by Vicki Lewis Thompson, Julie Elizabeth Leto, Jennifer LaBrecque

January 2005
ISBN: 0-373-83639-2
Reviewer Graphic Button Harlequin
Mass Market Paperback

Three of Harlequin’s best selling authors have taken on the world of reality television in Getting Real, the first release under the new Signature Select Collection imprint. The stories are fun, fresh, and highly entertaining but what else would you expect from such a talented group of authors?

First up is Vicki Lewis Thompson with Surviving Sarah. In this story, we meet Sarah Donovan, a former teen star looking to revive her faltering career. She just never thought reality TV would be the way to do it. Financial planner Luke Richards is one of Sarah’s suitors on the show. He is from Sarah’s hometown, and she is in fact his high school fantasy, although he suspects she will never notice him now as she never noticed him then. Luke hopes to get a chance to get to know the real Sarah and have her get to know him. But will he have a chance among the fierce competition of the other contestants?

The Great Chase by Julie Elizabeth Leto brings together Charlie Cuesta and Sam Ryan, former lovers who were kicked out of the police academy when their passion went too far and they were caught in a compromising position. Both have since become P.I.’s in the nine years since that awful day. One is more successful than the other as their careers took slightly different turns. One can’t help but wonder if their pairing in the great search for clues and the million-dollar prize is purely coincidental or is someone trying to rekindle the passion they shared in the past? Could it be that someone is searching for an entirely different prize than the one the show is offering?

Rounding out this trio of reality shows is The Last Virgin by Jennifer LaBrecque. Andrea Scarponi signs up for a bachelorette type show never dreaming that her virginity will be the ultimate prize. Contestant Zach Richards is a reporter looking for a story. He is out to prove that reality shows are rigged and nothing is in fact real about them. The last thing he expects is to fall for the girl.

These authors have done an excellent job of creating stories that give the reader an inside look at how reality TV just might work. Getting Real is pure entertainment from start to finish with a little romance thrown in for good measure.

A common producer, Burt Mueller, camerawoman Jacey Turner and her boyfriend, TV host/contest winner Digg Martino provide a familiar background and connecting story lines for these entertaining tales.

The Signature Select imprint is being billed as the books with something extra. In this case the something extra is an interview with author Leslie Kelly, the author who first introduced the common characters to readers in her first single title, Killing Time and her latest Temptation, Make Me Over. Ms Kelly tells us how the series was born and how the authors were selected for this project. We also get bios of the common characters and a sneak peek at Jennifer LaBrecque’s spin off Temptation, Really Hot due in February.

I thoroughly enjoyed not only the stories in this anthology but the bonus features as well. With material like this, the Signature Select books look like a winning combination. I can’t wait for the next release as Getting Real was a delight to read.

Reviewed in January 2005 by Barbara.