Ever since I came across J.J. Salem’s first bonkbuster TAN LINES in 2010 I’ve been dying to venture into his world of the beautiful people. But sometimes life takes you on a different path, one that barely involves trash fiction. Oh, do not worry, I’m sure Mr. Salem knows exactly where his work stands. Fool of me to ever think of insulting him. Anyway, as I was saying, I sometimes go without reading trash for months, preferring horror novels of all kind. And by trash, I mean anything that resembles this author’s work: a fast-paced plot with a hint (or two or three) of sex, scandal and sin. But I’m happy to announce that the wind has finally turned and I’m more than ready to embrace my love for this genre again. And that’s all thanks to J.J. and his TAN LINES, since his finely tuned tale of glamour and fame made me realize just how much I’ve missed the old days of guilty pleasures in print.
TAN LINES begins on a high note that involves the murder of one of the main characters. Her body is found lying in a lavish Hampton beach house; a house, we come to learn, she’s been sharing with two other women, both in the biz as well. Then it’s flashback time with sex as a main dish, and we’re talking big bold one-on-one encounters. Girl on boy. Girl on girl. Boy on boy, you name it. No one is spared. But underneath all the sex lies a novel with a heart, and that’s the main force of TAN LINES. J.J. Salem manages to concoct a tightly woven tale that goes deeper than meets the eye. You do come to care for these three troubled ladies. You want them to find whatever they’re looking for. But as we already know, life in bonkbuster land is never easy, especially when you’re young, hot and talented like these three heroines are.
Of the bunch, I’d say Alex is the more messed up character. She boozes, she snorts, she bangs... She’s what you call a self-destructive rock chick, trying to make a come-back after her last album bombed. She’s high-maintenance but underneath it all lies a little girl crying out for help. But the way she treats people… Makes you wonder how she ever became friends with the other two ladies. But Salem explains it all quite nicely, and furthermore, it even makes sense. Not that the novel is the down to earth type. We’re talking about an escapist read here. So you have to put some realness out the door and go along for the ride. But you’ll find the other two women a bit more grounded. One is a sweet and beautiful would-be starlet being kept by a rich cold-hearted older man. She wants to cease ties with him and start all over again but is just incapable of doing so. The other is a popular TV personality, a feminist whose straight talk not only pulls in ratings but makes her the target of a deranged person. Is she the one who ends up dead? I’ll let you figure it out all by yourself. One thing’s for sure, though, if you’re anything like me, you’ll devour this novel and demand more in the end. I’m so glad that I have yet to read Salem’s second novel THE STRIP. Just the thought of starting it puts a big smile on my face. So go on, indulge in TAN LINES and come join the fun.
Until next post—Martin
|US hardcover edition|