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Passion's Dance is out!

A few weeks ago I talked about my first book, a historical romance named Passion's Dance, written before Black Ships, which is finally coming out. It's here! Those of you who preordered should have it already delivered.

Passion's Dance is not part of the Numinous World, but it does have some of the same themes. There's a Lodge and a hero with disabilities and a lusty, opinionated, independent female protagonist. It has real historical figures from Paris' Belle Epoque opera world who have important roles in the story. Here's a little preview from chapter two, in which we meet our hero:



All around him was the roar of artillery. He could see the muzzle flashes bright in the acrid smoke, see the tricolor ahead faltering under the rain of shrapnel and bullets. He spurred his horse savagely, feeling it shying to the side as before it the guns opened up with renewed fury. With a shout, he rose in his stirrups, trying to get a better look about him. Beside him his men were falling wounded or dead.

Before him the Prussian guns spoke again, almost invisible in the rolling clouds of powder smoke. He urged his winded horse forwards, reins in left hand, the long hussar's saber in his right.

He felt rather than saw the explosion, felt his horse pitching forwards, felt the lance of pain stab through his leg, felt the smack as his head hit the ground and his eyes filled with his own blood. It masked even the smoke.
The world was filled with pain. He did not even feel his hands clawing at the grass....


With a rip, the much washed linen sheets tore. Bernard's breath hissed loud in the silence. He lay breathing roughly into the silence of his room, the ghost-pains running up and down the leg that was no longer there in a trick of the nervous system. Old nerves, old habits, to feel phantom pains and touches in a limb that no longer existed. Bernard unclenched his fists from the shredded linen. Four sets left, and now these to be mended.

Bernard rolled over on his back. Above his head on the molded ceiling Olympian gods and goddesses reveled in a never-ending frolic modeled in plaster, Venus smiling coyly at Mars from behind a strategically placed drapery. Apollo tuned his lyre in silence, Diana paced serenely with a doe, and Cupid lurked in the branches of a tree, arrows at the ready. Most of Cupid's head had flaked away last winter in the heavy rain that had widened the soggy crack across the pastoral scene. One of these days that would have to be repaired.

The ghost-pains were fading, trickling up and down, like cramps in an Achilles tendon that no longer existed. Bernard could see the light growing at the window. It must be nearly dawn. The clear, early light of late summer touched the translucent under curtains, picking out yellowed embroidery, creeping under the edges of the dusty green velvet curtains. He watched it climb across the wall to the heavy headboard of the sleigh bed. The dark cherrywood looked dull in the light. Needs beeswax, Bernard thought. Is there one thing in this house that isn't broken or falling apart, including its master, Bernard wondered savagely.

He flung himself out of bed on the other side, reaching to the side table for the basin, razor, and towels kept there. The face in the mirror was too old for thirty nine, unfashionably clean-shaven, with dark brown hair streaked heavily with gray. His eyes were light, a very pale ice gray, and his brows winged upward just a little, giving him the disconcerting look of a hunting bird. The over-dilation of the left pupil made one eye seem darker than the other, a result of the artillery concussion at Sedan that had also robbed him of his left leg just below the knee.

"Bernard," he said to the mirror, "You're falling apart."

The face in the mirror rewarded him with a sardonic smile. The tight lines around his mouth stretched, but did not relax.

There was a knocking at the door. "Monsieur?" An old man's voice was accompanied by more pounding.

"Just a moment, Laurent." With a curse, Bernard swung his leg over the side of the bed and fumbled for the wooden form beneath the edge of the bed. With practiced hands he fitted the leather straps and pads to his stump.

"Monsieur, there's a gentleman here to see you. I know as how it's an ungodly hour of the morning, and a Wednesday too, and it's sorry I am to disturb your lordship, but the gentleman was most insistent."

"I told you not to let tradesmen in. You know whatever money it is, I can't pay it now." Bernard slipped a pair of black morning pants on, then stood on his stockinged foot to rummage in the heavy wardrobe. All of the shirts were mended.

