Thursday, September 11, 2014

Starling by Erin McRae & Racheline Maltese: Review & Excerpt

(Love in Los Angeles, Book 1)
by Racheline Maltese & Erin McRae

Genre: Contemporary, Romance, LGBTQ, (M/M)
Be careful what you wish for...

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.

...because the stars aren't benign.

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 makes 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.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

While STARLING is a romance, I wouldn't call it a love story; but that's not a bad thing, because what I would call it is a life story.

Alex left his small southern hometown in a cloud of dust to find his dreams in Los Angeles. What he found instead was unexpected stardom that he wasn't looking for, didn't want, and was emotionally unprepared for.

Before being discovered by his fans, Alex was discovered by Paul. Drawn to the enigmatic and beautiful younger man, Paul quickly falls into his own expectations of what their relationship should be. The two have spectacular chemistry in bed and monumental communication failures. This eventually causes problems neither man wants, but both seem incapable of overcoming.

STARLING is a reader's treasure that completely engaged me from the very beginning. I found myself talking to my kindle, offering advice, yelling, cringing, cheering and processing each emotional experience as if it was my own. The realities of life, love and self discovery that are presented in this highly character driven story are exceptional. STARLING is well written and develops at a slow but steady pace that perfectly complements its raw emotionalism. I was thrilled with this first offering in the Love in Los Angeles series and am eagerly anticipating further additions by this exciting writing duo!
View all my reviews
Racheline Maltese is a performer and storyteller focused on themes of sex, gender, desire and mourning. Her training includes a journalism degree from The George Washington University, as well as acting and directing coursework at the Atlantic Theater Company Acting School (New York City) and the National Institute of Dramatic Art (Sydney, Australia). Her fiction, non-fiction and poetry has appeared in numerous outlets, and she is a regular speaker on pop-culture topics at fan and academic conferences. Racheline also voiced Desire and Delirium in a benefit performance of Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman for the CBLDF.  Follow Racheline oTwitter.

Erin McRae is a writer and blogger based in Washington, D.C. She has a bachelor’s degree in International Relations from the University of Toronto, and a Master’s degree in International Affairs from American University where she studied the role of social media in the Arab Spring. Follow Erin on Twitter.


  1. Replies
    1. It's an awesome book Rod; I think you'd like it!

  2. I want to read Starling, thanks for the giveaway.

  3. sounds really good!
    please count me in

    1. Thanks for stopping Lee, good luck in the giveaway!

  4. Love both the post and excerpt. Please count me in. =}

  5. Thank you for this new book post. It sounds really good and thank you for the giveaway.

    1. I love to read new books... I think you'll enjoy this one too!

  6. This looks like a good romance read and thank you Carly for your review, most helpful and thank you for giving me an excuse to talk to my kindle more than I do now :) It is so frustrating when you read a book and you know they are doing something possibly wrong or not communicating, then they just don't listen to you... Thank you also for the giveaway ;)

    1. It's okay to talk to your kindle Sula... as long as it doesn't start answering back! LOL ;)

  7. Thank you so much for this post, Carly. This book really calls to me: communication is the main key in a relationship. Count me in for the giveaway.

    1. I hope you find the time to read it soon Anna. Thank you for stopping and good luck!