Tarnished Gold

TarnishedGoldTitle: Tarnished Gold
Author: Brita Addams
Cover artist: Anne Cain
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Amazon: Buy Link Tarnished Gold
Genre: historical BDSM mm romance
Length: 350 pages
Rating: 4 stars out of 5

A guest review by Sirius.

Summary: Nicely written, well researched story about the love between two amazing people during Hollywood’s Golden Years. If you likestories which are low on conflict you will enjoy this one.

Blurb:

In 1915, starstruck Jack Abadie strikes out for the gilded streets of the most sinful town in the country—Hollywood. With him, he takes a secret that his country hometown would never understand.

After years of hard work and a chance invitation to a gay gentlemen’s club, Jack is discovered. Soon, his talent, matinee idol good looks, and affable personality propel him to the height of stardom. But fame breeds distrust.

Meeting Wyatt Maitland turns Jack’s life upside down. He wants to be worthy of his good fortune, but old demons haunt him. Only through Wyatt’s strength can Jack face that which keeps him from being the man he wants to be. Love without trust is empty.

As the 1920s roar, scandals rock the movie industry. Public tolerance of Hollywood’s decadence has reached its limit. Under pressure to clean up its act, Jack’s studio issues an ultimatum. Either forsake the man he loves and remain a box office darling, or follow his heart and let his shining star fade to tarnished gold.

Review:

NOTE: I purchased the book on my own.

I enjoyed the story of Jack and Wyatt, but at times it ran surprisingly low on conflict. The story takes place during almost twenty years of Jack’s life and the epilogue jumps almost twenty five years more ahead. It is an epic story of a young man of amazing strength finding his place in Hollywood and staying strong to who he was no matter what life was throwing at him. I thought it was written and researched very well, and I felt like I was right there, reliving the Golden years of Hollywood. I was cheering for Jack’s successes and my heart ached for his heart breaks.

At some point in the story (somewhere starting in the 25-30 percentage) the story becomes the story of Jack and Wyatt. Soon enough after they start to figure out what they may mean to each other they have their first conflict in the story based on their perceived views of what it means to be in the relationship. It was resolved pretty fast. I thought it was nicely done and I expected to see tension between them being built just as nicely during the course of the story. Sadly I was wrong.

After 40-45% of the story *any* tension between the guys disappeared completely. They love each other, support each other and it was nice to read, especially since according to the author’s note the men are loosely based on real people. It was heartwarming to know that there were people who survived pressure and refused to pretend who they are even if they meant that they could not stay in business.

I really do not mind and often enjoy a lot “we against the world” kind of story. Having said that, I kept hoping for something to be the reason for the tension to return, but alas. It was actually kind of funny because bad things do happen around Jack and Wyatt , so there were multiple possibilities for at least external tension to reappear.  At the same time what I felt instead was that none of those events had a lasting influence on their relationship and /or on their lives.

I mean, even the event which the blurb references –  the studio issuing Jack an ultimatum – I thought it would hit him and Wyatt much harder and the repercussions would be much worse, but instead I thought that they rebounded pretty fast and became even more successful. I am not going to tell you how that happened. My point is that I did not see any real conflict – external or internal – happening in the second half of the book. Jack and Wyatt lose friends, loved ones, but they never waver in their support for each other. It did my heart good to read the book like this on one hand, on the other I am not sure if it made for a very exciting fictional story.

As you can see the story is also characterized as BDSM. I felt that Jack and Wyatt enjoyed it almost as a matter of fact; of course it made sense to me that they do not call what they do BDSM and I did not think that they played in anything hardcore. Having said that, I wish the author showed why they want and need it with a little bit more depth.

Recommended.

16 comments

  • I read, with interest and concern, the several comments about conflict, tension, and the lack thereof. I’ve never quite understood why so many people seem to think that tension and conflict are necessary before a story can be satisfactory. The same goes for angst.

    There’s too much of all of the above in everyday life, so it is nice to read a pleasant story that is free from same.

    • Hi Etienne, thanks for commenting. I was not asking for more angst in the story, I was complaining about what I perceive as a lack of conflict. I went on Internet to find the definition of conflict for you, which would sound as close as I think of it. Here it is, there is nothing here about angst:

      “Conflict is the struggle of opposing forces in a story. It is what creates the drama and action that moves the story from beginning to conclusion. Every story has conflict; without conflict, there is no story

      Read more: Definition of Conflict in a Story | eHow.com http://www.ehow.com/facts_5949306_definition-conflict-story.html#ixzz2Qg9TXgmE

      I am not a writer, but as a reader this is pretty much what I think about “conflict in the story”. It does not have to be over the top.

