Author: Julia Kent
Publisher/Year: Proasaic Press 6/22/22
Length: 284 pages
It all started with the wrong Help Wanted ad. Of course it did.
I’m a professional fluffer. It’s NOT what you think. I stage homes for a living. Real estate agents love me, and my work stands on its own merits.
Sigh. Get your mind out of the gutter. Go ahead. Laugh. I’ll wait.
See? That’s the problem. My career has used the term “fluffer” for decades. I didn’t even know there was a more… lascivious definition of the term.
Until it was too late.
The ad for a “professional fluffer” on Craigslist seemed like divine intervention. My last unemployment check was in the bank. I was desperate. Rent was due. The ad said cash paid at the end of the day. The perfect job!
Staging homes means showing your best angle. The same principle applies in making a certain kind of movie. Turns out a “fluffer” doesn’t arrange decorative pillows on a couch.
They arrange other soft, round-ish objects.
The job isn’t hard. Er, I mean, it is – it’s about being hard. Or, well… helping other people to be hard.
And that’s the other problem. A man. No, not one of the stars on the movie set. Will Lotham – my high school crush. The owner of the house where we’re filming. Illegally. In a vacation rental.
By the time the cops show up, what I thought was just a great house staging gig turned into a nightmare involving pictures of me with an undressed star, Will rescuing me from an arrest, and a humiliating lesson in my own naivete.
My job turned out to be so much harder than I expected. But you know what’s easier than I ever imagined?
Having all my dreams come true.
If I remember correctly back to the other stories that i’ve read from our author Julia Kent, I would have to say that the tone and speed that this one reads is similar to the others. It’s good to see an author with consistency. What we have here is a sweet story about a girl who’s now post college, but floundering – she’s not sure what to make with her life, especially when there were such high expectations of her after graduating at the top of her class. It’s always the ones that have such his hopes that end up in the unknown.
We start off this story watching our leading lady Mallory not meet her life’s expectations. She’s the girl who was valedictorian, the one that got into an Ivy League school and turned it down to follow her own path, and then she does nothing with herself. She’s living back in her home down, living in the past, and essentially is the same girl that she was all those years ago. She’s so naive that when she’s in urgent need of a job, she finds herself in a situation that most people with common sense would be able to avoid.
Mallory answers an ad to be a fluffer – and well, we all know what that means, or at least most of us do. She thinks that she’s going to decorate a house, when in reality she’s going to work on a porn set. When that goes wrong, very very wrong, she thinks that things can’t get worse, until they do.
Enter her high school crush – the guy that was #2 to her, and he was incredibly popular. He’s made something of himself and he’s building his own business. Her life hangs in his hands, and that means that we get to see how this plays out – with hopefully a lot of humor and some tears.
Will is the jock turned into nice guy in this story – something that we see a lot in the genre. A guy who was smart, and capable, and perhaps did things to keep his friends happy. What always bothers me about this type of character though is that they had the ability to change things when they were younger, to be nicer people, and yet they’re not. And because they’re nice now, the girl always forgives.
Anyway – the journey in this story is watching how Mallory finds her footing in life and in romance at the hands Will. Once Will bails Mallory out of her uncomfortable situation, he hires her for a project at his real estate company. This gives her an opportunity to spend time with the guy that she’s still ironically crushing on 10 years later, while also potentially making money so that she doesn’t have to crawl back to her parents. If she’s able to stage a house for Will and sell it quickly, she can get a decent commission and feel like she’s accomplished something.
That opens the door for an interesting dynamic between the two of them – we watch how they play around the idea of feelings for one another, and what’s real in today’s world v. what was built up in their minds.
Add to that the sub story of dating apps and lives continuing, and then wrap it up in a sweet high school level romance that comes along, and you think things are all smooth sailing. Until of course the high school reunion, and the mean girls. We see their dynamic shift that night and that of their close circle of friends…all hinting at interesting things to come.
So, what do I make of this story? it’s a cute one – it gave me something to read on a flight, but really nothing to write home about. On to the next….