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.
“Grabbing a bite. With a twenty-year-old. From a boy band. Under what circumstance might that ever be construed as acceptable?”
I. LOVED. THIS. BOOK.
A sharp and insightful commentary on our modern culture and obsession with celebrity, ‘The Idea of You’ is also a fantastic, sexy romance. This book really did it for me. If this is Robinne Lee’s first book, I cannot wait see what comes next!
Solene is a sophisticated, 39 year old divorced working mom who finds herself swept up into an exciting and sexy relationship with the world-famous Hayes Campbell, the 20 year old member of a famous “boy band”. She is an educated and successful gallerist who is divorced from her ex-husband, who has a younger girlfriend. The world does not take kindly to Solene’s relationship with Hayes, mainly because of the 20 year age difference. I loved the commentary on ageism in our society today. The public will accept an older man with a younger girlfriend but frowns upon the older woman/younger man dynamic.
Solene is acutely aware of the age difference but is enjoying an awakening of sorts with Hayes, Ah, the joys of a younger boyfriend! What starts out as “just lunch” soon becomes much, much more.
“I just want to look at you for a moment.”
“You’ve been looking at me for over an hour.”
“Yeah, but before I was trying not to be obvious about it. Come here.” He led me over to the daybed against the far wall and pulled me onto his lap. I could feel him through his pants. Oh, the wonders of twenty.
Solene at first tries to hide her relationship with Hayes from her young daughter. I knew this was going to be a disaster and her daughter at first does not handle the news well at all. But doesn’t Solene deserve to be happy? She struggles not only with her ex-husband’s reaction to the news but also with her daughter’s.
The entire time Isabelle had been just across the hall on the phone with her friend, oblivious to her mother going down the rabbit hole. Face-first.
One of the things I loved most about this book was the sharp look at our obsession with celebrity. Hayes could not go anywhere without being mobbed, and even a causal trip to the store to buy a shirt led to a mob scene. He was used to it; Solene was not. This story made me re-think every headline I read about celebrities. Hayes wanted Solene to know him, and NOT “the idea” of him. Hayes was tender, sweet, funny, sexy and much wiser than his 20 years.
“You want to be kissed, Solène?” His hands were in my hair, pushing it off of my face, cradling my neck.
“Yes.” I nodded.
“You think you can handle that?”
“I’ll see what I can do.”
Robinne Hill gets her locations right. From Miami, to Malibu, to Manhattan and Paris, I felt as if I was THERE, experiencing the cafes, the clubs, the chic art galleries and the screaming fans at the huge concerts. This book really checked all the boxes for me!! I simply cannot recommend it highly enough. I am having a hard time moving on from this book. Would I love a sequel? YES. But I would also gladly welcome another book from Ms. Lee. Grab ‘The Idea of You’ and enjoy a fabulous time with this perfect beach read. I adored it.
“You’re making me blush,” he laughed, tipping his head back. His jawline from this angle was well-defined, exquisite, like art. His beauty, like a gift that kept revealing itself.
“Love,” she said, “was not always perfect, and not exactly how you expected it to be. But when it descended upon you, there was no controlling it.”
ARC provided by the publisher in return for an honest review.
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 ENVELOPE 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 DAVINCI 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 IMMEDIATELY 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 FIRST.”
“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 FLY 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 CUMBERSOME 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 FIVE-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 DANGLING FROM BOTH EARS. IT WASN’T ENOUGH THAT SHE WAS SOME YOUNGISH, STUNNING, HALF-DUTCH, HALF-CHINESE STAR ASSOCIATE AT THE FIRM, BUT THAT SHE WAS NOW SITTING IN DANIEL’S 7 SERIES IN MY DRIVEWAY LOOKING 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 AMERICA 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 THAT AFTERNOON RUNNING CIRCLES AROUND THE RESORT ON A QUEST TO ND THEIR IDOLS, WHILE I FOLLOWED DUTIFULLY. I HAD BECOME 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 FIGURE SKATING, 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 IMPRESSIONABLE 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 DIFFERENT. 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 FLIGHT IN. ROSE, THE REDHEAD, 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.
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.
The Idea of You Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/TheIdeaOfYouBook/
Author Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/therobinnelee/