Honest Synopsis: An overbearingly shy, low self-esteem, mouse of a woman works in California as a Financial Researcher — except for a few hours a day, when she is someone more confident as she practices pole-dancing, a self-therapeutic way to get over her childhood horrors of a never-there-father and an emotionally abusive mother. An over-confident, attractive, hard-working millionaire of a man works in California as a Hollywood agent, bent on taking his good business sense from his father’s business due to his never-there-mother and emotionally abusive father. The man likes when the woman dances. Shenanigans ensue.
I do a lot of things. I’m the type of person who is typically always busy, to the point of my friends’ and/or date’s frustration. This is due to the fact that I not only do a lot of things, but I love to do them all. Giving them up, even for one night, isn’t something I do with a light heart.
I know not all of you will understand this, but stay with me. In my This Makes Sense world, why would I give up a night of leveling my character in Elder Scrolls Online or making other people second guess their life choices when I kick their ass at Mario Kart 8 for something I am unsure will even be worth my time?
Yes, I am single for a reason. This is not news to me.
Either way, among my more obvious enjoyments (video games, writing, reading, not talking to people while on the bus, and pretending to know what Jazz music is all about), there are the not-so-obvious vices. I’m not talking about liking Xena: Warrior Princess–there is nothing to be embarrassed about there. It’s a damn good show, so you should be proud to announce that. I’m talking about the late-night with popcorn and wine while you watch Korean dramadies, crying and laughing while you pray that none of your roommates come home to see you in this state. I’m talking about playing a daily dating simulator about which ninja you are in love with and hiding it folder within folder and playing only in the solitude of your room so no one can hear you giggle or see you blush when Benkei asks if you could ever actually love him. I’m talking about when you go to the library to pick up your romance novel you’re reading to review and the cute boy is the one checking you out, so you pretend that you’re picking them up for someone else under your card. I’m talking about those things people would be not only surprised about you doing, but making fun of and judging you as soon as they find out.
By the way, those things above are totally not anything I ever do. They were totally examples.
So, when Tamu picked out our next book, My Double Life by Joanne Rock, I was expecting damn good secrets.
We start off with Courtney, a financial researcher at high-end firm Sphere in LA. She wears off-the-rack clothes that don’t fit, keeps to the sidelines with her hair hiding her face, and has a bit of a stutter she worked through with speech therapy. She is handing off a folder about their new client, Trey, and she is quite proud of her work. She is always thorough and has some connections to make sure there are no surprise secrets during business.
Fawn, her side-boss in a way, is already gushing about his “washboard abs”. Despite policy about not being able to date or flirt with clients, Courtney soon sees what the fuss is about when the door opens to reveal George Clooney.
I mean, Trey. Who looks just like George. We’ll call him George.
George is looking to work with Courtney’s firm. At first, he is to work with Fawn, but he as soon as he sees Courtney, he begins to introduce himself, his Italian mother’s heritage…showing through in his smile and skin…? I don’t know. It’s described as such from her point of view, and I’m really bad at telling the ethnicity of a person from any first glance, so I don’t guess like an asshole. Perhaps she already knows where he is from when it comes to the tabloids or something. Anyway, Trey flashes her a smile and invites her in to the meeting they are about to have when she just continues to stare.
She promptly turns around and then promptly runs away.
Attention on Courtney is not her forte. And while it isn’t my forte, I don’t think I’d necessarily run away. No, my style is that I would say something completely inappropriate in an attempt to make a joke, and when he didn’t laugh, I’d laugh and try to explain the joke, then make an excuse of needing to see to a plant I may have killed in order to walk away with the absolutely zero dignity I’d reserved from the conversation. She wins this round.
When Courtney gets back to her cube, she grabs her gym bag from under her desk to get her a dose of “confidence.”
No, I’m not talking about drugs. Jesus. I’m talking about pole-dancing. Get your minds back into the more plausible domain.
Whelp. Our protagonist moonlights as a pole-dancer. Kind of. She only goes to classes, never on stage, and it started off as a joke for a bachelorette party. Yet she found herself filled with more confidence with every class she took. Thus, her vice that no one knows about, not even the original gaggle of gals that took her there.
