Washed up former child actress Ellie Barlow needs a gig — any gig — to make ends meet. So when a group of college girls want to hire her to break a guy’s heart, she gets past her skepticism and ignores her conscience in favor of the five thousand dollars they promise her if she can get him to say he loves her. It’s not exactly the acting job she was aiming for, but it will certainly pay the bills. If only she didn’t like him so much…
The Verdict: Okay, so my initial reaction was that the story was a bit far-fetched, but the more I thought about it, the more it seemed plausible. And if you’ve been around a teenage girl any time lately, you know exactly what I mean. Most of them aren’t exactly logical when their hearts are broken, and they resort to all kinds of insanity like spreading rumors, cruising past his house at 3am, and dreaming up all kinds of crazy scenarios in which they come out the victor and he’s left with regrets. So while the idea of college girls hiring a has-been actress to snare and break a guy might not seem very realistic, I would imagine that with the right financial resources, it’s exactly what some might do. But that’s not what’s so awesome about this story.
While the plot is in some ways predictable, it didn’t play out exactly like I expected. Sure, Ellie managed to get Julian’s attention. And yes, he liked her even more when her own personality seeped into the role she was playing. And of course, he discovered her deception and channeled a bit of hate her way. But everything in between? Not predictable at all.
There was a lost beret, a bar fight that became a YouTube hit, a traumatic event that had Julian subconsciously taking advantage of girls — not some illogical decision based on his parents’ bad marriage or some girl that previously broke his heart and trust. He wasn’t callous, even though his actions certainly were, and he honestly thought the random hook-ups were just part of what college was about. The medication and therapy and complete obliviousness to his wrongs just made him all that more believable and easy to love.
And Ellie… Well, she wasn’t at all what I expected. She was never recognized as the girl from that television show, her financial situation was what I would imagine many former child stars go through, and while she was desperate to make a living, she wasn’t necessarily desperate for a second Hollywood wind so much as she just wanted to continue her craft. In many ways, she was just a normal, down-on-her-luck girl who got roped into something by a vengeful estrogen fest.
But best of all was the way it was all worked out. As usual, I won’t give away the ending, but the resolution seemed to happen by chance in a way and was spot on for Ellie’s character. Hell, even the repercussions of her somewhat grand gesture weren’t miraculously swept away. If you’re looking for a rather classic romance novel story line with an entirely new twist, characters that avoid the usual cliches, and a great but believable happily ever after, He’s Come Undone is a definite win.