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by Susan Greene
Description: Liz Walker is a fourth-degree black belt who teaches martial arts to kids in a poor L.A. neighborhood. Out of necessity, she accepts an offer from a Hollywood studio to train an actor for a film. But can she put aside her feelings toward the movie industry once she finds out the actor she's training is Evan Warren, Hollywood's current "golden child"? When Evan discovers his new instructor is a beautiful but tough young woman with a major chip on her shoulder, he realizes he might survive the training, but will he survive those gorgeous blue eyes?
eBook Publisher: Cobblestone Press, 2006
eBookwise Release Date: January 2008
25 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [372 KB]
Reading time: 249-349 min.
"Star Struck was an absolutely incredible tale of betrayal and misconceptions. It never ceases to amaze me how parents mess up their children's lives. Liz was a strong, capable heroine and deserved happiness in her life. Evan was sweet and loving and someone I wish I knew. Liz's past is what is keeping her from accepting what Evan has to offer. He does not give up though and you have to admire him for that. With a surprise twist to the end, Susan Greene has penned a highly romantic story that will continue to tug at your heart in the days to come. Run out and get Star Stuck and prepare to be enthralled by the story of Evan and Liz. 4.5 Stars."--Elise Lynn, Ecataromance
"Ms. Greene definitely has a way with words. Her characters possess multi-faceted personalities, and the witty dialogue is immensely entertaining. This book has the feel of a fairy tale, yet is still based in reality. Star Struck packs a delightful punch. Susan Greene is one up and coming author to watch! 4 Cups."--Bonnie-Lass, Coffee Time Romance
"Star Struck proves to be a fascinating read about a woman who is determined to maintain a full detachment from the complications surrounding her hurtful past. I found Star Struck's storyline and characters to be truly well defined and very realistic. Their encounters were passionately hot! Even though, this is my first time experiencing Susan Greene's writings, I can truthfully say that it will not be my last. 4 Angels."--Contessa, Fallen Angel Reviews
"There is romance aplenty in this contemporary love story. Each character is well-drawn and the story is fast-paced with many surprises along the way. It is a keeper."--Just Me, Rites of Romance Reviews
"You're joking, right, mate?" Liz Walker mocked Max's thick Aussie accent as her heel crashed through the board held between his broad hands.
Max laughed as he looked down at the broken board. "Bang on, love. That was bang on." He stacked the scraps aside and selected another. "And I'm deadset. The package came today, by special courier."
Liz frowned and dropped the phony cadence. "I don't know, Max." She nodded in the direction of the stack of boards, and he lifted another one. This time she spun and slammed the heel of her hand through the one he raised.
Max studied the broken board. "Bloody impressive." He tossed the scraps aside and held up another board.
She grabbed his hands, adjusted the height of the board and stepped back. With a shout, Liz cleaved the board in two with her heel and grinned at him. "I pretend it's your head."
Max chuckled and tossed the broken board aside. "Listen ... it sounds like a good film. It's got a huge budget. You love action flicks."
"I love to go see them, yes, but I have no desire to be a part of making one," Liz said as she stepped to the side of the mat and grabbed a small towel from her bag. "You know how I feel about that."
Max gathered the broken boards from the floor and dumped them into a barrel beside the mat. "I know, Lizzie. I hate askin' ya. I'd offer to do it myself, but..." His gaze dropped to his injured knee and the Velcro, metal and foam contraption wrapping his leg from calf to thigh. The knee he had injured hadn't healed with therapy, and Liz knew his complete recovery from the resulting surgery was still weeks away. He smiled as he limped off the mat. "Besides, they want you. Come on, love. 'Ave a look."
Liz wiped the towel across the back of her neck and studied her partner. Max was a big man, towering over her by almost a foot, but they had been friends for far too long for his size to intimidate her. He could, however, still get to her with that charming smile and those soft gray eyes.
He held out his broad hand and gestured toward the small office they shared. Resigned, Liz followed him through the door. Max lowered himself into the chair behind the desk with a wince. He stretched his leg out to rest his heel on the upside down trashcan that served as a footstool. Once settled, he pulled a thick binder from a manila envelope and handed it to her.
Liz took the script and dropped into a seat across from him. Frowning, she flipped the pages. "This'll take months!"
Max shrugged. "Production schedule says six, but they want you to contract for three."
She felt his gaze on her as she flipped through the marked pages and looked over the fight scenes. It had been a long time since she'd held a Hollywood script and, in her opinion, it could have waited a whole lot longer. She found it difficult to believe Max would even suggest it.
He cleared his throat. "They sent a copy of the contract, what they're willing to pay you and all. It's a lot of money, Liz."
Her head popped up, her gaze meeting his. "How much?"
Max slid the paper across the desk.
Liz blinked. It was not possible. Who in the world would be willing to part with that many zeros for a martial arts instructor? She stared at it, reading the numbers a second time. Then a third.
"Are you serious?"
"Bloody oath, love."
"The advance alone would keep us up and running for several months. Let me see the rest of that contract."
