Tobias is a well-known movie star. He is recognized wherever he goes and privacy is not something that exists for him any longer. Tobias knows he has a great life and he is grateful for his success, but he feels lonely and trapped most of the time. He has only dated woman and, while he knows he is interested in men, he has not figured out how to be a movie star and date at the same time since his entire life is under a microscope. When Tobias finally finds a man he’s interested in, it’s the one that is completely off limits as Mel is his new director.
Mel is stoked to be directing the next superhero movie, which is sure to be a blockbuster. Tobias is the success behind the movies and up close Mel can see why. Tobias is gorgeous and sweet and interested in Mel, despite their twenty-year age difference. But the studio has a strict policy against dating, especially since Tobias is technically working under Mel and the men have four months until the movie wraps. Tobias is also battling anxiety that stems from his job and he needs a safe place to land. The temptation and chemistry are off the charts, but while the men seem perfect for each other, they can’t lay a hand on each other until they are off set. It’s going to be a long four months.
Unwritten is the third book in Gray’s Unscripted series and features Mel, who we have previously met as Quell’s best friend, and Tobias, who is new to the series. While Quell and Hale are present here as side characters, this book would work if you wanted to start here.
Tobias knows he is fortunate and privileged, but he also wants to date. We get caught up with some disasters that became public as Tobias tried to date and the banter and tone is entertaining from the start. Tobias keeps himself fairly closed off. He has a bodyguard who became a friend, and he sees his trainer, and he’s only recently become friends with Quell and Hale, but Tobias can’t just go out without being overtaken by fans.
Tobias and Mel just click from the start. There is attraction, sure, but there is also that need for the men to simply want to be together…but they can’t due to studio rules. While this storyline of the characters unable to be together due to their jobs has been seen before, Gray lays it out in a realistic way and Mel really wants to make sure he doesn’t do anything to jeopardize or compromise their jobs or how people would see Tobias.
Tobias also suffers from anxiety and disfluency, which shows itself as a stutter, and Tobias has to work hard to keep it not only under control for work, but also away from the press. While it was easy to see the privileged life Tobias had being famous, the author also showed the downside. While the atmosphere of the book was somber at times, there was a good balance with some lighter moments of banter and then also with Alfred, Tobias’ dog.
One of the key points in the book was that early on we are told that Tobias is a virgin and then later, we learn he had been with women, but then he mentions being a virgin again. It wasn’t clear to me if Tobias was in fact a virgin or if he had just never been with a man before. It’s not that big of an issue on its own, but it was a focal point to his story and it remained unclear to me. With the focus on the men starting a relationship, we don’t get to see too much of them once they actually are in one, which is something I would have liked a little more of.
I have read possibly all of JR Gray’s work and this book is one of the author’s finer moments. With a slow, slow burn and an age difference nicely paired with real world issues of a celebrity, Unwritten should be on your TBR list.