Sunday, April 14, 2013

Day 3 in the Let's Get Lucky Blog Hop!

MFRW Erotic Bloghop I hope you've enjoyed our three days of scorching romance and prizes. If you haven't commented yet, I'm offering a winner's choice of any of my ebooks in print now. And I'll sign it for you with Authorgraph.To follow the hop, click the badge on the left!


Today, I'm sharing two excerpts -- one from Loving Leonardo, a Victorian polyamorous love story, with a touch of reader-interactive art history. And an excerpt from my soon-to-be-released Loving Leonardo - The Quest.

This Two Lips Reviews Recommended Read & CataRomance Sensual Reads Reviewer's Choice Winner of 2012 for Historical Romance tells the story of Art Historian Nicolas Halstead in the year leading up to Queen Victoria's Jubilee.  

Bound by limits dictated by society,  this Victorian gentleman has 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 of sensual discovery, intrigue, and danger. Little do they know Leonardo da Vinci's book is far more than meets the eye.

I hope you enjoy. 

Loving Leonardo

It was clear our like minds enjoyed the intellectual discourse of fellow enthusiasts. Our conversation budded like a many-headed hydra and we’d stop and laugh at our individual tangents that ranged far off topic. We chatted a while longer on trade routes and the Silk Road. Given our common interests, we soon returned to the topic of the Renaissance. The epicenter of this movement was in Florence, and discussing the building marvels of the ages, we touched upon the fact da Vinci himself was an architect and engineer. 
Luca explained that da Vinci’s insatiable desire to learn was a direct result of his illegitimacy. “Many scholars today cite this lack of conventional schooling as the source of his genius. But the stigma of bastardy in those days was small and illegitimate offspring were quite common. Even the Pope fathered several bastards. Still, because of his illegitimacy, da Vinci wasn’t allowed the traditional Latin and Greek education of his legitimate peers.”
Ellie frowned. “I had no idea. How terrible for society to limit a mind like his.”
I shook my head. “I wouldn’t view it as hindered. If anything it helped him become the genius he was. I know his insatiable drive to know contributed greatly to his art.”
Luca said, “This is true. Without the preconceived thought built upon the observations of others, he would come to test his own ingenuity against the methods and materials of the age. This way, he discovered the world of knowledge for himself.”
Refilling our teacups, Ellie said, “From what I’ve read, he immersed himself only as long as processes fascinated him. After he’d learned all he could, he’d move on to greener pastures in his quest for knowledge. At time even leaving things unfinished because he’d learned all he cared to.”
Luca nodded, “That’s accurate. He was a searcher of unfathomable things. Like many Renaissance figures he was a true polymath in that he was proficient across many intellectual pursuits.” 
“Yes.” I ran them off on my fingers, “Geology, botany, medicine, anatomy, and geometry among them.”

