Hello from my satellite blog!
in The Romance Reviews' big
Year End Splash
Join me and more than 300 authors and publishers for a month of goodies. There are hundreds of excerpts (you just might find that next great read) And there are over 300 prizes too!
I'm there this week. Simply follow this link to The Romance Reviews site to find my name on the participant list then scroll down to Question #6 and choose an answer from the multiple choice. All winners will be notified at the end of the event.
For updates on my novels and insights into the publishing world, visit my everyday blog CalliopesWritingTablet . You'll find tips and tricks, the captured mood of the day, notable people, terrific reviews and laurels, and yes a few scrapes and bruises I've picked up along the way. And in the next few weeks come visit my main blog too. I'm participating in several blog hops where I'll have handmade gift instructions, family recipes, short stories and more.
Without further ado. Here's my part in the Year End Splash Party!
Thanks for stopping. I hope you enjoy.
Thanks for stopping. I hope you enjoy.
Bound by limits dictated by society, Art Historian Nicolas Halstead lived a guarded life until a tempest in the form of Elenora Schwaab blew into his world. At first Nicolas can’t decide if the audacious American is simply mad or plotting blackmail for not only does she declare knowledge of his homosexuality, she offers him a marriage proposal.
After Ellie tells him of a previously unknown work of Leonardo da Vinci, a book of erotic love poems and sketches dedicated to the artist’s long-time lover Salai, Nicolas joins her in a race to save the book from destruction. Along the way they encounter Historian Luca Franco and discover a comfortable compatibility that comes to redefine their long-held notions of love.
The trio embarks on an adventure filled with sensual discovery, intrigue, and danger. Little do they know Leonardo da Vinci’s book is far more than meets the eye.
Loving Leonardo excerpt:
Ellie and I weren’t the only
passengers to arrive as the last bell struck. People filed through the dining
room’s double doors to take their seats. This congestion would lessen as people
became accustomed to how long it took them to ready themselves between the ring
of the first and last bell.
More so than the other meals
aboard, dinners were often a mingling affair. We sat with the Ormonts and the
Brookses again while the Dutch brother and sister took their seats at the table
next to us, the sister involved in a rather animated conversation with a new
friend. Jerone did smile when I looked his way. His eye jerked toward the door
in open invitation. Despite the twinge that silent proposal sent to my loins,
my smile widened as my eye jerked to my wife. He gave me a pretty moue, his
brief pout good-natured. It was a long voyage after all.
I sat Ellie and pulled a chair
for Mrs. Ormont as she waited for her husband. A moment later, Colonel Ormont
brought the historian to our table and made introductions. Luca Franco, late of
Florence, was a Professor of Antiquities returning from London. I found the
Italian quite the attractive fellow, impeccably dressed as he was. When in the
presence of true beauty, my mind often imagines the person unclothed as the
artists of the ages might have seen him. Sitting at my table was a statue
carved in marble by Gian Lorenzo Bernini; an artist known for his remarkable
ability to capture the essence of a narrative moment. And I found Luca Franco
to be exactly that — a moment indelibly captured in time — a moment of meeting
the mind could revisit in its entirety.
From every angle, he was
beautifully made: black-haired, of medium build, and physically fit. He
possessed a warm hue to his skin, his lineage no doubt stamped centuries past
by the darker Moors or Turks. In startling contrast, and quite handsomely
framed by black lashes, he had striking eyes the color one might see in a
shadow falling across snow — not quite sky blue nor exactly steel gray, but a
blending of the two in gradated rings.
I rose to shake his hand and
felt the unmistakable current of compatibility. If this man weren’t forward in
his mutual attraction, it was there nonetheless. I watched him bow over the
ladies’ hands and found it curious that he lingered over Ellie’s fingers a tad
longer. It made me smile. I had the distinct impression I was in the presence
of a fellow dual-nature like myself.
The regular chit-chat occurring
over the courses was quite enjoyable. There was a part of me, however, that
would have been content to take my wife back to our stateroom and lose myself
in the wonder of my newfound truth. Like the great navigators in ages past, the
thought of uncharted lands titillated my imagination. I was anxious to explore
her body, anxious to immerse in her heated places and scent, and smell and taste
every part of her. I wanted to lose myself in the hedonistic feast of the
senses I knew I’d find.
