Carter Westlake is on the brink of being Hollywood gold. Cast as the lead in a highly-anticipated sci-fi trilogy filming in Australia, he’s primed to be the next A-list action hero: all-American, hot as hell, and straight. The problem is, Carter can only check off two of those boxes. But that’s okay—his bisexuality can remain a secret until these movies are behind him.
Childhood educator Noah Jones has a plan. Work as a nanny for six months, make some extra cash, and move to the UK to teach. He doesn’t expect his new boss to be a Hollywood star. And he certainly isn’t prepared to fall for the guy.
One kiss sends them tumbling into a secret relationship, even though they both agree it can be nothing more than a fling. Carter needs to stay in the closet for the sake of his career, and Noah’s leaving. But when their feelings continue to grow into something deeper, Carter has a decision to make. Knowing that exposing his sexuality could cost him his career, would he rather carry on living a lie, or risk it all to stand tall in his truth?
Not Until Noah is the first book in the Star Crossed series, where regular guys meet famous ones, and sparks fly.
Title: Not Until Noah
Author: Lisa Henry
Series: Star Crossed, Book 1
Tropes: secret relationship/manny and single dad.
Noah went into his bedroom and grabbed his bag of toiletries and the boxers and T-shirt he slept in. He bundled them all together and stepped back into the hallway, intending to head for the bathroom.
Instead, he almost stepped right into Carter Westlake.
He put up a hand to stop them colliding, his fingers sliding over the thin fabric of Carter’s soft shirt and into the dip of his sternum. His breath caught, and his face burned. He took a quick step back.
“Thanks,” Carter said. “For today. Emerson had a great time.”
“I did too,” he said, trying not to stare at the way Carter’s mouth moved. “She’s a great kid.”
“She doesn’t usually warm up to new people quickly,” Carter said. “But she loves you.”
There was something about the way Carter said it, something vulnerable in the slight hitch of his voice, that made Noah’s heart skip a beat. The moment was heavier than a compliment wrapped in a revelation about a child’s sociability should have been. Noah had no words, and the silence between them suddenly shifted and became laden with something that he was terrified to name, except he could feel it. Sudden anticipation in the air, sudden electricity. And Carter’s gaze was holding his as though it were magnetic. He almost forgot to breathe.
And then Carter was closing the distance between them again. “Noah, can I—”
“Yes,” he said, the blood roaring in his skull. It couldn’t be what he thought it was—it couldn’t be—but it also didn’t matter what it was. There was probably nothing in the world that Carter Westlake could ask him that Noah would refuse. Not in this strange moment where the rest of the universe had somehow ceased to exist.
Carter tucked a finger under Noah’s chin—Noah’s breath shuddered out of him—and leaned in to kiss him.
A million frantic thoughts sounded like klaxons in the back of Noah’s mind, all blaring the same urgent, panicked message:
Carter Westlake is kissing you!
Carter Westlake—the movie star—is kissing you!
And he had no idea what the hell he was supposed to do with that information, except maybe enjoy the kiss while it lasted.
He lifted his shaking hand and ran it through Carter’s hair, encouraging him to keep going, and shivered as Carter’s tongue slid along the soft seam of his lips. He opened his mouth, and the sensation of their tongues touching sent a thrum of molten heat through his body. He moaned into the kiss.
No, it wasn’t Carter Westlake the movie star who was kissing him; it was Carter Westlake the man. And he wasn’t sure why, but that suddenly seemed like an important distinction.
Carter drew back for a moment, and his heart seized at the loss. Carter only leaned in again, though, sucking gently on his bottom lip before releasing it and sealing their mouths together once more. Noah’s body thrummed with need. He twisted his fingers in Carter’s hair and shivered as Carter’s hands came to rest on his hips. He suddenly wanted to pull Carter closer, to bring their bodies together as tightly as he could—
His toiletry bag thumped to the floor as he released his grip on it.
The sudden noise broke the spell between them, broke the kiss.
Carter stepped away quickly. “I’m sorry. Shit, I’m sorry.”
The heat in Noah’s body transformed into burning shame.
“That was inappropriate,” Carter said. He wasn’t meeting Noah’s gaze. “I’ll…”
He gestured toward the stairs and then hurried past Noah toward them. He didn’t look back.
Noah’s hands shook. He leaned against the wall for a moment, fighting for breath. Then, his eyes stinging, he stooped and picked up his bag and his pajamas. He hurried to the bathroom, closing and locking the door.
He leaned against the vanity, his back turned to the mirror because he wasn’t sure he could look at himself right now.
And that distinction between Carter Westlake the movie star and Carter Westlake the man—the one that had seemed so significant while they’d been kissing—was a joke, wasn’t it? Because Carter Westlake was also his employer, and Noah was a fucking idiot not to have remembered that. Carter could fire him for this. Would that be better or worse than not being fired, but somehow continuing to stay here and pretend nothing had happened? He had no idea. Nothing like this had ever happened to him before. And he could wave any future contracts with CTL goodbye if Karen found out he’d kissed a client.
Stupid stupid stupid.
He buried his face in his hands, squeezed his eyes shut, and groaned.
Stupid, but if Carter knocked on the bathroom door right now and asked if he wanted to kiss him again, Noah wasn’t sure that he’d be able to refuse him. He wasn’t sure he’d want to because nobody had ever kissed him the way that Carter had, and even knowing it was the dumbest thing in the world, he wanted more.
This is the first contemporary book by Lisa Henry that I’ve read. However, considering how much I have loved the Lords of Bucknall series, I knew I wanted to jump into this one. I wasn’t disappointed with this one.
I always love when books are set in Australia, as I loved my brief time there, so it’s always fun to revisit mentally. Not that I was able to stay in a house quite like the one Carter Westlake was renting.
With Carter on the verge of his “big break” with a trilogy of action movies, he is still firmly in the closet, until Noah becomes a nanny for the five months they are expecting to be in Australia. What I loved most about Carter was his fallibility. He was a fantastic father…but still managed to disappoint his child on a few occasions, despite his best efforts. He wanted to be out of the closet, and yet knew he couldn’t until…whenever…and acknowledged that whenever will likely never come.
Noah meanwhile was so good with Carter’s child, not just being a manny, but actually engaging with her, teaching her, showing her the world. It was a lovely relationship. And when things did not go down well between Noah and Carter, Noah deeply felt his love for Carter’s daughter, and how upset she would be. (And she was…and she let Noah know about it. Loved that!)
Side note…Noah’s brother, Dylan…he was a really good character. Written very well, and he was so supportive of Noah. I just loved Dylan.
All around a really good read, and a good start to a new series.
4 pieces of eye candy
Lisa likes to tell stories, mostly with hot guys and happily ever afters.
Lisa lives in tropical North Queensland, Australia. She doesn’t know why, because she hates the heat, but she suspects she’s too lazy to move. She spends half her time slaving away as a government minion, and the other half plotting her escape.
She attended university at sixteen, not because she was a child prodigy or anything, but because of a mix-up between international school systems early in life. She studied History and English, neither of them very thoroughly.
She shares her house with too many cats, a dog, a green tree frog that swims in the toilet, and as many possums as can break in every night. This is not how she imagined life as a grown-up.
Lisa has been published since 2012, and was a LAMBDA finalist for her quirky, awkward coming-of-age romance Adulting 101, and a Rainbow Awards finalist for 2019’s Anhaga.
To connect with Lisa on social media, you can find her here:
She also has a Facebook group where you’ll be kept in the loop with updates on releases, have a chance to win prizes, and probably see lots of lots of pictures of her dog and cats. You can find it here: Lisa Henry’s Hangout.