Title: Tabloid Star
Author: T.A. Chase
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Genre: Contemporary M/M
Rating: 4.25 stars out of 5
One hot night, one freeze frame…and one shocking surprise.
As a bartender at the Lucky Seven club, Josh Bauer could take a different guy home every night…if he wanted to. Working three jobs, however, makes it hard to connect with anyone. One man, though, is too much temptation to resist. A steamy encounter in a back alley leads to an explosive night of sex in Josh’s bed—a bed he isn’t surprised to find empty the next morning. What does surprise him, though, is the front page of a tabloid. Apparently his one-night stand isn’t as anonymous as he thought it was.
Ryan Kellar’s career is taking off. Advance buzz about his movie says it’s a blockbuster, and going home with the gorgeous bartender is the perfect way to celebrate. And he thought he’d gotten away clean—until the picture in the paper shocks him into reality. Was Josh really just playing…or playing him for a fool?
Trust isn’t big on their list right now, but as their worlds fall apart, it’s all they have. At least until they figure out who took the picture. And why…
Josh is a bartender who works three jobs in order to support his sister and her son. Obviously this is tough on him as he has no time for relationships or anything else. On this particular night a man he hadn’t seen in the bar before walked in with his friend. Josh thought that the guy was really hot and it was clear that his feelings were returned. Soon after meeting each other, and even before formal introductions, they had hooked up outside the bar. The man, Ryan, had a talent for giving Josh what he wanted and getting what he needed. Josh was not interested in anything but a one time thing, but later in the evening he and Ryan decided they liked each other enough to spend the night together.
The next morning when Josh woke up Ryan was gone, no surprise, and he thought no more about his one night stand. But that was not the last time he would see Ryan who had a huge shock when he saw the tabloids a short while later and there was a picture of him kissing Josh in the alley behind the club. Since Ryan was in the closet about his sexuality he was very upset about the impact that the pictures could have on his future as an up-and-coming movie star. Also, his agent, Raz, was furious when he saw the tabloids and immediately accused Josh of selling Ryan out for money and provided proof to back up his claim. Raz demanded that Ryan stop seeing Josh right away before people started putting two and two together, which would ruin his career. When Ryan showed up at the club that night he was gunning for Josh and it took a while for him to control his anger and give Josh the benefit of the doubt since he was as much a victim as Ryan, because whoever was responsible had also endangered Josh’s family by getting them involved.
Josh suggested that they meet with his friends Morgan and Vance to come up with a plan to find out who had hired the photographer, but in the middle of their meeting Josh’s sister Erin called, upset and in tears. It appeared that reporters had found her through her connection to Josh and had surrounded her house. This call led to Josh and Ryan driving 10 hours each way to reassure her since it was important for other reasons that her identity not be revealed to the press. Other characters are introduced into the story including Winston and Chad who own a private investigation firm, and the story picked up speed until the culprit is revealed.
What Did I Like About The Book? Tabloid Star was well written and the characters were realistic and well drawn. The pacing really moved the story along and I liked both protagonists – T.A. Chase has a knack for giving his readers three dimensional characters who relate well to each other. Most of the other characterizations worked, some better than others, a few were quite sympathetic, and the author showed a lot of empathy for Josh’s nephew who was autistic. T.A. also did a great job on his female characters which is not the norm in M/M romances, and I was pleased to see such positive characters as Josh’s boss Rachel who had a fairly big role, and his sister Erin. Ryan’s friend Bill was a hoot and I loved him because he always saw the lighter side of life. Oh, and there was lots of sex between Ryan and Josh and it was great!:)
It was also nice to see characters from one of the author’s previous book High Line, C.J. Lamont and Garrett Johnson, make an appearance.
What didn’t I like about the Book? I did have a few quibbles – two were important and the other was more a personal thing. This is a novella and at 132 pages I thought that there might have been too many subplots and characters for such a short book. Although the two guys were great together, in my opinion the additional sub plots resulted in the relationship between Ryan and Josh not being developed as much as it could have been because time was spent elsewhere. In addition, I felt that Ryan’s agent, Raz, was way “over the top” with the histrionics as well as the almost contemptuous way in which he treated his client; the relationship between a client and his agent or manager is usually respectful or they part company right away.
The other quibble I have is that I don’t like pet names for characters in a story, except occasionally, especially for guys, and I think that the pet names in the book might have been overdone, just a tad.:) However, this is strictly personal and other readers may not see this as an issue and may love being called by pet names all the time.
Other than these observations I really liked the story and the characters and I would definitely recommend Tabloid Star to readers, whether or not you’re a fan of this author.