Rating: 4.75 stars
Buy Link: Amazon | All Romance
Josh Bauer loves to flirt and working as a bartender affords him ample opportunity. But that’s just one of his three jobs, and he doesn’t have time for anything more than casual. When he meets Ry at the bar, though, there’s something about the other man that pushes all his buttons. They have a tryst in the alley, then Ry stays until Josh is done working. They spend the night together, but when Josh wakes up in the morning, Ry is gone. Thinking that it was a one and done, Josh never expects to see the man again.
Ryan Keller is an up and coming actor who feels he needs to hide in the closet in order to further his career. When his best friend comes for a visit and drags him out to a bar, Ryan goes without the intent of hooking up. But the sexy bartender pushes his buttons, and Ryan does something he never does: hooks up with another man. When pictures of Ryan and Josh’s time in the alley are splashed across the tabloids, Ryan is hurt because he thinks Josh set him up. He gets drunk and goes back to the bar to confront Josh. They end up talking and Ryan believes Josh when he says he had nothing to do with the pictures being taken.
Their connection is strong and they begin tentative steps toward a relationship. But pictures of Ryan and Josh continue to show up in the tabloids. With the help of some friends, the two men are able to put together the pieces. Someone is following Ryan with the express purpose to get scandalous pictures. But when the pictures threaten Josh’s family, the two men band together to figure out who is behind it. Once the truth comes to light, Ryan has some tough decisions to make. And he may just have to choose between his budding career and Josh, because it’s very possible he can’t have both.
In the tradition of the Throwback Thursday reviews, this is one of the books that I read early on and it was one that cemented my love of this genre. It was also the first book I read by this author, and I consider it my gateway T.A. Chase book. Because of some of the secondary characters in the book, I was lead to many more books I enjoyed by this author. But Tabloid Star still remains one of my favorite books by Chase.
I fell in love with Josh from the moment he was introduced. He’s fun and flirty, but with a solid head on his shoulders and a really strong moral compass. He the perfect example of a well-rounded character. I loved the way he cares about those in his circle, his love of his family, and the way he connected with Ryan. I have to admit that I got a little melty when the reason he works so hard is revealed. He’s maybe even a little bit too perfect, with hardly a flaw to be seen. But it absolutely worked for him; he was just an all-around good guy who wants to do the right thing, doesn’t lie, and is supportive and caring. And he’s exactly what Ryan needs.
And Ryan? Oh, this man is such a sweetheart. A young up and coming actor, he’s put his trust in his agent to guide his career, and it seems to be working. He landed a huge staring roll, and he’s becoming a household name. I love the way he doesn’t quite know how to handle things when the pictures show up in the tabloids. But he’s got a strong spine underneath, and he finds his footing quickly. Living his life in the closet hasn’t been easy, but no one would fault Ryan for his reasoning behind it. I really liked the way he came to his own decision about whether or not to come out and didn’t let what anyone else think about what he should do sway him. He stands up for himself when it really counts, and has no trouble leaning on Josh or his best friend Bill when he needs to.
Josh and Ryan’s connection was immediate and palpable. Yes, there is a bit of insta-love going on in this story. But I think it totally worked here. These guys just fit, and it was easy to jump in with them. What starts off as sexual quickly develops into more the longer they spend together. These guys are smoking hot together. But there is an affection underneath it all that is really gratifying to see. These two just work together. They are a perfect match.
I mentioned the secondary characters earlier and they are one of my favorite parts of the book. Perhaps that’s because they led me to other books by Chase. But they all have distinct personalities and are fully fleshed out, which is something I always appreciate in a story. They really added to the book. If I had a quibble though, it was that, at times, these secondary characters seemed to possess some tidbit of information, or knew how to get it, and that info showed up at the perfect time. In truth, it was just a tad deus ex machina. I may have given a passing thought as to wanting to know exactly how a particular character could get that information, but I was absolutely willing to let it slide and it didn’t detract from the story.
When it comes down to it, I just absolutely recommend this book. It’s a fun, light, and easy read, with enjoyable characters and somewhat of a mystery. Low on the angst, high on the entertainment, if you haven’t already read Tabloid Star, I’m telling you it’s one you should.