Grant has gone from gay porn star/escort to NBC sitcom star. That’s a dream come true for him. The powers that be at the network have no idea that he’s A) gay, B) a former porn star, or C) in love with/living with another man…who is a current porn star and escort. Grant needs to keep it all secret because of a morals clause in his contract. There’s also the fact he’s not out to his conservative family. He’d actually like to come out to them, but Cam (his boyfriend) came out to his family and his father disowned him. So, Grant doesn’t rock the boat.
Cam wants to get out of the porn/escort business. He has his heart set on doing something good for the environment. Also, his star in the porn world is starting to fall. He’s in his 20s and starting to play second fiddle to 18-year olds. Cam’s not crazy about not being able to tell anyone about his relationship with Grant. He’s so proud of him and wants to be able to shout it from the rooftops (or at least attend a taping).
Things aren’t always what they seem in LA. Temptation is everywhere, and people are willing to do whatever they can to get ahead in the business, even if that means putting other people down and throwing them under the proverbial bus. The Dark Side of Stardom is the story of how Grand and Cam maneuver their way through these roadblocks and try to find their way to happily ever after.
I didn’t dislike this book. However, I have to admit I didn’t like it as much as I liked book one, Frame of Reference. All the characters were the same, with the addition of a few new ones…not too many, though. I’m going to tell you, right off the bat, you should read the first book before jumping into this one. There is exposition, but not nearly enough in my opinion. This is especially true with Grant. He came a long way from his boyhood in Selma, CA. Optimistic and full of hopes and dreams, he quickly learned it’s not easy, no matter how handsome you are. His life in LA wasn’t pretty at all. Now, it seems he has it all, but he’s learned all that glitters is not gold. As happy as he is to have Cam and a career, he’s become jaded and it’s sad. I felt for him, even though there were times I wanted to throttle him. There were a few occasions when he did something I thought was completely out of character for him. I don’t want to give too much away, but I’ll say he just really lucked out when it was Cam who fell in love with him because, if it was me? Let’s just say I’m not as generous.
I liked Cam more than Grant. He was feeling slighted and a little lonely because of how often Grant had to cancel plans or be away. Also, even though his mother loved and kept in touch, his father announced he didn’t have a son. Cam had always looked up to his dad and his heart was broken. Then, there’s the fact that Cam was no longer the top dog in the gay porn business. He was starting to only be able to play the second lead rather than being the star. Cam didn’t want to continue to have sex for money, but there wasn’t much an uneducated former porn star/prostitute could do, and he didn’t want to be supported by Grant.
A lot of the background characters are the same as in the first book, and they’re doing the same things. With The Dark Side of Stardom, Grant’s personal assistant, Lecy, is added, along with Grant’s costars. Lecy was great and I enjoyed the scenes she was in. I liked how she kept Grant’s secret after he confided in her that he was gay. I did not like the two costars who were featured in the plot. They were the stereotypical sleazy Hollywood types. The woman was tragic, but the man made me feel like I needed a bath after I read his scenes.
There were a few things that began to annoy me the longer I read. The year is 2004, and the character Grant plays has a catch phrase…well just a catch word. Rather than saying, “What’s Up,” he would say, “‘Sup?” If I’d have made a drinking game out of how many times that word was used, I’d have been thoroughly wasted by about 20%. Also, Grant called Cam his “Sugar Babe.” In fact, he called him that a LOT. What was cute at the beginning became mind numbing by about, well, 20%.
There were a few times when I thought the plot was rather jumpy, and some dialogue I felt was a little stiff. Sometimes there didn’t seem to be any natural progression. Occasionally, I found myself scratching my head. I was able to suspend my disbelief most of the time, but it wasn’t very easy.
Other than that, the story was absorbing. Sometimes frustrating, but for the most part, interesting. Grant and Cam had a nice chemistry. It was obvious they were in love. Their sex scenes were sexy, and they were there for each other when times got tough. When the inevitable happens, they were super supportive, and that was nice to read. There isn’t a tremendous amount of angst to plow through, and that is a major plus for me.
All in all, Frame of Reference isn’t a bad book. As I mentioned before, I highly recommend you read book one before you jump into this one. It will be much easier in the long run.
Famous gay porn star/escort Cam Cody returns home to Alabama just before Christmas. He has finally decided to come out to his parents. His plan is to tell them and return to LA to spend the holiday with his boyfriend, TV sitcom star, Grant Jackson. He’s nervous and unsure about how it’s going to work out. Turns out, he has every right to be.
This was a pretty decent short story and addition to the Frame of Reference series. Cam is actually my favorite character, and I was happy to see him get some pages to himself. Grant seems to be the main focus of the books and I liked seeing more of Cam’s life.
Cam’s parents are rather stereotypical for these types of stories and that was to be expected. There are no surprises here. In a way, it’s almost like a comfort read. Nothing truly exciting, but still satisfying.
I had one issue that annoyed me, and it may be a little ticky and just me, but I think it’s worth a mention. Cam’s parents are named Fred and Beverly. He refers to them as Food and Beverage…over and over and over again. What was amusing at the beginning was annoying after the third or forth time.
The end was predictable but that is fine. This story was a pleasant way to spend 20 minutes and also to gain a little insight into Cam and his life.