Black Creativity Giveaway
Giving the Body
About the Author
Henry Corrigan is a bisexual author, poet and playwright who wants to write every kind of story. He knows this sounds pretentious but screw it, he’s going for it. Always an avid reader, Henry started writing poetry in middle school but it wasn’t until he started writing erotica in high school that he really learned the mechanics of writing. What started out as private stories and love letters, soon became publications in anthologies.
To date, he has self-published a novella, Carnal Theory, and written one full length dark fiction novel that he is currently shopping around. He also has the rough drafts of two science fiction books, one horror novella, one play, four children's books, numerous poems and several song lyrics. Above all, he wants to be known for not staying where he’s been put. To always surprise people, especially himself. Because that's what makes it fun. The feeling that even he doesn't know what he’s going to do next.
Connect with the Author online:
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We start every night with fireworks. Even through the heavy curtain I can smell it, the industrially acrid scent mixing with the salty hops of beer and fried foods. My stomach rumbles and Scottie nudges me gently.
“I’ll buy you a hotdog after this is over,” he says, which makes me smile.
“Just don’t let Marlina put any hot peppers on it this time.”
Marlina, Scottie’s valet, slaps my shoulder. “Wimp,” she says, leaning against me like I’m a tree, which for someone like Marlina who’s five-foot-four, I might as well be.
Out in the arena the fireworks die down but not the roar of the crowd. Twenty thousand people stand ready as Scottie’s music hits.
“Ladies and gentlemen!” peals the announcer. “Please welcome the XZW General Manager...Scottiiiiieeeeeee Class!”
Scottie’s music is a chorus of regal horns, like the king descending from on high. I kiss him as he steps through the curtain, Marlina at his side.
They hit the ramp with their noses in the air like they’re snorting cocaine straight outta the clouds. I smile as Scottie twirls his cane with each strut.
By the time they reach the ring, I’ve got my game face on. My sneer stretching ’til it could whip the skin off somebody else’s face. I glance behind me at the crew guys running back and forth and the script helpers making final tweaks, but it’s what I don’t see that worries me.
Luke should be here, and my gut can’t help but worry. If he’s drunk it’ll screw up more than our angle, but before I can think about it too much, my music hits, all shrieking guitars and pounding drums.
Time to be the Breaker of Men.
I walk out to a sea of boos and hisses, which I swallow down like candy. I make a point of snapping at those who reach out for a high-five.
Down in the ring, Marlina puts a hand on Scottie’s shoulder and starts looking for an exit. But Scottie doesn’t run. That’s not who he is and more importantly, that’s not who he plays.
He waits until I’m through the ropes before he steps to me.
“What the hell do you want, Breaker?” he shouts and I have to fight not to smile. Nobody else can put a quaver in their voice and make it crack on the mic.
I hit everybody with my best growl. “Sorry to interrupt the grandstanding of a crippled old man...”
The boos double up now Scottie’s beloved and everybody loves to hate me. Never mind the fact that I’m actually six months older than Scottie. The feeling in the arena is like static sparking between my fingers.
“But I’d like to talk about a sniveling, ungrateful, backstabbing little bitch who got very, very lucky last week.”
A cheer goes up. Some start to shout Luke’s name while others chant ‘Live-and-Primed! Live-and-Primed!’ I give it a three-count before continuing.
“Now, this bitch, used to be something special. I thought I saw...” I hold up my thumb and forefinger. “A sliver of talent there. So, I did what any good owner would do. I took it home, I fed it, I trained it. I brought it to the top of the food chain. And what do I get for my trouble?”
People are starting to clap now. Signs with Luke’s picture get held up high. Another two-count and then I scream right in Scottie’s face.
“I get a super kick to the back of the head!”
The crowd goes nuts and now even Scottie and Marlina are smiling.
“I want him. Do you hear me? I want Luke Jackson! Now what is the general manager, gonna do about it?”
Scottie looks me up and down and sniffs, like I don’t have a good six inches on him.
“Listen Breaker, I shouldn’t have to explain this to you, but you’ve always been a little slow, so I’ll make this real easy.”