Ellie’s question pulled me from
my imaginative foray. “Professor Franco, it’s my understanding that you are an
authority on Leonardo da Vinci.”
Chuckling, he shook his head and
replied in softly accented English, “You flatter me, Lady Halstead. As a
professor of antiquities my work takes me into the far corners of the world’s
history. The museum I work for sends me to procure various historical
treasures. But where da Vinci is concerned, I wouldn’t say I’m an authority per se. You see, my interest is
Ellie’s eyes lit. “May I ask
then, what is it you find so interesting about the man to spur a personal pursuit?”
He gave her a genuine smile that
crinkled the corners of his eyes. It was a very handsome smile indeed. As he
appeared to be of an age with me, the crinkles had me wondering if he often
worked in the sun.
“Da Vinci was a universal
Reaching for the buttered peas,
Mrs. Ormont repeated dully, “A universal
genius? My goodness.”
The Colonel followed, “I say
dear fellow, what is that title, exactly? I’ve never heard of such a thing.”
Even the blind could see that
Luca Franco possessed an innate animal magnetism, but when he smiled the world
tilted on its axis. My gaze went to my wife and knew she concurred by the
distinctive tint upon her cheeks — the sexual tint I’d so recently come to
recognize. I couldn’t help but wonder what brewed in the cauldron of her mind.
As for myself, I harbored an undeniable attraction for the both of them. It was
all I could do to keep the stallion of my imagination in the paddock.
Luca explained, “Da Vinci wasn’t
simply an artist. His range of accomplished study went far beyond producing
memorable artworks. He was an inventor and a scientist who never developed his
ideas systematically, because he didn’t need to. He intuited their success,
because he simply understood processes.”
Brooks wiped the crumbs from his
curled mustache, “How’s that?”
“If one already knows it’s been
proven that lead melts at a lower temperature than iron, one needn’t employ a
bellows to test it.”
Brooks nodded like a walrus.
“Makes sense, makes sense. That would be useful knowledge, eh?”
“Precisely. He understood
numerous systems — the series of actions needed to arrive at a particular place
in his inventions. This knowledge was implemented whether his inventions
remained preliminary sketches or were actually created. Scholars believe that
were his drawings implemented today as plans, and those same inventions built,
they’d do exactly what he theorized they’d do.”
“Hmm.” Satisfied with the
answer, Brooks nodded again then busied himself with his meal. I watched the Bordelaise sauce deposit a greasy gleam
where the crumbs had been a moment ago. The sight brought a brief recall of my
head in the commode.
The Colonel said loudly, “The
man sounds like an Italian Faust!”
Mrs. Ormont laughed lightly, “Oh
my! Given his gifts by the devil! And here I only ever understood him to be a
I offered, “Oh, da Vinci was far
more than a simple artist, Mrs.
Ormont. Aside from being the most complex genius of the Renaissance, and
perhaps of all time, his artistic skill was enhanced by a working knowledge of
“Well said, Sir Nicolas.” Luca
smiled at me and I felt it like static in the air prior to a thunderstorm. I
I would have rather continued
our mutual adoration of the man in private, but Mrs. Ormont drew my attention
once more. Her silver brows knitted in confusion, and she looked at me over the
rim of her bejeweled spectacles. There was self-critical humor in her voice
when she said, “Sir Nicolas, I’m afraid you’ll think me quite silly, but what
do you mean? What has mathematics to do with it?”
Brooks chuckled, and taking a
drink, dipped his mustache in his water glass. He came up for air looking very
much like the Emperor Tamarin Monkey I’d once seen in the London Zoo.
I set down my fork and knife and
helped myself to the heel of dry bread to calm my stomach, then explained,
“Were a trained eye to look upon da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man with his arms and
legs spread wide in the illusion of movement, it would see an image based on
the much older writings of the Roman architect Vitruvius. Many of the sacred
geometry principles of the human body as well as ancient architecture have been
compiled into art by Leonardo da Vinci. His perspectives are considered perfect
Mrs. Ormont, either lost or
disinterested, said, “Oh.”
