Yes I’m smiling. Last night friends and family celebrated with the requisite champagne and cheesecake. This new release makes 6 books in two years. I’m not as prolific as some, but I am steady and I have a lot of stories tucked away in my imagination. I long for a cable to plug into my ear so I can upload all the stories in my head directly to the laptop. The backlist would be HUGE.
Loving Leonardo by Rose Anderson
*** A Two Lips Reviews Recommended Read ***
A CataRomance Sensual Reads
Reviewer’s Choice Winner for Historical Romance
A Victorian polyamorous love story
with a touch of reader-interactive art history
The adventure continues…
Loving Leonardo – The Quest
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Art Historian Nicolas Halstead never could have imagined a book Leonardo da Vinci created for his lover Salai existed, let alone lead to subtle declarations of love worked into da Vinci masterpieces. Nor did he ever picture himself a married man in a polyamorous relationship.
Happy and content, 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 seedy deviant underworld of Victorian London. It soon becomes clear that Conte Acario Bruno lives, and the madman wants far more than Leonardo’s book. He wants Nicolas dead and Luca for himself.
Ellie turned and my arms enfolded her. She murmured against my lips, "That was wonderful."
Luca said, "That was beautiful i miei amori."
Surprised, Ellie started. She laughed. "I didn't hear you come in."
"I tried to come earlier, but there were too many people in the hall. Instead I finished my bath and came when I could enter unseen. I'm glad I entered when I did. I felt the power of your coupling as if I were between you."
Ellie smiled coquettishly, "As we're students of empiricism, I believe we'll have to test that theory, won't we Nicolas?"
"Indeed." What a minx she was. Luca laughed.
Without preamble, she said, "Gentlemen, excuse me if you will. My bath will be brief."
I hurried through my own, in part because the water had gone cold, in part because Luca brought his book with him. Within minutes Ellie and I were ready to plot our course of action for the next day.
Joining Luca at the desk, we huddled over da Vinci's book with mirror and extra lamp. I looked at the text again. It was tucked into the individual angel wing feathers wrong-side-up where the sfumato blurred the feathers into the surroundings.
Luca translated the Italian for us again. "Go no further my love, lest you read the first. Seek La Scapigliata. She will show you the way."
Ellie's eyes were sparkling. "I can't wait."
We spent the next several hours discussing the extraordinary genius of the subtle gradation of tone found in sfumato. Unlike other artists of the age, Leonardo applied his range of earthy greens, blues, and browns in a glaze, each watered-down color precisely laid over a base coat. Adding form and depth to the subject and background, this fine application of color allowed the original layer to show through each subsequent layer.
Knowing technique like I did, I explained how this process of layering wasn't generally used among his contemporaries because it was time consuming, taking days to dry between applications. His system allowed him to create the illusion of depth and distance. As an artist in the truest sense of the gift, Leonardo approached painting and sculpture from the mathematical perspective of sacred geometry. This perfect symmetry was what drew the eye all these centuries later.
Though my gaze was drawn time and again to the sfumato on each page, we'd agreed, for the time being, to wait and unravel the mystery one page and one message at a time. My imagination devoured the explicit illustrations on each slowly-turned sheet. Luca's eyes met mine over a particularly arousing scene. Returning to the script, he translated for us a most beautiful expression of love.
Were I blind, my ears would hear your breath and heartbeat.
Were I deaf as well, my nose would find you by the warm scent of your skin.
Were I deprived of sight and sound and scent, I'd seek your taste.
Were I unable to see and hear and smell and taste, my hands would reach for you.
Were I a husk of a man, my heart would know you.
Ever the minx, Ellie closed the book and set it, and our theories, aside. She went to her trunk and withdrew three silk scarves. These we tied around our heads like blindfolds. Feeling our way to the canopied bed, she drew the velvet curtains closed and we immersed ourselves in total darkness. Deprived of sight, we gave over to our other senses.
I could see why Leonardo blindfolded himself. Submerged in touch and sound, scent and taste, I understood why he sought this heightened sensitivity. Deprived of sight, it was as if I'd been handed a key to unlock my other senses. The dichotomy of experiencing Luca's firm well-muscled body and Ellie's soft slender curves in complete sightlessness thrilled me beyond comprehension. Their breathy sighs and gasps filled my ears. Even the small hairs on my skin were as whiskers on a cat with which to feel their bodies in the stygian night.
I maneuvered on and around my lovers. The lavender ghost of their soap mingled with their heady musk of desire, and I tasted the salt and clean sweat of exertion upon their skin. All of it: sound, taste, touch, and scent painted a picture in my imagination. They were two exquisite dreams made flesh, and I swear I saw the glow of their souls through my blind eyes. We praised one another's perfection with an eye for detail that da Vinci himself would have surely applauded.
Tomorrow we'd find his La Scapigliata.