Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5
This is book one in a series called Until You. I read Sentinel, the second book, first so I wanted to go back and learn about the other characters. Ryan Lowe is an Aussie actor without a lot of experience, hired to play Sam on a weekly TV show called The Witches’ Hammer, based on a popular book. Lucas Evers is the more experienced actor having been on a previously successful show, hired to play Dominic. They become fast friends but as the show becomes more successful the pressures, especially from fans, mount.
The author does of great job of showing us the different sides of fame. Ryan is from a poor background with an alcoholic father. He doesn’t have a good support system, is increasingly feeling panicked and out of control, and spirals down when on break from filming. His anxiety issues increase throughout the book.
Lucas responds very differently to fame, seeming to thrive. He is married to his best friend Anna. Although, we know this is a convenient arrangement, she is often the voice of reason and so supportive. We’re told Lucas is close to his family, but we don’t get to see it. He is basically supporting his siblings and parents, but when they start to spend more of his money than he is, he finally says something. Then we see the crack in the veneer of family relationships.
A third of the way in, the focus and mood shifts. Ryan has a stalker named Leighton White so studio security and the police get involved. Some of you may be too young to remember the stabbing of Theresa Saldana, or when Rebecca Schaeffer was murdered, but I’m not. I have also lived in Los Angeles and have seen actors get harassed, once for an autograph while in the toilet at a restaurant. I was devastated when Dimebag Darrell got shot. All of the sudden my fun romantic romp got serious. While this is true to life, it took me a moment when used as a plot device to draw Ryan and Lucas closer.
This is told in dual POV, so we see as: each of them pines for the other; get frustrated as they don’t talk; and get dragged along as their mutual attraction (hot, hot, hot) threatens their friendship, their jobs, and their sanity. The author gets us inside their heads and makes us root for them to be together both on and off screen. I really like that they use geekdom and humor to defuse their tensions. By the time they actually get together, it’s handled more maturely than I thought it would be–especially with Ryan’s previous behavior. Although after all the delicious UST, the actual love scenes are just ok for me.
About halfway through, tragedy strikes. There is one heck of a plot twist, and I shouldn’t know what is going to happen, but I do because I read the second book first. Lucas gets nominated for an Oscar for the film he worked on during the season break and his life may be in danger so the studio hires bodyguards from a security company owned by the Krispins. Here is were we meet Ethan and Ben, who will be the MCs of book two. They save Lucas and Ryan from being killed. In the epilogue, we get to see Ryan and Lucas filming on location: out, happy, and in love.
I enjoyed this book and I enjoyed the second book, but my criticism of each is the same: the author only focuses on the two main characters, not fleshing out the secondary characters. Yes, two of them have their own story, but in a book this long, there was plenty of opportunity for us to get to know more about everyone, which would give this way more depth. Still, I enjoyed what was there and would recommend it for an easy read with steamy chemistry.
The cover art by Natasha Snow shows San Francisco where the TV show was filming. The red sky is signaling danger. I am confused over the cover because Ryan is described as Australian, but never Aboriginal nor Black Australian. He is first described as tall, dark, and handsome with dark-brown eyes and later there is a remark about dark skin. Lucas is described as having striking dark skin, shaggy black hair, and green eyes but never identified as African American. Now I am picturing the actors Gary Dourdan (green eyes) or Michael Ealy (although his eyes are blue). We do not get a good enough description of anyone in his family. I never got a sense of either of them as a POC and at this point, I am not sure which model represents which character.
Published June 18th 2018 by NineStar Press
Series Until You #1