Category Archives: A Dangerous Man

Houses, books and nude women

Book News:

A Dangerous Man is now published for the second time (hurrah!) and you can buy the paperback at Amazon US. The blurb is:

Michael Jones, a young gay artist and part-time prostitute will do anything to stage his first exhibition. When he falls in love with rich financier, Jack Hutchinson, he seems set to achieve his goal. But as Mikey becomes caught between the unforgiving territory of smoky-bar Hackney and the green-garden luxury of upper class London, we discover the intense mindscape of a man obsessed with his dreams as he attempts to free himself of his past. When a net of antagonistic relationships and inner battles encroaches upon him, the consequences of Mikey’s uncompromising pursuit emerge in thrilling tragedy, leaving him having to fight for all he holds dear, and in the only way he knows how. 

Something to get your teeth into for sure. You can find reviews from the original now out-of-print edition here, so if you missed it first time round in 2007, now’s your chance to catch up. It’s a book I’m particularly proud of too, though I say it myself and probably shouldn’t. Heck, even best-selling crime author Andrew Taylor called it: “a dark and chilling parable about art, love and murder”. So it can’t be too bad, I hope!…

There’s one meditation poem this weekend: 

Meditation 445
Cast your handful
of salt
into the vast waters

and wait
for purity to begin.

The Sunday haiku is:

Scent of strawberries
blossoms the air with summer
in this autumn chill.

Life News:

Rejoice! We have taken our last and umpteenth trip to the council tip, washed all the carpets and have put everything back into position in the flat ready for selling. I must say the spare room looks totally stunning and the faux-zebra African rug looks magnificent with the pale lilac walls, the black bookcases & blinds. If I wanted a two-bedroom flat with good-sized rooms, a fabulous gold-and-cream living room in a highly desirable part of Godalming, I’d be here like a shot, to be honest. We have three estate agents coming round this Wednesday so I hope it will be on the market by the end of the week or the beginning of next week.

In the meantime, we have created a list of about 23 properties we want to see by means of Right Move, and, from those, starred about 10 that are top of that list. I’ve made appointments to see four of these on Thursday, and I’m ringing up about another one tomorrow. The plan is for me to act as a vanguard to choose properties that K and I will both want to view during weekends when K is free, but those I don’t like or don’t think he’ll like can be ditched as I go along and then I’ll save us both the weekend trip. This morning we’ve driven round to look at some of them planned for Thursday, and I’ve already discounted one that’s way way too near the station. The current feeling is that Normandy, Elstead and Milford are good, and we may well concentrate our search there unless something comes up in Godalming or there’s something that’s really great elsewhere.

It’s not all been house-orientated this week however – I’ve played some extraordinarily bad golf (which I blame on having to lug the very heavy carpet cleaner we hired up 32 stairs to the flat on my own – Lordy, that was tough but I did it!…), and K and I also had fun (and some tears – mine) when we went to see Calendar Girls at Woking on Thursday. Lovely to be out at the theatre again, but goodness me what a lot of women came to see it. I had to dash like a crazed thing to get into the loo queue at the interval, and I’m sure there were no more than 10 men in the whole audience. In my innocence, I’d thought it might be the other way round, but the theatre-goers of Surrey are a law unto themselves.

Ooh and isn’t Pamela Stephenson magnificent in Strictly Come Dancing? Utterly magical to watch in every way. Good on her!

Anne Brooke


Miracles and men

Life News:

Such miraculous news to know that at last the Chilean miners are safe – so many things that could have gone wrong and they just didn’t, hurrah. Amazing news indeed! I just hope the world now leaves them alone to recover from such a terrible ordeal, but no doubt we won’t. But it’s seriously lovely to hear of something glorious rather than something grim for once.

