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New Release Spotlight: If I Were Fire by Heloise West

IfIWereFire_headerbanner

In 18th century Siena, Count Salvesto Masello has returned home to find the family villa and his father’s estate steeped deeply in debt. In order to save it, he has been selling off valuable family heirlooms, but he is running out of silverware. Somewhere in the villa his deceased father had hidden the art treasures that will pay the debt, but Salvesto can’t find them anywhere.

Amadeo Neruccio has been on the run from the vicious pimp, thief, and pawnbroker Guelfetto, but his toughs finally catch him and bring him to the cellar where Count Masello is selling off his silver. When the count learns what fate Guelfetto has in store for Amadeo, he intervenes and trades the last of his mother’s dowry for the young man’s freedom.

Salvesto had left home over ten years ago to live the life of adventure he craved. He had also hoped to leave his broken heart behind. When he rescues young Amadeo, he does not expect to find love again, or that his adventures had yet to end.

IfIWereFireFS

Excerpt:

Seated in the shade of the loggia attached to the surgeon’s house, Amadeo waited for the conte, barely able to think for the pain in his body. Bone-deep pain, like a bad tooth. He sighed, but his breath hitched like an uneven stitch.

“Nerrucio.”

He jumped at the sound of his former lover’s voice. Glancing around, he espied Barone Malavolti standing in the narrow street beneath a chestnut tree a few arm lengths away; his expression was a mask of boredom, though he stood there without his hat, a little breathless and pink-cheeked. Leaning on a silver-tipped cane he did not need, he had dressed today in a beautiful dark gray velvet jacket and the long pale blue waistcoat beneath it embroidered with bright flowers, all held together with small ebony buttons. His creamy white linen shirt and cravat were spotless. All that fine cloth hid a mercurial character and a whippet-lean body that contained a fierce strength. Glossy black hair, brown eyes, and a slightly round, handsome face, the dark circles under his tired eyes spoke of a long night of debauchery. Amadeo turned quickly away, angry and embarrassed all at once.

“Don’t ignore me.”

“No, Barone.” Amadeo stood.

“I wanted to make sure you were—not dead, as someone said, murdered in Guelfetto’s cellar or sent off to Florence to pay your debt.” His clipped tone made Amadeo wince.

“It was never my debt!” He lowered his voice. “I came to you for help, but you did not believe me. He told everyone that I agreed to lose the race for payment. You believed that bandit over me.” Amadeo swallowed back his disappointment. “Me. Your bad habit.” It was terribly rude, but he had to sit in the shade and close his eyes, as the hot, bright sun pierced his skull and made his head pound even harder. To his surprise, Malavolti followed to stand beneath the loggia with him. Encouraged by that, Amadeo whispered, “You said you loved me, but you lied. How is what you think I have done worse than that?”

Malavolti said, “I am not a liar. And only a poet would see that as a crime.”

Amadeo truly wanted to shake the barone until his teeth rattled, but restrained himself. “Guelfetto had sold me to a bathhouse in Florence to whore for those stinking pig-dogs until I die. Conte Masello has rescued me. I do not need you anymore.”

Malavolti flinched. “What has Conte Masello to do with all this, Neruccio?”

“He was there….” Amadeo stopped and considered his words. Malavolti need not know the conte was there selling his mother’s silver plates. “He took pity on me when I said I would give myself to the Arno and paid my debt to Guelfetto.”

“Paid your price, you mean.”

Stubborn, prideful man! To think he wept at the lines I wrote for him and him alone. He believed me then, at least. Perhaps the new one in his bed has left him, and left him bitter.

“We have a bond agreement,” Amadeo said wearily. “I’m to be the new groom for the stables. At least I’ll be with the horses.”

“Ah, my poor poet,” Malavolti mocked. “Poor Cecco. ‘But to show wisdom’s what I never could. So where I itch, I scratch now.’”

A pet name for the famed Sienese poet of a long dead age, Cecco Angiolieri, and the old lines fell upon Amadeo’s ears like a slap. Malavolti had encouraged and supported his own poetic lines at one time, but no more. “If you do not believe me still, be gone, Gianni. No one torments me as much as I do myself, so you waste your time.” His grieving heart forced him to continue the lines: “‘I’m down, and cannot rise in any way; For not a creature of my nearest kin/Would hold out a hand that I could reach….’”

Except for one man.

The door to the house creaked open, and Malavolti turned away, continuing on his path up the street as if they had never spoken.

About the author:

Heloise West, when not hunched over the keyboard plotting love and mahem, dreams about moving to a villa in Tuscany. She loves history, mysteries, and romance of all flavors. She travels and gardens with her partner of 10 years, and their home overflows with books, cats, art, and red wine.

Social Media:

Dreamspinner: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/AuthorArcade/heloise-west

Blog: https://velvetpanic2.wordpress.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/heloise.west.1

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/heloisewest/

Email: heloisewest@hotmail.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/velvetpanic

Tumblr: http://heloisewest.tumblr.com/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8188216.Heloise_West

Order If I were Fire:

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Interview with Author Heloise West

Today I have author Heloise West here to share about herself and her new short story release, River Gods, in the Dreamspinner anthology “Juicy Bits.”

Hi, Heloise! Thanks for stopping by with this tasty cover. 🙂

What first inspired you to write MM?

I was writing a medieval mystery and the main character is an Italian doctor—I’d spent 5 years in his odd and difficult perspective. When I wrote the sex/love scene where he and the local midwife get together, I wasn’t happy with it and started looking around at what was out there in both non-fiction writing romance and new romance fiction, and as a result, stumbled onto Erastes “Muffled Drum.” I’d read Mary Renault, but “Muffled Drum” was the one that introduced the genre to me, and the more I read, the more I wanted to write.

 

In the upcoming story collection Juicy Bits, you have a tale called “River Gods.” I’m so intrigued by that title. Can you tell us what a River God is and give us a blurb?

Everyone who goes to Florence visits the Piazza della Signoria, the heart of social and political life in the Renaissance. In the piazza are many statues—Michelangelo’s David used to stand there until it was moved inside to preserve it. According to Mary McCarthy’s “The Stones of Florence,” the people believed spirits inhabited their city’s statuary and that their river, the Arno, had a god. The sculptor, Ammannati, created the statue of Neptune that stands in the piazza today. In a fantastic juxtaposition of ideas, the story goes that this statue of Neptune was inhabited by the Arno river god who had been turned into a statue because “like Michelangelo” he spurned the love of women. Michelangelo, by the by, hated the statue of Neptune and thought the sculptor had ruined the marble.  Beltramino, the sculptor in my story, identifies with the lonely statue condemned to walk the streets in search of his lover when the light of the full moon touches him.

Blurb for Juicy Bits: 

What’s your favorite part of a romance? If you like the juicy bits—the moments when two or more sexy men can’t wait any longer to satisfy their cravings—then this anthology is for you. These stories of strangers, casual lovers, established couples, and friends who can no longer deny the passion between them push the limits and set the pages on fire. In a scorching collection of erotic scenes ranging from funny and sweet to hardcore kinky, the guys get right to the meat of the story. Whether they’re in the shower, in the locker room, at the office, on a moving train, or just connecting over the phone, they keep things steamy, sticky, and most of all, juicy. 

 

What’s next for you?

I’m wrapping up a contemporary romantic suspense novella, and I hope to be submitting more to Dreamspinner’s short story anthologies.

 

Do you have any writing rituals or tips you swear by?

I have to write in the morning when the doors and windows to my subconscious are still open. And lots of coffee.

 

What are your favorite genres/subgenres to write? What about to read?

For both history and mystery/suspense come first—I used to be much more of a romance/sci-fi/fantasy reader when I was younger. I don’t read sci-fi anymore, and hardly any fantasy, though I love Game of Thrones. I’m becoming more interested in Gaslamp Romantic Fantasy, though, so that’s new.

 

Rapid Fire Questions:

 

Your lucky number: 13, my Sicilian grandmother gave it to me. She liked to gamble.

 

When you grow up you want to be: An author with a huge and diverse back list.

 

Your favorite animal: Dogs.

 

Food you couldn’t be paid enough to eat: Tripe. Ewww.

 

Favorite sex position to write for your characters: Face to Face.

 

If you had a super power it would be: Oh, flying, most definitely. Or to make an eggplant parm with the power to solve all the world’s ills….

 

Your favorite comedian of all time: A young and manic Robin Williams.

 

Juicy Bits is available at Dreamspinner Press, and all the usual places.

Stories Included:

What I’ve Been Missing by John Amory

Never Kiss by Rick Bettencourt

Not Water Resistant by J.J. Cassidy

Heat Wave by Olivia Duncan Craig

Hot Coffee by Kim Dias

For What It’s Worth by Rhidian Brenig Jones

Sandman and the Cookie by Dawn Kimberly Johnson

Dial It Up by Mina Kelly

Voyeur-something by Briana Lawrence

Strangers on the Northeast Regional by Pearl Love

2 Weeks 6 Days 2 Long by S K Manganelli

Sparks by A. Morell

Swim Meet by Johnny Murdoc

An Invitation by Jay Northcote

Lucky XIII by J. I. Radke

Farmer in the Dell by Rob Rosen

River Gods by Heloise West

Hunting by Nikki West

Play with Me by Lucy Whedon

In Good Hands by Logan Zachary

 

Follow Heloise’s blog at: http://velvetpanic2.wordpress.com/

And find her on:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/heloise.west.1?fref=ts

Twitter: https://twitter.com/velvetpanic

Tumbler: http://heloisewest.tumblr.com/

 

 

 

 


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