Lights, camera, action! A small town on Washington State’s Olympic Peninsula is the setting for a popular paranormal TV series that becomes the background for a new series of romances written by multiple authors. I enjoyed this set up in another series so I was eager to try it again with this story.
I had the opportunity to listen to the first two books back to back so chose them for a series review. I’ll do a quick rundown of both with my thoughts.Starstruck by L.A. Witt
The story begins when former movie actor, Levi Pritchard is approached by an old friend who is the director of the blockbuster TV series that is being filmed in his small town. She, and the producer, offer him the role of the bad guy. Levi has always wanted to play a role with depth instead of just the hunky action hero and this offer is tantalizing, but he moved to a small backwater town far from Hollywood for a reason. He hates jumping through all the hoops and always hiding he is bi-sexual, but won’t come out. He has his reasons and his dysfunctional family is top on the list.
Carter, the openly gay star of the show, has idolized Levi since he was a teen. Levi is the reason he got into acting and the reason he chose to come out as gay. Carter can barely keep his mind on his job knowing that Levi is considering a part on the show. A friendship blooms and the hint of something more. Carter knows that friends is all it can be because he will never hide in the closet for any man and Levi will never come out about himself and now he can’t if he wants a comeback shot at acting in the show. Hopeless, right?
This was a slow moving friends to lovers story. The conflict is essentially about Levi and Carter being true to themselves and honest with everyone else. Levi has his reasons, but as he gets that his reasons will never make him happy and may lose him a chance at love, it comes to a crisis point. Up until that crisis, the story meanders. The romance had the opportunity to get really angsty what with Levi holding back and Carter holding nothing back, but it didn’t. I enjoyed that these were adults acting like adults well other than a few moments that I wanted to smack Levi to get over trying to please people who were never going to be pleased. The pace is sluggish, no doubt, but I still enjoyed the story, the characters, and their backdrop of acting and the small town.
On a side note, Levi’s cats stole the scene every single time. They were his pals, but their little personalities and antics made me laugh and smile. I wanted to swoon a bit when they stuck by him when he was going through his crisis moment.There’s Something About Ari by L.B. Gregg
The second installment focuses on town resident, Buck Ellis, and returning ‘made good’ town prodigal, Ari Valentine. Buck and Ari were best friends since grade school. Buck lost his dad and Ari had a drugged out mom. Ari went a bit wild in high school and then left without looking back on the day Buck lost his mom and became the guardian of his kid brother, Charlie. Buck’s future was promising, but he did what he had to do only now he feels his life is on hold and all the good chances have passed him by. Into this walks Ari.
Buck doesn’t know what to do with this new version and he struggles to reconcile with the past. Anger and hurt have him off balance and lashing out. But then he listens and gives Ari a chance to explain. Buck now has a choice if he can get past his fear and the past stuff tying him down.
This was both a story I enjoyed, but also struggled with. Buck can be a jerk. He had it tough, no doubt and no argument, but he wears it like it is some martyr’s hair shirt and he’s the only one who has ever suffered and lost. Then there was the rushed ending. It was a happy for now. I was left with questions and needed more resolution after some of the things.
But, that said, I loved the idea of childhood friends finally getting a chance and the prodigal son returned to make good. I loved Buck and Charlie bach-ing it together and trying to keep what’s left of their family. I thought the tough and honest reunion scenes were heartaching just as Buck getting busted as a peeping Tom cracked me up. A pretty good story and left me pretty well pleased.
The audio narrator for both books, Nick Russo, was a familiar voice and is always a welcome element to the story. I enjoy his work because he makes a story come alive in my mind. Each character is distinct and he gets the tone and pace just right.
So, all in all this new Bluewater Bay series has promise. I enjoyed the gently paced simple story and can easily recommend it to others who enjoy m/m contemporary romance.
My thanks to Riptide Publishing for the opportunity to listen to this book in exchange for an honest review.
Romance Roundabout #176 LGBT