From the sublime to the ridiculous, we’re finally putting the flat on the market next week as three estate agents are coming round on Wednesday, so I hope there’s at least one there who’s confident about selling it. Great to be taking the next step in the process indeed. On the left you can see what the Victorian house itself looks like. We’re the servants’ quarters at the top. As it were. Because when it was built for one of the local schoolmasters in 1873, the servants would have lived where we do now. Plus ca change, eh …

Turning to television matters, it’s a serious delight to have the glorious Whitechapel back on our screens at last, though sadly for too swift a time. Though it’s a serious disappointment that the otherwise extremely classy Downton Abbey took a turn for the worse last Sunday and included a very ridiculous Midsomer Murders plotline, sigh. Don’t get me wrong: I love Midsomer Murders with a great and abiding passion, but not in the middle of Downton Abbey, per-lease. And it was doing so well too …

Book News:

I’m thrilled that today my author’s copies of A Dangerous Man have arrived and look lovely, hurrah. Publication day is tomorrow (Friday 15 October) so I’m really looking forward to that. Erastes has very kindly republished an original review from 2007, when the book was first published, so a big thank you for that! And I’m pleased to say that people do seem to be preordering the novel at Barnes & Noble, which is very nice indeed.

Also at Barnes & Noble (what great people they are!), you can find a copy of Sunday Haiku, which is a more meditative read. Meanwhile, Tommy’s Blind Date gained a really enthusiastic 4-star review at Three Dollar Bill Reviews, so many thanks for that, Kassa – it’s much appreciated. And The Delaneys and Me appeared briefly at No 58 in the Amazon charts, but has now slipped back onto the shelf once more.

Finally, I’ve reviewed Diana Wynne Jones’ magical children’s fantasy, Enchanted Glass at Vulpes Libris Reviews. It’s pretty dang good for adults too.

These week’s meditations are:

Meditation 442
A downbeat end,
the epitome of grim

when what one expected
was a rousing hymn.

Meditation 443
The first man
to fall off a balcony
didn’t make
particularly good choices
but he certainly
started a trend.

Meditation 444
A journey, an oath,
a cloak and divided water
show that a miracle

can also be
the beginning of grief.

Anne Brooke

On the trail of the glossy ibis …

Up at the crack of dawn today (lucky dawn …) as Lord H and I were on the trail of the glossy ibis. Five of which had been spotted during the week in Dungeness RSPB reserve. We didn’t manage to spot any at first, though we were compensated somewhat by a marsh harrier, black-tailed godwits and sanderlings, as well as a host of coots. Towards the end of our day, Lord H checked his iphone and apparently the ibises were being seen at the hide we’d first been into. So we hot-footed it back and were just in time to see them before they flew off. Caught in the nick of time, eh. We then attempted to follow them but the views we had the second time were much more distant. Here’s a lovely view of one of them anyway. Ain’t that just gorgeous?

Back home, we are preparing ourselves for the delights of Strictly Come Dancing, and I can’t wait (sadly …) for tonight’s show. Ah, the glitter and the glam – we Essex Gals just can’t get enough of that sort of thing.

On literary matters though, I was pleased to see that A Dangerous Man had a brief flurry of interest earlier this morning at Amazon UK and was low down in the GLBT bestsellers stakes for a while – which I think meant someone bought a copy. So thank you hugely, Mr/Ms Someone, and I do hope you enjoy the read. Since then, however, I’ve drifted back to the bottom of the barrel again – in oh so many ways.

I’ve also had a lovely email from a lady called Denise from the Philippines (hello, Denise!) saying she’s been interested in my books since reading the reviews of Maloney’s Law, and has now bought The Bones of Summer in eBook version, and hopes to buy the eBook of Thorn in the Flesh soon. Thanks so much, Denise – that’s really made my day. Interestingly, however (and actually I’m beginning to get several similar requests from a variety of sources), she was keen for Maloney’s Law and A Dangerous Man to be out in eBook as it’s easier to read them in that format where she lives. I’m certainly keen for both these books to be electronically available too, and am working on it as best I can, with the help of one of my publishers. Watch this space …

Today’s nice things:

1. Birds
2. Glossy ibises
3. TV
4. Readers interested in my books – thank you!

Anne Brooke
Sexy Scavengers competition Day Three

Various reviews and a pre-holiday scramble

Am thrilled to say that I had two good reviews yesterday evening. First off was a four-star review of Painting from Life on the Goodreads site from Daisiemae – thank you, Daisiemae! And I also had a lovely five star review of A Dangerous Man on Amazon UK from Ms D Ilott which you can read below:

