Book Reviews

Emerald Idol by Hank Fielder at Dreamspinner Press

Genre Gay / Contemporary / Romance
Reviewed by Serena Yates on 23-August-2012

Book Blurb

Once upon a time in the eighties, Nick Davanger’s soulful green eyes and successful record-producer partner turned him into the pop sensation known as the Emerald Idol. But Rusty has been dead for a year now, and though Nick is slowly putting his life back together, it isn’t easy—especially since someone is trying to derail his comeback by blackmailing him about his decadent past.

Enter LA detective Anson Bay, who’s been assigned to keep Nick safe. Anson is the total package, handsome as well as competent. He strives to keep business and pleasure separate, no matter how strong his feelings grow, but his attraction to Nick strains the limits of his professionalism.

To aid the search for a suspect, Nick finds himself reliving his time with Rusty, from London’s steamy all-male strip clubs to fame in the Hollywood Hills. Even if he can’t deny that Anson excites him, Nick’s not sure he can love again. Of course, if the villain who’s blackmailing him succeeds, Nick may never have the chance to find out.


Book Review

For someone who has lost the love of his life, has had a 'checkered past' (to put it carefully), and is now being blackmailed, life certainly isn’t easy. This book paints Nick's life story with all its colorful detail, and in that sense is a fascinating coming of age story and an 'accounting' of the times, events, and people that shaped Nick into who he is today. While the blurb focuses on the mystery and the blackmail, don’t be fooled into thinking this is a thriller. What makes this story special is the description of all the events that made Nick into who he is today, the colorful characterizations of the people he encountered on his way, and the deep love he felt for Rusty.


Nick is a troubled individual almost from day one of his life. With a black father (who has vanished) and a white mother (who dies when he is still very young, he ends up being raised by his racist white grandparents in rural Wisconsin. He is taught to ignore the black side of his heritage and ends up seeing himself as white. That, however, is only one of the factors making life difficult for him. He wants to be a pop star, struggles with drugs and his sexuality, and life goes downhill from there.


Rusty may be the older man in their relationship, and takes Nick under his wings, in a way, but he has his own issues. Addicted to alcohol and drugs, he stumbles through life wanting to make it big. His own studio is a dream that may come true, but he is a musician at heart, not a businessman.  He does give Nick the stability he needs for a while, sort of, but, in the end, cannot keep up with life's demands and tragically dies.


Anson, the detective helping Nick figure out who is blackmailing him this time, really only plays a minor role in this book. I thought that was too bad, because there is a lot of potential for more between him and Nick, and I wanted to see that. Anson may be the first stable influence in Nick's life and I was certainly relieved to see him make an appearance!


If you expect a thriller, or a traditional romance, you will be disappointed. And if you don’t like flashbacks or puzzling out who did what when, stay away from this novel. But, if you approach this book with an open mind to finding out what it was like to be an up and coming musician in the 80s, if reading about a young man struggling with his mixed race background on top of being gay is what you're interested in, and if you don’t mind the very realistic descriptions of what goes on in parts of the music industry, you may like this book.




DISCLAIMER: Books reviewed on this site were usually provided at no cost by the publisher or author. This book has been provided by Dreamspinner Press for the purpose of a review.


Additional Information

Format ebook and print
Length Novel, 340 pages
Heat Level
Publication Date 13-August-2012
Price $6.99 ebook, $17.99 paperback, $17.99 bundle
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