Quellcrist King is a famous movie star. He has success, money, and a beautiful wife, and from the outside his life looks charmed. But Quell is a great actor not only on screen, but off screen as well. He hides his anxiety and depression and he hides that he and his wife have been separated for months. Quell has himself booked out to keep busy, as playing someone else is easier than being himself right now. When the script for his favorite book series becomes available, Quell not only buys it, but wants to star in it as well. The character is gay and although Quell has never been attracted to a man before, he is passionate about the role.
Hale has been getting by on small roles and he’s waiting for his big break. He was supposed to read for a small part, but he soon finds himself auditioning with Quell for the lead playing opposite the gorgeous man. Hale and Quell hit it off immediately and not only become the best of friends, but Quell finds support in Hale during his dark times. Quell also has to reexamine everything he knew about himself as he’s attracted to Hale on a level he hasn’t encountered before. But Hale thinks Quell is straight, and married, and Quell doesn’t know how to tell Hale he’s attracted to him and available. It seems Quell and Hale will have to write their own script complete with a happy ever after.
“I was dying to touch him. To ask him to keep touching me. To kiss him, unscripted.”
This is a strong book from J.R. Gray and I enjoyed reading about Quell and Hale. Quell is already a successful actor and Hale is trying to find his hit and there is about ten years between the men.
Although Quell is highly successful, he suffers from anxiety and depression. He relied a lot on his wife and the routine of the life they had helped him, but now that they are separated, Quell doesn’t know what to do besides work. His separation is not public knowledge; only his best friend knows and Quell’s starting to feel the strain. When he meets Hale, there is a pull and an attraction and Quell is once again thrown off balance as he has never been attracted to a man before.
The chemistry is intense between the men. Hale thinks it’s all one sided as he has no idea Quell is attracted to him and Quell has no reason to think Hale would want anything from him besides friendship, because he hasn’t told Hale the full truth. The men form a close friendship and come to rely on each other a lot during shooting, but with neither man revealing their feelings, opportunities pass them by.
Gray has a bit of a harder edge to his writing that I appreciate and I liked the progression of the relationship between the men. There was a lot of heat around them and, while they got to act some of it out on screen, the book was a slow burn for them to finally get together on their own and it was worth the wait.
I did find there was a small thread missing that I needed to pull some of the scenes together when there was a lack of transition from one event to the next. There was a lot of buildup to some things and then the characters were just there and there was a small connection missing at times for me. Also, while the chapters change point of view quite clearly, within the chapter and within a conversation between Quell and Hale, it sometimes got more difficult to pinpoint which character was speaking as they went back and forth.
I enjoyed the build-up of the relationship between the men and how Quell wanted to ultimately handle his relationship with Hale on his own terms. The men had great chemistry that came off page and that is often a recommendation all by itself. I will look forward to what this author puts out next.