Eloreen reviews ‘Starling’ (Love in Los Angeles 1) by Racheline Maltese and Erin McRae. Published by Torquere Press on September 10, 2014 and is 228 pages long.
This book was provided free of charge by the author for an honest review.
Why I Read This: This weeks theme is Multiple Author’s week. Starling was recommended to me from our back list since it has a reluctant actor, angst, and features a polyamorous secondary character. Sold.
When J. Alex Cook, a production assistant on The Fourth Estate (one of network TV’s hottest shows), is accidentally catapulted to stardom, he finds himself struggling to navigate both fame and a relationship with Paul, one of Fourth’s key writers. Despite their incendiary chemistry, Alex’s inexperience and the baggage they’re both carrying quickly lead to an ugly break-up.
Reeling from their broken hearts, Alex has an affair with a polyamorous co-star and Paul has an ill-advised reunion with an old flame. Meanwhile, the meddling of their colleagues, friends — and even the paparazzi! — quickly make Alex and Paul’s real life romance troubles the soap opera of the television season.
But while the entertainment value may be high, no one knows better than Alex and Paul that there are no guarantees when it comes to love in Los Angeles.
Alex finds him alone, eventually, in the kitchen.
“I‘m glad you came,” Paul tells him and offers him another beer.
Alex shrugs. “Thanks,” he says, both for the drink and for Paul actually meaning it.
Paul regards him in silence for a moment. “How are you?”
“Here,” Alex says, because it’s the simplest summation of his current state of being in all its forms.
Paul laughs, loud and surprised like he sometimes does. Alex grins back at him. When Paul’s smile stays and his eyes meet Alex’s and then linger, Alex knows he’s doing the stupid squinchy-eyed thing again. He turns his head away a little, because Margaret has told him what that look can do. He’s not sure what he should be expecting or wanting out of tonight yet.
“Hey, no.” Paul raises his hand and presses two fingertips, damp and cool, against Alex’s temple. He turns Alex’s head back until their eyes meet again, and then he drops his hand slowly. Alex knows it’s to give him a chance to stop him if he wants.
He doesn’t, and Paul’s hand settles on his waist. “Party’s out there,” he says, and tips his head back towards the living room. “Wanna go join?”
It’s not an invitation Alex has any interest in saying no to.
Paul keeps a hand at Alex’s waist until they’re at the side of the room, and then grins and tugs him a little closer and starts moving his hips to the beat.
“Really?” Alex raises an eyebrow, though he doesn’t step away.
“C’mon, I know you can,” Paul tells him, and puts his other hand on Alex’s hips too. No one who can control their face and body like Alex can’t dance.
Alex smiles that small, dangerous smile of his and puts his hands on Paul’s shoulders. “Okay.”
Paul knows it’s game on. Alex moves beautifully, easy and strong to the beat, and Paul can feel the power of him under his hands, the physicality of his magnetism. It’s extraordinary. This is why Alex doesn’t like to speak, Paul realizes; he simply doesn’t need to, his body is a more faithful storyteller.
When Paul had invited Alex to this party, he’d entertained vague fantasies of getting to talk with him meaningfully and maybe making out with him in a corner. But Paul has been thinking about Alex as desirable and intriguing for so long that with him in his arms now Paul wants nothing more than to go big with that desire. He can’t imagine a few kisses being enough.
Songs pass and they keep moving closer to each other until they’re way too close. Paul hopes Alex knows he can do what he wants here; sure they’re still being watched but it doesn’t matter. This feels way too good, and Paul pulls them together until their thighs are brushing and his arms are snug around Alex’s waist.
Why would I want to read about a polyamorous relationship? Because I am. Polyamorous, that is. Poly for short. So, I wanted to find out what happens with Alex and Paul that they would break up and have affairs. It’s not exactly an affair if everyone consents and knows about it, but mainstream writing hasn’t really touched this subject. So, I wanted to read about this window into the film and tv industry where the relationships are as complicated as the politics of acting. Sounds like real life, doesn’t it?
Erin and Racheline do a great job of depicting the start of Alex and Paul, their hot sex, spectacular breakup that started with not communicating and the subsequent sexual relationships they each had while they were apart. Yes, Alex’s poly lover, Liam, is dating a woman, but she knows about it and Alex communicates (in interesting ways) what he’s done. Everyone knows everyone else’s stuff and it’s angsty, humorous, and sad in places (yes, I did cry a few times). I really enjoyed it and only wish there was more interaction with and between the secondary characters. Liam and Alex’s interactions, while hot, didn’t seem to have Liam’s girlfriend, Carly, interacting as much as I would like. Paul and his former boyfriend, that he gets back together with while Paul and Alex are apart, seems a little flat with the “relationship” chance presented. Despite this, it’s a really great read and I can’t wait to read the rest of the series. It’s not as happy ever after but it’s not a bad ending either. It definitely leaves room for more story in the sequels. Perhaps we will see more in the next stories.
9/10 Pots of Gold (90% Recommended) – Compares to 4.5/5 Stars
Erin McRae and Racheline Maltese’s gay romance series Love in Los Angeles, set in the film and television industry, is published by Torquere Press. The first novel, Starling, was released September 2014; its sequel, Doves, is scheduled for January 2015. Racheline is a NYC-based performer and storyteller focused on themes of sex, gender, desire and mourning. Erin McRae is a writer and blogger based in Washington, D.C. You can find them on the web at http://www.Avian30.com.