Starstruck by L.A. Witt

Grade: B+
Hotness Level: Blaze
Kink Level: No Kink
Genre: Contemporary, m/m
Series: Bluewater Bay #1
Published: 11/3/14
Reviewed by Anne
226 ebook pages

Levi is a retired action star who has spent his entire life in the closet.  His parents have made it clear they couldn’t accept him if he was gay and he’s sure that Hollywood couldn’t handle a gay action star.  That’s part of why he retired – he was tired of all the prying eyes and lying about himself.  But then the role of a lifetime lands in his lap.  It’s gritty and complex and pretty much the part he dreamed of playing when he was stuck in his action star roles.  Not to mention, it’s a recurring role on a tv series he loves and it’s being filmed in his new small town.  As if that weren’t enough, the director is a friend of his, and Carter Samuels, a younger actor Levi has admired is on the show and Levi would have a lot of screen time with him.  So, even though taking the role means agreeing to stay in the closet, Levi goes for it.  He didn’t  plan on the attraction between him and Carter.

If you follow my reviews, you know that I really enjoy a low conflict romance, where all the conflict is inner conflict.  It’s all about people building a relationship and learning to live together in a partnership.  Starstruck falls in this category.  The main conflict is if the guys will act on the attraction they feel.  And if they do, how will they handle it?  Will Levi come out?  Will Carter agree to keep their relationship a secret?  How will it work out?

Watching these guys fall for each other as friends was fun.  I enjoyed the other characters in the book, but appreciated that the focus was pretty tight on Levi and Carter.  I didn’t even suspect this was a series until I looked up information on Goodreads after I was done reading.  It didn’t feel like there was obvious sequel bait, so that was well done.

This is the first in a new series being published by Riptide Publishing.  The books will come out quickly – five stories are scheduled to be out by January – and will be written by a few different authors but set in the same world.  I really enjoyed Riptide’s Tucker Springs series written in the same way, so I’m looking forward to the rest of these stories!  They look like they’re all centered around a tv series based on a very popular book series about werewolves.  It’s easy to picture and that was an interesting aspect to this story as well.

I’d highly recommend this story to anyone who enjoys m/m romance!  I can’t wait to read the next one!  This is one of a few books I’ve read with Hollywood famous characters.  Do you have any to recommend?

Stand By You by A.M. Arthur

Grade: B
Hotness Level: Blaze
Kink Level: No Kink
Genre: Contemporary, m/m
Series: Belonging #3
Published: 10/20/14
Reviewed by Anne
189  pages

Romy was in a terribly abusive relationship.  He finally got out and is living with some new friends and working in their coffee shop.  He’s still very skittish and trying not to panic over every little thing.  Brenden is the bright spot in Romy’s life.  Romy’s pretty sure Brenden is straight, but it doesn’t really matter because what he most needs is a friend, and that’s what Brenden is for him.   And even if Brenden was gay, Romy knows he deserves someone better than Romy.  He deserves someone who isn’t such an emotional mess and who hasn’t lived such a rough life.

Brenden knows he’s gay, but he’s not sure how his family would take it, so he’s not out to anyone.  He knows he’s falling for Romy, though.  He wants to protect Romy and build him up and make him smile.  He’s just a janitor who lost his football scholarship, though, and he knows Romy deserves more.  He’s happy being friends with Romy, though.

This whole story made me smile gooey happy smiles.  Well, ok, not the whole story, because Romy’s abuse history is just awful.  But I give the book bonus points for giving what I think is a realistic portrayal of how that abuse would affect a person, and also for giving a realistic view of what it would take to overcome that past.  But the parts not about the abuse, the parts where Romy and Brenden make each other happy as friends and inch their way toward more?  Those parts were delightful!

This book is third in a series.  I read the first one and enjoyed it, but it was long enough ago that I don’t remember it well at all.  So I essentially read this book as a stand alone.  There was a little confusion for me in the beginning of the book, because both couples from the first book have large supporting roles.  Keeping everyone straight got a little confusing, but it really wasn’t important.  The story was pretty focused on Romy and Brenden, and it worked fine for me to just consider everyone else as an interchangeable “friend” for the purposes of reading.

There is a bit of a suspense angle to the story, but I was ok with it, which means it was pretty light suspense.  I really enjoyed this book and would recommend it to anyone who enjoys m/m, though it might be triggering for some due to Romy’s abuse history which is shared as a memory.

One in a Million by Jill Shalvis

Grade: A-
Hotness Level: Blaze
Kink Level: No Kink
Genre: Contemporary
Series: Lucky Harbor #12
Published: 10/14/14
Reviewed by Kate
368 pages

Tanner is the last of the Lucky Harbor Charters trio to pair up.  He’s happy being a loner, taking care of everyone in his life but not risking his heart.  Callie has been sent to Lucky Harbor, where she grew up, to determine if her grandma, Lucille, is crazy or not.  She’s was left at the alter years ago and is not willing to put her heart on the line again.  A very casual relationship between Tanner and Callie seems to be just what they both need.  Until they both start to want more.

Tanner is my new favorite Shalvis hero, although Anne would tell you that I say that about every Shalvis hero I read.  But seriously, when you read about the sucker valentine from high school you’ll completely understand why I melted for a fictional hero.  I think Tanner’s going to be my new book boyfriend (shh…don’t tell my husband).  Callie is such a wonderful, quirky character.  Her grandmother is Lucille, so can we expect anything else?  But behind her funny and klutzy exterior there’s such a genuine fragileness that you can’t help but root for her as she struggles to get over the pains and disappointments of her past.

We’ve reached the final Lucky Harbor book and I have to admit to being a little sad at seeing it come to an end.  However, Shalvis did such a marvelous job of finishing the series strong and I’m looking forward to seeing what she writes for us next.  If you haven’t read a Lucky Harbor book yet, you’re missing out on a funny and heartwarming small-town series.  Pick up any book in this series and you’ll find yourself going back to read the rest.  But I think this one’s my favorite of the bunch.