I snarl at Scottie but he just keeps on rolling.
“I don’t owe you any favors. You don’t have any friends. And you definitely,” he taps me in the chest with his cane. “Don’t get to make demands of me. So why don’t you take all that dead weight and go find somebody who gives a-”
My hips clicks as I kick Scottie in the midsection, but my boy sells it just like we planned. I start hammering on his back with my forearms while Marlina tries to pull me off. Hauling him up onto my shoulders makes my back creak, but I do it anyway because the Death-Valley Driver is what I’m known for.
Quick as a rocket, Marlina hits me with the same padded, sequined fist that brought her five championships and I roll with it, being sure to drop Scottie in a way that doesn’t hurt him.
Marlina makes to run but I’m too big to be done yet. I grab her by the throat and start bellowing in her face. Scottie comes off the mat swinging his cane, but I grab him by the throat too and that’s exactly when Luke’s music hits.
Luke’s music is all frenetic beats, like the musicians were ripped on speed and playing ’til their hearts gave out.
Luke comes charging down the ramp, his manager Mr. Best right on his heels and I only have to look to know Luke’s straight as an arrow which kicks all the worries right out of my head.
I let go of Scottie and Marlina and turn as Luke baseball slides beneath the ropes.
Before he’s even on his feet, I level a haymaker at him, but Luke sidesteps it easily, almost too easily. Bouncing off the ropes, he comes flying back and hits me with a dropkick that I sell even though I have to grit my teeth as I hit the mat. Even rolling to the outside, little sparklers of pain shoot up my spine.
Luke follows me and we begin to brawl right in front of the fans. Clotheslines, chops, a chair-shot for each of us but it’s how fast Luke is moving that almost scares me.
We’ve been brawling for at least a minute and he’s not even slightly out of breath. His abs fucking ripple as he grabs the ring bell and charges me.
I barely have time to duck. The edge scrapes my cheek as it passes. If he’d hit me, my head would be up in the rafters by now.
After that though, there’s not a thing out of place. The refs and security people show up right on time. Luke and I end up on opposite sides of the ring, shouting at each other and the crowd eats it up.
I let security drag me away, but even as I make the ramp, I can’t decide whether I’m happy, surprised, or jealous at how well Luke is moving. The urge to talk to him is strong but by the time I make the curtain, Luke’s long gone and Mr. Best along with him.
Scottie and Marlina wave me over to the locker rooms and I follow, stopping just long enough to wish the tag teams up next luck in officially starting the show.
The night moves on.
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“What now, boss?” Shadow asked. “You gonna make sure she’s all right?”
“Can’t. We gotta prep for this fight.”
“I got this,” he said. “That girl’s in pain. You can see it on her face.”
“Ain’t my problem right now, Shadow. You are. You get hurt, and Cain’ll have my hide.”
The big man chuckled. “That’s true. But Cain knows I can take care of myself in this kind of situation. I was built for fighting.”
My gaze snapped to him. “This ain’t no game, Shadow. Those men would as soon kill you before you got in the ring as not.”
“Fully aware,” he said, not fazed in the least.
“Come on,” I said. “Ain’t got time to fuck with her. She came into this on her own, she can go out on her own. Either way, after tonight, I’m done with her.”
“Uh huh.” Shadow chuckled as he walked back to our pit. “Let me know how that goes.”
I stayed for a while, watching as Noelle took off her gloves. She left her wraps on and used a towel to wipe her face off. Then she calmly reapplied the Vaseline to her face and readied for the next fight. Thankfully, I didn’t see any cuts to her face or obvious bruising except to her right shoulder. With any luck, that could work to her advantage.
Then I realized what I was thinking. The longer she kept this up, the more likely she was to get hurt. My gut clenched, and I wasn’t sure why. I’d already decided I was cutting her loose after tonight. As I continued to watch her, she glanced up, then did a double take. Yeah, she noticed me.
I refused to drop my gaze first, needing her to know how angry I was at her. Her lips parted, then her face flushed. She closed her eyes and winced hard before opening them again and meeting my gaze. She nodded once, knowing she was gone from my gym in that moment. Then she went back to work, readying herself for her next match. Which, I realized, was Shadow.
