Review: The Man on Top of the World by Vanessa Clark

Jonathan Maxwell’s life can’t get any better as the drummer of the world’s hottest glam rock superstar, Izzy Rich. Despite the money, the nonstop excitement of touring, and the groupies, Jonathan wants something more. He wants Izzy to be his lover.

Unbeknownst to his team, his fans, and the world, for fun, Izzy transforms in drag for Jonathan, becoming a songwriter/songstress called Holly. Though meant to happen for only one day, Jonathan and Holly’s relationship lasts for weeks. Until one day, Izzy rids himself of Holly forever.

Transitioning from boyfriend and girlfriend to boyfriends, Jonathan and Izzy are on cloud nine. Their love is still a secret, but they couldn’t be happier. Until the tour jumps across the pond to America, where a bold, teenaged fan-girl, Roxanne Shengyi, will impact their relationship—and their lives—in ways that none of them can imagine.

I took a chance on this book, because crossdressing, ignoring my usual aversion to books with rock star MCs. Hindsight being what it is I should’ve stayed the no rock stars! course. Lesson learned. 

Before I go into why this book largely didn’t work for me let me just say that I have very little patience for theatrics and melodrama in my off time. When too much day job seeps into my reading it gives me a headache, makes me feel like I never get a break. But I'm fairly certain I’m in the minority on the no love lost for the drama llamas, so all the things that didn’t work for me will be like catnip for others. I didn’t hate it entirely though I did hate parts of it a lot. It held my attention mostly because I couldn’t look away from the train wreck I knew was coming.

Izzy Rich is a crossdressing phenom who reminded me a lot of Bowie which parlayed into some rather eye-opening research on Bowie. And Iggy Pop. And Mick Jagger. And Lou Reed. LOU REED?!?!?!??! Who knew? The 70s were a wild and crazy time, apparently. 
I'm kind of sad I missed them but I did thoroughly enjoy my research. If only Bowie's sex pit could tell me some stories... *sigh* Clark did a superb job of capturing the overindulgence and the hedonism of the era compounded tenfold by a glam rock group on the cusp of superstardom.

The Man on Top of the World is a bacchanalia from start to finish. There are nightly orgies with all sorts of pairings (mm, ff, mmf, mf)-supermodels aplenty, groupies and all with the requisite cocaine... and everything else usage. Hedonism at its finest, I tell ya. The sex did get a bit freaky at times but who am I to judge? People in glass houses and all that. Izzy and Johnny play at kink with some bondage and D/s but it’s reckless at times and irresponsible at others, but regardless, I wouldn't categorize this as BDSM. I will say, though, the sex was pretty hot and there was a lot of it.

Izzy is in the closet about his bisexuality but that doesn’t stop him from starting a torrid affair with his drummer, Jonathan Maxwell. Johnny tells this story and Johnny is a (falsetto voice) DRAMAAAAAHHHHH QWWWEEN! So is Izzy so you can imagine the impact of this train when it wrecks. At one point I considered sending in some tissues but they were such a fiery hot mess I figured they could ignite the powder keg and I can’t be responsible for that. Then again, all the MANTEARS these two shed likely would’ve put out the fire before it became an inferno. But still. However, I kind of feel like the majority of rock stars are just a train wreck waiting to happen, though these two are in a class all their own. Their rocker lifestyle is so far removed from reality that it fosters their eccentricities and makes them out of touch, living in their bubble far removed from the regular Joes. A lot of people appreciate this. Unfortunately, I am not one of those people. 

Izzy and Johnny are mad for each other in secret, though I’m still not buying that their bandmates were clueless. They’re touring for 90% of the book and Izzy and Johnny fuck like rabbits 24/7. No way did the band not know. Anyway, they keep their love a secret even though Johnny wants to declare it from the rooftops. When they begin the American leg of their tour things take a turn and Izzy becomes smitten with superfan Roxanne. Instead of the MMF fuckfest I had my heart set on it becomes a love triangle and amps up the crazy on this crazy train to epic levels. Eventually the train wrecks. Time and time again. So much melodrama and crazy behavior and shitty coping skills and things that just didn't make a lick of sense that I just cannot… I just cannot. I wanted to tap out but it was so late in the game that I soldiered on.

The writing style could be tighter. There was a lot of repetition, angsting and superfluous information that could’ve been cut which bogged down the pacing with interview after interview, concert after concert and conversations that didn’t drive the plot forward. Neither Izzy nor Johnny aren't dull by any stretch of the imagination, but they aren't fully realized as characters either. The ending was too far-fetched and too neat for me to believe. 

If you like eccentric rock stars, lots of drama, a metric ton of sex or want to reminisce about the 70s this is the book for you.

Trigger warnings: on page domestic violence and drug usage

An ARC was provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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