Birds of California, by Katie Cotugno
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Publisher: Harper Perennial
Release Date: April 26, 2022
Length: 288 pages
Times Read: Once
Sparks fly and things get real in this sharply sexy and whip-smart romantic comedy set against the backdrop of a post #metoo Hollywood from New York Times bestselling author Katie Cotugno–page-turning escapist fun in the spirit of Beach Read, The Kiss Quotient, and Red, White and Royal Blue.
Former child actor Fiona St. James dropped out of the spotlight after a spectacularly public crash and burn. The tabloids called her crazy and self-destructive and said she’d lost her mind. Now in her late twenties, Fiona believes her humiliating past is firmly behind her. She’s finally regained a modicum of privacy, and she won’t let anything–or anyone–mess it up.
Unlike Fiona, Sam Fox, who played her older brother on the popular television show Birds of California, loves the perks that come with being a successful Hollywood actor: fame, women, parties, money. When his current show gets cancelled and his agent starts to avoid his calls, the desperate actor enthusiastically signs on for a Birds of California revival. But to make it happen, he needs Fiona St. James.
Against her better judgment, Fiona agrees to have lunch with Sam. What happens next takes them both by surprise. Sam is enthralled by Fiona’s take-no-prisoners attitude, and Fiona discovers a lovable goofball behind Sam’s close-up-ready face. Long drives to the beach, late nights at dive bars . . . theirs is the kind of kitschy romance Hollywood sells. But just like in the rom-coms Fiona despises, there’s a twist that threatens her new love. Sam doesn’t know the full story behind her breakdown. What happens when she reveals the truth?
I would know a Katie Cotugno book anywhere. Her writing is so distinct, so clearly her, I could read a grocery list and know she had written it. Katie is one of my very favorite authors, which is only one of the reasons why it bugs me so much to see all of the negative reviews that she continues to get for every new book she puts out. At this point we are 8 books, 3 anthologies, and 3 pen-name romances in. The first line of her author bio now, and always has, described her work as “messy, complicated, feminist”. And that’s exactly what you are getting. Her stories don’t wrap up neatly at the end, because that is just how Katie writes.
Her girls are messy, her boys aren’t knights in shining armor.
And don’t even get me started on readers giving bad reviews because they found the girl “unlikeable“. This is me, once again asking for everyone to realize that girls are not unlikeable. Girls are navigating impossible standards set upon them in a patriarchal society and too often we don’t examine their circumstances. We fail to see where they came from, what shaped them. We fail to really think of them at all.
These are the girls you’re going to get in a Katie Cotugno book. But you should know that by now. If you don’t like her characters, stop reading her books. Katie told you who she was from the very beginning, and she hasn’t changed.