Luca offered, “As you say, his insatiable drive to know contributed to his work as an illustrator. But it went beyond the art. He possessed an incredible knowledge of how individual components of mechanical processes worked.”
Indeed. The man was able to draw his ideas with such detail that hundreds of years later, these very sketches were essentially blueprints for the models he fabricated in his mind. Many of his fantastical inventions and ideas were hundreds of years ahead of their time, equal in scope and imagination to the fictional inventions cited in Jules Verne’s literary worlds. 
I described several paintings which clearly underscored his humanist values — the belief that the Greek and Latin classics contained all the lessons one needed to lead a moral and effective life. 
Ellie said, “But outside of Florence, humanism wasn’t a popular belief.”
Luca agreed. “No it wasn’t.”
I said, “Most people don’t realize the mind behind the artwork. His works of art weren’t only beautiful: he painted disquieting smiles and gesturing hands that suggest the mysteries of human personality. His works were filled with symbolism representing his deep philosophical beliefs. Some of the most curious held meanings and references that only the trained eye might recognize.” I mentioned some of the more glaring pagan symbolism that flew in the face of the church — a church he was at odds with, and as a result, with himself as well. 
Luca looked surprised. “I didn’t know this about his art.”
“I would think that difficult.” Ellie commented as she reached for the dish of biscuits. “The church often provided the butter for his bread.”
Our guest answered, “I do believe had he lived another seventy years, the Inquisition would have seen him put to death for heresy. He was without question, a man of his time.” 
Indeed. Observation rather than faith was the order of the day. Renaissance humanists didn't just write about new ideas, they lived them. It was their willingness to go beyond prescribed dogma to actually study nature to gain knowledge. Coming to know her mind like I was, I felt Ellie’s next words dripped with innuendo when she said them. “People in Renaissance Italy specifically were quite explicit in their reliance on empiricism, weren’t they? That all knowledge was derived from their senses… a concept that truth could be discovered by human effort? From what I know of him, da Vinci regularly engaged in sensory experience. I’ve heard that some of the paths he took were very much at odds with the moral code of the day.”
Luca raised a brow but his eyes sparkled, and I wondered what connection was made in his mind. I wasn’t to find out, unfortunately. When the dinner bell sounded, we knew our pleasant afternoon had passed too quickly. Still, before we scattered to prepare for dinner, we agreed this voyage would be far more enjoyable if we met here again the following afternoon.
Coming in late like we did, the three of us weren’t able to sit with our usual dinner company, but there were chairs available with the Dutch siblings. For the duration of the meal, the blond Dutchman dropped his invitation on the table like so many gold coins. In times past I’d have had a little war with myself over such an invitation, as he had an amazing mouth. But Ellie and I were newlyweds and I’d recently experienced the glorious magnitude of our joining. Simply put, our trip to Venice had become our honeymoon. Until we’d discovered all the joy to be found in the opposite sex, hers was the only field I wished to plow. At least for the time being. 
I must say that Jerone was good about my declining his tempting offer. By the time the group of us parted sexes for sherry, port, and cigars, he’d turned his eye to our Florentine friend. I watched as they took their leave first one, then the other. If ever I had doubt of Luca’s inclination, it evaporated in light of their subtle exchange. I found myself fantasizing, and the ménage à trois called forward in my mind rivaled any erotic hedonism ever depicted on a Grecian urn.  
I encountered Ellie on her way to our stateroom, and as my blood was high, I closed the door behind us, spun her around, and pinned her to the door with my body. Bold-as-brass, her hand slid inside the front of my trousers and she purred at my lips. “I saw them.”
She closed around my now-straining cock and attempted to stroke me in tight confines. I stripped her clothes away until she stood in a puddle of silk and tulle, dressed only in her white stockings and shoes. Pulling the pins from her hair, the cinnamon cascade fell over her like a cape that allowed her nipples to poke through the strands. My teeth lightly pulled her bottom lip. “Whom did you see, my love?”
Having decided she needed more room, she stopped only long enough to undress me. The object of her fondling now free and at full staff, she immediately returned to her bewitching caress. She stroked slowly and flicked her tongue over my lips before finding my tongue with a taste of sherry upon hers. “Luca and Jerone. I saw them meet at the deck behind the lifeboats. They were kissing. Oh! You like that picture, do you?” 
“Very much.” I kicked my shoes and socks aside to step from my trousers. In my haste to feel all of with every inch of my skin, I forgot to attend to my cufflinks. To my great annoyance, I found both hands trapped inside my sleeves. My struggle to be free only made it worse. I looked at Ellie helplessly, and attempted to raise my hands ensnared by the body of the shirt around my back. The devilish gleam in her eye caught my breath. 
“You want to be free, do you?” she asked, while running her fingernail down the side of my neck, to my chest, where it circled my nipple.
“Yes.” Her touch made me lightheaded.
“I’ll help you, but there will be a price had for it, you understand.” She tweaked the firm little nub.
Thomas and I often played rough; one of us would take charge over the other. His brown eyes often held the very same gleam that I now saw reflected in her blue.

My breathing became shallow. “Oh?” 
“Tell me what they might be doing in this very moment.”
I played dumb. “Who?” My breath drew sharply as her tweak turned into a double pinch. The identical Waterhouse nymphs in my earlier imaginings of Ellie and Felicia danced before my eyes. They were treating one another’s nipples this very way, as one took the reins over the other in their lovemaking. The fancy was followed by a heady thought of turnabout.
She purred again, “Luca and Jerone.” 
My wife was a minx — a boldly sensual cocktease. “What would you like to know, that I found myself wanting to join them?”
She palmed me from balls to tip. Leaning close she drew my nipple into her mouth and worried it with her teeth while she suckled. I longed to bury my hands in those cinnamon curls, but I couldn’t touch her with my hands trapped as they were. I told her so. Looking up at me, she let go with a little pop. Her lips met mine as she murmured against me, “And if you had joined them, what would be happening right about now?”
Where once was lit a gleam, a full flame now shone in her eyes. Mesmerized, I spoke the words, husky even to my own ears. Each punctuated by my returning kisses, “Kissing… stroking… sucking… fucking… ”
Her brows drew together slightly in confusion, then those blue orbs of hers grew wide as the last puzzle piece of my duo sexuality fell into place. Breath shuddering as she inhaled, I felt a twinge of fear that she might condemn me for the beast I was. Searching her face, I looked for a clue to where her mind was in that moment, but I couldn’t discern a bloody thing. Then that sentient sexual smile of hers played upon her lips. It left me dizzy with want when my body responded by funneling every last drop of blood to my cock. 
She picked up my trapped hands one at a time, and folding back the cuffs to expose the links, freed me from my bonds. Taking me by the hand, she led me to our bedroom and I followed blindly. In a voice sounding more sultry than hesitant, she said simply, “Show me.” 
I thought of da Vinci, who himself once said, “Only observation and experience is the key to understanding.”

