Book Review: Glamourpuss

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Glamourpuss

Christian McLaughlin

One of the funniest, freshest new voices in gay fiction, Christian McLaughlin tunes into the world of a handsome young actor who is about to break new ground in daytime soaps and stumble into unfamiliar territory in his own true-life dramas of sex and the single man. This delightful novel is the true confessions of Alex Young, a cute, twenty something Hollywood actor with a juicy role on the popular daytime soap Hearts Crossing. It’s big money and a major career move, but Alex just can’t seem to forget a first love he’s left behind in Texas.

When Alex is outed by a national tabloid, chaotic complications ensue, as his career in daytime drama and his relationship with an acerbic pretty-boy starlet are jolted by comic aftershocks. Suddenly, all hell breaks loose and he’s being bombarded by betrayed fans, stalked by a self-professed warlock, and attacked by homophobes who want him off the show. Now the suds in this soap star’s life really start to bubble over, and he is left wondering if the glamour of Hollywood is worth all the trouble and heartache.

This was a truly enjoyable book.  Each chapter is split in three.  The first half-ish of each chapter takes place in Alex’s past, in the time leading up to his move to Hollywood.  We see him meet and fall in love with his first love (alluded to in the first paragraph of the blurb above) and the struggles that entails.  Alex and his love have multiple discreet encounters, but they cannot be together as a couple.  The middle of each chapter features a brief fan letter Alex receives as part of his present-day life as a soap star.  Whether or not these are reflective of actual letters soap stars receive, I don’t know, but these provide little comic moments that fortify public stereotypes of soap viewers.  And the last half-ish of each chapter follows Alex in his present-day life with his pretty-boy starlet boyfriend and all the comedic fallout from being outed in a tabloid.

Very rarely do I actually find a comedic novel to be funny.  But Glamourpuss was one of those few rarities.  I may not have actually chuckled out loud, but the engaging narration and quick-moving plot kept me up way past my normal bed time for several nights in a row.

As this is a mainstream-published gay romance (as in, not by one of the smaller e-presses), the romance aspect is pretty clean and the sex scenes are mostly fade-to-black.  However, I think the novel gains something by not showing the sex — it would certainly have lost its lighthearted appeal if it got all serious and erotic.  And Glamourpuss is still sexy, even without detailed sex scenes.

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