Alienor ✘ French Frowner ✘'s Reviews > Pretty Face

Pretty Face by Lucy  Parker
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really liked it
bookshelves: 2017-reads, romance, arcs-2017, adult-fiction



I had written a little bit of a warning at first, stating that I would probably come across as condescending in this review and reaffirming that my aim was not to shame readers for enjoying romance novels I personally want to burn (not Pretty Face!), but then my warning *did* come across as condescending so I guess I CANNOT WIN so let's write this review okay don't hate me.

I need to face facts : I've not been able to call myself a romance reader for a long time. Those days are long gone, crushed under the weight of eight packs, sexism, instalove, slut-shaming and *secret wounds* (that will only be revealed around 70% because WHERE'S THE FUN OTHERWISE HUH). Also, I'm kind of... cynical? Sometimes? (which is funny for someone born on February 14th, but moving on). If there was a period of my life when I couldn't stop reading them (you don't want to know), now... Not so much.

Actually, I haven't read a contemporary romance since -

*scrolls through shelves*
*scrolls some more*

I got one! October 26th, and, oh, MY, I had forgotten this one!

(never underestimate the bliss of oblivion. Truly. It was a gift)

I'm not even sure it counts, given that I had to DNF it due to a)extreme stupidity, b)girl hate, c)this sentence : "He smiled and I smiled. It was sort of contagious." Wow, what a dream. *shivers* How can we possibly recover from such nonsense?

I won't lie, I stopped reading romance novels because I just couldn't stand them anymore - and this is the moment someone usually walks in to tell me that we choose to be angry about offensive tropes, that we just fucking choose to disconnect from the story we're reading, that we refuse to let it go and just enjoy it, that we -



I can't get past slut-shaming in a book, let alone a romance novel. I can't. Not only because
✔ it's offensive,
✔ often includes sex-shaming,
✔ polices what women should/shouldn't wear in public,
✔ contributes to rape culture,
but because it's lazy storytelling at its best. Yes. It IS. No author who includes slut-shaming in his romance deserves my praise. Period.

Why am I saying it's lazy? Because see, in Pretty Face (that does not contain slut-shaming in any way) : Lucy Parker's story could have derailed a million times.

① Margo, the love interest's ex, could have so easily been a vapid and hateful woman because of *reasons*. She is not, which means that the author had to actually create a real personality for her, complex and real - the author who uses a stereotypical and damaging portrayal does not. And do not even tell me some women act that way, because that argument doesn't hold one second : in 90% of romance novels, the exception becomes the norm. Pl-ease. It's Lazy Writing 101.

② When the male lead expresses sexist bullshit towards the MC, it won't disappear from my mind later because he's in love and we must forget and forgive he even said that (because he's hot, because he's a man - stereotypes work both ways - because the author couldn't be bothered to actually deal with this issue) Nope. In Pretty Face , Luc has to actually think about it and deconstruct his biased bullshit narrative. Not lazy, and how so much more interesting.

③ Think about this : a woman meets her new boss who is full of shit when it comes to double standards - and who's been pretty vocal about how dumb he thinks she is because she's hot and plays a man-eater in a stupid soap. 90% of the time, said-woman will exchange a few words with (his abs) him and literally decide that they should get married because hot damn she's obsessed with that little ass and fall in instalove. As a result, we the readers will get no character growth, not an ounce of building up and barely any tension. What's the point, then? Tension is everything in romance as far as I'm concerned. But fear no more - in Pretty Face , if Lily's intrigued by Luc, there's no such thing as instalust or instalove. The treatment of double-standards, sexist stereotypes and, hey, knowing each other will have to come before exchanging iloveyous. It changes everything.

So I'm sorry, but your romances full of girl hate and sexist jerks? It's not that I choose to not like them.



Of course it's predictable and somewhat unrealistic at times, but if Pretty Face made me realize something, it's that I'm pretty lenient with clichés when they're not offensive : indeed it contains all the scenes you could expect from a romance novel, yet it didn't annoy me one second. Perhaps that's because I rarely read them anymore. Or perhaps the writing and the characters were compelling (and funny!) enough for me to root for them and to enjoy these beloved scenes. Icing on the cake, you get a male lead who actually understand the concept of boundaries, who is not a player (that trope gets old) and a MC who isn't the Ultimate Lamb Who Is Not Like Other Girls. Mind. Blown. Adds a storyline that was actually interesting (and this is coming from someone who don't like reading about actors for some reason) and you'll get a fun, feel-good novel that'll put a smile on your face (and we sure need them). If I had a complaint to address, though, it would be that as far as I know, the whole cast really lacks diversity - all the characters are straight and white - for a story taking place in London, I found it unrealistic, and that's a pity. And before people say it - it's not that diversity is a trend, but that diversity should be a given : we're (fortunately) not living in a full white, straight world, are we?



Little hearts provided by Vecteezy!