He handed her a stack of pages. She skimmed over it, then pushed her wire-framed glasses up and rubbed her eyes. "This is insane. Are you sure all they are asking for is a trainer? For this kind of money, they might be after my first born."
Max leaned back, and the old chair creaked under his bulk. "I told you it was big budget. Expectin' this one to be a blockbuster, or so they said when they called." Her gaze followed his to the stack of bills at the corner of their shared desk, most past the due date.
She knew what he was thinking. Their little martial arts school was in a very precarious financial position. Even with Max's part time job bartending at the tavern across the street and Liz taking on private lessons, the wolves were barely kept at bay.
She leaned back, rubbing her forehead with her fingertips. "We could afford to hire another instructor," she said, still staring at the numbers on the contract.
He nodded. "Yeah."
"So what exactly is it they want from me?"
"The fella you'd be working with likes to do his own stunts. They want you to train him."
Liz rolled her eyes. "Great. That should make things interesting. I suppose it's my job to keep this egomaniac from killing himself or someone else?"
The uncomfortable silence that followed made her look up. "What?"
Max cleared his throat. "They're hiring someone else to help with the choreography."
Liz raised an eyebrow. "Any idea who?"
The look on Max's face told her she wouldn't like the answer.
"Miller?" Liz snorted. "You're telling me I'd have to work not only with an actor but with that--" She cut herself off with a sound of disgust. "Why hire me at all? Miller's got a bigger school and far more resources. Half his students come from Hollywood families. He's the one with a Screen Actors Guild card, and he does this kind of work all the time. Why aren't they hiring him to do it?" She shook her head. "I don't get it."
Max shrugged. "All I know is the studio specifically asked for you. Said they saw your demo at the state tourney, checked your records, saw how many times your students had taken championships. They say their star wants the best, and in their opinion, that's you, love." He smiled. "I happen to agree."
Liz nodded, remembering the elaborate demonstration she'd choreographed for the last state tournament in Bakersfield. She'd been very proud of the way her students had pulled it off. They had worked hard not only to master the choreography, but also to raise the money to make the trip. And almost every one of them had come home with at least one trophy.
Max stood, groaning as he rose. "Beggin' your pardon, but I'm going to the loo. Rest of the info's in there, if you're interested." He slid the envelope across the desktop before he limped to the door and let it click shut behind him.
Liz stared at the envelope. An actor. Great. The last thing she wanted or needed in her life. She'd done everything possible to avoid any dealings with the film industry for the last fifteen years.
Living in Los Angeles, that wasn't always easy. Fame was everywhere. Restaurants prided themselves on their celebrity patrons. Tourists flocked to the city in hopes of getting a look at their favorite stars. Even the huge, brightly-lit Hollywood sign was a constant reminder of memories she'd rather forget.
Three months. It was only three months. And it was a hell of a lot of money. Blowing out a breath, she reached for the envelope and slid the rest of the contents into her lap.
Liz sifted through the mountain of paperwork until the 8x10 color glossy stopped her cold. Experience told her big budgets meant big names, but Evan Warren?
Hollywood's latest golden child, she mused, staring down at the picture. Wavy dark hair, tanned complexion, and chiseled features, offset slightly by the boyish dimple on one side of his mouth. His smile was just crooked enough to be adorable, a hint of mischief sparkled in the pale blue eyes.
Did they honestly think the photo would influence her decision? She'd seen his movies, seen him in action, and thought him to be a competent actor. And yeah, she'd admit he was good looking. Ok ... he was gorgeous, but so what?
Annoyed at the subtle fluttering she felt in her stomach, she shoved the stack of material back into the envelope. Working with egotistical adults, who cared only about the next box office buck, held little appeal when compared the toothless grin of a seven-year-old who'd just cleaved a breakaway board for the first time. Kids were so honest. She had precious little patience for those who spent their lives pretending to be something they weren't.
Martial arts wasn't a game or hobby for her. Liz had worked for her rank, and worked hard. Fourth-degree black belt was not something one achieved without a large investment of time and self.
It bothered her more than she cared to admit to be teaching someone to pretend to be what she and her students worked so hard for in reality, but could she swallow her pride long enough to do this one job? The money would keep her struggling school in the black long enough for Max's injury to heal and allow them to take on another instructor, maybe even add some classes.
Perhaps, with the added income, she could rent out that newer building she'd had her eye on, and get a real apartment instead of living over the school. It would be worth it, she told herself, not to have to worry about next month's bills.
She tossed the package on to the desk as Max lumbered back into the office and sat down. He glanced at the envelope then looked up at her. "You saw the picture?"
"Yeah." The image of that heartbreaking smile flashed in her mind. She ignored the slight tripping in her chest and chalked it up to her earlier workout. "When do they need to know?"
"By the first of the week."
"I need some time to think on this one, Max," she said, leaning back in the chair. "I know it should be a no-brainer, but..."
Nodding, Max met her gaze. "I know this isn't an easy decision, Lizzie. Take a few days. Be sure."
With a slow, heavy sigh, she rose to her feet. "I'm going to shower."