cover image Marlowe Banks, Redesigned

Marlowe Banks, Redesigned

Jacqueline Firkins. Griffin, $16.99 trade paper (352p) ISBN 978-1-250-83650-2

Firkins’s uneven adult debut (after How Not to Fall in Love) finds costume designer Marlowe Banks having fled New York’s theater scene, and her ex-fiancé, for a fresh start on the set of TV soap Heart’s Diner. Her production assistant job doesn’t utilize her skills, but it does shield her from the harsh critiques she’s come to fear. That is, until she’s forced to fill in as a background actor for a day, placing her near the show’s brooding star, Angus Gordon, with whom she disastrously collided earlier that same day. She’s happy to leave her brush with stardom—and Angus’s intense stare—in the past, but when the episode airs, a tricky bit of editing turns their obvious dislike into sexual tension and sends fans clamoring for more. Despite some false starts, Marlowe and Angus bond as production forces them to spend more time together. Both feel a connection, but Marlowe quickly learns she may not be ready for the scrutiny that comes with dating a star. Though the main couple has chemistry to spare, the rest of the story falls flat in comparison; the backstory behind Marlowe’s life in New York comes too late and feels too tepid to make readers invested in her personal growth. It’s a shaky start, but Firkins shows some promise. (Nov.)