Title: A Dangerous Man
Author: Anne Brooke
Cover artist: Scot D. Ryersson
Publisher: Bristlecone Pine
Buy Link: A Dangerous Man
Genre: Contemporary, Psychological Drama, Gay Fiction
Length: 97,063 words
Rating: 4.0 out of 5.0 stars
A guest review by Val Kovalin
Summary Review: Not a gay romance with a traditional happy ending, but a compelling and intense work of gay fiction.
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 a net of antagonistic relationships and inner battles encroaches upon him, so that the consequences of Michael’s pursuit emerge in tragedy, leaving him having to fight for all he holds dear, and in the only way he knows how.
A Dangerous Man is a gripping psychological thriller told in first-person viewpoint by Michael, whom the title describes. Michael is a volatile mixture of traits: he’s highly attractive, he experiences wild mood swings, and he has a tendency to get obsessed. Despite his complete lack of self-esteem, others like him and admire his talent.
He sketches constantly to escape the reality of his life. Unfortunately, his preferred style is unpopular with most art galleries, which sell traditional oil paintings of the British countryside. Michael specializes in edgy and surrealistic still-life arrangements done in pencil and charcoal.
The novel opens with Michael sharing a flat in London with his landlords Joe and Paul, who are a gay couple. Joe frequently travels on business trips related to the art gallery that he owns. When Joe is away, Paul demands sex from Michael as part of the rent.
Some intriguing reasons compel Michael to tolerate this awful situation. He’s tired of drifting on to a new flat where his life gets even worse. He hopes that Joe will one day decide to show his art. He needs to be desired. Finally, through complicated past circumstances, he has come to see himself as a prostitute.
Joe tries to help Michael by getting him an interview with a London firm, which needs some edgy modern art for its lobby. If Michael can make a good impression, the job will be his. Michael rushes off to meet the manager whom he will need to charm.
Jack is handsome, ten years older than Michael is, and from a wealthy family. Michael thinks Jack’s accent is “… a thousand notches above mine on the social scale.” Jack and Michael experience a mutual attraction, which sets into motion a complex plot with some tragic consequences.
A Dangerous Man is not a gay romance with a traditional happy ending, but it is a compelling work of gay fiction and a real page-turner. Things to praise include the flawless writing and the subtlety with which Michael’s tragic past is revealed. The London setting is vivid and three-dimensional, and the author has a perfect ear for dialogue.