George, however, has noticed Courtney. Even though she was a mouse, he felt that somethin’ somethin’ and she is now distracting him in his thoughts from his talk with Fawn.
What George is trying to achieve is leaving his father’s name and company. Like Courtney is trying to get rid of the childhood that held her emotionally abusive mother being ashamed of her everything, George is trying to get away from his emotionally abusive father that has never told him he was proud of him.
So when Fawn tells him that she is aware of George creating a business to compete with his father’s, he snaps back to attention and asks questions. He finds out that it is Courtney who did the research on him, but he’s too late to confront her with how she got the information because she’s already left for her extracurricular activites.
Except Courtney’s attempt at relaxing doesn’t go over very well. Her teacher, Natalie Night, has decided the girls need to practice a new move, but as soon as she gets on the pole, she crashes down due to someone using an oil/lotion while practicing.
First rule of pole dancing: YOU DON’T WEAR OILS OR LOTIONS BECAUSE YOU CAUSE THE POLE TO BE SLIPPERY AND YOU CRASH DOWN AND HURT YOURSELF.
Now let’s talk about the second rule: CLEAN YOUR POLES OFF.
That isn’t meant as a sexual rule. This is meant as an obvious rule. Something you’d check on before throwing yourself up six feet to grip smooth metal. Also, a little gross considering each lady is getting pretty intimate with their pole during their dances. I’m disappointed in all parties involved for not having common sense.
Natalie knows she has hurt herself to a point of not being able to pole-dance for a while. But this isn’t the only problem. Natalie is supposed to be dancing at Backstage that night, her first trial to have her own burlesque show. And with her possible future job on the line, she turns to Courtney, the best dancer in the crew.
Because she has no other friends or regulars that pole-dance.
They argue back and forth, but Natalie finally convinces the shy Courtney to don a blonde wig as well as a mask for her performance as Ms. Night. Courtney realizes that this will work because she is a different person she enters the studio — a good girl gone bad…
Little did she know that George was having the same plans. No, I don’t mean that he was going to dance at the burlesque show (although, that would be interesting — write that romance novel, someone!). His plans were to give one of his clients, an actor trying to change his Good Boy persona into that of a Bad Boy, a publicity stunt to change his image to receive other acting possibilities. Backstage is the perfect place for making it rain.
George has been there a few times himself, but his father is frequent enough for the bouncers and staff to know him, or at least his last name. They get a first row seating arrangement and are immediately entranced by the first act: Natalie Night, aka Courtney.
George had meant to take this extra time to research Courtney on the internet, find out more of who she was and how she could quite possibly know his secret to overtake his father within the industry, but he kept being entranced by who he didn’t realize was Courtney instead.
Courtney, on the other hand, is half drunk with power. She quickly noticed George in the crowd and found herself dancing specifically for him, blowing kisses, crawling across the stage, and spanking herself in his general direction. It isn’t a surprise that, when she finished her show, he quickly maneuvers to meet her before she can leave the stage.
Despite the crowd she has already drawn, George’s status allows him dibs, and they go to where she can give him a private show… backstage.
Look! I said the thing!
However, instead of dancing and doing a lap dance, they talk. George is already jealous when he finds out that this was her audition to getting a regular gig at the club, feeling protective because he wants to bone her — it was her lip gloss (ladies, it works!). He makes the brilliant observation that she probably wouldn’t want to entertain guests in the back, conveniently forgetting that he was one of the many eager gentlemen in line to do as such.
Courtney, on the other hand, is freaking out. They’d only met for a few seconds, but he could easily make the assumption if he for any reason recognizes her. As she tried to high-tail it out of there, he asks her to meet up with him, no strings attached. He won’t take her ‘no’ for an answer, however, even when she says it is against policy. Finally, she agrees to get him off of her back — she stands him up at their meeting spot at the back door, second guessing the possibilities of what could happen in the back of his car while she gets into hers.
The next day, George is at Sphere to confront Courtney about the information she gathered He was already irritated at not getting some from Natalie Night, ego crushed, so he was ready for a fight. But maybe Courtney was a good alternative since she was so cute…? Trade one for another?