That was the way of it for most
of my academic career. A certain curiosity went part and parcel with being an
art historian, and not everyone shared it. Luca Franco however, had found one
of his own. I could read the truth of his discovery upon his face when he
added, “That is quite fascinating about his art. It’s my understanding that da
Vinci was a philosopher and dreamer unhindered by the opinions of others. For
example, he had little interest in things that would cloud his own personal
discovery such as literature, history, or religion for that matter, much to the
great annoyance of the church. Because the church was a determined hindrance to
his pursuits, he eschewed religious doctrine.”
My bold-as-brass Yankee
progressive harrumphed and all eyes went to her. I chuckled, knowing what had
irked her. Yes the church hindered the poor man, and hindered was a poor word
at that to describe it. They repeatedly condemned the artist for sodomy.
Perhaps the Anglicans and Catholics at the table didn’t find the artist’s lack
of faith all that amusing. The Professor of Antiquities smiled at her and she
returned it in her sparkling blue eyes. I felt the current of attraction pass
between them, and by default through me as well. A fleeting image of Édouard-Henri Avril’s erotic sketches came to mind and I
pictured myself sandwiched between my wife and this sensually charismatic man. The thought made my balls ache.
Rather than be lost to my own
imaginings, I added to the conversation at hand, “From my own field of
expertise I would agree with you, Professor Franco. The ideas of other men
muddied the waters of da Vinci’s personal immersion in discovery. He concerned
himself with what the eye could see, rather than with purely abstract concepts.
To him it didn’t necessarily matter what had come before his personal
observation. He was a most excellent observer.” My smile was for Luca when I
added, “A dreamer, as you say.”
He returned it and this time I
caught the nearly imperceptible scent of our mutual chemistry.
Ellie addressed our dinner party
with a winsome grin, “If you haven’t already guessed, my husband finds da
Vinci, the man, fascinating. I admit his life and works have captured my fancy
as well though I gravitate toward his reasoning rather than his art.”
Mrs. Brooks announced that she
knew little of the man, but was stunned to discover the Mona Lisa to be the small a painting it was. I looked at Ellie. That was the smile I found so similar in
hers but had yet to identify — a smile that hinted there was more than met the
eye. The mention of the Mona Lisa put
our dinner conversation on far simpler ground — a ground void of invention,
theology and speculation on genius. The conversation around the table went to
galleries we’d seen and we came to speculate on the artistry of the Renaissance
in general. I filled them in as far as their interest held. I could feel both
Ellie and the historian’s disappointment over abandoning our interesting topic.
It echoed my own.
Our Italian dinner companion
reached for his glass, the action raising his cuff slightly. He had fine strong
wrists, a jagged scar run up the side and I briefly wondered what he’d done to
have gotten such a wound. Drawn to artistry as I was, bone structure often
caught my eye when I looked at people and this wrist drew my attention.
Michelangelo’s David came to mind —
David with his corded forearms and finely-detailed hands slightly larger than
they should be. A hint to the size of the full erection the artist had in mind,
were it made of flesh and not flaccid stone. I wondered who had been his model,
for like his contemporary and rival da Vinci, he had a male muse among his
models. Lost in thoughts of anatomy, I watched Luca raise his glass to his lips
and licked my own before I was aware I’d done so.
He leveled me a snow-shadow
glance over the rim of his wine glass, before saying, “If you have the
inclination Sir Nicolas, I would enjoy conversing about da Vinci’s life with
you. It’s my good fortune to find a man of your knowledge and kindred interest
on board.” Grinning, he lowered his voice conspiratorially as if he confessed
to the others there, “You see I’m considered quite the bore at home.”
The throng laughed, and Ellie
met my eyes with excitement burning in her own. I read her mind. Luca Franco
was approachable after all, and perhaps in more ways than one. The laughter
continued after I pulled my wife’s hand to my lips and kissed her knuckles in
sympathy, “As am I.”
When the sexes divided for the
requisite sherry, and port and cigars, I used the opportunity to continue the
conversation with Professor Franco, who now insisted I address him by his given
name. He’d come round to visit at two o’clock the next day. As I was still in
no physical condition for port, and the cigar smoke was reanimating my earlier
headache, I took my leave and hied myself back toward our stateroom.
Rose Anderson – Love Waits in Unexpected Places BUY eBOOKS & PAPERBACK | WEBSITE | TWITTER | GOOGLE+ | FACEBOOK