Terri Schlichenmeyer, The Bookworm Sez
An Accidental Affair by Eric Jerome Dickey
c.2011, Dutton $26.95, 352 pages
You’ll get yours. Whatever comes around, goes around. Tit for tat, and all that. Whatever you do comes back to haunt you. For every action, there’s an equal reaction. You always reap what you sow, and payback’s a… well, you know what it is.
When James Thicke beat down Johnny Bergs for sleeping with James’ wife, it seemed that Johnny got what he deserved. But in the new book An Accidental Affair by Eric Jerome Dickey, James might pay for the beating with his life.
He absolutely lost his temper. When the steamy video went viral, screenwriter James Thicke went crazy. There it was, Johnny Bergs making real love to beautiful Regina Baptiste for the movie cameras. But Regina Baptiste was Thicke’s wife and while every man wanted to sleep with her, Thicke was the only man who had that right.
Johnny Bergs had crossed a line. So when James Thicke found Johnny that rainy night, he pounded Johnny’s handsome face into pulp.
That was Mistake Number One: Johnny was rumored to be the son of a gangster.
In order to escape the Bergs family and his feelings of anger for his wife, whom he trusted to do a love scene without actually doing a love scene, Thicke moved to a low-income apartment complex. It was a good place to hide from the Bergs, the law and his own thoughts.
Mistake Number Two: there were too many needful women at the complex, and Thicke smelled like money. It was hard to avoid them, even when he wanted to.
But then Regina Baptiste started following James Thicke, crying, begging. She claimed that the scene with Johnny Bergs was a mistake. She wasn’t herself. She never intended for it to happen. It was an accident.
Once upon a time, James Thicke stole Regina Baptiste from another man. She had been living with that Norwegian, Bobby Holland, but she didn’t love him and he was bad for her. Holland had gotten her hooked on cocaine, and Thicke knew that the powder would eventually be the death of her.
Which was Mistake Number Three: the death was likely to be James Thicke’s…
Well, there we go. Author Eric Jerome Dickey has, once again, made me stay awake until all hours of the night, losing sleep and reading. Yes, this is one of those kinds of books.
An Accidental Affair starts out a little rough. It seemed, at first, that it was going to be another tiresome erotica novel… and then the story grabs you by the throat and slams you into James Thicke’s world, where the only people who can be trusted are those who’ve signed confidentiality clauses—and even then, you’re never sure.
I loved the intrigue here. I loved the touches of twisted wit. Reading An Accidental Affair is, in fact, like chewing on ambrosia-coated sandpaper: it’s gritty, but oh-so-very tasty, and if you need a copy of it for your own, you need to get to your library or bookstore now.
Because that’s where you’ll get yours.
Hollywood Boulevard by Janyce Stefan-Colec
2012, Unbridled Books $25.95, 352 pages
The guy over there is wearing an interesting hat. It’s not really that-kind-of-hat weather but he wears it well, possibly to cover a bald spot. And that lady in the blue shirt really looks overwhelmed. Her kids are probably on her last nerve and that’s gotta be her husband lagging behind her. You’d sure hate to be him about now.
As hobbies go, people-watching is one of the cheapest and most fun around. But in the new novel, Hollywood Boulevard by Janyce Stefan-Cole, a former award-winning actress isn’t just people-watching.
Someone’s also watching her.
She always wondered if Joe would’ve approved of her quitting. Ardennes Thrush wasn’t sure. Her ex-husband might’ve supported her in her departure from acting. Her agent, Harry, and her former flame, Fits, saw nothing good about the quit because they were always asking “Why?” Andre, her current husband, didn’t seem to care much either way.
Andre didn’t care about anything more than the film he was directing, come to think, and Ardennes sometimes regretted leaving New York to join him in L.A. She once said she was done with Los Angeles. Every once in awhile, she’d threaten to go back to the Big Apple but she never followed through.
Instead, she spent her days avoiding the “Why?” question, shopping and watching other residents at the old ‘40s-era hotel in which Andre’s cast and crew were staying. There was, for instance, a man across the way who hung laundry outside (how quaint), and a woman who obviously didn’t care who saw her in bed, naked. Oh, and the addled old lady next door was apparently some famous stripper from 50 years ago.
This new hobby still left a lot of time for Ardennes to visit with what few old friends she had left, and to repeat her resolve to leave her career. No, she was not going to act again. No, Andres, considered the greatest director of all-time, was not going to have another chance to work with her.
But someone was watching Ardennes, someone with other ideas. Someone who thought intermission should be over…
Hollywood Boulevard is a rocky road, filled at first with potholes and switchbacks. The speed limit is so slow that I almost wanted to pull off to find another vehicle and the scenery is nothing spectacular, but I stuck with the itinerary.
I was glad I did, because the destination was ultimately worth it.
What’s interesting about this book is that author Janyce Stefan-Cole absolutely never lets her readers know what to expect. This is a mystery, almost noir-ish, but it’s sometimes campy with lots of “Huh?” moments, including a truly silly penultimate storyline that feels cartoonishly ridiculous until you get to the Holy-Cow-I-didn’t-see-that-coming, nearly brilliant ending that I’m still kind of reeling from.
Yeah. Like that.
Overall, Hollywood Boulevard is slow but peppered with pockets of plot that will make you sit up and notice. It’s going to take patience to read but, based on what I saw here, it’s by an author who bears watching.
More summer reads:
Who needs to know how to do it up right, look for How to Be Gay in the 21st Century by David Leddick. This book is snarky, gossipy, chatty and wonderfully sneering, and if you’re really messing up at being gay, you need to read it.
So you say you’re obsessed by fangs and fashion—not necessarily in that order? Well then, you’ve got to look for Fangs and Stilettos by Anthony DiFiore. You’ll never again wonder why there are plunging necklines. You’ll never again wonder if silk is an otherworldly fabric. You’ll never again wonder if couture is a magical thing…
If you’re up for a good mystery, read The Second You Sin by Scott Sherman. Set in the Big Apple, this mystery features a handsome full-time hustler who sleuths on the side, a series of murders that he needs to stop and a few roadblocks in his way to doing so. Bookmarks? Won’t need one for this book.
If a roller-coaster ride of sadness and humor sounds right up your alley, then look for Songs for the New Depression by Kergan Edwards-Stout. This is the story of a man who knows he’s dying, knows he’s made a lot of mistakes in his life and knows that he needs to fix things before the end.
So you’re having a staycation and want to travel anyhow? Love in the Loire by David Leddick is set in France, and it’s a romantically hot mix of his previous two books, with characters that fans have come to enjoy. Call it a sequel, read it as a standalone, but read it…
Every Step You Take by Jock Soto is a biography written by the principal dancer with the New York City Ballet, telling how a Puerto Rican-Navajo gay young man survived his childhood to become a premier dancer. He also writes about his career, his loves and his newest adventure. If you love dance, you can’t miss this book.