They literally crash into each other in the hallway while he thinks about this, Courtney’s paperwork flying.
Courtney is now overwhelmed with fear — this whole burlesque dancing has caused more than enough panic. Does he recognize her? Could he simply discern that she has a different hair color and that her eye-mask wasn’t enough to disguise her facial features?
“BUT IT WORKED FOR CLARK KENT!!!!!” you scream.
And I say, “This is the universe we live in, where disguises of wearing glasses with a bit of disheveled hair/wigs work. Simmer down.”
Her gray eyes still draw him in, and, between thoughts of her head being close to his penis as she picks up papers, she agrees to bring him to her office for a more private conversation.
Yet she forgot that (gasp) she not only has a picture of her and the girlfriends at the original bachelorette party that started the pole-dancing gig, but she also was so proud of her performance last night that she kept a feather from her outfit — and placed it on her desk right where guests could see it.
George and Courtney are also both pretending they aren’t thinking lust-filled thoughts of each other while discussing how Courtney could ever figure out his super secret plan to go against his father. George decides that he will instead go after Courtney, leaving Natalie Night behind for this interesting case. It isn’t a surprise that he then sees the feather and the picture. Yet, instead of the normal drama-induced shows that would pull guns and throw drinks in faces, George asks Courtney out to lunch. Unsure if he has placed two-and-two together, she agrees.
We cut to George the next morning, who has taken it upon himself to confront his father due to some recent bad-mouth media press. Apparently, his father has taken it upon himself to make remarks about his personal life, as well as keeping tabs. He warns George that he needs to keep an eye out on his night life as any of it could be turned into a scandal.
Note: George’s father, the guy who regularly goes to this burlesque club, is telling his son to be wary about his image like his ol’ dad. WAT.
On Courtney’s side, she has been nervous all morning, trying to cancel and not cancel at the same time. By the time George is ready to pick her up, she still isn’t ready and walks as if to her doom. He drives them to a secluded park to have a picnic, during which she imagines what could have happened had she said yes to his ‘no strings’ night of fun again. Because sex in a car, ya’ll.
But her insecurities don’t allow her to believe she has the power to get George. She’s the girl with her hair in a ponytail and glasses!
They unpack the picnic and George starts feeding Courtney berries like a child, being all seductive with his eyes on her lips and chest (great first date moves, by the way). He admits that this wasn’t at all a business meeting, just a ruse to get her to go out with him. When she mutters he didn’t need to go through all the trouble, he replies with, “Didn’t I? … The last time I invited you out, I was stood up.”
GASP. HE KNOWS.
But it actually isn’t as dramatic as you think it is. She pales, but then they get straight to the point of how George figured it all out, and how he’d placed the two together. He hadn’t been 100% sure until she’d confirmed at the picnic, but all signs had definitely been set to Courtney being Natalie Night. George promises that he wouldn’t tell her company of her one night of wild behavior, then promptly begins to make out with her.
Courtney finally stops him when it starts to get a little heavy, questioning why this was happening. She was a nobody. He was a man from a well-known company, famous. They weren’t in the same circles, and it just seemed so unfathomable……….but he could keep secrets.
So, she begins to make out with him again. And proceeds to get down and dirty on their picnic blanket.
Since they’re in a public park, George eventually says they should move their intimacy to that of his house instead. Rain makes the decision for them, and they quickly pack their things and race to their car. Courtney then tells him to drive them back to his place in the spur of the moment decision. He says, “Thank you. You won’t regret it.”
A bit of a weird reaction, you say? I’m inclined to agree. He kisses her, which is great, but I guess when someone asks to have sex in a non-plea way and the partner complies, I don’t think to thank the other party. How polite and different.
Despite Courtney’s issues with confidence and being quiet, the entire car ride after she tells George to go to his place and he thanks her for the opportunity to have sexual relations with her, things weren’t at all nerve-wrecking or awkward. They apparently had a gay ol’ time (we don’t get this part of the conversation, it is only hinted at), and once they are at his garage, the heat is back on, yo.
