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Stand-In Star finds Aussie anthropologist Holly McCartney in Hollywood to represent her recently deceased, and estranged, sister for her Best Supporting Star nomination at the Academy Awards. Holly is out of her element and overwhelmed by paparazzi at the airport when she’s rescued by Nate Devlin, her sister’s oh-so-gorgeous friend. Though Nate obviously has negative feelings for her, that doesn’t diminish his appeal. Nate is only helping Holly because that is what her sister would have wanted, even though Holly’s rebuffs hurt her terribly. But the more time he spends with Holly, the harder he finds it to resist her. Will their pasts keep them from getting their happy ending?

This is an absolutely wonderful story about two people who have to overcome their preconceptions. Nate doesn’t like Holly for all the hurt she caused her sister but the more time they spend together the more he realizes that he may have misjudged her. Adding to that, he had a difficult childhood and feels that he doesn’t have what it takes to be in a relationship. I do wish that more time had been spent on Nate coming to terms with his issues, but otherwise I enjoyed the way he handles his growing feelings for Holly.

Holly was hurt by her sister and is dealing with that, as well as her guilt and grief from the fact that they will never be able to change things now that her sister has died. Her interactions with (and attraction to) Nate, someone who obviously is on her sister’s side, only makes things worse. I found Holly to be an interesting character, with her issues related to her famous, beautiful sister. Her bookishness and the self-doubt she felt growing up in comparison make a good foil to her sister’s LA lifestyle.

Both Nate and Holly learn some hard truths about themselves, each other and Holly’s sister, causing them to reevaluate some long-held beliefs. Stand-In Star is a delightful, fast read that provides depth and heart in the shallow world of Hollywood.

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