith, desire, diligence and even a few dirty tricks crystalize her resolve to be the last contestant.
There’s so much to this book that I’m leaving out because it’s just too juicy and fun to ruin for potential readers. It had me hooked so deeply that I couldn’t even sit still while I was listening. LaVoy does a great job with voicing so many other characters that I was amazed. And the story was so full of sharp and witty escapades that I felt enlivened listening to it. It’s the perfect read for your beach bag, and though it’s a tremendously intriguing read, there’s also room for genuine emotion and love. You will love Faith Brightstone, and cheer for her all the way... but watch out for that calculating Sybil Hunter. She’s an enemy worthy of hissing at and jeering at every turn. An enormously fun and entertaining book. Very highly recommended!
This book was provided as a complimentary review copy.