A moonlighting television actor and a local handyman hook up one drunken night. Will the forces of celebrity, gossip, and their respective pasts get in the way of what could be a beautiful relationship?
The headline reads “Hollywood Playboy Bryan Hart Caught Streaking in Banker’s Shoals!" Bryan, known as Ryan Hertzog to his friends and family, is trying (and failing) to stay out of the news following his best friend Ali's drunken driving accident and subsequent stint in rehab. He wasn't actually streaking—he was sneaking out of Trey Donovan's house after a drunken hookup, chased by a big dog. Part of his plan to stay out of the press involves Ryan doing summer stock for free at his cousin Caro's theater company in his North Carolina hometown. Flying below the radar is all well and good, but his cousin's partner, Mason, has known Ryan since they were young and has declared the cast and crew strictly off limits for potential romantic and sexual liaisons. Not a problem…until Trey turns out to be the set builder for the theater. Ryan isn't the only one with baggage, though. Trey is still dealing with anxiety and PTSD from his abusive ex-husband, who's in prison for trying to murder him. He buries himself in work and avoids the garage that still houses a lot of his ex's belongings. Falling for Ryan means allowing himself to be vulnerable again. It's appropriate that the theater is called Shakespeare by the Sea because, just as in many plays by the Bard, there are several other stories happening alongside the main plotline. The theater isn't doing well financially, and Caro isn't willing to exploit Ryan's fame to sell tickets. Ali is returning from rehab, anxious about whether her boyfriend (whose house Ryan is staying at) will still love her sober and pregnant.
A steamy book in which nuanced friendships are as central as the romance between two star-crossed lovers.