Loving Leonardo - The Quest
Rose Anderson, welcome to Romance Lives Forever. We're excited to interview your character, Nicolas Halstead from the book, Loving Leonardo – The Quest
Genre: Erotic Romance/Historical m/m/f
Publisher: Calliope’s Writing Tablet
Cover artist: Kim Van Meter
Length: Approximately 200 pages
Heat rating: Scorching
Tagline: Love transcends all barriers.
Never in his wildest imaginings as an art historian, could Nicolas Halstead conceive the book Leonardo da Vinci created for his lover Salai existed, let alone lead to the discovery of hidden declarations of love worked into da Vinci masterpieces.
Happy and content in their polyamorous relationship, Nicolas, Ellie and Luca embark on a quest to learn all they can about the greatest mind of the Renaissance. But their world takes a devastating and deadly turn that sends Nicolas into the deviant underworld of Victorian London. It becomes clear that Conte Acario Bruno lives, and the madman wants far more than Leonardo's book. He desires Nicolas’ death, and Luca for himself.
What are your main characters' names, ages, and occupations?
Nicolas Halstead 11th Earl of Halstead: 31 years old. House of Lords, Art Historian for the famed Ashmolean Museum. He acquires and manages her Majesty’s art collections.
Elenora Schwaab Halstead: 24 years old. The new Lady Halstead. Student of philosophy, Suffragette, and American Progressive. Daughter of the American Consul to her Majesty Queen Victoria.
Luca Franco: 32 years old. The new Professor of Antiquities at the Ashmolean Museum. Son of a Venetian merchant. Head of the Franco family. He acquires items of history to add to the vast museum collections.
Buy links: Coming April 2013. Here is the buy link for Loving Leonardo Book 1 http://www.amazon.com/dp/B009LS3H6Q
A full day of travel had gotten us to Parma. Tired and hungry, Father Tioretto led us to a sizable and surprisingly well-appointed inn. Even if he didn’t know the area well, by the delicious aroma wafting in the street our noses would have eventually led us there. I paid to have our belongings taken inside and made arrangements for the coachman to come gather us the next morning. We asked for baths and the serving maids hurried up the stairs to ready our rooms. We found a quiet corner and ate our fill of the fabulous cuisine. Father Tioretto explained that Parma was famous for its hard flavorful cheese. Luca added that the Renaissance Humanist, Boccaccio, praised the cheese of Parma in his literary Decameron. Well-read as she was, Ellie had already made the connection. I once more counted my lucky stars to have found these two who not only stimulated my heart and body, but my mind as well.
As he poured our dessert wine, the sociable innkeeper gave directions to the Galleria Nazionale di Parma. The man just so happened to belong to the Farnese family, the original owners of many of the artworks there. According to our host, his line came from Alessandro Farnese. We showed no recognition at the name, spurring him to explain in detail how the world came to know Alessandro as Pope Paul III, and who, as pope, fathered the innkeeper’s grandmother several generations back. Father Tioretto apparently didn’t care for the conversation and wolfing down his torta, he wished us well and bid us a hasty good night. The innkeeper’s ensuing chuckle made me wonder if he’d elaborated the papal bastardy of his lineage on purpose.
When the maid informed us our rooms were ready, we took our wine and glasses and made our way upstairs to our separate rooms to freshen up. Two steaming copper hipbaths on wheels sat near the stove with a towel-draped folding screen between them. Seeing no need for the screen, I hauled it off to the corner. There wasn’t much water in the tubs, but certainly enough with which to wash the travel dust away.
I watched my wife prepare herself, standing before the wall mirror, her tongue poking in concentration as she arranged the pins in her hair and tightened the curls that were want to spill free. Several cinnamon strands wouldn’t cooperate and these she rolled around and around her finger until they were tight curls to be tucked under the rest. I was transfixed by the deliberate feminine processes whose end results were suggestive of the coifs of Degas’ ballerinas. Thomas was correct. Women were a breed apart, but as the French said, Vive La Différence!
