Sweet and innocent nineteen year-old Jack has loved the older and more street wise Nick from almost the first time he met him. Nick has taken care of him ever since Jack arrived in New York after he was beaten and thrown out of the boy’s orphanage for messing around with one of the guys there. They share a passion for silent films and have dreams of heading west to make their fortunes building sets for the studios. If only Nick felt the same passion for Jack, and wasn’t already engaged to a gal back in Philly.
Nick’s temper sometimes gets the best of him, but that’s only because he worries about Jack – Nick is all the poor kid has. But he’s also terrified about the way he’s been feeling towards Jack lately. They’re the kinds of feelings he should be having for his fiancé—Penelope—and never for a man. His only goal is to get them both to Hollywood, where he’s sure they’ll be rolling in the dough in no time, and where everything will all work out the way it should.
Hollywood isn’t exactly what they’d thought it would be. There are plenty of gin joints, jazz, money, parties and sex—but everything comes with a hefty price. Everyone they meet—from Trixie Fox, the ditzy up and coming starlet, to Bernie, the foreman who gets them their first studio job—seems to have a hidden agenda. Can the newfound love between Jack and Nick survive the tawdry mess that makes up the glitz and glamour of the celluloid kingdom, or will their own secrets tear them apart forever?
Reader Advisory: This book contains mild BDSM elements, drug use, and sex-for-hire scenes.
Reader Advisory: Please note, this is the first book of a three book serial and is part of a continuing story line best read in sequence.
That was not a very nice way to end the book Ms. Knight. Sweet, sweet Jack did not deserve that bitch-slap from the universe, thank you very much. Hollywood Bound is the first of the Gin & Jazz series and introduces the reader to Jack and Nick. We learn almost immediately that Jack is gay and there is no disputing the fact that the world was not a safe place for a 19 year-old gay man in the 1920s. Fortunately for Jack, Nick took a shine to him almost immediately, assuming the role of his protector and has looked out for Jack as if he were his younger brother. A mixture of hero worship and unrequited love means that Jack is grateful for all that Nick does for him and he’s happy to have Nick in his life, even if Nick never recognizes or returns his feelings.
Despite the fact that the era is not one that typically interests me, Ms. Knight does an outstanding job of creating scenes and settings that felt authentic to me – both in New York and Hollywood. I enjoyed the way that Nick looked out for Jack, doing whatever he had to in order to preserve Jack’s innocence as long as he could. While I hated that Nick fell victim to one of Hollywood’s alternative casting couches, I appreciated that it. started a chain of events that eventually enabled Nick to come to Jack’s rescue, or rather their rescue. The author’s inclusion of the seedier side of Hollywood, including the speakeasies, the sordid parties, and the backroom deals, added to the realistic feel of the novel.
Of course, the part of Hollywood Bound I enjoyed the most was the relationship between Jack and Nick and how it evolved over the course of the novel. As Nick had never been attracted to anyone before, let alone another man, his was a journey of self-discovery and the choices he made resulted in some major hits to his feelings of self-worth. Because Nick is portrayed as the stoic male typical of the era, he keeps his emotions closed down tight – even during his internal monologues – and the reader is left to infer much of what he feels from his actions. This often leads to episodes of insecurity on Jack’s part, which made those times when Nick opened up that much sweeter. Because this is the first real relationship either man has had, we get to play voyeur to some seriously hot and equally sweet sex scenes as they find out together what it means to be in love with another man. As the book drew to a close, it was easy to see how life in Hollywood was negatively impacting their relationship. Despite knowing what was coming, I wasn’t prepared for the heartbreak or the cliffhanger that Ms. Knight delivered. As this is only the first book in the series, one can only hope that Jack and Nick find happiness in the next installment.