Logan Gray is the Hollywood bad boy to Mattie Cole’s Hollywood golden boy. When the two are cast opposite each other as leads in a new romantic film, the criticism starts early. But publicity really takes a nosedive when Logan publicly states that he believes Mattie has zero talent. The producers move quickly and convince the pair to enter into a fake dating scheme (because that always works out so well). As the pair get to know their characters - and each other - real feelings start to develop as public scrutiny amps up.
This book will forever live rent-free in my mind. I have not stopped thinking about it since I finished the final page and heaved a contented sigh. If I could rate it infinity stars, that's exactly what I would do, but I guess I'll settle for five stars. This is not your typical romance novel, but that is also what makes it such a strong story. The reader is reminded that happily ever after doesn’t just happen - it takes work.
Logan and Mattie each have their own pasts, problems, and trauma to contend with. They are messy and broken in a way that is incredibly authentic and relatable, leaving you feeling a little less alone with whatever you are dealing with (even if it’s not the same as what they are dealing with). Following their journey from when they first meet and through the years is healing in a way, a reminder that just because you have been hurt or broken, doesn’t mean you have to stay that way.
Kacen has penned a nuanced story that takes you on a journey alongside Logan and Mattie as they discover the people they can be when they confront the things that have scarred them. Even as you are rooting for these two to find their way to each other, you are also rooting against them, seeing how terrible they can be for each other. There is a lot to take in with this story and I’m already anxious to re-read it and dig deeper.
With the addition of blog and social media posts, video transcripts, excerpts from a memoir, and even a (loving) callout of AO3, this book is a beautiful amalgamation of multiple mediums. I couldn’t stop myself from thinking how magical the audiobook would be and I can’t wait to experience the full force of that magic.
Even though content warnings are provided at the beginning of the book, I’ll list them here as well: mentions of past sexual abuse, rape, and exploitation of a minor; sexual assault and attempted rape; substance abuse; mild violence; online bullying; homophobia; biphobia; strained parental relationships; and general depictions of CPTSD and trauma.
STARS IN YOUR EYES by Kacen Callender is available now and you need to RUN, not walk, to grab a copy for yourself here. I’d also highly recommend picking up the audiobook that features a full cast of narrators!
Disclaimer: I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher for free and have voluntarily written this review. If you purchase a copy using my Bookshop affiliate link above, not only will I receive a small commission (which will fuel my coffee and tea addiction and help to keep me up all night reading more books to recommend to you), but you will be supporting indie bookstores as well! If you prefer Amazon, visit my Amazon storefront and click on the list titled "2023 Book Recommendations."