She removed her blouse, skirts, and bustle, and for some reason my mind took a different turn. In my mind’s eye I saw her naked and gagged with a burlap sack over her head. For two days now my mind had been intermittently taken by that terrible image, followed by an instantaneous albeit short-lived feeling of dread. I couldn’t say why, but for some reason I felt it now. The sensation that Thomas often referred to as “a goose walking over a grave.”’ Kneeling, I helped her from her shoes and stockings. Lifting the hem of her camisole, I pressed my forehead to her bare belly and hugged her to me. How I loved this precious nymph.
I’d felt such panic when Conte Bruno abducted her. Perhaps the image was just residual emotion that hadn’t time to drain away. Whatever it was, Ellie seemed unfazed by her experience. She was, without doubt, a most intrepid little thing. She’d taken the kidnapping in stride. I, on the other hand, was privy to information she didn’t have. Namely, the gang rape Bruno had planned for her. A shiver ran up my spine. In my mind, I pictured the face of the man I’d killed, the moment of surprise on his face just before I’d hit him with the statue of Apollo. I didn’t regret the act, but I couldn’t deny that had Bruno had more men there that night, her rescue could have gone terribly wrong.
When I glanced up, she was gazing down upon me. Her soft hands swept back my hair. I’d noticed in the past few weeks that we’d developed an unspoken language between us. This undoubtedly came about from our close contact and soul baring conversation, and the fact we had similar minds. Her next words proved how well she’d come to know me.
“What is it, Nicolas? Something is troubling you, I feel it.”
I lied. “No, my sweet, I’m only thinking of tomorrow.” Her raised eyebrow declared her doubt. Determined not to let her see the dark cloud in my mind, I sought redirection. I kissed her navel then circled it with the tip of my tongue. Meeting her gaze once more, I could see she believed me. I saw something else as well. Indeed I could, for her nipples had gone hard under the cotton of her camisole and her clear blue eyes had turned sultry. She wanted something. My grey thoughts evaporated when she pulled the camisole over her head, an act that left her wearing only her pantalets.
As a newly-wedded man who’d so recently discovered women, I found myself appreciating the mystery of their fashion. Of course I was aware of the structured framework of their undergarments. The artwork of Lovis Corinth and washday at home and all around London told me of pantalets, bloomers, and corsets. But Ellie didn’t corset herself. She was such a petite little thing there was no need to artificially hold her figure.
I ran my hands over her cotton-covered thighs and my cock rose in anticipation of what lay beneath. In my life prior to my bisexual self-discovery, I could never have imagined that going through the flounces of lace and frills of a woman’s undergarments would make me as giddy as a small child opening a gift on Christmas morning.
Interview with Nicolas Halstead
Tell us about yourself.
Nicolas seated himself and crossed his legs comfortably before him. “Well, let me see…My name is Nicolas Halstead, 11th Earl of Halstead. I’ve assumed my deceased father’s seat in House of Lords. Though my travels puts me hardly ever there. As a young man I was educated at Eaton, and then finished my art history education at Oxford. From there I did my internship at the Ashmolean, where I recently became a fellow. It falls to me to add to her Majesty’s collections of state, and to do so, I acquire artworks from private holdings and collections.
I’m an exceedingly private person. To maintain that desired privacy, I live in London, away from the family estate. Mrs. Fletcher, my housekeeper, looks after me and has since the accident that killed my parents. My grandmother, Lady Augusta Halstead did me immeasurable kindness when she gave me over to her trusted servant’s care all those years ago. She has no idea of the bond between Mrs. Fletcher and me, or what we truly share. You see, my Grandmother comes from a time of little deviation from the path society placed before you. The old dear would come undone in knowing the truth of me.”
Nicolas’ lips twitch. “Until recently, I lived a quiet, somewhat content, life.”
Tell us about Ellie and Luca.
The twitch transformed into a wide smile. “I’ll assume by the question, you are aware of my nature. Therefore, to phrase it simply, we three are lovers and I love them. It’s trite to say, but we complete one another in ways we hardly realized were incomplete. Through them, I’ve discovered and accepted myself.
Were I to describe my new wife, I’d say she’s unlike anyone, male or female, of my acquaintance. Bold as brass in speaking plainly…in attitude and affections as well. She’s a suffragette, a progressive in the truest sense. If any woman deserved the vote it would be she. Her mind is extraordinary, her heart fiercely loving and protective. She’s American, you know. In general, Americans reminded me of impressionist artists. The Impressionists violated the rules of academic painting, and Americans violate the rules of conventionality. As a student of nuance, I very much like her. That on top of the love I feel. I consider Ellie to be a true partner in life and love.