“Anne Brooke’s novel of the collision of art and money, ambition and power, grabs you from the start and doesn’t let go. What’s especially impressive is the way that Brooke’s style sets up narrative information – about the business of art, the grinding frustration of hustling cash for ambitions always just out of reach – without letting go the pace or losing purpose. There’s always something going on and Brooke is highly skilled at pushing the story forward, even when pausing on her characters’ thoughts and motives. The artist Michael draws in monochrome, surely a deliberate parallel with the business of writing, struggling to control the colours beyond the edge of the paper. The metaphor works, as do the London settings; Brooke has the feel for how so much of London seems frosted with dust whatever the weather. But the characters are far from colourless. Believable, fallible people chasing their own ambitions; even the bully Paul has his reasons. Michael’s relationship with rich-boy Jack is neatly drawn, recognisable to anyone who knows that people who sleep together do not necessarily get along. And the plot twist is surprising, even on second reading. A shady, chilly story – so much of it seems to take place in half-light – that manages to say something about art (about writing too) without being pretentious and gives an ingenious riff on the dour old truth that the worst that can happen is to get what you want.”

Thanks, Ms Ilott – much appreciated! And here’s today’s poem:

Meditation 221

They wait
in sunlight
and the street’s low murmur

for the shadow
of the man
who once touched goodness

to pass by.
And everywhere
rumours of healing,

echoes of song.

At work, I’m running around attempting to sort out those Sunday early arrivals flyer – ah, the mysteries of reducing maps and getting everything to line up. At least the boss appeared to know what to do which was a relief, hurrah. And thanks only to him, we’ve finally got it all under control. Phew. Astonishing really that in an office with at least three professionally trained secretaries (including me, ho ho), the only person who could work the photocopier properly was the boss. Ah well, thank goodness my review is over for this year …

Managed to nip into town at lunchtime to put a cheque in (well, gosh) and get some last-minute holiday gubbins (suncream and … err … suncream, really). Much to my horror, the sales lady in Boots who took my cash had an absolutely streaming cold, poor thing – I only hope I don’t get it, dammit … Time for some Echinacea, big-time, I feel. This afternoon, I was knee-deep in minuting the thrills and spills of the Student Experience Strategy Project Board. No, I don’t really know what that means either, but I don’t think anyone’s quite found me out yet … Actually, it was a really good meeting, but there’s no chance of getting the minutes written up before I’m off though, so I hope I remember what on earth it was all about by the time I get back.

Tonight, I have the final twenty pages of Hallsfoot’s Battle to edit, so there’s a light at the end of the tunnel at last. And the lovely people at Dark Diva Reviews are having a month-long October competition and are including me in it. More to be revealed in October …

Today’s nice things:

1. Review of Painting from Life
2. Review of A Dangerous Man
3. Poetry
4. Editing Hallsfoot
5. The Dark Diva Reviews competition.

Anne Brooke – surrounded by paperwork but dreaming of Italy …
A Dangerous Man – art and love in all its forms

Reviews galore and a day in the country

Seemed to be loads of little jobs to do before the day really got started today (why are some mornings just like that??), but I managed to squeeze in a meditation poem:

Meditation 204

A faith that glistens
in the eyes

of your friends
slips through

your fingers,
does not glide

into skin:
a halfway house

between saints
and men

that gives
a promise of hope,

joins our now
with then.

I’m also very pleased to say that Book Utopia Mum has given Painting from Life a very positive review at Book Utopia Reviews. Thank you hugely for that – it’s much appreciated.

Not only that but the lovely Clare London has uploaded three reviews on my work at the Goodreads site. Firstly there’s A Dangerous Man:

“Excellent read, though dark and very edgy. Michael is all-consuming, totally fascinating. Both victim and ambitious, though he’ll always be trapped by his background. Can’t say much more without spoilers! But it’s a treat to read. Great prose, it slides deliciously in and out of Michael’s own mind and emotions, taking you with it, no holds barred. Great UK setting and a lovely slice of the art world and the anguish/joy of art itself.”

Secondly, there’s a review of Maloney’s Law:

“Blew me away, a stunning mix of mystery and melodrama and one man’s journey through a period of his life when everything seems a struggle. It’s not heavy, though there are shocking scenes and strong adult themes. Paul’s charm and determination carries the book, he’s a great mix of strength and sensitivity and the perfect ‘eyes’ for the mature plot. Written with wit and excellently clear, entertaining prose.”