“Motherfuck,” I muttered. “Just Goddamned motherfuck!”
I stomped over to her, leaning in close to inspect her face. As her trainer, it was an automatic reaction. “You hurt?”
She shook her head, her gaze darting around. “What are you doing here? You can’t be here!”
“I could say the exact fuckin’ thing to you, Brawler.” I let my anger show. She might as well know how much fucking trouble she was in.
“Look, you need to go away. Leave me alone.”
“Why? I’m your trainer. Right?”
“Not after tonight either.”
She winced and looked away, but nodded. “I hear you.”
“Why, Noelle? Why would you throw away your future for a quick buck?”
Her head snapped back in my direction. “Because none of your fuckin’ business, that’s why.”
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Sean got up, needing to move around, to dispel nervous energy.
“Oh, sit down, for heaven’s sake.” She smacked the ottoman in front of her. He took it as an invitation but reminded himself that he had to go slow, to let her lead. He sat, keeping his distance. But still so close he could smell her, her skin, her lotion, her very essence. It was intoxicating. He clenched his jaw against it. “You are so … cute.” She bent one knee and pressed the toe of her other foot into his thigh.
Okay, so this was torture. Sean channeled his inner big boy and smiled at her, got up, and sat on the couch. He needed space. “I am cute,” he said, sipping his water. “You’re beautiful. But surely you know that.”
She snorted and looked up at the ceiling. “You really do know how to bring out the worst in a girl, don’t you, mister man?”
“I don’t know what you mean.”
She glared at him long enough to make him uncomfortable. “I’ve had way too much to drink. Again.” She got up, swaying a bit before she righted herself and headed for the bathroom. Sean waited, taking deep, calming breaths. She returned, looking flushed, her hair tumbling in soft curls around her face. Sean had to clench his fists tight enough for it to hurt to stop himself from grabbing her, dragging her onto the couch, showing her how a real man treated a woman as magnificent as her.
She walked up to where he was sitting, slouched down into the too-soft leather, and sat in front of him on the ottoman. “I like you,” she said, putting her hands on his knees. “I like you a lot. But I’m not … I mean, we should be friends. We’d be really great friends.”
He took her hands and pulled, gently, so she rose and shifted forward, ending up on his lap. Once there, she curled into him, knees up, arms around his neck. “I would love to be your friend,” he said, stroking her hair. “But I’d also like to be more.”
She was shaking all over, which made him doubt himself and this whole damn scene. Closing his eyes, he pressed his nose into her hair, sucking in deep breaths of her. “I want to be more for you, Roz. So much more.”
“I don’t know,” she whispered, letting go of him. “I don’t know anything anymore.”
“Tell you what,” he said, keeping his arms around her, holding her, like he sensed she wanted him to. “Let’s eat, watch a mindless movie, get a good night’s sleep, and go to a horse race tomorrow. I hear there is one. And it’s kind of a big deal.”
She nodded. He held on to her a little longer, hoping she wouldn’t get up anytime soon but knowing this was the extent of things for now. Which was fine with him. Going slow was his superpower. All the better to enjoy the final result, which, he told himself, would be a mind-bender for both of them. He grinned and pressed his lips to her temple, keeping it soft, non-committal.
The speed at which she flipped around, straddled him, and had her lips locked on his left him paralyzed with shock for a few seconds—but only a few. He met her halfway after the initial surprise wore off. Their lips smashed together, teeth clicked in an inexperienced way. Her lush body pressed against him left him breathless in a way that should embarrass him but didn’t. The whole thing was surreal. He wasn’t sure where to put his hands. Her desperation was palpable, he could almost taste it.
As soon as he identified it as that—an attempt to prove to him that she could do “this,” whatever “this” was—he broke the kiss. “Hold on a second,” he said.
“Why? Isn’t this what you want?”
He was struck dumb for a moment, admitting that it was very much what he wanted. And that she was so damn stunning right then, lips full, face flushed, curls framing her face. He took a deep breath and put his hand alongside her cheek. She clutched it, and that desperate aura slowly began to fade. “Breathe,” he said. “Just take a minute and breathe.”
