Retired actor Levi Pritchard left Hollywood behind after he became sick and tired of all the games. Being typecast as an action star after his most famous role was irritating, and rumors about his sexuality were always circulating. Levi chose to leave it all behind and made his home in the sleepy little town of Bluewater Bay, Washington. Several years later, Bluewater Bay is now where the wildly popular TV show Wolf’s Landing is filmed. When the producer and director of the show come calling, Levi can’t turn them down; it’s the role of a life time and something that will really show he’s more than a washed up action star. Though he’s told he’ll have to stay firmly in the closet, Levi takes the role.
Carter Samuels is out and proud, and plays the lead male role on Wolf’s Landing. When he hears that Levi is going to sign on with the show, he’s thrilled. Carter is a fan of Levi’s from before he even became an action star. Carter seeks Levi out at the theater where Levi is directing a local production. The two men hit it off, finding a mutual love of obscure films and other things in common. They become friends, and their feelings quickly move into much more. But they both agree that they can’t have any more than friendship. Levi has to keep his sexuality hidden, both at the producer’s request and because of the tenuous relationship with his family, and Carter doesn’t want to be anyone’s secret.
When Carter meets someone new at a convention, Levi is disappointed but tries to tell himself it is for the best. Carter, however, just can’t move forward with the new guy because he’s so hung up on Levi. It’s the impetus they need to take their relationship to the next level. An explosion of feeling leads to a night together. But the problems between them still remain, and there are circumstances they can’t change. Despite their deep feelings for one another, the timing is all wrong and they know they have to walk away. With both their heart’s broken, can these two men figure out how to make it work between them?
The Bluewater Bay series features books by multiple authors focusing on different couples that have ties to the town and the wildly popular TV show Wolf’s Landing that’s filmed there. They can all be read as stand-alone novels. Starstruck is a great tale of friends to lovers, where both men know they shouldn’t take that step but their attraction and deep feelings for each other will be satisfied with nothing less. They guys are meant to be together, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have to navigate a rough road to get there.
Levi is jaded with Hollywood, and understandably so. After finding huge success as an action star, he can’t seem to get any roles that are anything different. Add to that living in the closet, rumors about his sexuality constantly swirling, and a vindictive ex who tried to out him, and Levi is fed up. We first meet him several years later, after he’s already settled into Bluewater Bay and after Wolf’s Landing has started shooting there. He misses acting fiercely, he really loved it, but the price he had to pay was too high. Witt does a great job of painting Levi. We see his sadness clearly and my heart just hurt for him. Getting offered a dream role on the TV show should make him ecstatic, but having to remain in the closet is nonnegotiable. That’s not a huge issue for Levi at first; he’s firmly hiding anyway. His family is a rough mess, his parents are recovering alcoholics and staunchly conservative, and it’s only recently that the family has started to heal. If he came out, it would ruin that. Levi is reluctant to take the role though, despite wanting it so bad he can taste it, but because he doesn’t want his personal life in the spotlight again. All he wants is to act. I was right there with him as he went through a whole cavalcade of emotions throughout the story. His thoughts and motivations were so clear, I felt for him and wanted nothing more than for him to sort through all his troubles and get exactly what he wanted.
Carter is the perfect match for Levi. He’s out and proud and is still hugely popular. He has a less jaded view of the world, though he’s by no means naïve. His love of old and obscure films may be what began the friendship with Levi, but these guys connect on every level. I really liked the way their relationship slowly built. The connection between them felt real and believable and that part made the story for me. I loved watching them navigate their relationship, and struggling with what they knew they should do being at odds with what they wanted so badly.
And it is a slow build. There were a couple of moments there when I was ready to give the characters a shake and tell them to get on with it. But in the long run, it really worked because these two guys needed that long build up, the false starts and the miscommunication. By the time they finally are ready for each other, it’s perfect.
I have to make mention of one thing that got under my skin though. In the beginning, Levi knows he’s gay and wants to remain hidden. He admits to former relationships with men. There were a couple of places, however, where Levi stated he was bisexual. This stuck out to me, and not in a good way, because it seemed he was saying he was bi and not gay. Previously, he had said he was gay. The inconsistency of it was a little bit irritating.
Overall, though, this was a great story. If you’re in the mood for a true friends to lovers plot, I highly recommend you pick this one up. These two men will endear themselves to you.