Author: Alli Sinclair
Publication Date: 20 May 2019
Publisher: Harlequin Mira
Copy: Courtesy of the Publisher
I have been reading Alli Sinclair for a few years now, and I still plan to get back to Luna Tango one of these days.
Alli Sinclair manages to weave dual timelines into two compelling love stories featuring strong women who aren’t afraid to stand up for themselves and fight for their place in their chosen industry.
The Cinema at Starlight Creek features two strong female leads, decades apart and at opposite ends of the world. This one almost classifies for two historical time periods with the latter day timeline taking place in 1994, already a lifetime ago.
Sinclair opens her story with Claire Montgomery in small town Queensland in 1994. Claire is the location manager for Wattle Films, currently working on a TV mini-series about the life of 1930s architect Amelia Elliott. Part of what cemented her promotion was gaining approval to shoot in one of Elliott’s Art Deco cinemas, and shooting is going well until one of the actors is caught behaving inappropriately and the company are run out of town by an understandably irate cinema owner.
Claire is left in the terrible position of having to find a new location at the eleventh hour with no room for failure, but hey no pressure. It doesn’t help that she is overwhelmingly outnumbered on the gender scale and fighting to prove herself when there are those within the production that don’t believe she should be in the job, mainly due to gender.
Luck would have it that there is another Amelia Elliott cinema in a nearby town and Claire heads off to check it out with hope in her heart and everything crossed that it’s suitable, and she can secure the use of it for the series.
1994 doesn’t seem that long ago to me, but it was a time before social media and before widespread mobile phone access. It was a time when the world seemed a little bigger and it was possible to be uncontactable for periods of time.
Starlight Creek is a small town and it has that small town feel but it doesn’t have that strong sense of community and it isn’t always welcoming of strangers. Claire has a tough task ahead of her trying to convince the owners to allow them access but she builds a rapport with cinema owner Hattie Fitzpatrick rather quickly.
Lena Lee is our Hollywood heroine, working in an industry that loves a looker leading lady but doesn’t respect the women in the industry. She struggles to get a break because she started on a Hollywood career path a little older, and leading ladies have to be young and stunning.
This timeline gives us insight into what went on behind the scenes in Hollywood at a time when censorship was rife and studios had a lot of control over the off screen lives of their A-listers.
Lena Lee came to her career path late and then when she finally got her big break she found that it didn’t fulfill her the way she expected, she wanted to be able to use the influence of her celebrity to make changes in the industry so it was a safer and fairer industry for women.
The Cinema at Starlight Creek isn’t all strong women fighting for their place in a male dominated career arena; it’s also romance with bad timing and learning to follow your dreams. Sometimes it all seems too hard but if you can find that first small step to set you in the right direction you can make big things happen.
If that’s not enough there’s also a mystery to unravel, classic movies to ponder and locations to fall in love with.
Alli Sinclair you have done it again. A beautiful story that I finished with tears in my eyes, and the desire to go out and do some research on Art Deco cinemas and their architects.
The Cinema at Starlight Creek is available now through Harlequin Mira and where all good books are sold.