*arc provided by Carina Press through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review*

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Reading Progress

July 23, 2016 – Shelved
February 14, 2017 – Started Reading
February 14, 2017 –
0.0% "After my last book I need the fluff. OMG, please be cute and swoon-worthy (is that a thing)"
February 15, 2017 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-19 of 19 (19 new)

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Susana I hope the next book is about Trix :D


Alienor ✘ French Frowner ✘ Susana wrote: "I hope the next book is about Trix :D"

ME TOO!!!


message 3: by Nastassja (new)

Nastassja Omg, your birthday was on February 14, Alienor?! Aw, Happy belated Birthday, dear <3 For what it's worth, I love your cynicism and snark, so let the other people born on February 14 be romantic and mushy, you are amazing the way you are, Alienor :-*

I am happy you enjoyed this book so much, it's good to know that there's still good romantic stories without all the usual cliches. I used to enjoy romance books, but lately I seriously can't stand them, especially the infamous NA genre >.< The only one I still enjoy reading from time to time is historical romance, which I guess partly attracts me because it is historical to some extent :D


Alienor ✘ French Frowner ✘ Nastassja wrote: "Omg, your birthday was on February 14, Alienor?! Aw, Happy belated Birthday, dear <3 For what it's worth, I love your cynicism and snark, so let the other people born on February 14 be romantic and..."

Thank you so much Nastassja!! <33 You made me blush ooops XD And SAME, it's so rare now that I like a romance - this one wasn't the most original book I ever read for sure, but it was really fun and without most of the usual crap :))


message 5: by Gabriela (new) - added it

Gabriela Nice review. I will give it a try. I like romance but I don't read them much because 95% have the problems you mentioned. Also, some reviewers of the genre put 5 stars or dismissed problematic issues because the character is hot.


Alienor ✘ French Frowner ✘ Palindrome310 wrote: "Nice review. I will give it a try. I like romance but I don't read them much because 95% have the problems you mentioned. Also, some reviewers of the genre put 5 stars or dismissed problematic issu..."

Yeah, exactly. I can get over predictability in romance, because duh, but not slut-shaming or such nonsense. Ugh.


message 7: by Emer (last edited Feb 19, 2017 06:34AM) (new) - added it

Emer Happy belated birthday dearest!!! I hope you got to mark it in some quietly special way with those nearest and dearest to you. Xxx

Ah the romance / NA genre.... Very rare when you find one that doesn't want to make you scratch out your eyes!! So I'm delighted this was the perfect antidote to some of your previous heavier reads.

The diversity issue though. I know you only mentioned it in passing but it jumped out at me. It's so difficult! As you say it should 100% be a given. I completely agree with you on that point. But this is me playing a little devils advocate so here we go!
Is it not possible that it would have been worse if in this book, characters were made "diverse" to just fulfil some sort of quota? Would their characterisations then not have gone down the stereotyped path?? Should authors have to feel that they need to be diverse if it's something that is not necessarily familiar to them?
I just finished reading "Behold the Dreamers", a story about a Cameroonian couple moving to America and their struggle with immigration & all that goes with that. And one thing the female MC said that struck me, was how when she looked around this multi-cultural New York all she saw were groups of the same people together; white with white, black with black etc. So it got me thinking about how do writers genuinely write diverse characters?? How do they give them that authentic feel??
Okay, I'm not a writer. I don't have that skill where I can write detailed characterisations. So this is where my argument can completely fall down because of my lack of understanding of the writing process.
However, it just begs the question of how do we accurately write about people who are culturally different to us without ending up writing painful & frequently offensive stereotypes?? It's often been asked about the way men portray female characters in their books, and vice versa, so to throw in to the mix different ethnic backgrounds, different sexual orientations etc etc...
I guess what I'm querying is perhaps it might be okay to cut writers a little slack and to give them time to fully develop their writing skills before they give us casts of diverse characters in their books? Because ultimately we should want authenticity rather than to be pandered to.
So if it's an author with only 1 or 2 books under their belt (as this author appears to have) then do we give them this time to become good writers... the more books they write then the onus is on them to hone their writing styles, be more diverse with their characters and more true to the broader spectrum of society.
Or am I completely and utterly wrong? (Wouldn't be the first time!!) Do I have the wrong idea? I'd love to know what you think :))
I'm not saying that all writers need to be writing "hot topic" books or anything. I'm pretty sure it was you that tweeted about that writer who felt he was expected to write an issues novel because of his background. I'm just referring to characters rather than plots.

And I apologise for the essay!!! Good gosh I was long winded :)))


message 8: by Alienor ✘ French Frowner ✘ (last edited Feb 19, 2017 06:40AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Alienor ✘ French Frowner ✘ Emer (ALittleHaze) wrote: "Happy belated birthday dearest!!! I hope you got to mark it in some quietly special way with those nearest and dearest to you. Xxx

Ah the romance / NA genre.... Very rare when you find one that do..."


