If like me you were a fan of the Showtime series ‘The Borgias’ or more specifically of Francois Arnaud (Cesare Borgia) and his super tight black breeches, then you’ll understand why I chose Borgia Rome as the setting for my second slice of historical erotic romance for the Harlequin ‘Undone’ series.
Two main themes stood out for me while researching the period; passion and the art of poison. The Italians have often been perceived as a passionate lot, and the lustful, vengeful and decadent Borgia family probably contributed more than their fair share to this stereotype (although they were in fact Spanish by blood).
Nothing rouses some life-affirming erotic desire than a close brush with death, with may explain why lust was so readily in the air in Renaissance Rome, as when the key players of the age weren’t trying to get each other into bed, they were trying to kill one another off. In Borgia circles, poison was often the weapon of choice.
The high and holy of Rome were far from immune, with regular allegations of poisoning being aimed at each other by Cardinals and even Popes, in particular the notorious Pope Alexander, otherwise known as Rodrigo Borgia. His daughter, the infamous Lucrezia, reportedly had a special ‘poison ring’ made for her, with a small secret compartment in which she could keep a few drops of the mysterious Borgia poison, cantarella, should she need to murder someone at short notice. Pope Alexander and his children, Lucrezia and Cesare, were a legend in their own lifetime, and a dinner party invitation from the family was enough to fill their contemporaries with horror.
It was clear to me then that my story would revolve around these themes; poison, revenge, passion and of course lust. In ‘Borgia Fever’ Bella is an apothecary involved way over her head in a Borgia poison plot, and when the darkly seductive Marco comes to arrest her, well, it would be rude not to let them indulge their attraction for one another…
Extract from ‘Borgia Fever’.
He backed her against a stone wall, out of sight of the revellers, and she felt the cold against her back in stark contrast to the heat of him in front of her. His hips pressed against the folds of her skirt and she could feel his hardness against her as his tongue explored her mouth. There was no coolness to him now; she could feel the need in his body, in the way his hands gripped her, and she responded with a passion to match, a part of her hardly able to believe this was happening. His mouth moved away from hers only to leave a burning trail of kisses down her neck, over her collarbone and across the tops of her breasts where they swelled above the low neckline of her gown. She gasped as she felt her nipples stiffen under the thin material, wanting his mouth and hands around them. A growing need coiled in the depths of her body, chasing away any thoughts of caution. She was not Bella any longer, spending her days poring over her books or making up tinctures or bartering with merchants, she was a woman at the court of the Borgia, where pleasure was as important as duty. Where indeed, pleasure was a duty.
‘You’re wearing far too many clothes,’ he said.
‘Borgia Fever’ is published in ebook by Harlequin Mills and Boon on 2 Feb, available from all major digital retailers or directly from Harlequin.
Michelle Kelly is a writer, teacher and mother of two. having a passion for history and being a hopeless romantic (as well as having a thing for heroes in tight breeches) makes writing historical erotic romance something of a dream come true. As well as being the most fun she’s ever had with her clothes on.