In my line of work, I spend a good chunk of my time at the local news station watching the morning anchors effortlessly chat with professors about their research on live TV. It looks like a lot of fun, but sometimes I wonder how they can stay on point when they’re feeling down in the dumps. Isn’t it amazing that these people can slap on a smile and look like a million bucks every day of the week?
So when Lauren Clark, a former news anchor and producer, contacted me about her debut novel Stay Tuned, I couldn’t wait to get a peek inside the fascinating world of broadcast journalism.
The story centers around Mellissa Moore, a frenzied newsroom producer with a plethora of problems at work and at home. Not only does she have to continuously keep two anchors from slashing each other’s throats on the air, she also has to figure out what’s going on with her absentee husband who suspiciously spends his nights and weekends “working.”
Just when life couldn’t get more hectic, two longtime anchors get fired after a fistfight breaks out on the ten o’ clock news. Unwilling to let WSGA go down on her watch, Melissa slaps on a coat of lipstick and wraps up the last remaining minutes of the evening news. Little did she know, her demanding boss liked her performance and decided to make her fill in as the evening news anchor until the next hotshot diva comes along.
With a shabby wardrobe and no on-camera experience, Melissa is overwhelmed to say the least. And when she tries to seek encouragement from her husband, his only concern is whether she can still pick up his dress shirts at the dry cleaners. What the hell?!?! I have to say, I got really pissed off at this up-tight workaholic throughout most of the book. How could he ignore his wife when she’s clearly drowning in her work? How could he leave her those crappy Post-it notes instead of picking up the phone or actually talking to her in person?
I really enjoyed the part when Melissa took her husband’s credit card and bought herself some much-needed ensembles. With her mousy hair and ill-fitting mom jeans, I figured she’d encounter a “Pretty Woman” dilemma at the high-end boutique. But lucky for her, the shop girl instantly took her under her wing and hooked her up with a whole new wardrobe. I don’t want to give too much away, so I’m just going to say that this chance encounter led to a something truly great at the end of the book.
There’s a lot of sisterhood bonding in this book, which I really love. No matter what, Melissa’s best friend was there to offer support and encouragement. And with a mother suffering the ravages of Alzheimer’s disease, a daughter off to college and a husband who just doesn’t seem to give a flip, she needs her best friend more than ever.
This first-time author has a real knack for character development, which in my opinion is the mark of a gifted writer. I was instantly enamored by Melissa’s good-hearted personality. Even when her husband acts like a total rat, she fights the urge to jump into an affair with her mega-hot co-anchor. And rather than focusing on sensationalized headlines, she takes advantage of the limelight by promoting social good. Wouldn’t it be great if all newscasters had pure intentions? There certainly wouldn’t be anymore headlines about Kim Kardashian creeping into our morning news shows. That, my friends, would be a beautiful thing.
I do have one bone to pick with the author. My shins are killing me and it’s all her fault! I like to read during my morning workouts, and when I reached the last couple of chapters, I couldn’t put the book down. Before I knew it, I burned more than 800 calories on the bike!
Overall, this is an emotionally powerful story chock-full of real characters, real issues, and real thrills. Fans of Kristin Hannah, Jennifer Weiner and Ann Brashares are sure to enjoy this one. I look forward to reading her next novel, Dancing Naked in Dixie!