I love anything to do with ancient Rome (of course!), and I'm also a complete sucker for Regency Romances...
So I'm REALLY excited about Emily Bryan's latest book - Vexing the Viscount - in which the hero and heroine track down a pile of ancient Roman loot! And guess what, there's even a mysterious Druid island!!! Completely my kind of story. :-)
Here's a peek at the book, a few words from the author, and excerpt, and...
drum roll please!!.....
A CHANCE TO WIN a copy of Vexing the Viscount!! (Read on for details.)
Daisy Drake is leading a double life! By day, she's Lucian Beaumont's unwanted assistant and by night, she masquerades as the masked courtesan, Blanche La Tour, a Frenchwoman who agreed to give Lucian lessons in sensual love!
There's only one problem. Daisy speaks fluent French and can read ancient Latin without moving her lips, but she doesn't know the first thing about the pleasures of the flesh! Good thing she has the real Blanch La Tour's very explicit memoirs for guidance.
Lucian Beaumont, Viscount Rutland, longs to see his family's standing returned to its glory days, before his father lost their fortune. And he thinks he can manage it, if he can only discover the hiding place of an ancient Roman payroll.
Daisy never forgot her girlhood fascination with Lucian, even though his father has a score to settle with her uncle. Now that they're all grown up, she's determined to help the viscount find his Roman treasure.
Whether he wants her help or not!
EMILY BRYAN INTERVIEW...
JOY: You've already distracted a duchess and pleasured a pirate. Now you're on to vexing viscounts! Writers often weave a whole story from a single spark of inspiration. What was the single spark that started you on the journey of writing VTV?
EMILY: A few years ago, I tagged along with my DH on a business trip to Germany. While he had a day of meetings in Hanover, I took the train to Koln (sometimes known as Cologne—the border between Germany and France has been fluid over the years) to visit the Römisch-Germanisches Museum. I’ve always been fascinated by Roman culture, as I know you are, Joy. There had been a major Roman settlement at Koln and in the museum, there was an entire room filled with clay lamps. That’s not so unusual, but these lamps were all shaped like erect phalli (Some were more ornate than others, sporting wings—I kid you not!—or spindly little legs like a half grown tadpole!) It seems the Romans believed depictions of the male member would bring good luck (Hence the term “getting lucky?”) (note from Joy: Where exactly on these little wiener lamps did they light the wicks? Ouchie!)
EMILY, continued: Anyway, I found the whole idea totally bizarre and filed it away as something to use later. We writers gather useless bits of information like a corner gathers dust bunnies, always intending to do something about both of them someday.
So, it seemed right to me to open VEXING THE VISCOUNT with our heroine Daisy, scrunching down to get a better look at a decidedly lewd little lamp. And having our hero Lucian (the viscount of the title) catch her at it. :)
JOY: LOL, I remember seeing some pretty silly ancient male members in Pompeii!! But Emily, now tell us about your hero. Why are you in love with him? (I know you are, since all we romance writers fall in love with our heroes!)
EMILY: Lucian is driven, single-minded and looks totally yummy with his shirt off. Well, he would, wouldn’t he? He’s been digging up Roman antiquities all summer and the manual labor has done wonders for his pecs and biceps!
And why is this titled gent resorting to manual labor, I hear you ask? Because his father lost the family fortune and Lucian thinks he can restore it by excavating the Roman ruin he discovered on their estate and following the clues to a lost Roman treasure. It was a year’s pay for the entire legion stationed on Britannia in 405 AD! (note from Joy: Yikes! That's a lot of denari! A Roman legion consisted of about 5000-6000 men)
Lucian is a rarity in a time of rakes. He’s a virgin when the story opens (Don’t worry! He’s a very quick study!) because he loathes the idea of marrying for money, won’t take unfair advantage of the serving girls, and hasn’t the wherewithal to keep a mistress. However, when “Blanche La Tour” (Daisy pretending to be a French courtesan) offers to teach him the pleasures of the flesh in exchange for allowing her to partner with him in his excavation, he’s quick to accept.
Mostly, I love Lucian because he exhibits that most attractive quality in a hero. He becomes totally devoted to the heroine, willing to dare anything for her. (note from Joy: Awwwwww, how sweet.. :-)
JOY: What is the main lesson your heroine has to learn about herself in order to reach her happy ending?
EMILY: Daisy has always fancied herself an amateur actress, so her masquerade as “Blanche La Tour” started as a whim born of her desperate desire for an adventure. During the course of the story, she’s paddling furiously, trying to stay ahead of Lucian by studying the real Blanche La Tour’s very explicit memoirs. She learns all a courtesan’s tricks.
But even once Lucian learns the truth and they become lovers, Daisy hides behind naughty little love games. She has to eventually come to terms with what Blanche says in her journal. “The moment when lovers step back and say, ‘I know you and I won’t turn away,’ is the moment when true lovemaking begins.”
Only in being completely herself can she be happy because that’s the only way her relationship with Lucian can be real. And knowing another person deeply, and not turning away, is the greatest adventure one can hope for. (note from Joy - yep, I tell my hubby that every day...)
JOY: The book is over, and your hero and heroine decide to start their happily-ever-after with a much-needed vacation. Where do they go?
EMILY: Why, after a brief stop on the Druid island that features prominently in the story, they go to Rome, of course. It was their fascination with Roman antiquities that threw them together. They may as well visit the source!
This might be a good place to tuck a little excerpt in, but it’s not from Daisy and Lucian’s part of the book. In VEXING THE VISCOUNT, I flash back from time to time to Roman Britain to explain how the legion’s payroll came to be lost. And it all starts with a love story, of course, between Caius Meritus, freedman, and Deirdre, a Celtic slavegirl . . .
VEXING THE VISCOUNT EXCERPT...
Londinium, 405 A.D.
The sound charmed Caius toward the garden. The girl’s voice was like a flute, all rounded and wispy with air wrapped around the tone.
In all his life, and as nearly as he could reckon it, he was around thirty years old, Caius had never heard such a lament. The song weaved its melodic fingers around his heart and squeezed.
He peered from the corner of the villa into the mistress’s herb garden. The air was alive with tiny honey bees and the steady, constant hum of green, growing things. The new girl, Deirdre, was bent over, clawing at weeds, singing her sad, Celtic song as she worked.
Then the song stopped and she straightened, arms extended over her head in a huge stretch. Her palla rose almost to her knees, baring shapely calves and delicate ankles. Her feet were naked, her toes and heels grass-stained. The fading sun flashed behind her, showing the separation of her thighs and a shadow of the dark triangle of hair under her thin palla. When she leaned down to grasp a long-stemmed cankerwort by the stubborn root, Caius saw the outline of her breasts swinging free.
The girl yelped suddenly.
‘Bee sting,’ Caius decided.
She stuck her finger in her mouth, sucking fiercely. The innocent gesture made his body respond in a not so innocent way. He’d desired women before, but none had ever made him stiffen quite so unexpectedly.
He’d never had a woman.
When he’d been a slave, his master hadn’t permitted it. But now, Caius was a freedman. If he wished, he might take a woman to his pallet. Though male slaves were in danger of emasculation if they were caught in unsanctioned coupling, a female slave was more prized if she proved fertile. He would bring the girl no harm if . . .
Without conscious volition, he walked toward her. In the sparse amount of Celtic he’d gleaned from his dealings in the market, he told her to show him her finger. With care, he plucked out the stinger, still pulsing its venom into her reddened and swelling skin. He pursed his lips and blew softly on the spot.
“Better?” he asked.
Her smile washed over him like a breaker.
And he knew in an instant. He was a drowned man who just hadn’t quit struggling yet. It was said to be not at all an unpleasant end once a man gave up.
Best to let the deep claim him.
EMILY: Thanks so much for having me here today, Joy. I can’t wait for your next Druids of Avalon title!
JOY: Thank YOU, Emily! Hey all you readers out there... please leave a comment or question to be entered in Emily's daily drawing for a copy of VEXING THE VISCOUNT!
Labels: ancient rome, book giveaway, Dorchester Publishing, Emily Bryan, historical romance, joy nash, regency romance