NORA GOES OFF SCRIPT by Annabel Monaghan

From the publisher:

Named one of the Best Beach Reads of Summer 2022 by The Washington Post • USA Today • Cosmopolitan • Southern Living • Country Living • Business Insider • Buzzfeed • Book Riot • The Augusta Chronicle

Nora’s life is about to get a rewrite…

Nora Hamilton knows the formula for love better than anyone. As a romance channel screenwriter, it’s her job. But when her too-good-to work husband leaves her and their two kids, Nora turns her marriage’s collapse into cash and writes the best script of her life. No one is more surprised than her when it’s picked up for the big screen and set to film on location at her 100-year-old-home. When former Sexiest Man Alive, Leo Vance, is cast as her ne’er do well husband Nora’s life will never be the same.

The morning after shooting wraps and the crew leaves, Nora finds Leo on her porch with a half-empty bottle of tequila and a proposition. He’ll pay a thousand dollars a day to stay for a week. The extra seven grand would give Nora breathing room, but it’s the need in his eyes that makes her say yes. Seven days: it’s the blink of an eye or an eternity depending on how you look at it. Enough time to fall in love. Enough time to break your heart.

Filled with warmth, wit, and wisdom, Nora Goes Off Script is the best kind of love story—the real kind where love is complicated by work, kids, and the emotional baggage that comes with life. For Nora and Leo, this kind of love is bigger than the big screen.

“Monaghan’s witty adult debut novel perfectly captures the apprehension and excitement of infatuation blended with life’s complications.” —Washington Post

“The perfect escape from reality…In the best way.” —USA Today

I picked up this book because of all the buzz, but also because Nora is one of my best friends. Not this Nora, of course, but a namesake. I’m happy to report that this Nora represents the name well.

Nora’s husband leaves her and their kids after years of her supporting him and him belittling her. All she truly feels is relief and now has the ability to pay her bills without her ex running up the credit cards. Nora writes romance movie scripts for a Hallmark type channel. But once her husband leaves, the best way she knows how to deal with all her anger is to write it. She writes her breakup and to her surprise, her agent tells her that while it is not a good fit for the romance channel, she sells it to a film company who is making it into a big budget movie with the Sexiest Man Alive, Leo, set to star as her ex.

The film company wants to film a bit on her property, a unique space with a house in need of repair along with an out building called the Tea House. It’s a charming stone cottage and is Nora’s office. The film crew arrives and Nora finds out the star is staying in an Airstream on her property. But he keeps wandering into her house, drinking her booze, and eating her food. He’s so good looking she doesn’t complain but would certainly appreciate a thank you now and then. She never gets one.

Leo decides to stay on after the film crew leaves. He offers Nora $1000 a day to stay in the Tea House for a week, and she needs the money for sure so she agrees. Leo is an interesting character. He’s been so successful for so long he has no idea how regular people live. He hasn’t been in a store or bought groceries in years, so he follows Nora around asking questions and buying her stuff now and then. They spend a lot of time together and Nora finds herself falling for the star. To her shock, he tells her he is falling in love for the first time in his life.

Leo is also spending time with her kids, and her son is set to star in a Dickens play. Leo helps him learn his lines and ends up directing the school play. But shortly before the night it goes live, he gets offered an action film and mega millions to star in it. He has to go to L.A. to audition, meet with the director, and so forth. He promises to return in time for the play’s opening, but he doesn’t. In fact, he ghosts Nora.

Heartbroken, life goes on and once again Nora finds her writing this part of her life into a movie script. She tries to give it the romance channel spin and a happy ending, but her agent tells her to lean into it and write her truth. She struggles with it but eventually finds her way and it sells for a ton of money.

Meanwhile, her kids are also missing Leo and Nora is just miserable. This goes on for months until the film is nominated for several Oscars, including a screenwriting nomination for Nora. When shortly after that her son doesn’t show up for school, Nora is frantic. She calls Leo, who finds him. Leo and Nora finally talk, and that gets them to their happy ending.

I was immediately drawn into this story, and I really couldn’t put this book down. The characters come to life on the page, and the dialogue rings true. I loved seeing these characters grow together and find their way back to one another. I’m looking forward to more from this author – this was her first adult book and I hope she writes another soon.

7/2022 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

NORA GOES OFF SCRIPT by Annabel Monaghan. G.P. Putnam’s Sons (June 7, 2022). ISBN:‎ 978-0593420034. 272p.





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