They start making out again, he promises her that she is the one who has been filling his thoughts (because, you know, Natalie and Courtney are one and the same), which turns her on, she finds out he has washboard abs, and he can’t handle if she tries to dance for him so they race upstairs to get the condom and get it on instead.
Back in the land of work, it has been three days since their nooner. Courtney is practicing her techniques with the real Natalie. Since Natalie has become a friend at this point, she reveals that she has been seeing someone, but she calls him Tom. Natalie worries that this power is starting to go to her head and warns that some men don’t like it when women are in sexy professions. Courtney doesn’t have to worry because it’s not like it is going to happen again.
Cue Kendra, one of the ladies she met while dancing for Natalie, coming into the shop. She says she was going to ask whether “Natalie” wanted to do a reprise show due to popular demand, but notices that the real Natalie has a hurt ankle. Courtney blurts that Natalie will respond tomorrow with her answer because the doctor could tell her that the ankle is just fine. It turns out, Courtney is on a confidence high, and she wants to dance all over again. And she wants George to watch her again, her job and other anxieties be damned.
Before Kendra leaves, she asks whether “Natalie” managed to nab George’s number, since he’d been so interested. Apparently, there is no n0-dating-the-client policy at Backstage.
Natalie is worried, knowing Courtney is lying about the “Hollywood royalty” that Courtney claims is Tom. But Courtney has stripping plans for George and leaves too quickly for discussion…
Courtney is picked up by George, and to avoid the TMZ crew, he does so in an limo. He quickly yanks her in and they advance on each other, making little sex jibs about stamina and dancing and sex. After supper, Courtney shows off her dance moves in a more private manner at his house, setting up an MP3 player and dancing with her Indian-like garb, taking off scarves as she goes. Her movements encourage his hunger for her while his hunger encourages her confidence in dancing. It’s like a spiral of constant energy! Sexual energy.
At the end of her dance, George reveals his feelings a little too much with, “I’ve never witnessed a scene that engaged all my senses the way you just did, Courtney. I’m completely…captivated.” Ah, romance.
When he asks her to stay the night, they then start to talk about their lives in other ways: About how Courtney doesn’t stutter when she is around George. About how George’s father is an utter prick. About Courtney’s work. And how George had been close to marriage, but Courtney isn’t interested but it turns out she is lying and actually does want marriage. Ah, romance.
A week later, Courtney waits until the last minute to tell George that she wants him to watch her dance at Backstage again. He’s quick to try to get her to cancel, as he’s jealous. His reasoning is that she could lose her job if she is caught, but he is utterly jealous at the fact people will be seeing her dancing, possibly making them all lustful like he was/is.
Hypocrisy. Raining down like jungle rain. Cascading like dead May flies. Spread like the guts of roadkill.
Maybe if we didn’t have so many issues with society, we wouldn’t have any excuse for jealousy or worry about women being objects.
I digress. Mostly because, while he was certainly feeling these things, he never argued with that as his point. He brought up legit concerns of her job, that she’d only wanted it to be a first time event, and when he mentioned that he’d hoped it wouldn’t be “half as exciting without me,” she immediately replied that it was a fact. He even realized that this was a hobby that was helping her with her confidence, and maybe he should consider putting his feelings on the back shelf.
That being said, this is the most adult romance book I have ever read. And I mean adult in the sense of the drama not being really drama. I mean, this review isn’t half as interesting due to that fact. I’m almost ashamed for automatically assuming this was going to cause a huge fight between the two because that is how most of these issues go down in this genre. Point goes to Joanne Rock.
The concerns end up being spot on. Just as Courtney goes on stage, George is tapped on the arm by Fawn. It turns out, Fawn and the other ladies who were a part of the bachelorette party had heard that their pole-dancing instructor was having another debut at the club, so they went to support her. Instead, they were going to get a show from Courtney.
When Courtney is done with her show, she scrambles off stage, hurrying toward the back. But she isn’t quick enough as Fawn decides to use that time to run over and say ‘hi’.
That doesn’t make sense, you say? None of the girls were best friends with Natalie, you say? Why would they stop her from going backstage after the set just to reiterate that you once did a class several years ago, you say? Just to say, “Remember when we took your class that one time months and months ago? No?”
