Thursday, September 15, 2016

Starstruck by L.A. Witt

Hollywood is full of dirty secrets, but Carter refuses to be Levi’s.

Retired action star Levi Pritchard has made a quiet life for himself in the sleepy logging town of Bluewater Bay, Washington. But then Hollywood comes to film the wildly popular television series Wolf’s Landing, and Bluewater Bay isn’t so sleepy anymore. His retirement doesn’t stick, either, because he’s offered a part on the show—exactly the kind of complex role he’d always wanted, one that would prove him more than a glorified stuntman. The only catch? He has to stay in the closet—no matter how attractive he finds his co-star.

Carter Samuels is the critically-acclaimed male lead on Wolf’s Landing. And now, the man who inspired him to take up acting—and made him realize he’s gay—is joining the cast, and sparks fly between them instantly. But Carter is out and proud and determined to stay true to himself.

Remaining just friends is the only thing to do, as both the studio and Levi’s disapproving, dysfunctional family keep reminding them. Except their friendship deepens by the day, tempting them with what they can’t have but both desperately need.

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Book 1
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Riptide Publishing

Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

I've read some of the later stories in the Bluewater Bay series and it was great go back and read Starstruck.

Levi is the older, in the closet movie star/action hero and Carter is the up and coming star of a hit TV show who is a huge fan of Levi's work. Carter is also openly gay. Levi is staying in the closest for the sake of his career and because his parents will disapprove. We see the emotional damage caused to people Levi loves and to Levi himself by his decision not to come out.

If you’re a reader that likes lots of buildup and the slow burn, then Starstruck is for you. Levi and Carter have great chemistry, but Carter refuses to get involved romantically with Levi if it means they have to keep their relationship secret. So they agree to be friends. They spend all their free time together bonding over their love of movies. They are really having a relationship, but without the physical intimacy. But there is plenty of emotional intimacy and it really is only a matter of time before something gives.

I loved Starstruck. It is a solid m/m romance and reading it made me happy.

3.5 Stars

Levi moved away from Hollywood to a slow life simple town, Bluewater Bay. He was retired from acting, the hustle of Hollywood. He was done with that life until the opportunity of a lifetime fell at his feet. A role on Wolf's Landing, that clearly wasn't the typical role he was usually cast for. He was excited for the opportunity.

On set there was instant chemistry with Carter. Carter was out and proud, Levi was buried pretty deep in the closet. A friendship develops along with high sexual tension. Levi is very aware of what his parents think of him and bases his decision to stay in the closet on that. Will the bond with Carter cause him to rethink that decision?

There is a sweet buildup in this one, but it is super slow. At times I did find myself a little bored but I'm glad I stuck with it for that ending! It's not about the sexual relationship as much as it is about the sexual tension between them. Wanting what you can't have. This was a great starter to this series. I'm definitely intrigued and can't wait for more.

3.5 Stars.

I'm definitely not new to L.A. Witt's writing style, nor of the Bluewater Bay series. I've read the past few new installments, never taking the time to start at the beginning, and I'm glad I finally have.

Levi is a retired actor, after hating the spotlight in LA, enjoying a backwater town and the privacy it has to offer... until a hit TV show is in his backyard, infringing on his anonymity. Levi is a serious character, who appreciates the smaller things in life, and doesn't feel the need to play the game of fakeness to get ahead.

Levi is given the chance of a lifetime, the ability to break out of typecast, but he has to stay in the closet to keep the powers that be happy. Only problem, his new co-star is a man he has a crush on.

In walks in Carter, who attributes his success to Levi for inspiring him to go into acting after watching the indie films Levi was in prior to finding stardom.

Levi and Carter are equally starstruck.

Insta-attraction. Insta-lust. But not insta-love for this slow-burn romance developing over the course of a few months, with a true friendship being made.

Friendship level is high. The angst is medium. The romance is light, and the heat is smoldering but never quite ignites.

While I love a friends-to-lovers, slow-burn romance, with a healthy dose of angst, Starstruck moved a tad too slow for me. The pacing had me losing interest, as nothing truly was occurring on the pages as details of their friendship was built. Ordinarily I'm the first to complain about a rapid romance, but this book's pacing was beyond slow on the buildup and tension front.

I loved the characters and the story being told, but there was an instance of out-of-character behavior by Carter for the sake of angst that didn't flow for me. After stating several times how Carter didn't do casual, he engages in the ultimate of casual, game-playing maneuvers that was out of character for him, and it made him seem flighty and vapid – spiteful and childish.

Levi's family issues didn't add up, either. His parents exhibited the classic signs of bad parenting. The alcoholism was realistic in how Levi was resentful, but that paints a picture of a lower-rent mentality. But the mentality of how his sister should have stayed in an abusive relationship to avoid a divorce because of how that would look for the family, suggested a higher-end, appearance-keeping, conservative mindset. Levi caring what they said, enough to have Skyped therapy sessions and continually lying to them when they knew he was gay, went against the resentment he felt for undeserving people who had no room to judge. I just felt one side of that had to be chosen – trashy vs uppity behavior exhibited by the same set of individuals. It was a tug-of-war with exactly who Levi's parents were supposed to be.

A major point of contention for me was the "I'm gay" Levi kept announcing. This is the first time I agreed with the camp stating how many MM books do Bi-erasure. Levi would think he was Bi, after being attracted and enjoying sexual conquests with women. But later he would say no one would understand what 'Bi' meant. It put across that if a bi man was with another man, then he was gay. But on the same token, that puts across that if Levi had been in a relationship with a woman, then he is straight. No, that is the very definition of bi-erasure, and I didn't appreciate how flippant this was written. Levi was not gay. He was a bi man in love with a man. Full stop. Bi doesn't mean being indecisive with a larger playing field, where who you get into a relationship with defines your sexuality.

All in all, I do highly recommend Starstruck, the foundation book of the Bluewater Bay series, especially to those who enjoy a slow-burn romance. The pacing is on the slow side, without any side plots. Just be aware there is a ton of inner monologue, where the ruminations become redundant. Lastly, this isn't a lusty read.

Also, I'm a sucker for a pet in a story, and Levi was the pet-parent of two Maine coon cats.

L.A. Witt is an abnormal M/M romance writer who has finally been released from the purgatorial corn maze of Omaha, Nebraska, and now spends her time on the southwestern coast of Spain. In between wondering how she didn't lose her mind in Omaha, she explores the country with her husband, several clairvoyant hamsters, and an ever-growing herd of rabid plot bunnies. She also has substantially more time on her hands these days, as she has recruited a small army of mercenaries to search South America for her nemesis, romance author Lauren Gallagher, but don't tell Lauren. And definitely don't tell Lori A. Witt or Ann Gallagher. Neither of those twits can keep their mouths shut...

Connect with L.A.

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Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of Starstruck (Bluewater Bay #1) by L.A. Witt to read and review.

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