Book Review: Course of Action

Title: Course of Action
Author: Gun Brooke
Call Number: BRO

Review: Take one desperately determined middle-aged diva from Tinseltown and add one mysterious, megabucks publisher and philanthropist from Miami. Stir in personality clashes, ethical conflicts, and a slowly simmering discovery of desire and romantic awakening. What results is Gun Brooke’s refreshing novel, Course of Action. Carolyn Black wants the role of a lifetime, transforming the popular lesbian criminal investigator Diana Maddox from the pages of the popular novel series to the big screen. Annelie Peterson owns the film rights and wants to interview and audition several actresses for the role. However, at the same time, Annelie possesses a secret or two when it comes to Carolyn Black, secrets better left undisclosed for the moment. These two likable career women have indeed found a worthy and challenging adversary in each other. Carolyn and Annelie are vibrant and charismatic women, but they are far from the carefully crafted public persona each willingly reveals to the world. Corporate machinations, Hollywood hype, family crises, and intriguing secondary characters all intersect to create varied conflicts, some of which appear to have no easy resolutions. Yet, beneath all the clever maneuverings and seemingly shady shenanigans, a relationship is being forged, but whether or not it is genuine, Carolyn and Annelie must discover for themselves.

Brooke has created an appealing set of circumstances. Finding the right actress to play the role of Diana Maddox so as not to disappoint the many fans of the fictional detective is the main premise of the book. The disparate characters each have a stake in seeing this project come to fruition. It is the discord that arises from this quest that provides the reader with a fast-paced reading experience. The plot flows naturally and uncluttered from one scene to the next. The various sub-plots are written in a contained yet expansive manner. The author has an easy comfortable writing style, and chapters are often marked by several scene breaks within the chapter. This device succeeds in rapidly driving the plotline; the reader’s interest is piqued with every new scene.

A well-written novel has a strong and memorable opening, and Course of Action delivers. “That role is mine! I am Diana Maddox” (page 11)! With the exclamation of those eight simple words, the reader meets the whirlwind, Carolyn Black. Part of the pleasure in this book is determining if she indeed is the larger-than-life diva she purports to be. From the very outset the reader wonders if the reticent Annelie is also what she seems to be. Therein lays the basic contention for the reader to resolve along with these two women. The foreshadowing presented here is fairly elementary, but at the same time, it is intriguing for the reader to see if her expectations occur.

The setting created by Brooke is a glimpse into that fantasy world of celebrity and high rollers, escapist to be sure, but witnessing the relationship develop between Carolyn and Annelie is well worth the trip. As the reader progresses, the trappings become secondary to the characters’ desire to reach goals both professional and personal.

Some may find the title a bit misleading, although there is a reference to it, “I guess we’ll have to agree on a course of action before .” (p. 291). However, it certainly doesn’t detract from the overall effect. This reader would have preferred a few loose ends be more tightly wrapped up, but, then again, that is the usual basis for a sequel, and Brooke has created a workable segue should she decide to continue. Course of Action is a commendable effort in the romance genre. The novel is populated with a host of captivating and amiable characters. The glimpses into the lifestyles of the rich and beautiful people are rather like guilty pleasures. The overall result makes for a most satisfying and entertaining reading experience.

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