It Happened One Fight by Maureen Lee Lenker is romance novel set inside the full on glamour (and grit) of 1930s Hollywood. It’s also a classic “enemies to lovers” story, which isn’t my usual fav, but I enjoyed it here.
Our protagonists are Dash Howard and Joan Davis, two mega watt movie stars who have been paired up in a series of movies, even though they profess to hate each other. It turns out they’re also married — to each other — after they were married in a movie by a real clergyman, and Dash jokingly addressed a copy of their marriage certificate to be mailed to City Hall.
In order to undo what they both call this disaster, the movie they’re shooting is re-located to Reno, which was famous at the time for granting quickie divorces. Should be easy: in six weeks, they’ll shoot the movie, and then end their mistake marriage, so Joan can marry her fiance, who she swears she’s totally in love with.
Of course it’s not so simple, and I enjoyed following along. I picked up some of the historical cues, which Lenker outlined at the back of the book: that Joan Davis is based on Bette Davis and Joan Crawford (though I kept thinking of her as Maureen O’Hara, for some reason), and Dash is based on Clark Gable. I also assume that Joan’s fiance Monty is based on Montgomery Clift, as they decided to get married to hide that he’s gay, and help her claw back into Hollywood’s good graces after being labeled “box off poison,” a real thing that happened to Joan Crawford.
I wasn’t quite ready to leave this world at the end of the book, so I hope that Lenker is allowed to write stories for Monty, and for Arlene, Davis’ assistant turned screenwriter. Fingers crossed!
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