She blinked fast, then sucked in a breath and exhaled, never taking her gaze from his. “You must think I’m some kind of a…”
“Fascinating woman who worked hard to help her husband become successful, but was denied the most basic of spousal privileges—that of being told you’re perfect and beautiful multiple times a day. And being made love to in a way that you deserve, also multiple times a day.”
She made a sound of disbelief and raised an eyebrow at him.
He grinned back. “Well, you know, there was a time when I could’ve done that. And while those days are behind me, I make up for quantity by ensuring top quality, if you know what I mean.” He was spellbound by her, unable to take his gaze off her even as his body was painfully ready to scoop her up and take her into a bedroom, or this couch, or the floor and prove his qualifications. Although he knew it was soon. He shifted underneath her, trying to get comfortable but not wanting her to remove the lovely warmth of her body from his.
“You’re a charmer, I’ll give you that.” She got to her feet, keeping her hands on his shoulders, which put her boobs at his eye level, which made everything worse and better at the same time. He gave himself a mental pat on the back for keeping his hands off them, took her hands, pushed her up and away from him.
The Final Decree
The Final Decree
I stumbled forward, fueled only by hate.
The soldiers of the god-king had taken everything from me, but I would be safe once I crossed the border. Denying them the satisfaction of my death would be my final act of defiance.
The winter winds rushed past, as bitter and cold as my thoughts. I walked the long road through the Kingdom of Luka alone. I was a stranger—a random woman—nothing more than some wraith passing by, devoid of purpose. People regarded me with suspicion, and I hurried along. I tried, at least, until I tripped and fell.
I hadn’t eaten.
Snow provided little in the way of sustenance. It sated my thirst somewhat, but my gut twisted in agony. It felt like my stomach was consuming my insides, cannibalizing the other organs to keep me alive. I knew it wasn’t, but my nightmares had been filled with such imagery, and it was all I could dwell on.
I pulled my stolen blanket tightly over my body, unable to stand. With gritted teeth, I continued at a crawl. I should have found shelter and rested, but I was on the edge of town, by the first few houses that lined the road.
When merchants rode by on horses and carts, I glanced up, hoping they would spill something edible. They didn’t, of course—no successful merchant would—and I contemplated my situation with dreaded realization.
I might die here. In some town whose name I didn’t even know.
“That’s a nice blanket.”
The tone put me on edge. It wasn’t a compliment, but an appraisal.
The Cursed Princess
The Cursed Princess
“You’d better let me go,” I threatened, raising my voice even louder. “My friends are waiting for me to pick them up downstairs. They’ll come looking.”
I clamped down on my shaking muscles and willed myself to stand firm. Snakes of fear slithered in my gut and I tried valiantly not to shake.
“No one is coming, Little Female,” one scoffed. There was a unanimous chuckle from the rest. I had a sinking feeling they knew I was bluffing.
The one who was holding my neck brushed a piece of hair aside and brought his nose down, inhaling right behind my ear. “Richer than the bouquets of the orient--human fear.”
Human. My mind fixated on the word and I tucked it away for later.
“Oh, I’m going to enjoy you, Female.”
The hot air from his words sent chills through my body.
“Don’t scare her now,” said the one standing in front of me.
“We just want a little fun,” whined the one who held my arm from behind. “Her flesh will be decadent mixed with all that fear.”
These homeless men were clearly psychotic—they had to be on something. To resort to cannibalism attested to the state of their mental instability. I pushed through the disorientation of the situation and grasped for rational knowledge. “Let me go. Right now!” I demanded, praying that someone would hear me.
That filthy fingernail—for I refused to call it a claw—crawled across the side of my neck. There was a sting of pain as if I had been scratched by a cat. I knew the wound wasn’t deep. It was the infection from the filth that sent my gut churning and it was the last straw. I lifted my foot and slammed the stiletto spike of my high heel into what I hoped was his foot.
I had done it so carefully, making sure that none of them saw. Yet they had moved so fast that the spiked heal of the shoe bit into the concrete of the parking ramp. The contact reverberated through the joints of my ankle and knee. I hissed and tried to ignore the pain. They laughed at me.
