L.A. Witt

Books: Romance | Queer

Bluewater Bay: Starstruck (2014), The Husband Gambit (2018)

Bluewater Bay

Starstruck (2014)

StarstruckLevi Pritchard retired from Hollywood, tired of being typecast.

(H)e was pretty sure some of them were still furious about the piece of Eastwick fanfic he'd anonymously penned a while back. It was still floating around out there somewhere, along with all the angry— and some alarmingly supportive— comments from the readers who couldn't believe its author had gleefully killed the guy in such grisly fashion.

In the intervening years, he's worked to try and mend his relationship with his parents–which is one more reason he's never come out as bi.

It meant coming out, at thirty-eight goddamned years old, to his parents. His ultraconservative, disapproving, hypocritical parents who'd never quite left the 1950s, who expected their kids to forgive decades of alcohol-fueled misery, and had all but disowned his sister after her long-overdue divorce.

A famous TV show has moved to Blackwater Bay, and they are about to bring in a new character, and they want Levi to play him–he left Hollywood precisely because he couldn't get these kinds of roles.

Carter Samuels, the star of Wolf's Landing is out and the show is popular, has he's had a crush on Levi for years, and acting with Levi would be like a dream come true, but he has no interest in dating a closeted guy.

I had issues with the story. The fact that the studio was threatening to replace Levi wasn't one of them–this was written in 2014 after all. But that fact was glossed over at the end of the book, as if it never really mattered.

Then there was the big issue of Levi's family. I get that Levi wanted to try and salvage things with his parents, but… they really weren't deserving of that effort. And it was never clear what kind of relationship Levi had with his sister. Was his sister going to disown him if he came out? If not, then he wouldn't lose "his family" just his shitty parents who weren't much of a loss. And if he was close to his sister, how come she didn't know he was bi?

It just bothered me–she was thrown in there as an example of how awful Levi's parents were, but she had no existence outside of that. If Levi had supported her in her divorce, wouldn't he have trusted her with his secrets? Wouldn't he have trusted her to love him if he came out as bi? And if not, why the hell was he putting so much work into his family?

And a quick note–they almost never use the term bi, even though Levi had relationships with men and women, the only term that was regularly used was gay.

Publisher: Riptide Publishing

Rating: 6.5/10

The Husband Gambit (2018)

The Husband Gambit

Marry me for 1 year. Payment: $ 1.2 million. I'm a man looking for a temporary husband. $ 100K per month. Cohabitation, legal marriage, and NDA are required. Sex is not. Contact for more info.

The ad seems like either a joke, or something posted by a serial killer, but Hayden Somerset has absolutely nothing to lose. He and his roommates worry over every penny they spend while they try to find money for rent, food, and their student loans.

I was a little uncertain about this book, because I generally dislike romances where one of the characters is ultra rich, but I also adore fake relationships, so I decided to try it.

It was good. Really good. Much of the start of the story focused on Hayden's struggles with poverty.

It wasn't until that moment that I understood just how much my financial insecurity had consumed me for the last several years… money had been a constant source of stress. One that had settled itself deep in my bones and permeated every thought. Even if I wasn't actively thinking about my financial situation, the stress was there in the tension in my neck, in the perpetual growling of my stomach, and in the compulsive mental calculations that happened any time I drove, ate, turned on a light, took a shower, threw food away instead of just scraping off the mold…

I cannot emphasize enough how true this is.

But what I really loved was this nod to Terry Pratchett and Discworld.

"My coworkers always told me you're better off blowing a shitload of money on a solid pair of shoes because they'll last."

At that point I was all in on this story.

But then, it did everything right. Both characters talked through their problems, and realized that what one lacked in one area, they made up in another–Hayden might have been broke, but he had best friends and his parents loved him. That sounds trite, but since the second character, Jesse, is looking to take down his horrible and manipulative father, it really really wasn't.

To this day, I got sick to my stomach if my mother was being chillier than usual. Even if I knew there was nothing for her to be pissed at me about, that didn't mean she wouldn't flip her lid at me before she finally had it out with whoever had crossed her.

"Is disowning his kids like your dad's hobby or something?"

Jesse laughed humorlessly. "You have to admit— when it comes to keeping his kids in line, it's got an eighty percent success rate."

Because once we get down to it, that's the heart of the story–how Jesse was going prove to the world just what his father was, even if it cost him almost everything.

The romance was lovely. Like I said, both Hayden and Jesse talked about their problems, and if they didn't talk about their feelings for each other, they had good reasons for doing so.

Even better, there were no stupid misunderstandings between the two. I hate stupid misunderstandings, and was very afraid this book was going to use one to ratchet up the tension, but it turned out more than enough tension came from Jesse's father.

And I also appreciated that despite everything, Jesse wanted his father not to be the monster he had always shown himself to be. It's extremely hard not to be hurt by the words and actions of a parent, no matter how much you have prepared yourself.

It was an excellent story, and I definitely recommend it.

Rating: 8.5/10