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Borgia Fever – Passion and Poison by Michelle Kelly

Borgia FeverIf 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 KellyMichelle 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.

Guest Blogger: Kelly Lawrence aka Michelle Kelly

Writing a Regency

The Virgin CourtesanJust what is it about a Regency hero that is so sexy? I must admit when I was first asked to write a Regency romance I rolled my eyes a little. I’ve never been a huge fan of Jane Austen – shock horror for a romance writer, but I write on the erotic side of the romance genre, and that period always brings to mind tea in china cups and old ladies in crinoline. Not very sexy, surely.

The more I dug into the period though, the more I realised why it remains a popular era for readers of hot and steamy romance. The erotic potential was spine-tingling, in fact. It was a time when handsome men in tight breeches danced under the stars with women who had never been kissed, while beautiful courtesans were the toast and talk of the town. A time of men fighting duels to the death to defend the women they loved, of notorious gambling halls, decadent fashion, daring revolutions and whispers of scandal. If I had to sum the period up in one word it would be this; juicy.

And the men! Pirates, spies, smugglers and highwaymen…this was the ultimate age of the bad boy. So, pen in hand and those hot guys in tight breeches firmly on my mind, I sat down to write my first Regency romance. Blushing courtesans, mysterious highwaymen, duels at dawn and a lot of steamy erotic scenes. It’s the most fun I’ve ever had with my clothes on. Here’s a little sneak peek of ‘The Virgin Courtesan’ out in ebook 1st October with Harlequin Books. Enjoy….


Extract from ‘The Virgin Courtesan’.

Juliana shifted uncomfortably in the rattling stagecoach, trying to calm the nerves that assailed her. She drew her pelisse around the white muslin gown that was far too revealing, with its plunging décolleté, to be any use against a chilly spring night. It wasn’t just the cold that was making her shiver; she was on her way for an intimate evening with Lord Salter, and if the night’s events went as planned she would officially be a courtesan. The new toast of Covent Garden….

The stage rattled on. Taking a peek out, Juliana saw that it was near dark, and jumped at the sudden hoot of an owl. They were some way outside London now, in woods Juliana was unsure of. Quite why Lord Salter couldn’t simply receive her at his town house, which would be far more usual, she had no idea. She began to wish she had accepted the gin that Rose had offered her before she left. But on an empty stomach, she had not deemed it wise.

The coach came to an abrupt halt, causing Juliana to drop her fan. Cursing in a most unladylike manner she went to see what the problem was, then froze in horror as she heard the words every night traveller dreaded.

‘Stand and deliver!’

A highwayman. Though the laws against them were stricter than ever and the penalty, death, still they were known to menace English roads. Desperate and dangerous men, most of them, in spite of the romantic tales of ‘gentleman highwaymen’ that went around. No woman who repeated such tales had ever actually encountered one, Juliana wagered.

Nevertheless, as the coach door was flung open, the first impression Juliana got, in spite of her fear, was of a tall and handsome man, with a full sensual mouth under his mask and strong lean thighs in his breeches.

‘Your purse, Madam,’ he insisted in tones that struck her as well cultured for such a devil. Then she saw the pistol in his hand and heard the terrified pleading of the stage coach driver, and his face swam before her, then vanished into darkness.


Michelle KellyAuthor Bio

Kelly has been writing since she was able to pick up a pen and wrote her first novel, an historical romance about Anne Boleyn, at the tender age of twelve; it consists of 200 notebook pages tied together with string and still takes pride of place in her grandmothers’ display cabinet. ‘Wicked Games’ was her first book, a true-life erotic memoir published by Black Lace on 4th July 2013. Her first erotic romance for Harlequin Historical Undone ‘The Virgin Courtesan’ is published in October 2013 under ‘Michelle Kelly’ and she also writes New Adult romance, with ‘Unconditional’, the first in a trilogy being published later this year and has a writing guide ‘Passionate Plots’ being published late 2013. She has recently become a practicing Buddhist, mainly because it keeps her sane, and writes regularly about this www.meditatelikeagirl.com.