The Man on Top of the World
The Man on Top of the World is marketed by its publishers as General Fiction/Romance. I should add that it includes m/m, m/f, m/m/f, f/f and m/m/f/f sexual combinations. Considering the amount of sex in this novel, I’m just glad neither of the main characters had a dog. The book also includes what feels like a glorification of drug use, there is domestic abuse – and if cheating is a trigger for you – it is obviously not one for this author.
So, what is The Man on Top of the World about?
Izzy Rich is an English Glam Rock Star and Johnny Maxwell is the drummer in his backing band, The Diamonds. Johnny is openly bisexual and Izzy is reminiscent of David Bowie in his Ziggy Stardust persona and enjoys dressing in drag for performances. I can see David Bowie’s ‘are they, aren’t they’ relationship with Mick Ronson being an inspiration. It would seem that Izzy is also bisexual although he doesn’t seem happy with that description and transvestite / gender fluid / bisexual might seem more appropriate.
The first paragraph seemed to promise an evocative rock and roll journey through England’s 1970s and indeed the first chapter, whilst positively awash in glitter, does evoke the hedonism of that era. Johnny and Izzy’s sexual shenanigans together lead to Izzy taking on a drag persona called Holly. A sexy transformation that was to last one day ends up being a liaison between Holly and Johnny for several weeks until Izzy stops being Holly, and they accept that they are in a same-sex relationship with at least one of them deeply in love.
They keep their partnership secret – something I didn’t quite understand the need for, considering what was going on around them, and what they got up to in public at parties. A tour to the States changes the status quo when a super –fan, Roxy, joins the party. This leads the three characters to a combination of marriage, overdoses and despair – the ending could loosely be called HFN.
There may be an interesting plot-line somewhere in this novel, but the writing, lack of research, editing and anachronisms ruined it for me.
First of all, the novel is set in England in the 1970s and yet the dialogue and narration are littered with words and phrases an English person would never say, especially in this decade, examples include–
Neither would a wealthy young Englishwoman and mother say – “You always got stories to tell”…
At one point Johnny is looking through a window of the family mansion in the West End of London – good luck finding one of those. He can see Trafalgar Square, Leicester Square, Piccadilly Circus and Covent Garden. This is simply not possible; did the author just copy a map of the London Underground?
A pivotal part of Vanessa Clark’s hedonistic 1970s world is the vast amounts of drugs consumed. The drugs of choice are Heroin, Cocaine and ECSTASY also known as MDMA. A brief look at Wikipedia would have informed the author this drug did not even exist until the late 80s/1990s.
These errors did pull me from the story but not nearly as strongly as the inaccurate juvenile writing. The sex scenes were so frequent I skimmed through them, especially when you get descriptive writing that includes –
He wanked me so feverishly that my eyes rolled to the back of my head…
Standing on his knees before the table, Izzy looked over his shoulder at me. I grinned, sitting on my knees beside him. With our tightly rolled piece of paper in hand, our noses raced from the beginning to the end…
When Izzy was squeaking ‘Yes sir!’ in submission or squeaking giddily, cackling, smiling goofily, snickering, …then he burst out in laughter –
She faced her back to us…Seeing the two stand on all fours before Izzy’s cock.
Where was the editor?
Or when sexy dialogue at an orgy with two super models is
“You naughty devil!” Yasmin laughed when Izzy crept his hand up her dress.
“My secret’s out!” Izzy winked at Andrea, touching her knee…
Finally, just because it is a different decade throwing in pointless insults like
Eat each other out like mad bull dykes
– is still not right.
Seriously, everything that is wrong with this book could fill a book of its own, but I will spare you and leave it at that.
I mentioned the editing because the author writes four pages in the acknowledgments that includes the following –
Somehow a beautiful accident happened. I had a novel. I’m humbled that this is my first one. Two years was spent on me disciplining this project by myself. No beta readers. Nobody other than my own eyes oh so carefully and critically looking over the manuscript from its rough stages to its diamond promises. Constantly rereading, rewriting, re-plotting, and re-self-editing this book over and over again until everything was just right.
I really cannot recommend this novel.
I'm an English romantic, and an author who simply adores reading and writing books. I believe that all love has equal status, and all humans need and deserve romance. So, I am thrilled to be able to review LGBTQ+ novels for AAR and introduce more readers to some gorgeous LGBTQ+ romances and fascinating stories.