BECAUSE WE LIVE IN A UNIVERSE THAT THIS IS NORMAL.
George comes up with a quick plan that Courtney is actually his client, trying to get her into show business, and they leave. But the night isn’t over yet.
No, George’s father is waiting in his car outside of the club to speak with him. They barely speak, but George is now tenser than ever. His father knows of Courtney. But they quickly forget all of this as they go to Courtney’s fancy house with a pool and hot tub for some hot love making.
Number One Thing I’ve Learned From Romance Novels:
- Sex makes everything better
It also gets you into parties. Post-coital, Courtney gets George to take her to a black-tie gala that his father mentioned before parting. George doesn’t want to get her wrapped up in his world, but goes against his better judgement because sex. Duh.
Also…what happened to “You know you can’t date a client, let alone flirt”? You’re definitely done with your pole-dancing days because you’re worried about losing your job, especially after Fawn, but what about this whole affair? What do you think will be found out first? The pole-dancing, or dating in public?
The party, unlike all Hollywood parties seen in the movies, was boring. Some producers and directors here and there, some ice sculptures, and I’m sure plenty of drugs that Courtney isn’t aware of. Most of this is due to George being busy mingling, which she doesn’t blame him for, and encourages. During one of his many chats, she leaves to talk elsewhere and finds herself face-to-face with George’s father, Tom. But the kicker is, he recognizes her, despite no blonde wig or mask.
She cuts to the chase to find out how he knew, as she’s worried for her job, and he replies with that he keeps tabs on his son. Which brings about the average discussion after meeting your partner’s father for all of five minutes to: “You don’t treat your son with enough respect.” The conversation is quickly heated, to the point where George notices that they’re talking. He rushes to her defense, which isn’t at all appreciated, and in the anger sparking off from father and son, Courtney’s secret as a pole-dancer is out for all to hear. It takes for Courtney to be in the parking lot before George realizes he is defending no one at his side.
Shocker, but the two break up in the parking lot while she is climbing into a cab. But not before Courtney spits out that George is exactly like his father.
Oh, man! The drama is starting! Yes! This is what people who watch reality television lust for!
Except that… George listens. He respects and loves Courtney so much that he considers what she said and gets his father to meet with him that night to discuss their continuous issues with one another. And it brings about a father son moment worth having music over.
The next workday, Courtney is sulking over her decision to leave George. Because who leaves George when he has so many problems to figure out, like having a relationship with his father, and… nope, that’s about it. He ratted out her secret, which is worth getting angry over, but that’s about it in the end.
Courtney had even taken it upon herself to talk to her boss before any news of her moonlighting was placed in all of the papers. And her boss ended up not really caring about her dancing, as long as she continued to do good work and wouldn’t work as a pole-dancer on the side anymore. Problem solved, and Courtney is left realizing maybe it was a little too much to just cut off the ties so quickly.
That’s when Tom comes in with a large entourage. As if in a film, he rouses the entire staff to usher him into a conference room to discuss using their business exclusively, leaving Courtney to wonder what the hell is going on — but all is told when George comes in and explains that he did exactly as Courtney had asked. She is shocked that he actually listened to her, and he quickly tells her that he is in love with her. She responds with, “How tinted are the windows on your vehicle?” Because that first sexual fantasy was going to happen whether he liked it or not.
Four trashy roses. This book is actually very clear and easy to read — and nothing too crazy happens, making most of it feel plausible. The love scenes are smooth, and I’d definitely recommend this to someone who is interested in a book about a shy gal turning more confident. Even though I had some small issues with how the characters were, they were more like the adults we are rather than constant misunderstandings that are easily fixed in real life. Refreshing. I’d tell them to turn away from the cover (and maybe not read the book in the back that comes with it — that one leaves a lot to be wanting).
Most Questionable Metaphor Line: Courtney had a strong, distinct effect on him, like a thirty-year-old whiskey he’d never tried before. And a triple shot wouldn’t be enough.
The Lines That Say The Thing: “Maybe it was easier for me to handle a bigwig Hollywood insider if I played a role — borrowed a little of my ‘Natalie’ attitude. My secret shadow side. My double life.”
My Double Life Soundtrack: