The Hollywood Version
Title: The Hollywood Version
Author: Harry K. Malone
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press May 2013
Blurb: Mark Lawler has always imagined the world as a movie. With his overactive imagination, he can’t help equating life and art. Currently, he’s living the dream: successful actor, beautiful wife, and he works with his best friend, television heartthrob Zach Pericles. The problem is a certain contingent of fans are convinced Mark and Zach are really in love.
When a compromising photo of them leaks to the press, Mark’s life spins out of control. The show’s executive producer plans to kill off Mark’s character, and Mark faces unemployment and life as a single man. He turns to Ross Lockhart, an old acquaintance, to help him pick up the pieces.
Ross has to be the most frustrating man Mark’s ever known, but he’s levelheaded and wise for his years, and Mark envies the honest life he leads. Maybe Ross can teach Mark a thing or two about finding his own happily ever after.
Review: This one has a slow start. I had moments of hesitation over this, but it’s worth it to persevere. After I got past the slow opening it picked up, and I started to really enjoy it. This would have been a B rating for me except for a few sticking points.
It is a behind the scenes look at Hollywood from a TV series actor’s perspective. I really enjoyed the way the author didn’t make it all glamourous, but showed how much pressure there is to be beautiful, for men as well as women, and how much hard work goes into making a television series. Mark’s view of Hollywood and his constant comparisons of his life as a script were fun and sometimes funny.
Sucked into the false reality and surface relationships based on popularity and career possibilities, Mark has lost his sense of who he is and where he came from. He runs into Ross, who he knew in high school, while out partying with Zach. They end up reconnecting and in a moment of panic and uncertainty Mark calls Ross. Mark is reeling and feeling lost, betrayed and alone and Ross is a lifeline. Ross welcomes Mark into his home and helps him heal.
Mark is married to another actor who is less successful, she alternates between being understanding and being jealous. Especially of the close relationship that Mark shares with co-star Zach. The end of their relationship, which in many ways was more of a roommate/companionship dynamic than any sort of romance, was not a surprise.
I am still unsure if the trope of this book is gay-for-you or so-far-in-the-closet-of-denial-I don’t-even-know-I’m-gay. Mark’s relationship with Zach was very confusing. I’m a little amazed it took them as long as it did to get into a compromising situation. Mark’s rapid acceptance of his sexual and emotional desire for Ross increased my confusion as to what was happening in Mark’s mind. Which is saying something since the story is told from his perspective.
Here’s the thing that got me with this book, in a bad, rant to Beans about it way. This is the type of double standard story that if it was with your girlfriend you would tell her to get out of the relationship. Ross admits that he is mean to Mark, that he constantly finds fault with him, that he is very critical and tells him things in a very negative way that he has never done with anyone else. Ross is constantly telling Mark what he doesn’t feel, know, need, desire, and/or is ready for and Mark is supposed to follow along because of the gay-for-you trope and Ross being out. I think that when it came to their sexual interaction and romantic relationship it was Ross who had more issues and needed more time.
All of Mark’s close relationships were very dysfunctional and came with a demand that he must constantly adapt to the other person’s expectations. It started to become apparent that he wanted the other person to be in charge and control him. Although he would at times rebel against that, he would quickly panic and after much internal angst, where he convinced himself that he was going to ruin everything, he would overcompensate and apologize. Mark needs therapy, a lot of it. Honestly, almost every character in this book needs extensive therapy, maybe that was part of the author’s statement about Hollywood.
This is going to sound weird because I am of two minds about this one. This book in many ways frustrated me and made me a little sad. At the same time, I enjoyed this book and liked a lot about it and felt that the end was sweet and cute. I felt that Mark should tell Ross to stuff it and walk out. While at the same time I enjoyed their relationship once Ross put on his big girl panties and manned up to wanting this relationship and accepting that Mark was actually a decent human being, and wasn’t going to leave him.
Reviewed by Nina
Posted on May 30, 2013, in Nina and tagged Actors, Betrayal, C List, California, Closeted, Coming Out, Contemporary, Divorce, DSP, Friends to Lovers, Gay For You, Hollywood, M/M, Nina, Outed, Paparazzi, romance, TV Series. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.