James has not published many novels. I read Pick Any Title when it came out in 2002-ish and then forgot the damn title. The two common names of Russell and James had me confusing the order and when searching for his works I was replacing them with other names. His web presence is not easy to track down either. Anyhoo. I enjoy his dark work.
Joanna is 20-years-old and engaged to 42-year-old architect Milo in the early '80s (or about that, I cannot recall an exact year). Milo has a man Friday named Florian. Joanna is both appalled and attracted to the haughty Florian. Florian is young with a handsome body but his face is scarred on one side.
Joanna's ex-boyfriend shows up at her apartment and demands to be back in her life. He is persistent. He threatens her impeding marriage. Joanna is fearful that the boyfriend could sour her relationship with Milo. Joanna asks Florian to scare the ex off. Sooooo... we know this will end poorly.
Many things happen and I am amazed at how much of Joanna's life is spent navigating guys who want sex. Or guys who dismiss her as a skirt. Or guys who may just rape her. Florian, meanwhile, cares little for consequences and cannot be reasoned with. Milo is a decent guy but would Mr. Successful stand to handle her scandal?
Joanna grew up in housing estates and wants stability, money, a future. She can have all that with Milo and keeps maneuvering and lying to keep what she can.