Loving Leonardo - The Quest (coming late April 2013) 
A Sneak Peek:

We’d been at sea for the better part of two weeks, and the weather through the Mediterranean was sunny blue and tranquil. But it wasn’t to last. The typical autumn season’s strong ocean current flung us through the Strait of Gibraltar and into the arms of a substantial North Atlantic storm. It rivaled Rembrandt’s Storm on the Sea of Galilee.

My wife had made several Atlantic crossings, and Luca was literally raised on a gondola. Despite my English background, I had no relationship with the sea, and being tossed about on the churning waves made me terribly seasick. Green to the gills, it was all I could do to keep my head out of the commode. During the tempest’s first hour I managed to control the urge to regurgitate, but sea dog I’m not. The fact of it transcended any embarrassment I initially had. 

Clutching an empty flower urn should I have need to fill it, I took to the settee and watched my overjoyed companions through the open door of our starboard balcony. In my opinion, Prospero himself would have found this passing too much, but they stood at the rail outlined by the pending wrath of Neptune and thoroughly enjoyed the wild wind and roiling waves. Conversely, I clung to my cushion and damp washcloth. Although the balcony possessed a high lattice to keep guests from tumbling into the drink, I felt an honest fear that had nothing whatsoever to do with the storm. I hadn’t voiced it to either of them, but I felt an increasing sense of unease, an unaccountable prickling at the nape of my neck as if something terrible was about to happen. I’d had several nightmares since Ellie’s abduction and Luca’s encounter with the fanatical Bruno. There were disturbing phantoms that jarred me awake and left me unsettled.

I thought about that. Recurring nightmares plagued my youth but tapered off as I matured. Through these bad dreams, I had relived the accident that made me an orphan. I was just a boy when my parents and nanny died during our holiday in Brighton. I don’t know what spooked the horses that day, but they ran wildly and my mother screamed as I fell through the tumbling coach door. I also remembered the incredible pain as my small body landed and my arm and leg bones snapped.

That childhood trauma had revisited my dreams over the past several nights, and my adult mind lent an additionally horrific reality each time. In one, I came home to find all I knew and loved gone. Another — all too real — had me savaged at Bruno’s palazzo while poor Mrs. Fletcher and Thomas were made to watch. Waking in a sweat, I found myself wondering if Bruno had died in the fall as we supposed. We hadn’t checked for a pulse, we had simply assumed. It was getting so I dreaded closing my eyes.

“Nicolas darling, how are you feeling?” Ellie peered under the washcloth covering my eyes and pulled me from my dark musings.

I gave her a feeble smile. “Tolerable.”

“It would appear the captain has taken us out of the storm.”

I assessed. Yes, the rolling had calmed somewhat. Sitting up slowly, I murmured, “Thank god.”

She tsked. “Oh you poor thing, look at you, you’re drenched with sweat.” Taking up the washcloth, she proceeded to wipe my face and neck as if I were a small boy who’d been in the jam jar. “Luca went back to his room to bathe. How would you like to take a nice hot bath with me? The fishy stink of the storm will only get worse if I don’t wash it off now.”

I took the cloth from her hand and returned it to my eyes. The room was terribly bright. “Yes. A bath might allow me to feel human again.”

I drifted off to the sound of water flowing in the bathroom, then woke to voices at the door. It was Ellie speaking with the steward. Apparently the thoughtful nymph had ordered a tea service, having determined my abused stomach might appreciate the gesture. Naked now, she returned and sat beside me to sweep a caressing hand back from my brow. “Come sweetheart, you’ll feel better.” 

On that promise I followed like a puppy. She quickly washed herself then saw to me. Her tender care for my sorry state filled my heart, and as she promised, I felt infinitely better.


My dignity restored, I rejoined the world of the hale and hearty and enjoyed tea with a biscuit. When Ellie had asked the steward about the state of things, the man informed her that we’d actually made good time in the storm and would be arriving in port the following morning. After the last several hours, I couldn’t wait to touch ground. It’s funny how the mind decides such things. For the entire uncomfortable coach ride over Italy’s rough roads, I longed for the opulent comfort of an ocean liner. Today I felt I’d rather sit bare-assed on a fakir’s bed of nails as long as that bed sat on dry land. As it was, we needed to eventually cross the English Channel to Brighton. I pushed the unwelcome eventuality from my mind.