And thirdly and lastly, here’s Clare’s take on The Bones of Summer:

“Excellent combination of mystery and romance. Loved the UK setting especially and the gritty, modern feel that gave it. Paul follows on from Maloney’s Law, still the tortured, complex, fascinating man. Craig is new and a great counterpoint, lively, confused, sexy, needy, brave. The sex scenes are very fresh and hot, the dialogue realistic, and Craig’s wit enchanting!”

Triple gosh and big big hugs to you, Clare – thank you so much! I’m extremely grateful indeed.

All of which has set me up nicely for a day in the country with Mother. The Old Gal is chugging along nicely – speaking of which, she’s planning a holiday later in the year on the Manchester Ship Canal. It wouldn’t be my first choice, but hey there’s no accounting for mothers. We managed to fit in a walk in the afternoon as well so we could help her deliver the church magazines, although I was deeply traumatised by one of the people in the road exclaiming with astonishment when he saw us: “Gosh! You must be mother and daughter – you look so alike!” What can I say?? Obviously a man who needs his eyes thoroughly testing. There is NO WAY on this planet that my mother and I are alike IN ANY SENSE. At all. There. That’s that sorted then … Lord H meanwhile remains tactfully silent on the matter …

Curious things passed on the motorway queue on the way to Mother’s: a truck with Caution: Racing Pigeons emblazoned across it. Surely it would be quicker for them to fly??

Curious thoughts discussed whilst on the motorway on the way back from Mother’s: why are houses always named in such obvious fashions? Why can’t you have The Old Whorehouse or Brothel Cottage or Slaughter Manor? Ah, it’s tempting, so tempting …

Today’s nice things:

1. Four book reviews, no less!
2. Poetry
3. Surviving Mother (Gawd bless ‘er …)
4. Lazy pigeons
5. Curious housenames.

Anne Brooke – happy to be read
Painting from Life: not just a load of old brushes

Disasters, Bones and the joy of tax

Here’s today’s meditation, which is a strange little incident where Joshua meets an angel of the armies of God before the great challenge of Jericho. I’d even forgotten it was there:

Meditation 184

A shadow sword
and a ghostly army
echo your every move.

Your only response:
remove your sandals;
kneel; pray; love.

Keeping on literary matters, I’m delighted to say that The Bones of Summer has received a 4.5 star review from Kassa at Rainbow Reviews, and this can also be found below:

“This is a fascinating story about the choices and actions one person takes, both deliberately and unconsciously, and the far-reaching effects those have. This is described as a “quasi-sequel” to Maloney’s Law, although The Bones of Summer can be read alone. I haven’t read the previous book and found this story easily stands on its own. However, there is clearly information and context missing that will most likely create a more complex and fulfilling story having read both books in order. Bones is a captivating and engrossing story filled with passion, angst, turmoil, fear, and the range of human emotions as two men struggle to find clues to the past and the implications on their future. The story is told in third person from Craig’s point of view. Craig and Paul had met a few months ago in a club and exchanged a hot night of sex but until now, Craig hadn’t heard from Paul again. Now just as the two reconnect, Craig is informed that his ultra-religious father has gone missing. Paul’s job as a private investigator comes into play reluctantly as Craig hesitantly delves into the problem of his missing father and the further mystery of Michael’s missing whereabouts. When Craig was a teenager he met and had a brief fling with a vacationing older man, Michael, and the results had Craig fleeing from his home and living in London. Now, not only is Craig trying to discover what’s going on with his father, but he realizes Michael never returned from that ill-fated holiday seven years ago. The dual mysteries have Craig delving more deeply into his past than he is comfortable with while taking a helpful but cautious Paul for the ride. Craig is a compelling but inherently inconsistent narrator. This is because his mind is full of holes, misinformation, memories, thoughts, and confusion. Some of Craig’s actions are inconsistent with his personality but fit with his confused demeanor and his tendency to ignore and hide from the truth. However, when Craig chooses to confront the truth, he oddly takes the most ridiculous assumptions and believes in them wholeheartedly with nothing but the erroneous beliefs and delusions of a confused, hurting teenager. Surprisingly, Craig refuses to actually follow steps dictated by logic, instead finding solace in confusion and mystery as long as he doesn’t have to confront his fears and his past. Craig goes to extreme lengths to avoid dealing with his father and the effects of his past, going so far as to believe wildly untrue things about himself. Craig has taught himself to ignore his past and any clues that might make him re-evaluate what he knows to be true. Therefore, the clues unravel slowly in small pieces at the pace Craig is able to cope with the revealing truth. This makes for a sympathetic yet occasionally frustrating character. At the same time, Craig is a witty, humorous, and above all, an optimistic man. His firm desire to avoid the past but hope for positive outcomes is endearing. He may be emotional and dramatic but he tempers this with a very British sense of humor and commentary. His rules for Gay Men are funny and delightful as are his inner monologues on a variety of subjects. For example: “Gay Rule Number Thirteen ~ unlucky for some: Don’t let them see you’re a complete psycho before they’ve expressed some kind of commitment first.” Aside from the great list of rules, Craig is coping in his way and leads a relatively happy life but has little control over it. Within the space of the book, Craig slowly begins to take control of his life and his choices, ultimately creating a stronger character than when he started. This hallmarks the character driven story where the men and their progression is perhaps more important than the mystery itself, although the two stories parallel each other in multiple ways. Paul is an equally complex character and much more mysterious. As this is the sequel to Paul’s story, much of his background and past is dealt with off page and little referenced in this story. There are tangible holes where information is missing. This isn’t to the detriment of the story at all but it has a palpable empty air. The deliberate pausing before comments and the flashes of pain in Paul’s eyes and demeanor all speak of prior incidents that aren’t divulged yet impact how Paul reacts and handles both Craig and the situation. Paul exhibits a lot of anger towards Craig for his hiding and less than truthful behavior. Craig is so afraid of his past that he often lies without thought or malice, but simply because facing his truth is too painful and frightening for Craig. These lies frustrate Paul, who offers more than his share of half truths and mysterious statements without explanation. Yet, Paul offers a much-needed support system to Craig and their relationship has a wealth of emotion amidst the tension. What is really wonderful about the book is that it depicts both the settings and characters in such a realistic, gripping way. When Paul and Craig fight, it’s painful and harsh with the kind of verbal dirty fighting rarely seen, but incredibly relatable. The characters must deal with their jobs and lives independent of the sudden mystery. The various settings are mundane and common, yet the tension and emotion ripples and hangs uneasy in the air. The reader follows Craig and discovers information as he does, requiring patience and understanding. The strength of the writing is in the connection between the men as Paul and Craig deal with their individual pasts and the secrets they need and want to keep hidden. Moving beyond these lies and fears is essential to their budding relationship but may be too much at the start of a fragile connection and the careful dance is written incredibly well. The actual dual mysteries are interesting with clever clues but the ending resolution is not surprising. However, the lack of surprise is more than compensated by the gripping intensity and painful realism of the situation. The complexity of religion and its possible overwhelming consequences are deftly handled with perhaps a heavy tread, but fitting with the concept of the story. This is not necessarily an easy book to read due to the myriad of themes presented but wholly worthwhile and very well-written. The well-crafted and paced story draws the reader in and doesn’t let go until the very end, which in true style is left with a hint. For readers who crave wonderfully rich character-driven stories with a solid mystery all wrapped up in a captivating story, I can easily recommend this book. You won’t be disappointed.”

Many thanks, Kassa – I’m really glad you enjoyed the read!

I’m also equally pleased to say that Disasters and Miracles is now available for pre-ordering at Amazon, Waterstone’s and W H Smith’s. So take your pick, and enjoy! It’s suitable for children over 10 years old and adults, so an ideal family collection for the summer.

And I’m also happy to say that I had a lovely email from a man called Bob last night saying how much he’d enjoyed A Dangerous Man, Maloney’s Law and The Bones of Summer, and when was I doing another. Gosh, thank you, Bob! I’m thrilled you’ve enjoyed those three books, and I shall do my best to write another very soon – promise!

