The Tale of the Tawse is in five parts, and contains 83,706 words.
Freddie Underwood is a New York-based public relations writer and event organizer. He’s at a conference in Glasgow, after which he plans to meet his lover Sharzad Malouf in Rome. He meets Daphne Rintoull, an artist who’s been dumped by her lover, and beds him on the rebound. So he has two women in his life.
The story follows his relationship with Shar from first meeting in New York, their time together in French Guyana, to Rome. He helps her confront a teacher who put her in hospital, when she was a four-year staying in an English boarding-school because her parents had unwisely involved themselves in mid-East politics.
With Freddie’s support, she confronts the man, and is able to see him as small and fearful; a ghost is laid. She celebrates that, and Freddie saying he loves her, by walking into Trevi’s pool. She does the Anita Ekberg walk from La Dolce Vita, until she slips and falls in. Freddie performs an unnecessary rescue and realises they are similarly foolish.
They have to part when Shar has to go back to work. They are in love, though they can’t see how they can be together, in the US or her country.
Meanwhile Daphne has told a Roman gallery she has enough work for an exhibition, which is not true. She begs Freddie’s help and support. He keeps her brave while she creates the extra work needed. He writes her an exhibition category full of the most ferocious art-wank.
At the opening, he thinks she’s seducing a critic (who she’s actually trying to escape), and drags her off to have jealous sex with her in a broom closet. They disturb a tin of paint thinner stored above them, and fall out in front of the Minister for the Arts, an actual Fascist, and the media. So Daphne’s exhibition is a tremendous success, making the news and not just the arts pages.
They also part, but not before they have admitted that they love each other.
Freddie returns to New York. Both women, for different reasons, invite him to be with them in a couple of months, at a climate change conference in Wellington, New Zealand.
Freddie has to admit he’s out of competence. He no longer knows what to do.
(Is there a sequel? Of course there is.)
Potentially important aspects of my manuscript
1 It’s a funny book, with a hell of a lot of sex in it. Much of the sex is bdsm-flavored, though light and romantic, and neither scary nor impersonal.
2 It’s a rom/com set in the real world. For a book with bdsm elements, it’s refreshingly free of billionaires, werewolves and mysterious islands.
3 It’s told from a male point of view, but beta-testing drafts indicate that the text is woman-friendly.