“You’ll be sorry,” I promised.
We all knew it was a lie.
Licking his lips, the one in front of me leaned forward.
Fight! I wouldn’t go down without clawing and scratching. It wouldn’t be much, but it would be valiant. I braced for his impact, preparing to slam my head into his.
“Unhand her!” a masculine voice shouted from the ramp. I heard the pounding of shoes as another man sprinted toward us. The next moment, however, the monstrous men let go of me, shoving me backward.
I wobbled, unsteady on my feet, but before I could fall over, a firm hand reached out to steady me. Disoriented, I glanced down and saw the long, elegant fingers that had caught hold of me. They were clean with no claws, and their grip was strong—holding me up rather than entrapping me.
It took a moment for my balance to return. Only then did the stranger retract his hand, but I still felt his solid presence behind me. Perhaps I should have been more frightened at the arrival of another man. But instead, some kernel deep inside me stirred to life—a feeling I couldn’t place sang in my very bones, and I decided to trust my rescuer.
About the Book:
An out-of-place American is discovering that a fishing hamlet in El Salvador just might be his own slice of paradise. But, the simplicity and beauty of village life is just one thread of a beautifully woven story of a people, a place, and a time in Las Palomitas: The Little Doves by Laura S. Valenti [October 5, 2021, 2Nimble]. The complicated machinations of government and high society in Central America in 1980 provide an intricate backdrop for this story inspired by true events both in the author’s own life and world history.
Las Palomitas is the tale of a student who stumbled into a peaceful life on a Salvadoran beach as a civil war brews and his life collides with that of a woman with a past more byzantine and deadly than his own. In falling in love with the recently returned local, he finds comfort and inspiration. As the war takes hold, they struggle to save one another and the village and people they love.
“While this story is written about the struggles between the US and its Latin American neighbors forty years ago, conflict is still ongoing and we’re no closer to a satisfactory conclusion,” Valenti says. “This story illuminates how government policies and procedures impact the lives of the people involved.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Laura L. Valenti is a freelance journalist and author, former resident of El Salvador and volunteer aid worker in several Central American countries. Las Palomitas: The Little Doves is borne of her passion for the people of El Salvador and the Latin culture that has permeated her entire life. After returning to America she embraced another small paradise, living, learning and writing about the people of the Ozarks including seven popular regional novels. She and her husband Warren raised four children and have several grandsons and remain sequestered in the Ozark hills in yet another delightful fishing sanctuary.
Connect with Laura L. Valenti at LauraLValenti.com and Facebook.com/Laura-L-Valenti-163573670396473.
Las Palomitas: The Little Doves will be available at Amazon, Bookshop.org, and wherever books are sold.
Eleonora and Joseph
Welcome, dear readers! I am very excited to be hosting a Book Blast for Author Julieta Almeida Rodrigues! Her latest book, Eleonora and Joseph: Passion, Tragedy, and Revolution in the Age of Enlightenment, sounds like a fascinating read and I bet it would make for a fabulous movie! I hope you enjoy learning more about the book! Don't forget to enter the giveaway to win an eBook!
Eleonora and Joseph: Passion, Tragedy, and Revolution in the Age of Enlightenment by Julieta Almeida Rodrigues
Publication Date: July 21, 2020
New Academia Publishing/The Spring
Paperback & eBook; 198 pages
Genre: Historical Fiction/Biographical
The novel opens with aristocratic Eleonora Fonseca Pimentel pleading with the High Court of Naples to be beheaded instead of hanged like a criminal. One of the leading revolutionaries of her time, Eleonora contributed to the establishment of the Neapolitan Republic, based on the ideals of the French Revolution. Imprisoned in 1799 after the return of the Bourbon Monarchy - due to her work as editor-in-chief of Il Monitore Napoletano - and while waiting to be sentenced, she writes a memoir. Here, she discusses not only her revolutionary enthusiasm, but also the adolescent lover who abandoned her, Joseph Correia da Serra.
