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Stars in Your Eyes by Kacen Callender
Romance

Stars in Your Eyes

by Kacen Callender

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Quick take

In this charming adult debut, two Hollywood hunks must pull off their greatest acting feat yet: fake dating each other.

Good to know

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_MultipleNarrators

    Multiple viewpoints

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_LGBTQ

    LGBTQ+ themes

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_SalaciousPeach

    Salacious

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_FakeDating

    Fake Dating

Synopsis

Logan Gray is Hollywood’s bad boy—a talented but troubled actor who the public loves to hate. Mattie Cole is an up‑and‑coming golden boy, adored by all but plagued by insecurities.

When Logan and Mattie are cast as leads in a new romantic film, Logan claims that Matt has “zero talent,” sending the film’s publicity into a nosedive. To create positive buzz, the two are persuaded into a fake‑dating scheme—but as the two actors get to know their new characters, real feelings start to develop.

As public scrutiny intensifies and old wounds resurface, the two must fight for their relationship and their love.

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Content warning

This book contains scenes that mention sexual assault, suicidal ideation, and child abuse.

Free sample

Get an early look from the first pages of Stars in Your Eyes.
Stars in Your Eyes

MATTIE

I’m led down halls with fresh white paint and tiled floors that smell like bleach. I’m wheezing and sweating, trying to take a deep breath and cool down before I enter the room, desert heat still sticking to my skin. I’m very late. I know I’ll get some points knocked off on first impressions for that alone, and I don’t think anyone will take an “I’m sorry, I’m not used to LA traffic” as an excuse anymore. It might’ve worked for my first role, but I’ve been in and out of the city going on a year now.

Samantha, the assistant who leads me down the halls, seems as nervous as me, and that’s saying something. “Are you sure you don’t want a water? Coffee?” she asks for the third time.

“I’m okay,” I say, still breathless. I catch her looking at me, gaze flitting away quickly, and I realize—oh, yeah, I’m supposed to be famous. I’m still not used to it. Love Me Dearly was released about six months ago, and after the promo tour ended, I wasn’t prepared for this kind of everyday attention. I feel self-conscious and try not to pull at my shirt, a nervous habit my manager, Paola, said I should work on.

Samantha opens the door for me at the end of the hall. I thank her as I hurry inside, trying not to flat-out run but also not wanting to stroll like I’ve got all the time in the world. The room has one huge conference table with a dozen or so people seated around it in a circle, and there’s a smaller table pushed up against the farthest wall with coffee and fruit. As soon as I step inside, everyone’s heads turn to me. My heart thuds. You’d think an actor would be all right with so many eyes on him, but my big secret is that I still have stage fright.

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Why I love it

Stars in Your Eyes might sound like a romance you’ve seen before: fake dating between Hollywood co-stars, with drama unfolding between the innocent golden boy and the troubled bad boy. But this is Kacen Callender, whose anything-but-typical talents stretch across age categories and genres, and who here enters the adult romance sphere with a stunner of a novel. This is not a fluffy romance, but a love story that covers challenging issues born of deep trauma and soul-healing compassion—both for our partners and for ourselves—that will dig its claws into your bones.

Everything about this novel fascinated me, from the way Callender crafts the on-set scenes, to the compelling interstitials included throughout. Mattie and Logan are both Black and queer, and their stories include examinations of colorism, biphobia, and shame. The masterfully approachable prose pulls you effortlessly into their world. I consumed this book in twenty-four hours, my fingers itching to return each time I had to leave it.

Stars in Your Eyes is a reflection on the price of fame, both in the abusive power structures of Hollywood and in how we treat each other in our always-online lives. But what lingers most for me are the questions Callender raises about romance as a whole, and what a happily-ever-after truly means. From start to finish, nothing about Mattie and Logan’s relationship is conventional—and ultimately, that’s what makes their love so special.

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Member ratings (774)

  • Matthew L.

    Barrie, ON

    Messy, raw, real, deep and nuanced, with an engaging mixed-media format. I. LOVED. EVERY. SINGLE. SECOND. OF. THIS. But please be sure to check the trigger warnings before reading! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

  • Taylor W.

    Lewisville, TX

    Don’t let that bright cover fool you, because this book was Heavy with a capital H. But it was also heartfelt and highly consumable. And although it was a tad repetitive, I still read this in one day.

  • Catherine P.

    Embrun, ON

    This was such a beautiful and heartfelt story. The dual POV just makes this so much more heartbreaking but wonderful at the same time. Loved these two and their journey to finding themselves and love.

  • Jennifer L.

    Philadelphia, PA

    Okay okay. What a great representation of trauma and hero complexes in that type of relationship. I definitely think the characters should have been aged up, specifically Mattie with all his knowledge

  • Robbie P.

    Washington, DC

    I loved reading about gay characters in a book doing nasty things 🙊 While the book/themes felt rather dramatic to me it was refreshing to read about the same stories I always see but with two men!

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