Gay beach reads are always an iffy proposition -- atop the typically eye-roll-worthy sexcapades, they often suffer from a sad overload of stereotypes (the nelly queen, the angry lesbian, the closet case, etc.). Essayist Ford (''It's Not Mean If It's True'') doesn't completely sidestep those literary landmines, but at least he effectively draws his readers into the wild world of Provincetown, Cape Cod's gay mecca. There, a motley crew -- led by Josh Felling, a new arrival trying to forget about his partner's infidelities at the gym (oh, how original!) -- forge their own dysfunctional family while generating plenty of page-turning drama. Though Ford's story veers toward the boilerplate, his middlebrow prose is a winner, landing somewhere between Jacqueline Susann's over-the-top opuses and Sidney Sheldon's addictive reads.