While visiting Monticello many years later, Joseph discovers Eleonora's manuscript in Thomas Jefferson's library. Now retired, Jefferson is committed to founding the University of Virginia and entices Correia with a position in the institution, once it opens. As the two philosophes explore Eleonora's writing through the lens of their own lives, achievements, and follies, they share many intimate secrets.
Told from Eleonora and Joseph's alternating points of view, the interwoven first-person narratives follow the characters from the elegant salons of Naples to the halls of Monticello, from the streets of European capitals such as Lisbon, London, and Paris to the cultured new world of Philadelphia and the chic soirées in Washington.
Eleonora and Joseph were both prominent figures of the Southern European Enlightenment. Together with Thomas Jefferson, they formed part of The Republic of Letters, a formidable network of thinkers who radically influenced the intellectual world in which they lived - and which we still inhabit today.
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Praise"Rodrigues' writing is beautiful, and she brings the historical characters to life. The novel is told in alternating chapters, interspersing the conversations between Joseph and Jefferson at Monticello with Eleonora's memoir, which Joseph is reading. The scenes at Monticello are fascinating, with Joseph and Jefferson discussing a wide range of topics, including slavery, revolution, and science. Rodrigues makes the reader sympathize with the protagonists, and the book left me wanting to read more, especially about Eleonora." - HISTORICAL NOVEL SOCIETY REVIEW
"Eleonora and Joseph is a passionate novel of love and revolution. In 1799, Eleonora Pimentel stands before the High Court of the Kingdom of Naples. She has been accused of treason. During her trial, Eleonora pens a memoir, giving details of the life events that led up to her arrest. Eleonora's life was revolutionary in thought, word, and deed.Julieta Almeida Rodrigues' Portuguese roots shine brightly in this romantic historical novel. The narrative is fictional, yet full of historical accuracy." - READERS' FAVORITE REVIEW
"The complex, contradictory characterizations and historical details of the Enlightenment era are skillfully handled and clarified in straightforward but descriptive prose that will satisfy both academic and non-academic readers. The most interesting player of all is Eleonora, a "martyr of liberty" whose illustrious life ends tragically at the gallows in 1799 with some of her fellow revolutionaries in Naples." - THE US REVIEW OF BOOKS REVIEW
"Julieta Almeida Rodrigues brings these colorful historical figures to life and marries their worlds in a narrative that is vividly written, capturing not just their lives, but an era on the cusp of unprecedented social, political, and cultural change. As Thomas Jefferson plays a key role in creating the circumstances which bring Eleonora's journal - and its revelations - to new life years after its creation, readers receive a satisfying contrast of European and American environments that embraces and explores moral, ethical, and social conundrums alike." - MIDWEST BOOK REVIEW, Donovan's Literary Services
"Brimming with pathos and rich in character, this is a knockout... Lush and electrifying, Rodrigues's vibrant tale about love, morality, and duty is a searing depiction of the Enlightenment. Rodrigues's intelligent writing brings the era alive while revealing the complexity of her vividly drawn characters. By turns luminous and tragic, the novel will ensnare readers from the first few lines and lingers in the memory long after they turn the last page." - THE PRAIRIES BOOK REVIEW
"Eleonora and Joseph is my best read of the year so far. It's rich in history, character, and flair. The story is told with a genuineness that prods the heart. It evokes profound questions that linger behind long after you turn the last page. Considering these factors and the impeccable editing, I rate it four out of four stars. Julieta's work holds so much history, passion and utter brilliance within its pages that I would recommend it to anyone interested in history." - ONLINEBOOKCLUB REVIEW
"This book allows the reader into the inner workings of this radical time where many opposing ideals were fought and died for. It is refreshing as a lover of historical fiction to read an original story like Eleonora and Joseph that brings to life important historical characters and events from a fresh new angle and lens." - NEW PAGES, Stephanie Renee dos Santos
About the Author
