A broody but sexy cop. An indie director stuck on the worst movie ever. Well-meaning friends. Amazons. Beautiful landscape. A sweet old dog. Biker gangs. Misunderstandings. Hopes. Love.
There’s all that and more in Changing the Script, a spin-off of the delightful Breaking Character, which can be read as a standalone. Alex Levitin, whom we’ve met as one of Bess Thornton’s Shakespeare-obsessed British friends (and her former girlfriend), gets roped into saving what the movie industry media have dubbed the “worst movie ever”, Shezan: Mistress of the Forest, which is being shot in New Zealand. On her way from the airport to Ika Whenu, Alex almost runs over a beautiful woman on a motorcycle, who turns out to be Sam Keegan, the local cop and definitely not a fan of the movie. When she’s not complaining about the exploitative nature of the film, Sam, as the only cop around, is worried about an increase in crime due to drugs, which she blames on the local biker gang. Then sabotage starts plaguing the movie set, bringing Sam and Alex together in various ways.
One of the things I like best about Lee Winter’s books is how clever they are. She takes the reader in one direction, then another, and it never feels artificial. I was a bit worried at one point, because the sabotage thing seemed to be explained too easily, but that feeling didn’t last. Because of course Winter isn’t that lazy and I don’t even how I could for one second think she would be. While I’m not one hundred percent satisfied with the way it was resolved, I like what she did with it.
As usual, the characters are great. Alex is as sweet and witty as I hoped she’d be. Sam is scarred from a complicated childhood and the unshakable belief that being an outsider in her own life is for the best. They’re much more alike than they want to see, which, when they finally get there, makes them perfectly suited and able to understand each other’s needs.
There’s also a whole gallery of secondary characters which would make this book worth reading even without everything I wrote above. I was happy to see Chloe (Summer’s best friend) again, as one of the stars of the film. I liked her evil co-star too, I have to admit. But my favourite were probably Sam’s foster family. There’s a real sense of family there, and the way Sam found herself taken in by them makes it all the stronger.
Another very important part of the story is the lanscape. I’ve always wanted to visit New Zealand, and I now want to make it happen more than ever. And that beach in California sounds amazing too…