THE IDEA OF YOU: a novel by Robinne Lee
St. Martin’s Griffin; On Sale: June 13, 2017 / original trade paperback: 978-250-123590-3 / $15.99 / 384 pages
“This sexy and bittersweet debut by actress-turned-author Lee zeros in on Solene’s struggle as she is torn between her desire for Hayes and her need to live a normal life.” —Booklist
“Actress Lee, who appeared in Fifty Shades Darker, debuts with a beautifully written novel that explores sex, love, romance, and fantasy in moving, insightful ways while also examining a woman’s struggle with aging and sexism, with a nod at the tension between celebrity and privacy. A fascinating, thought-provoking, genre-bending romantic read.” —Kirkuk
“Lee starts the story off with a somewhat outrageous scenario: The 39-year old mother of a teenage-boy-band-obsessed daughter and the 20-year-old boy band member enter into a relationship. She makes the readers believe that not only could it be possible, but it exists and is true and real.” —RT Book Reviews
“Captures what fame looks like, and how it affects us all…a fun, juicy love story!”
—Elizabeth Banks, producer and actor
“An O-M-G page tuner that literally sucks you in from page one to the last few words. I found myself yearning for more, needing, really, to know what happens next… it’s that good.” —Gabrielle Union, actor
“An honest and elegant book about modern love in the age of uber-celebrity and social media.”
—Hill Harper, author and actor
THE IDEA OF YOU
a novel by Robinne Lee
Actor, writer and producer Robinne Lee has a life-long passion for creating stories and characters that affect people in profound ways. As the daughter of Jamaican parents of African, Chinese, British and Arawak Indian descent, Robinne grew up with an affinity for the arts. She graduated from Yale and from Columbia Law School and went on to write for magazines, run a music management company, and earn global fame as an actress in films including Hitch, Seven Pounds, and Fifty Shades Darker (Ros Bailey). In her acting career, her creative process requires an outward expression and collaboration to bring others’ creative visions to life. Now, she turns inward creatively, drawing on her experiences as a mother, artist, and someone who’s worked in the music industry for her marvelously engaging debut novel, THE IDEA OF YOU (St. Martin’s Griffin; June 13, 2017). It’s a smart and steamy story of how a 39-year-old, divorced mother of a boy-band obsessed teenage girl and a much younger, charismatic boy band member meet by chance and against all odds, fall madly and inescapably in love. Inspired by the prevailing cultural stereotypes placed on women of a certain age, the book explores both the joys and consequences of this unconventional relationship that is even more complicated by massive fame and very little privacy.
Solène Marchand has her world figured out. She owns a successful art gallery in Los Angeles, is getting along with her ex-husband, and is making her relationship with her daughter, Isabelle, a top priority. When she takes Isabelle to a VIP meet and greet with August Moon, her daughter’s favorite boy band, she’s shocked that sparks are flying between herself and one of the band’s members. Hayes Campbell is breathtakingly handsome, charming, and sophisticated beyond his years, and the mutual attraction is undeniable—even though she’s determined to dismiss it as impossible—after all, he’s barely twenty years old. Despite her vehement protests, what begins as a series of clandestine trysts soon evolves into a passionate and authentic relationship between them. It is a love affair that spans continents, as Solène and Hayes navigate each other’s disparate worlds: from stadium tours to international art fairs to secluded hideaways in Paris and Miami. Inevitably, the news of their relationship goes viral, her daughter feels betrayed, and mother and daughter are both targeted by rabid fans and ravaged by the effects of an insatiable media cycle. Solène must come to terms with a grave truth—that her personal happiness has serious and irreparable consequences not only for herself, but for the lives of everyone who’s close to her.
Dramatic, sexy, and heart-rending, THE IDEA OF YOU is a textured and nuanced story of a woman who, in experiencing extraordinary, once-in-a-lifetime love, discovers her own true self again.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Robinne Lee was born and raised in Westchester County, New York and currently lives in Los Angeles with her husband and two children. She has numerous acting credits in both television and film, most notably opposite Will Smith in both Hitch and Seven Pounds, Don Cheadle in Hotel for Dogs, and Jennifer Garner in 13 Going on 30. Her most recent role was Christian Grey’s trusted COO, Ros Bailey in Fifty Shades Darker and in next year’s Fifty Shades Freed. An inactive member of the New York Bar, Robinne has served as a producer on various independent films and regularly speaks on panels regarding the roles of women and actors of color in the industry.
I suppose I could blame it all on Daniel.
Two days before my planned getaway to Ojai, he showed up at the house in a tux with our daughter, Isabelle, in tow. He’d left the car running in the driveway.
“I can’t do the Vegas trip,” he said, thrusting a manila enve- lope in my hand. “I’m still working on the Fox deal and it’s not going to close anytime soon.”
