Rating: 3 stars
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“A man possess all the power in the world if he can put joy into someone else’s’ life.”
This review is a difficult one for me. I am a fan of Brita Addams. I have read much of her work and have enjoyed it, without fail. So I leapt on this new book of hers, Tarnished Gold, and was intrigued about its subject matter—a silent movie star’s rise to fame and his introduction to the “gay” side of Hollywood.
Let me begin by recapping the story, which admittedly was a sprawling saga that spanned almost the entire life of Jack Abadie, a poor farm boy from Louisiana that had aspirations to one day become an actor. He and his lover, Emery, were set to run away on Jack’s birthday when Emery suddenly got cold feet and refused, leaving Jack to travel to Los Angeles by himself. He ended up in a boarding house and working as a waiter where he was discovered by a successful director, Eric Ballance, who worked for a up and coming production company.
As Eric opens up the world of acting and movie star fame for Jack, he also shuts down any emotional ties Jack may fancy he has for the director. Instead he instills in Jack the idea that men, like he and Jack, are to never “give themselves” to another. Rather they are to take and keep an emotional distance. This lesson will come back to haunt Jack when he finally meets the man he is destined to fall in love with and, ultimately, share his life with in the end. The story sweeps through each facet of Jack’s life in episodic moment, not unlike an old silent movie, and never really flows as a normal novel would. Rather much like the films of old, it develops a herky-jerky feel to it, using Jack as the central theme that must tie each segment to the next and hope that it keeps the readers interest in this admittedly long winded novel.
I do believe for those avidly interested in the working aspects of the “old Hollywood studios” this novel will be of keen interest. Also, there is a decided light BDSM element to the novel overall that is touched upon again and again but never fully developed or even moved much beyond orgasm control and spankings. The love story that develops between Jack and Wyatt provides some deep and lovely moments to what otherwise could almost be described as a biography of one man’s life.
I found this novel often tried my tenacity to hold on to the plot. Because the author chose to introduce a myriad of characters and take us point by point through Jack’s life, we are forced to move at a fairly slow pace and, often, I did not always find the story interesting enough for me to want to continue. Jack was such a conflicted person in so many ways and then stubborn over things that you wanted to warn him off of, for instance his desire to be open about his relationship with Wyatt. It was so admirable that he wanted Wyatt at his side and time after time he wielded his considerable box office appeal to get what he wanted in the boardroom but, due to the brief vignettes that made up this novel, I never felt as though I got to fully savor his victories or cheer on his stand against injustice. Rather I was merely swept along to the next moment in his life and after several chapters of this I was left curiously empty and devoid of any real excitement over the novel as a whole.
So, I must admit that Tarnished Gold by Brita Addams was simply not a five-star read for me. I must reiterate, however, that this author is one I will read again. She is an excellent storyteller and while this novel did not appeal to me overall, I admire her work.