      • We will have to agree to disagree on that one. I read to escape, and don’t enjoy escaping into conflict or angst, unless it is kept to an absolute minimum. I recently read a best-selling novel in which the author created a truly memorable character, then proceeded to put him through wringer after wringer for some 300 pages. Enough already.

        It should be possible to create a totally enthralling story in which there is neither conflict nor angst.

  • Hi Sirius,

    Thank you for the review of Tarnished Gold. I’m pleased you enjoyed it, and the characters.

    Just a note on conflict. My take on the subject was that they lived in a time of great change and conflict. Everyday they were faced with situations that affected the way they lived and worked. There was a lot of conflict, but it was the way Jack and Wyatt chose to handle it that made them what they were.

    As a reader, I tend to get worn out with stories that wring it out of you with one conflict after another, often contrived for the sake of the formula. By design, I chose to have Jack and Wyatt circle the wagons so to speak, and together, work through whatever life threw at them. Real people do that, that’s the way I live my life. No particular fanfare, just dig in and work through things, which makes you a stronger person and makes your relationship stronger as well. For these characters, the way they did that suited their personalities.

    Gaycrow – The book isn’t based on Wisecracker by William J. Mann, but rather inspired by William Haines and the way he chose to live his life. My homage to him, if you will. He was an amazing man.

    Thank you again, Sirius, for the thoughtful review. I couldn’t ask for anything more.

    My best, as always.

    • Hi Brita, thanks for commenting. Just to clarify, I do enjoy the stories that have external conflict and have the couples facing the external conflicts together and not apart. However I did not feel that in your story there was a lot (or any) of external conflict either. I felt that none of the bad things that happened to/around Jack and Whyatt shaped their interactions with each other in the meaningful way. I felt that the bad things sort of bounced of them. It is just one reader’s interpretation, but this is how I felt and feel.

      As I said I still liked it, but to me conflict does not necessarily mean angst, a lot of over the top things happening, it means that something drives the story forward, be it problems they have between each other or the problems they face from the world.

      I did not feel that any of those things drove the story, it felt more like a biography of the fictional people – nice biography, sweet and heartwarming, but not too exciting, no.

    • Yep Gay she lists this book as one of her sources, let me check, I should have your email when the message comes in my inbox.

  • It’s rare, but there are times when I don’t mind a lack of conflict in a novel. Sometimes, I just want the escapism of romance (though, obviously, with characters that’ll keep me interested). Gonna give this one a try. Thanks for your honest review. 🙂

    • Hi Luce, I think there is a good chance you will like this one then, although I cannot predict whether the characters will grab you or not. Please consider coming back and letting us know whether you enjoyed the book.

  • I couldn’t finish this one. Something about the way it was written just didn’t work for me. There was an odd sort of abruptness in the dialogue. The story was going well and I had no issues with the characters but the flow, the choppiness of it drove me crazy. I’ll probably go back to it at some point and try again. Especially now that someone who finished it wrote such a favorable review 🙂

    • Thanks Charlie, but I have a suspicion that if the writing did not work for you, it may not be your cup of tea. The reason I am saying it is even though I had issues with the story being so low on conflict and tension and the feeling that the author just refused to dig deeper in the characters, likeable as they were to me, the writing grabbed me almost right away.

      In any event, if you decide to continue, let me know if it eventually worked better for you or not? Thanks for commenting.

  • I have this book, but haven’t read it yet. Unfortunately, a lack of tension can make me very dissatisfied, especially if external events would realistically seem to lead to conflict. I’ll give it some more thought. Thank you for the review, Sirius!

    • It is definitely possible Val – well if you end up reading it let me know what you thought.

  • I have this half read on my ereader. I was intrigued by the era and the setting and because it reminded me of some book(s) I read in the 80’s set in the same time and environment, and I was interested in reading something similar with an different POV. When I started reading I easily got in to the story and its environment, but I found it really difficult to get into the characters. I never got an emotional connection with any of them, as if I never (as far as I got) got in depth with whom they were and how they felt, and after reading half of it and I still had no or just a little and at times sporadic feelings for them I gave up and turned to something else to read. I don’t know why I felt so disconnected with the characters,maybe because I didn’t wholeheartedly like Jack, but I did like Wyatt, and it still wasn’t enough.

    I haven’t given up completely, planning to get back and finish. It’s interesting though to see how others have enjoyed it.

    • Hi Sara I definitely hear what you are saying – in fact I wonder whether I would have graded the book lower had I not have the unfortunate tendency to look at the end first. It just always makes me happy to read stories which even loosely based on the real people who survived together against all odds. Maybe what I felt as a lack of tension, lack of conflict also translates in not sufficient depth in characterization. Like Jack seems curiously very little affected by what happened to Erik. Or at least text does not talk about it for a long time, only a little bit. Considering how long he had known Erik it felt strange to me and as I mentioned all other situations also led nowhere.

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