Laurent opened the door and came in, a shriveled elderly man with an apron over his clothes. "He's not a tradesman, sir. It's Monsieur Carvalho, and he says his business is important."

'Why didn't you say that first off?" Bernard said irritably. He snatched up one of the shirts with mended cuffs. A pair of old boots provided more ankle support. Last of all his necessary walking cane completed his preparations.

Laurent preceded him downstairs, and stood at the bottom of the long staircase. Bernard nodded almost imperceptibly toward the sitting room doors and Laurent nodded, clearing his throat. "His Highness Bernard Hippolyte Joseph Napoleon Duval, Baron Stevastopol and Brienne, Prince of the Crimea, Knight Commander of the Legion of Honor." Bernard stepped through the open doors into the parlor.

The high arched windows faced east and south, and let the morning light pour in. Unlike most drawing rooms full of clutter and bric-a-brac, only the minimum of furniture remained. A faded red velvet sofa with gilded lion's feet shared floor space with a pair of Louis XV chairs and a mock-Egyptian end table. A thick Persian rug covered part of the floor, but the rest of the wooden parquetry was left to shine bare in the beams across the floor.

A very portly gentleman was just getting up from the sofa as Bernard entered. He was a huge man in his early sixties, with a round, balding head and a very expressive green and blue plaid waistcoat. "My dear fellow!" he said, coming forward to kiss Bernard on both cheeks.

"Please sit down," Bernard said shortly. "Leon, I had no notion you would be calling at this time of day. It must be still short of eight o'clock." He made his way across the length of the room to one of the Louis XV chairs, acutely aware of the rapping of the cane on the floor.

"It is short of eight. My estimable wife is still abed with a washcloth over her eyes. However," his eyes twinkled, "this is the only time of day I am not working. I hope I didn't wake you."

"I've been up since dawn. Laurent, you may bring us some coffee." Bernard settled into the less-rickety chair. "What is it you wished to see me about?"

"Something that may be of great interest to you." Leon leaned forward on the couch. "May I ask for your confidential silence in the name of our shared Brotherhood?"

Frowning, Bernard replied, "Of course. If you need it. What is this about?" While he and M. Carvalho had been brothers in Grand Orient, one of the several Masonic fraternities of Paris, for many years, Bernard had never reached the highest ranks. M. Carvalho, on the other hand, was the immediate past Master of their lodge, and perhaps one of the most exalted members in the capital who had worked with the most legendary figures in Masonry for forty years. He had never asked for Bernard's help before, and that he should do so now was more than unusual.

Carvalho steepled his fingers. "It's a complicated situation, and one that requires more than a little delicacy. As you know, it is no secret that since the war relations have remained strained with Germany. You, better than almost anyone, are aware of the destruction left by the War of 1870. Paris almost destroyed, widows and children starving, the flower of our manhood left on the field of Sedan, France stripped of dignity and honor, but as importantly, almost orphaned of our national identity, and of those institutions and customs which allow us to be one of the freest people in the world, a capital of culture and beauty, blessed with generous laws and tolerances."

Bernard could not help but smile. With his overblown style, Leon could make the simplest statement seem like a recitative. "You sound like the barricades of 1848, my friend."

"I was on the barricades of 1848 when I was a young student. I fit behind them then," Leon laughed. "I believe your man is here with the coffee."

"Come in, Laurent. Put it here on the table." The manservant set down the coffee service of delicate Limoges porcelain. "That will be all. You may close the doors as you retire."

As Laurent closed the heavy double doors, Bernard leaned to pour the coffee. "You were saying?"

"I need your help to catch a spy."


Passion's Dance is $2.99 on Amazon. It's a fun book and I think you'll enjoy it!

Comments

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
kickstand75
Mar. 24th, 2015 07:23 pm (UTC)
I purchased. :) I'll let ya know what I think. Sounds great.
shezan
Mar. 28th, 2015 04:35 am (UTC)
YAYYYYYY!!!
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )