Thursday, August 18, 2011

Stepping Stone by Karin Kallmaker

Publisher:                Bella Books

Stepping Stone steps into the world of Hollywood to show the behind the scenes maneuvering that can make or break careers.

Selena Ryan is a successful movie producer who has a reputation for being tough but fair.  She's putting together the most important movie she's ever worked on and the casting has to be just right.  Selena is being besieged by people who want to audition, including her ex-lover Jennifer Lamont, who happens to be the major reason she's suspicious of people and their motives. 

Gail Welles is a typical Hollywood story.  She's waitressing in a restaurant until she can get her big break.  She has no idea when she accidently dumps a tray of food on a woman that she will be the producer who holds the key to her future.  Fortunately, Gail the actress doesn't look like Gail the waitress, so she gets the part before Selena can make the connection. 

Gail is everything that Selena has come to not believe in – talented, kind to those around her and a pleasure to work with.  That's where the problems start.  Since both women are serious about their work and reputations as professionals, a relationship would be highly improper, but their growing attraction is hard to deny.  When Selena is forced to cast Jennifer as one of the leads and Gail begins to outshine her in a supporting role, the situation becomes more complicated.  Selena has to handle everything very carefully to make sure Jennifer doesn't destroy Gail's chances to be successful, but she can't be seen as favoring Gail either.  Gail isn't quite sure what to make of the situation, but would very much like to pursue something more with Selena if she can just get the producer to go against her experience and trust her.

Kallmaker has written an exceptionally strong and convincing story.  She obviously knows quite a bit about how things work behind the scenes in movie production and that information adds depth and believability to the plot.  As usual for her, the characters are multidimensional and draw the reader into the story.  Jennifer Lamont is typical of so many "starlets" who would rather be famous than known for the quality of their work.  In Gail Welles it's easy to see the roots of a young Meryl Streep, someone who is just the opposite of Jennifer.  This is a thoroughly entertaining book.

There is one serious drawback to the product.  The editors at Bella must have all taken a nap or gone on vacation when this book came through the system.  There are numerous mistakes, practically one on every page.  Words are left out, run on sentences frequently appear and the misuse of commas is routine.  At one point even the name of the character is changed from Selena to Serena.  It's a shame that what is such a good story is damaged by such poor mechanics.

This is a good story.  If the reader can overlook the mistakes, then it should be entirely enjoyable.  If that kind of thing bothers you, be prepared to put the book down occasionally to clear your head, but you'll come back for the story.

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