Luca? He and I are cut from the same cloth in our interests and we share compatible views. I see Luca as one of the world’s purest souls. He’s kind and sensitive, loving and thoughtful. And I’ll add to that -- he’s compassionate and self-sacrificing to a fault. Luca is also bold and brave, far braver than I. He’s been through a lot in the last ten years. Were I able, I’d take the heartache onto myself to free him of it. I know he would do the same for me. He’s a man anyone would be proud to know, let alone love.”
“Modesty?” He laughed. “How does one consider their strongest attributes without sounding conceited? Let’s see…I’m a loyal friend and devoted to those I love. I have empathy. Consequently, the unfortunate and hungry souls in Rome laid me quite low when we were there. Admitting to that, I’d have to add that I’m more than soft-hearted, I’m painfully aware. I suppose that is my strongest and weakest attribute -- my attention to detail. I simply do not possess a blind eye. Given my training and interest in the artworks of the ages, I readily grasp nuance. I see the subtle shading of life in those small details often missed by others. It allows me to read situations quickly. Not a bad skill for a man with a deviate’s proclivity in an intolerant world!”
As a child, who was your best friend? Tell us about him/her.
“When I was a lad of twelve or so, Mrs. Fletcher’s orphaned nephew Thomas came to Halstead. He was a few years older than I and possessing a ready talent with horses, took a position working in the stables. I got to spend time with him when my Grandmother was out and about. I found him witty and fun and although our stations in life divided us, we enjoyed one another’s company. I went away to school and we stayed in touch through letters. When I returned home, I went to the stable to find my friend, and instead found him with his lover, the farrier’s son. Thom and I became lovers shortly after. Our relationship changed. And so had I.”
What do you wish was different about your life?
“I was born to a world divided by class structure and limitations. My mind sees the outward trappings of this divide daily, especially at Halstead. But my relationships with Mrs. Fletcher and her nephew Thomas transcend such boundaries. They mean the world to me, and my heart rebels at the very idea that I must keep my love for them a secret. I love Luca as well. It wasn’t all that long ago, loving him would cost us our lives. There’s no longer a death penalty for homosexual Englishmen, but we are still not free to love. I wish I was able to openly show my affections.”
If you were given your fondest wish, what would it be?
“I’d wish to turn back the clock to see my dear Thom living a full and happy life. We’d been together nearly thirteen years before I married Ellie. It was he who ended our relationship out of respect for her. I miss him.”
What do you wish I had asked you? Please ask and answer it now.
“I would have asked, Will we ever live in a tolerant world?
My answer would be, yes. It’s 1887. Look how far we’ve come. Women will be voting side by side with men shortly, and are soon to be equal in every way. Especially if my wife has her say! With such social progress broadening our understanding of ourselves, I can’t imagine it taking long for prejudice, bigotry, and hatred to fall by the wayside. Love and kindness, tolerance and charity – these are precepts of faith around the world. But we don’t need our faith to tell us this is best. Like water, mankind eventually follows the path of least resistance. I have every confidence that before long, we’ll do what makes sense.”
About the Author
I love words and choose them as carefully as an artist might choose a color. My active imagination compels me to write everything from children’s stories to historical nonfiction. As a persnickety leisure reader, I especially enjoy novels that feel like they were written just for me. It's hard to explain, but if you've ever read one of those, then you know what I mean. I tend to sneak symbolism and metaphor into my writing. You might say it's a game I play with myself when I write. And I so love when readers email to say they've found something. I’d like people to feel my stories were written just for them, for that’s the truth. These hidden insights are my gift to my readers.
The Witchy Wolf and the Wendigo Book 1 Askewheteasu
The Witchy Wolf and the Wendigo Book 2 Eluwilussit
Books Coming Soon
Loving Leonardo – The Quest (release -- late April 2013)
For an Authorgraphed copy of Loving Leonardo, leave a comment or question at the end of this post. Be sure to leave your email address.
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Main Blog: http://calliopeswritingtablet.com/
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All books on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Rose-Anderson