Julieta Almeida Rodrigues is a writer, professor, scholar, and interpreter. Eleonora and Joseph: Passion, Tragedy, and Revolution in the Age of Enlightenment (New Academia Publishing) is her debut novel. Born and raised in Portugal, Rodrigues earned a PhD at Columbia University, where the renowned Margaret Mead was her dissertation sponsor. Rodrigues is the author of two collections of short fiction, The Rogue and Other Portuguese Stories and On the Way to Red Square (both also by New Academia Publishing). The latter is a fictionalized account of her life in the diplomatic circles of Moscow in the 1980s. She also published a narrative work about Sintra, Portugal, titled Hora Crepuscular/ Drawing Dusk/La Hora Crepuscular (Agir, Execução Gráfica). She is a member of the Pen Club of Portugal, the Fulbright Commission Team of Evaluators in Portugal (2014 Prize for International Cooperation, the Prince of Asturias Foundation), and of CLEPUL (Center for Lusophone and European Literatures and Cultures), Faculty of Humanities, the University of Lisbon. She has taught at the University of Lisbon and at Georgetown University, and has been a Visiting Scholar at the New School (twice). She has spoken at the Foreign Service Institute, U.S. Department of State, The Chawton House Library in the United Kingdom, The International Conference on the Short Story, The American Portuguese Studies Association, and the Historical Writers of America, among other institutions and cultural societies. She is a member of the Steering Committee of the Historical Novel Society New York City Chapter and co-managed its Guest Speaker Program at the Jefferson Market Library from 2016 to 2020. She divides her time between Manhattan and Sintra, Portugal.
For more information, visit Julieta Almeida Rodrigues' website.
Book Blast ScheduleMonday, October 4
Passages to the Past
Tuesday, October 5
Cover Lover Book Review
Wednesday, October 6
Books, Ramblings, and Tea
Thursday, October 7
Bonnie Reads and Writes
Friday, October 8
100 Pages a Day
Saturday, October 9
Tuesday, October 12
A Darn Good Read
Wednesday, October 13
Thursday, October 14
Reading is My Remedy
Friday, October 15
Michelle the PA Loves to Read
Saturday, October 16
The Cozy Book Blog
Monday, October 18
The Book Junkie Reads
Wednesday, October 20
I'm Into Books
Thursday, October 21
Carole Rae's Random Ramblings
GiveawayEnter to win an eBook of Eleonora and Joseph: Passion, Tragedy, and Revolution in the Age of Enlightenment by Julieta Almeida Rodrigues!
The giveaway is open to US addresses only and ends on October 21st. You must be 18 or older to enter.
Eleonora and Joseph
Nissa was not the kind of girl who put up with shit from anyone. Pushing her way through the crowded tube platform and toward the green-tiled tunnel leading to the stairs —and shoving aside a morphie begging for change—she wished the ancient escalators still worked. Not that much in London had worked since the Anti-Monarchy riots in 2040, the year of her birth—the riots where her parents had died doing nothing more than trying to make their way home to her and her grandmother.
Nana had been gone for twelve years now, leaving Nissa alone in the flat in Camden Town, next to what was left of Regent’s Park, but she was used to it. Being on her own since the age of seventeen had taught her to be independent, street-smart, and savvy about the rough world she lived in. She knew how to walk through a dark neighborhood without getting mugged, knew what to do about it if it did happen. She went where she liked, slept with whomever she liked, then kicked him out the next day without looking back. She was used to being entirely without connections, and that was exactly how she wanted things.
And being on her own meant there was no one to miss her if things went the way she hoped they would tonight.
Using her elbows and the occasional stomp of her stiletto-heeled boots, she finally got to the stairs, her legs pumping as she moved toward the small halo of dark sky above. Careful to keep a watchful eye on the others around her, she gripped her stunstick in her hand in case anyone tried anything. These dense crowds were even more dangerous than walking down a dark, empty street alone. Not that she would usually be so foolish, armed or not.
She was always armed.
Smacking away a groping hand just as she reached the top of the stairs, she turned her head and caught sight of a cocky grin on a handsome face—a pretty enough blond boy with a wicked gleam in his cool, grey eyes.
“Sorry, love.” He winked at her, giving her a quick nod as she moved away.
He really was pretty, and perhaps on a different night she would have encouraged him, but she’d had her fill of beautiful boys. Tonight she had much more in mind, and it had taken her too damn long to get this invitation for her to risk screwing it up over a common beautiful boy.
The damp air hit her as she pushed her way outside into the cold night, stepping over a pile of broken concrete.
“So much for the joys of the New Democracy,” she muttered under her breath.
There was never anyone around to clean up the streets after a bombing, and you had to watch your step everywhere you went, other than in the most exclusive neighborhoods. But Nissa never went to such places.
She moved down the block, into the heart of the old theatre district that now housed nightclubs, pubs and cafés, shops selling leather goods, personal protection devices, and sex toys. Jagged bolts of neon light reflected in puddles in the street, making glowing pools of eerie watercolor. Noise came from every direction—the low rumble of voices, the rattle of an engine as a car, heavy with armor, passed by, the scratchy cry of a street player’s guitar somewhere, and in the distance, the shrill of sirens that seemed to be ever-present in London. She could smell the damp as it worked its way through her worn wool pea coat and into her bones, along with the scents of wet cement, smoke, the acrid smell of unwashed humanity, and the press of too damn many people.
Walking faster, she passed a group of morphies huddled in a doorway, a woman passed out in their midst as they muttered over her, passing a pipe around with shaking hands and glazed eyes. One called out to her, asking for money. She turned her head, moving faster. As if she’d be fool enough to take out her purse in Soho at night.
Anyway, she had someplace important to be, and she didn’t want to be late.
Someplace crucial—the place she’d dreamed of for years.
She turned the corner onto Shaftesbury Avenue, and there it was.
The old Palace Theatre stood like an elegant fortress of red brick and arched windows, surrounded by high, intricate, iron gates to keep the rabble out. Nissa pulled in a breath, ignoring the London stench.
She was here, at the most exclusive vampire club in London. The most exclusive sex club. There was a Midnight Playground in nearly every major city in Europe: Berlin, Paris, Rome, Madrid, Amsterdam, Prague. These places were nearly impossible to get into—for humans, anyway—and they never accepted anyone over thirty into their membership. At twenty-nine, Nissa was close to being excluded forever, but she’d managed it, finally. Or her friend Ilana had managed it for her.
She moved in, tucking her stunstick into the pocket of her coat and clipping it into its harness, then flipping open the hidden pocket that held her identification and invitation as she approached the gates. The bouncers were a pair of hulking, bald figures in black leather trench coats, arms crossed over massive chests.
She nodded to them. “I have an invitation.”
Holding it out, she pinched the heavy velum between her fingers, running her fingertips over the raised lettering and the embossed Celtic dragon’s head logo that matched the design in the center of the towering iron gates of the club.
One of the bouncers held his beefy hand out. “Let’s have a look.”
Nissa narrowed her eyes, looking for the telltale tinge of pink in the skin. Human. She supposed a vampire wouldn’t have to work as a gate bouncer. Vampires were an elite society—revered, feared. Desired.
She shivered even thinking about it, thinking about them. About the inherent sense of power that radiated from the few she’d ever come upon.
“Identification,” one of the enormous men demanded, and she handed it over. He glanced at the other man, holding out the invitation for him to peruse, as well as her ID.
“Is there a problem?” she asked, her heart thundering.
Both men turned to her. One held her identification up to the lamp mounted on the gate, then gave a sharp jerk of his chin. “You’re in, girl.”
Her heart lurched as the gate opened, and she stepped through and into another world altogether.
Immediately, the air seemed to clear of the ever-present London gloom, even to smell better, which was impossible, of course. But she was there, through the gate and walking up to the heavy iron doors, her boot heels ringing in her ears.
She was asked for her ID once more at the doors by another leather-clad bouncer, then she was ushered through, into a dark foyer lit only by red neon lights. There, an exquisite young woman in a short, tight leather dress palmed her identification card and silently helped her out of her coat, turning to take it away.
“Wait.” Nissa reached out and grabbed the girl’s shoulder. “Where are you taking my things?”
“You won’t need them here—everything you could ever need is inside. Everything, and things you’ve never imagined. Don’t worry, you’ll have your belongings back when you leave. If you do.”