I must have looked at him in disbelief because he followed that up with:
“I’m sorry. I know I promised the girls, but I can’t. You take them. Or I’ll eat the tickets. Whatever.”
An unopened package of Da Vinci Maestro Kolinsky brushes was lying on the entry table, alongside a set of thirty-six Holbein watercolors. I’d spent a fortune at Blick stocking up on materials for my artist retreat. They were, like the trip to Ojai, my gift to myself. Forty-eight hours of art and sleep and wine. And now my ex-husband was standing in my living room in formal black tie and telling me there’d been a change of plans.
“Does she know?” I asked. Isabelle, having retreated immedi- ately to her room—no doubt to get on her phone—had missed the entire exchange.
He shook his head. “I haven’t had time to tell her. I thought I’d wait and see if you could take them rst.”
“Don’t start, okay?” He turned toward the door. “If you can’t do it, have her call me, and I’ll make it up the next time the group’s in town.”
It was so like him to have a Band-Aid for everything. To walk away from commitments guilt-free. Would that I had acquired that gene.
Isabelle and her two girlfriends had been counting down the days to see the band August Moon, a quintet of handsome lads from Britain who sang pleasant pop songs and drove tween girls mad. Daniel had “won” the tickets at the school silent auction. Paid some formidable amount to y four to Vegas, stay at the Mandalay Bay, and attend the concert and a meet-and-greet with the band. Canceling now would not go over well.
“I have plans,” I said, following him out into the driveway.
He slipped around the back of the BMW and withdrew a cum- bersome bag from the trunk. Isabelle’s fencing equipment. “I assumed you would. I’m sorry, Sol.”
He was quiet for a moment, drinking me in: sneakers, leggings, still damp from a ve-mile run. And then: “You cut your hair.”
I nodded, my hands rising to my neck, self-conscious. It barely reached my shoulders now. My act of de ance. “It was time for a change.”
He smiled faintly. “You’re never not beautiful, are you?”
Just then the tinted window on the passenger side rolled down and a sylphlike creature leaned out and waved. Eva. My replacement.
She was wearing an emerald-green gown. Her long, honey- colored hair twisted into a chignon. There were diamonds dan- gling from both ears. It wasn’t enough that she was some youngish, stunning, half-Dutch, half-Chinese star associate at the rm, but that she was now sitting in Daniel’s 7 Series in my driveway look- ing every bit the princess while I was dripping sweat—now, that stung.
“Fine. I’ll take them.”
“Thank you,” he said, handing over the bag. “You’re the best.” “That’s what all the boys say.”
He paused then, screwing up his aristocratic nose. I anticipated a response, but none was forthcoming. Instead he smiled blandly, leaning in to do the awkward divorcé cheek kiss. He was wearing cologne, which he’d never done in all his years with me.
I watched him make his way over to the driver’s side. “Where are you going? All dolled up . . .”
“Fund-raiser,” he said, getting into the car. “Katzenberg’s.” And with that, he pulled away. Leaving me holding the baggage.
I was not a fan of Vegas: loud, fat, dirty. The underbelly of Amer- ica convened in one garish skid mark in the desert. I’d visited once, years before, to attend a bachelorette party that I was still trying to forget. The smell of strip clubs and drugstore perfume and vomit. Those things linger. But this was not my adventure. This time I was just along for the ride. Isabelle and her friends had made that clear.
They spent the afternoon running circles around the resort on a quest to nd their idols, while I followed dutifully. I had be- come accustomed to this: my passionate daughter trying any- and everything, setting her mind and forging her way. Isabelle and her American can-do spirit. There was trapeze school and gure skat- ing, musical theater, fencing . . . She was fearless, and I loved that about her, envied it even. I liked that she took risks, that she did not wait for permission, that she followed her heart. Isabelle was okay with living outside the lines.
I was hoping to convince the girls to visit the Contemporary Arts Center. It would have been nice to squeeze some real culture into the weekend. To imprint something worthwhile upon their im- pressionable minds. I’d spent countless hours trailing my mother through the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston as a child. Following the click of her Vivier heels, the scent of the custom-made fragrance she bought every summer in Grasse. How knowledgeable she was to me then, how womanly. I knew the halls of that museum as well as I knew my third-grade classroom. But Isabelle and her cohorts had balked at the idea.
“Mom, you know at any other time I would say yes. But this trip is diferent. Please?” she’d implored.
They’d come to Vegas for one reason only, and nothing would thwart their mission. “Our lives begin tonight,” Georgia, with the silky brown skin, had proclaimed on the ight in. Rose, the red- head, agreed, and the three quickly adopted it as their mantra. No expectation too high. They had their whole lives ahead of them. They were twelve.