At last, I have my US tax number so I’m sending the forms out to PD Publishing and Dreamspinner Press, so with a bit of luck and if the wind’s in the right direction, I won’t have to pay double tax on royalties from America. A very special thank you has to go to Alex Beecroft and Sharon Maria Bidwell for talking me through the whole very complex process and holding my virtual hand when I was weeping about the agonies of it all. Thank you both big-time.

Meanwhile (lordy the strangeness of having two jobs indeed …) at work, we’re still preparing for Freshers’ Week and facing the pains of year-end (well, year-end for us). And our Heroes of the Week are Ruth (for being a finance whizz), Clare (for getting things done) and Rupert Everett (see below). Not me sadly – I think I’ve given up being heroic. So my lunchtime walk round campus was especially good – it also woke me up a bit more as I’m still not managing to get to bed at a reasonable hour, sigh. When will I ever learn??? There just seems to be loads to do when it gets to 10pm. I really need to go to a Sleep Lesson class, if such a thing exists.

Tonight, I’m looking forward to Episode Two of Desperate Romantics, and I must say how totally wonderful Rupert Everett’s programme about Byron was last night. He was honest and charming, witty and fascinating about the Great Man, so I was gripped. I can’t wait for next week’s conclusion.

Today’s nice things:

1. Poetry
2. The Bones review
3. Pre-ordering facilities for Disasters and Miracles
4. Bob’s kind email about the novels
5. Getting my US tax number
6. Heroes of the Week
7. Lunchtime walks
8. TV.

Anne Brooke – finally official in the US
Vulpes Libris – Adventure Week shines a light on Flashman

The glory of the edit and the joys of Spock

I am being organised and focused today, or trying to. Ho hum. But I must admit that when I’m seriously editing, the rest of my life does rather get put on hold. However, here’s this morning’s meditation:

Meditation 131

The price of commitment
is blood
and torn flesh,

something given
by the one

who wants to stay;
sometimes the open road
does not enchant us.

We’ve also managed to show our faces at church this morning, and what wonderful belting hymns we had today. Ah, they don’t make them like they used to, you know. There’s something about All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name that really stirs the blood – the perfect processional hymn indeed. To the right tune of course, not (sadly) the one that appears to be on the web, sigh … Also a pleasure to have in the pew behind us an old man who had the most glorious baritone singing voice – like listening to a torrent of the best honey pouring over a mountain. He turned out to be a retired bishop (of all things), so good to know the church can occasionally, even these days, make a good musical choice.

For most of the rest of the morning and all this evening, I’ve been working away on the final edits to The Bones of Summer, and am now proudly at the start of Chapter 16, page 110 (of 192 pages), so am pleased with how it’s gone so far. And I’m learning a huge amount about how different the American language and spelling is to the UK’s. It’s an eye-opener for sure. Though it is exhausting.

I’ve also continued to take part in the online gay fiction celebration weekend at the Literary Nymphs Yahoo Group, and have posted a second, rather more intense excerpt of Painting from Life, and erotic extracts of both A Dangerous Man and Maloney’s Law. The response has been positive, so that’s a relief (as it were).

But the BIG EXCITEMENT of today is that I have finally, finally, finally gone to see the new Star Trek film with Lord H, and I have to say it is utterly and incredibly brilliant. I loved it and can’t recommend it to you highly enough! I have fallen in love with Spock all over again, and the whole thing was clever and witty and sharp and warm. Not to mention very very exciting. Great stuff. The moment the DVD comes out, I’m there with my purse open, geared up to watch it all over again. If you haven’t gone to see it – and even if you don’t like Star Trek – just go. It’ll be worth it.

This week’s haiku is:

You unknit the day
so it falls like bright raindrops
on my weary skin.

Oh, and while I’m thinking about it, a BIG thank you to all you wonderful people who’ve donated to the Cancer Research Race for Life – it’s very much appreciated and the team is very grateful for your continuing generosity. It’s stunning.

Today’s nice things:

1. Poetry
2. Good hymns
3. Editing Bones for publication
4. Gay fiction chats
5. Star Trek!
6. Haikus
7. People’s Race for Life generosity.

Anne Brooke – waiting for the mother ship to summon her home …
Cancer Research Race for Life – helping those with cancer