Richard Baumbach is technically a Hollywood producer, but at 29, he has yet to actually produce anything noteworthy. So when he gets a mysterious proposal via a lawyer—spend two hours a week for a year with a woman he’s never heard of and get half a million dollars—Richard jumps at the chance.
Elizabeth Santiago, however, is much less sure. A successful attorney with no social life—her co-workers call her La Máquina, or The Machine, for her billable hours—Elizabeth wonders why anyone would pay her to spend time with the handsome, aimless Richard. But she reluctantly agrees.
The first few meetings are awkwardness incarnate. Richard’s exuberance and Elizabeth’s bookish reserve are like oil and water. To make the time pass, they agree to discuss books (her choice) and movies (his) each week. As they get to know each other, the forced dates become something they both look forward to, but they each have reasons to be hesitant about admitting any attraction. Instead, they team up to discover who has set them up, with a million dollars on the line.
In addition to being a smart, funny rom-com, The Decent Proposal is also a love letter to one of America’s strangest and most singular cities. “To love L.A. is to love a mess,” Donovan writes. “A jumble of sand, concrete, sunsets, and strip malls; a snake’s nest of highways on top of which the full emotional spectrum, from rage to carelessness, may be witnessed inside every single hour of the day.”
Donovan’s debut novel shimmers like a Los Angeles sunset. The characters are unforgettable, the dialogue crackles, and the ending is an absolute killer. The Decent Proposal is a story about taking chances and finding love in the most unlikely ways.