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Veronica Czaplicki hasn't had the greatest start to the year particularly since her husband Hank told her he had found the love of his life and it turned out not to be her. Veronica's life is made that much harder when everyone keeps mistaking her for new Hollywood starlet Haley Rush. It comes as a surprise to Veronica when Haley's manager, Jay, offers Veronica the chance of becoming Haley's double - attending film premieres, a-list parties and constantly being papped - however after the shock wears off, Veronica immediately agrees. Pretty soon her life has turned into quite a whirlwind, particularly since she also has to balance her new life with looking after her son Ben. But when sparks fly with Haley's alleged ex Brady, just what is a girl to do?
Surprisingly I actually came across Just Like Me, Only Better on a fellow Chick Lit blog when Elle at Trashionista posted up a review about the book. I quite liked the sound of it and after doing a bit of research on Carol, I saw that this was actually her 4th adult novel and one of her novels has the rather imaginative title of Here Today, Gone To Maui, which made me immediately want to read one of Carol's books, so I was thrilled when Carol's publicist Joy offered me a copy of Just Like Me, Only Better to review. It arrived a while ago and I was looking for a fairly quick read earlier today and this jumped out at me so I decided to give it a go.
There are lots of chick lit books published yearly about celebrities but I don't think I've ever read one about a regular person impersonating a celebrity and actually being paid to do so but this is the case in Just Like Me, Only Better. It's definitely a quirky plot which sets it apart from most chick lit and I hugely enjoyed Veronica's transformation from sad single mum to the spitting image of the hottest new star in LA (including changing her hair colour, getting spray tanned and borrowing Haley's wardrobe). Of course Veronica's new job is far from perfect particularly when it turns out that Haley isn't the angel the media are portraying her to be and definitely has a darker side - one that no-one could have imagined.
On top of all that Veronica also has to juggle her increasingly difficult family life - looking after son Ben, having to put up with living in a friend's backyard and having to keep her new job a secret - causing ructions between her friends. Rumours also begin circulating in Fullerton about Veronica's private life when she begins having late nights out (oh the horror!). Matters are made even worse when Veronica is sent to have coffee with Brady, Haley's alleged ex/boyfriend, and she finds she's attracted to him and it seems he feels the same way. But what will Haley's manager - and essentially Veronica's boss - Jay say and just what will Haley herself say when she finds out the woman hired to act like her is having feelings for her supposed ex? Surely that wasn't in the script?!
Carol Snow has created a really likeable leading lady in Veronica and I really really liked her. She's definitely one of my favourite heroines in the books I've read this year. Sure at the beginning she's sad after her husband Hank left her - insultingly - for an older woman but she's still easy to relate to. She was very self-deprecating ("If I can't keep a man in my prime, then what chance do I have?") but was also very funny with it and she doesn't let the fact she looks like Haley Rush go to her head at all and it's so great to see how her life changes after Jay offers her the job of being Haley. I suppose the other main character was Haley herself even though she's mainly non-syllabic whenever she has scenes in the book. It was clear to see that fame had destroyed Haley in ways that we never really touched upon - it kind of reminded me of what Lindsay Lohan is currently going through minus the lesbianism. I actually really loved Jay, Haley's manager and the man who initially hires Veronica. He can come across as a bit touchy at times but I thought he was a great character. The book only really revolves around those three and I don't think we fully get into anyone else mentioned although Hank, Veronica's ex, makes appearances as well as Brady Ellis, the man Veronica goes out with whilst she's Haley.
I really really enjoyed reading Just Like Me, Only Better and it really did make me laugh out loud. There's one particular scene where Veronica is trying to set up a meeting to meet Haley and it keeps getting cancelled so one piece of dialogue is repeated five or so times and I was in stitches by the predictability of it all. Just Like Me, Only Better is very well written and I was surprised at how quickly the pages were flying by. There's 320 pages in the book and it just flew for me which is the sign of a fantastic book. The end of the book was hugely enjoyable although I did suspect it from the middle of the book so I was pleased to find out I was right!
I was incredibly sad to finish Just Like Me, Only Better as I hugely enjoyed reading about Veronica and her life as Haley. It's a huge shame that this book will only be available to the US market unless you're willing to pay £10 on Amazon. I reckon Carol Snow would be quite a favourite in the UK market if her novels were ever to be published there. I for one would immediately order all of her previous books if they weren't so expensive! I do however hugely recommend Just Like Me, Only Better if you're able to buy it as it was a really great read.