Coming directly from his bath, Luca joined us about an hour later as shiny as a new penny and as handsome as always. For the better part of that hour, Ellie stood near the stove fluffing her wild mane in an attempt to get it dry enough to take a brush to. Knowing these two as I did, I counted the seconds until Luca asked her if she needed assistance. He loved her wild curls as much as I did. Sisal rope or Ellie’s hair, the man could braid.

We’d learned Luca possessed a fair aptitude for plaits and sailor’s knots, a skill learned at his grandfather’s knee. After all, the Francos had been sailing the seas for centuries. It also helped that he had younger sisters and regularly helped them set their hair. No small feat that. His sisters each had hair that fell below their knees when unbound. A fact I’d seen for myself when we’d stayed at Luca’s family home. With her midnight locks unbound, Carmela, the younger of his two sisters, could have sat as a model for the American Impressionist James Carroll Beckwith. 

Sure enough, Ellie handed over the hairbrush. I watched Luca work the boar bristles through the mass with a dreamy look on his face. How could such a simple thing make me stiff? My smile widened. I knew why. Whenever Luca touched Ellie’s hair, he transformed into a child with a new toy. From time to time he’d bite his lip in concentration or his tongue would poke out ever so slightly. In our moments of passion, he’d occasionally close his eyes and gather the silken mass in his hands and run the bounty over his bare chest or mine. Within moments, he fashioned for her a cinnamon plait as thick as my wrist and tied up the end in the ribbon she’d handed over her shoulder. Ellie didn’t see him raise the braid to his lips. But I did. Sitting there in my loosely-tied robe as I was, my cock made a grand showing.

He’d seen my arousal but Ellie hadn’t. Meeting his eye, I silently mouthed, “Come to me.” He gave me an engaging wink over the top of her head. Instead of coming to me, the tease moistened his lips with his tongue and shook his head. Then taking Ellie’s hands, he bid her rise. He enfolded her in his arms, and wound the braid into his large hand. When he kissed her deeply, he also kissed my mind through her. And heaven help me, I felt it keenly. 

When he released her, Ellie said, “Oh my.” She turned to me with lovely cheeks painted in that informative blush of hers that declared she wanted loving. Seeing my erection, she cocked a brow at me. I shrugged, pretending I couldn’t imagine why I was hard. Her lips twitched when she cast me a dubious eye. Caught like a canary-eating cat, I tipped my head toward Luca. Her delight was instantaneous. She hooked her arm through his and held out her hand to me. “Well, come along then. You might as well be comfortable while you watch us.”

I loved her matter-of-fact decisiveness and the way she lived her life without pretense. She wanted me teased, and by god she was going to have it. There was nothing to do but follow. Clothing stripped away among the kisses, I watched my lovers sprawl on the bed side by side and continue what began in the outer room. Seeing open opportunity, I crawled between them. While they busied themselves with hand and lips and dancing tongues, I found other amusements. I nuzzled and tasted, sucked and lapped, just enough to make them want more. Three could play the tease.

Apparently I’d teased enough because Luca said something in husky Italian. Ellie, the budding polyglot replied, “Yes, I think you should.”

Next I knew, he grabbed me. Ellie squealed and scrambled to the top of the bed lest she be caught up in the tangle of arms and legs. He pinned me down and kissed me hard. I made a bid for freedom and he flipped me to my belly with one wrist trapped under my weight and the other held by him. His cock positioned itself along the split of my rear as his teeth left sharp exclamation points across my shoulders and neck. He spoke hotly at my ear, “Non giocare con me mio amore. Otterrai più di questo.”

I could sense Ellie’s delight. I sought her out but she’d left the bed in our fray.
I struggled to turn over under his weight and laughingly huffed, “You have me…at a disadvantage. My Italian…has yet… to refine…itself.”

He chuckled and whispered passionately at my cheek. “I said, do not play games with me carissimi. You will get more than this.” He emphasized this by pressing his hips forward and thus pressing my lower half to the mattress with his own. His balls were hot against mine. 

Lord, I wanted him. I laughingly taunted him. This was exactly what I craved in that moment of raw animal power.


This & That's

I'm in The A to Z Challenge over at my main blog.

Monday through Saturday, all through April, I'm posting topics alphabetically. I promise they're unique! After you've checked out the terrific posts in the Let's Get Lucky Hop, come on by. 
 Stop by my main blog on Sunday for the Sneak Peek too!

And, I'm in the Author's in Bloom blog hop. Come join us. We have prizes!

Love Waits in Unexpected Places

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>>More scintillating stories to come. Follow me for updates!<<

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