Yes, I completely see what you mean. I've been following the diversity discussions for a while, and what comes out is that writers who aren't ownvoices maybe shouldn't center their stories around the struggles of marginalized people (because they can't really understand what it's like, as you said) but include diverse characters - and I hear what you say about 'new' authors, that's why I said it but didn't change my rating, I just felt that given the diversity of London actors, it seemed weird to have zero diversity? I 100% saw it as a possibility for the writer to improve, somehow? As I would have said that a novel lacked believability?


Alienor ✘ French Frowner ✘ Alienor ✘ French Frowner ✘ (of badger and SNAKE) wrote: "Emer (ALittleHaze) wrote: "Happy belated birthday dearest!!! I hope you got to mark it in some quietly special way with those nearest and dearest to you. Xxx

Ah the romance / NA genre.... Very rar..."


Also, THANK YOU!


message 10: by Emer (last edited Feb 19, 2017 07:00AM) (new) - added it

Emer Alienor ✘ French Frowner ✘ (of badger and SNAKE) wrote: "Emer (ALittleHaze) wrote: "Happy belated birthday dearest!!! I hope you got to mark it in some quietly special way with those nearest and dearest to you. Xxx

Ah the romance / NA genre.... Very rar..."


I just went back and read the blurb on this. It's set in London, with a whole bunch of actors.... YES!!! Very peculiar to have zero diversity when you see that particular setting. So maybe it is that authors need to take more responsibility choosing where they set their books, including new authors. If an author isn't brave enough, or maybe I should say doesn't feel comfortable enough, to write diversely then don't set your book in a multi-cultural city such as London!! Go set it in a quiet country town or similar; somewhere it is much more believable. So I do agree with you Anna. It is very peculiar indeed.
And yes again to the own voices dynamic! Because to me that's how you get true authenticity in a book. It's very rare to find a case of a writer who is completely able to submerse themselves in a character who shares no similarities to their background. It can happen, but rare!


Melissa (Ever So Mela) aww I had missed reading your reviews!!
The treatment of double-standards, sexist stereotypes and, hey, knowing each other will have to come before exchanging iloveyous. It changes everything.
Something rarely seen in romance novels! Sounds like a keeper :)


message 12: by Navessa (new) - added it

Navessa I stopped reading romance for the same reasons. Just now starting to get back into them. And I'm picky as HELL. Basically if you or one of the other feminist AF (who also can't choose to "get over it") reviewers I'm friends with haven't read and loved a book, I pass. Hard. Adding this one to the list. Fantastic review.


message 13: by P. (new)

P. Kirby I'm currently reading the first in the series and really enjoying it for the reasons you give in this review. Looks like I might be reading this one too. Like you, I'm totally over the usually tropey sexist crap that still proliferates in many Romance novels.


Alienor ✘ French Frowner ✘ Melissa (Ever So Mela) wrote: "aww I had missed reading your reviews!!
The treatment of double-standards, sexist stereotypes and, hey, knowing each other will have to come before exchanging iloveyous. It changes everything.
S..."


Heeeeeey Mel!!! How are you??? It's been so long indeed :D Thank you!


Alienor ✘ French Frowner ✘ Navessa wrote: "I stopped reading romance for the same reasons. Just now starting to get back into them. And I'm picky as HELL. Basically if you or one of the other feminist AF (who also can't choose to "get over ..."

SAME. You'll see, the male lead IS being sexist at first, but it's acknowledged and dealt with and imo it changes everything. It doesn't mean they talk about it endlessly, just that he has an epiphany of 'I AM SEXIST' and for that I'm grateful. It's just so rare. It stays fairly cliché and predictable but.. so fun and not offensive so if it won't be my book of the year, it deserved the praise, you know? Oh damn I'm writing a novel here XD Thank you!


Alienor ✘ French Frowner ✘ P. wrote: "I'm currently reading the first in the series and really enjoying it for the reasons you give in this review. Looks like I might be reading this one too. Like you, I'm totally over the usually trop..."

Awww I really liked the first as well! Lucy Parker really does a good job at avoiding this crap :D


message 17: by Karen (new) - added it

Karen Gordon Thank you for reading a romance! As a romance reader I count on your reviews to point me in the direction of books without slut shaming and without psycho misogynistic "bad boys". This is going on my TBR.


Melissa (Ever So Mela) Alienor ✘ French Frowner ✘ (of badger and SNAKE) wrote: "Melissa (Ever So Mela) wrote: "aww I had missed reading your reviews!!
The treatment of double-standards, sexist stereotypes and, hey, knowing each other will have to come before exchanging ilovey..."


I'm doing good, how about you!? Just glad to be able to come back and dive into amazing books :D


madandelion Your review has really made me hopeful about this! Oh god I really hope I like it. I have been starving to just read one good romance book. Ama-epic-zing review btw!! <3


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