As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases.


by Russell J. Sanders

Heartthrob - Russell J. Sanders
Editions:Paperback - First edition: $ 16.99
ISBN: 9781644059180
Size: 6.00 x 9.00 in
Pages: 298
Kindle - first edition: $ 6.99
Pages: 282

Hollywood, the mid-1960s. President Kennedy has been assassinated, the country’s civil rights movement is in full swing, and teenager Nate Berrigan is a television sitcom star.

But Nate’s onscreen life looks nothing like the real thing, which stars abusive, addicted parents instead of swooning teenage girls. On top of that, Nate’s questioning his sexuality, and his boss is a demanding monster.

The pressure would get to anyone. Fortunately Nate has Tai Atua, his costar… and maybe the love of his life. As the boys slowly fall for each other, Nate tries to believe in the possibility of his own happiness. Tai could be his savior, pulling Nate away from the precarious knife-edge he’s balancing on.

Of course, he could also be his undoing. Because if anyone finds out about their relationship, Nate’s whole life will come crashing down around him. If that happened, Nate couldn’t live with himself….

This book is on:
  • 1 To Be Read list

Nate laughed. A tiny little chuckle. He hoped Paul didn’t notice. There they sat, he and his manager/dad, in the waiting room outside the office of producer Stan Waldman, a man who would soon decide his fate. Would Waldman hire him, or would he send him away?
Mr. Waldman and superstar comic Kerry Flanagan were casting a new sitcom. And Nate was here, at an honest-to-God contract negotiation. Nate was sick to death of cattle calls, those herds of faces that somehow looked far too much like his, sitting eagerly with headshots in hand, hoping to read the scenes that would bring instant stardom. That’s what Paul had gotten for him so far—enormous, get-your-hopes-up-but-not-too-far cattle calls. One had even led to a role on a soap, not quite a featured role, but Nate had made the best of it.
But he sat here now, not because of Paul, who thought he was the best manager in the world—he wasn’t—but because Nate took this into his own hands.


He knew his imitation of his arrogant father would someday come in handy. As soon as Nate had seen the notice in Variety about this new Kerry Flanagan show and seen that Flanagan’s character had sons, Nate had brazenly called Stan Waldman’s office. Using his best Paul Berrigan, he pitched the idea of Mr. Waldman giving his “son” an audition. Nate was flabbergasted it worked, but Mr. Waldman told “Paul” to send in his son’s résumé, and then he put his secretary on the line to set up a sit-down.

That led to a round of auditions. How Paul and his mother, Monica, didn’t get suspicious when he left the apartment for these appointments, he didn’t know. Probably because they didn’t care if he came or went. After all, his life was like a bad movie anyway. That first trip, his mother did ask. He told her he’d gone to see Dr. No, the movie featuring Sean Connery as secret agent James Bond, which had just opened and was so popular that Monica was bound to know about it. That excuse worked, so after that, he figured she and Paul decided he’d become a big movie fan.

He took the city bus to the studios, and first came the cold read. He liked the character, so he felt like he did a great job. He managed to convince them that his manager was out of town for a few weeks and that he would call them back. That violated every industry rule. The callback was sacred, and it was always done by the show’s reps. But somehow, they believed Nate.
So he called them back with his Paul Berrigan voice, and he was invited back to do chemistry readings. They liked him and wanted to see how he worked with others reading for the roles of the brothers his character had. Those readings must have gone well, because when “Paul” called back in two days, Nate was asked to read for Mr. Waldman and the star, Kerry Flanagan.

That reading went extremely well, despite the fact that Mr. Flanagan didn’t seem to be interested in what they were doing at all. Mr. Waldman, however, was quite complimentary. When Nate and his potential costars were finished, Mr. Waldman said, “Give us a minute, Nate. My secretary will be happy to get you a soft drink if you like.” Then he looked at the other boys. “Thanks for coming in, guys. We’re finished with you today. Stay safe.”

Nate retreated to the outer office with the two guys he’d just read scenes with. One of them, the older one, said, “Wow. Sounds like you’re about to get hired. They sent me on my merry way and didn’t call back to give me the news until three days later.”

“A week for me,” the younger boy said.

The older one added, “Well, Nate”—he extended his hand for Nate to shake—“see you on set.”

“I haven’t gotten the part yet,” Nate answered.

“You will.”


View the trailer:

About the Author

A  teacher, a singer, an actor, a director, a chef, a traveler, a writer...these are all descriptions of native Texas author Russell J. Sanders, now residing in Las Vegas, Nevada. A life spent in Texas led to a relocation adventure, because that's what life is about--embarking on adventures. So he and his husband set out for parts unknown and are loving it! Russell writes young adult novels, and his works are infused with his travel experiences. Thus far, his novels have taken readers to Ft. Worth, Houston, Chicago, Hollywood, and Nova Scotia. Since he has traveled to England, France, Italy, Japan, India, Bali, Jakarta, Toronto, Vancouver, Alaska, and Hawaii, who knows where he may lead his readers next? But one thing is certain, there will likely be a mention of Tex-Mex food in his books, for no matter where he travels, Russell seeks out Mexican food, not searching for the perfect enchilada, but just to experience what the food is like in faraway places. It actually was pretty good, he says, in Jakarta, and not so good in Wyoming. Mostly, Russell's goal is to tell the world, through his writing, that we are all put on this earth to love one another, no matter our race, religion, or sexual preference.