The thing I love most about Lucy Parker’s books is that the protagonists are overtly kind to each other. This seems like it would be fairly common in romance, but I always struggle to find these books that hit just the right note. And Parker is almost guaranteed to give me characters who are gentle and kind to each other and behave like adults. All of which MAKING UP provides.
A quick summary: Trix is an acrobatic performer in a West End show and is immediately elevated from supporting cast to the lead when her predecessor suffers major injuries from a bad fall (some might be a bit queasy here). And Leo is a makeup/special effects artist who is trying to rebuild his career after a mishap and he takes a job heading makeup at Trix’s show. They’ve been bickering for years, since they were teenagers in fact. And well, they bicker still, until they don’t.
This book was the thing I needed this last week. It provided characters who are flawed and hurt, but who keep moving forward, and I love both of them. It made me cry (not in a sobbing/devastated way, but in a “she needs him to be gentle and oh god, he’s being gentle, I’m a sap” way).
Much of Trix’s story involves finding her self-confidence again. If you’ve read Pretty Face, you know about her manipulative and controlling ex-boyfriend. And months later, Trix is trying to return to who she was before her ex came close to crushing her spirit. Her struggles with self worth and confidence are visible to everyone close to her, and the new role challenges her to believe in herself. And right beside her is Leo, who is trying to win a makeup special effects contest and possibly get a contract to work on a TV show. Leo is also trying to help his sister, Cat, who isolates herself amongst the cast and crew by being pretty obnoxious and terrible. Part of the journey for Trix is discovering that what she went through may help others, namely Cat.
Something that I really appreciated (and maybe needed this week) was how vulnerable Trix is. It’s something we never saw in Pretty Face, but it is so real and vivid in MAKING UP. At first, I struggled to reconcile the two versions of her, but then I remembered that we don’t always present our vulnerabilities to friends and loved ones because what if those things we worry about most are going to be used against us, and then it all made sense. And Trix is someone who trusted a man who did use her vulnerabilities to control her. Enter Leo. He manages to help Trix trust herself and others by being considerate, kind, supportive, and loving.
A tiny thing to note is that MAKING UP would probably be considered to have a higher heat level than Act Like It and Pretty Face, but it’s not like you’ve stumbled into erotic romance suddenly. There are simply more sex scenes (I think) that are slightly more graphic (not much).
All in all, I thought MAKING UP was delightful and poignant. And now I wait for Lucy Parker’s next book.
Content warnings: past emotional abuse, abusive ex-boyfriend, significant acrobatic injury (some vomiting too), anxiety, panic attacks