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Brush With Fame

Brush With Fame
Chocolate-box portraits of small yappy dogs. Being blackmailed by a Hooray Henry who’s missing a chin. B&D involving a four-inch paint brush. Will Jennie be able to get even without being locked up?

Rocking up in Englad, Jennie has to fall back on her long-ignored artistic talents to make ends meet. Painting portraits of the spoiled pooches is weird, but pays a lot more than temp office work.

Everything’s rosy until Jennie runs into Rupert Smythe-Brown, an aristocratic prat used to getting his own way, no matter who gets hurt in the process. Jennie’s painted into a corner before something inside her snaps, she turns feral, and Rupert doesn’t know what’s hit him. Well he does, but for once he’s not enjoying it.

Set in late seventies London when punks liked to superglue unfortunates to the walls of The Embankment and the British aristocracy thought nothing of being thrashed for pleasure, Brush With Pain sets a spanking pace. This is the second in Andrene Low’s seventies-based Excess Baggage Series with humour that’s black, irreverent, and cutting. WARNING: This story follows on from Friday Night Fever and does contain a spoiler.

Previously published as "Mounted and Hung".

What others are saying:

“I think I enjoyed this book more than book 1. The characters are awesome, Eadie, Charlie the cat and the fur coated room. And Rupert getting stuck was hilarious. Looking forward to book #3.”

“This is the second book in the Excess Baggage series. And I loved it. There wasn't as much sex as in the first novel in the series, but the sex was replaced with intrigue and manipulative conniving! A great storyline, with some clever twists. Lovely writing, which flowed seam-lessly across the pages. The characters are strong, and it’s refreshing to see strong female characters instead of simpering weak boy-obsessed girls. Set in the 1970s in London, I loved reading about places I could recognise. The attention to detail is extreme, and I love that in a book. Looking forward to reading the next one in the series - Screwed for Money.”

“Loved the book, the second in this series. Excellent writing and plot! A must read.”

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The farther east the tube takes them, the happier Jennie is to have Mark at her side. The names sliding by are unfamiliar and there are a lot of them before they reach their stop. Things go downhill after they leave the station where at least some standards have been maintained. The smell of urine in the underpass says the station toilets have largely been ignored. The acrid stench stings Jennie’s nostrils and she’s pleased when they emerge safely from the other side of this busker-free zone.

The pub is a couple of blocks from the station but after several minutes of brisk walking, they stand safely outside, with Jennie puffed from the pace set by Mark. She’s had to trot to keep up. The pub’s exterior is tatty, having given into gravity and weather years ago. The skin of white paint that covers the majority of the building is currently shedding, rather like a snake coming out of hibernation, while the black woodwork owes its lustre more to a noxious soup of pollution and rampant mould than anything produced by Dulux.

The building is a rotting corpse, in reverse, with black bones and white flesh.

It’s only when Mark squeezes her arm reassuringly that Jennie is even aware her hand has inched its way through the crook of his arm. Rather than pull away, she scoots closer and feels safer immediately.

He looks down at her. “You ready?”

“As I’ll ever be!” says Jennie, with fake conviction. “Let’s get this over with.”

They march forward in step, both straight-arming one of the double doors, and striding into the gloomy interior. Jennie is relieved to see the interior is less toxic than the exterior although she still wouldn’t feel comfortable eating anything in here.

“Where’s the snug, mate?” says Mark, to the furtive-looking individual behind the bar.

No words are forthcoming, but the swing of the barman’s head to their left sends them in that direction.

Again, they each straight-arm one of the double doors, although this time with less force given each door is primarily made up of a grime-encrusted pane of glass that hasn’t seen any Windex and crumpled newspaper in living memory.

Their dramatic entry has Rupert Smythe-Brown leaning back into the red velvet banquette where he’s settled himself. The sneer pasted on his face slithers away and hides in one of his chins. “What’s he doing here?”

“Don’t talk about me in the third person, mate. I’m right here,” says Mark, with forced jocularity.

“Eadie wouldn’t let me come on my own.”

“That old slag,” spits Rupert. “Why she’s nothing but a—”

Before Rupert can search for another scathing description for Eadie, Mark gently uncurls Jennie’s hand and leans menacingly over the table. “You shut your mouth about Eadie, or I’ll shut it for you. We clear?” While Mark’s voice is quiet to avoid it carrying to the main bar, his words, delivered as they are so close to Rupert’s face, have the desired effect.


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