March 10th, 2017

Winter Duet

Welcome Heloise West - Ardent

A big welcome today to Heloise West as part of her blog tour with Embrace the Rainbow Book Promotions for Ardent from Manifold Press.

Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your writing?
I can tell you I’m pretty boring; I live in rural Maine, work from home, and love to travel, read, and gardening. The most exciting thing in my life is what goes on in the movies inside my head.

Can you tell us about your new release? What inspired you to write it?
Ardent is the story of two young artists in Renaissance Florence falling in love and solving a murder. I’ve always thought the artists’ workshops during the time of the Medici would be an interesting place for fiction—the setting anyway, has been on the back burner for years.

Do you have any genres you prefer reading, and if so what are they? What book are you reading at the moment? What other novels do you adore/ writers you follow? Do you have a favourite genre that you like to write in? What book do you wish that you had written?
You know, I’ve never written anything Regency or Victorian, yet I absolutely love to read fiction set during those periods in history. I love the 18th century, too. A few months ago, I picked up the first book in a series that had been on my mind for a long while, Instruments of Darkness by Imogen Robertson. Good Lord, it was excellent, a labyrinthine murder mystery in Georgian England with two sleuths of totally opposite temperaments, except when it comes to murder. I whipped through the series, then the standalone, The Paris Winter. Then on to the excellent Julian Kestral Regency mysteries series by Kate Moss, who sadly died of breast cancer after the fourth book. I just finished the second book of the old Captain Lacey series by Ashley Gardner, and finished the first of Deanna Raybourn’s new series. I’m smack dab in the middle of the Sebastian St. Cyr series by CS Harris, and I’m trying to pace myself. I’m waiting on more KJ Charles and Cat Sebastian, but I also have to poke around some more to find that exquisite balance of strong and sophisticated writing, labyrinthine plotting, vivid setting, and romance, whether it’s the plot or subplot.

What are your writing and personal goals for 2017 and beyond?
This year is meant to be a year of change for me, both writing and personally. Recently, I came to the decision to write more of what I deeply love, which actually isn’t Romance. I love historical mysteries and a couple of ideas sitting on the back burner have pushed their way forward, demanding to be heard. I’ve got an idea for a Reconstruction America mystery series, and I’d love to try my hand at something Victorian or Regency, either mystery or Romance.

And I need to eat better and get stronger—too much sitting behind the computer and not enough exercise. I have to actually do it this year and not give up.

What are you working on at present? Would you like to share a snippet?
Right now I’m working on a story for Thianna Durstan’s brainchild the Knights of the Black Order, a multiauthor shared universe story from Dreamspinner Press. The novel is called William, but this is Hector’s, the love interest, point of view:

Modern day, Brazil
The emerald carpet of the rainforest below Hector appeared endless, the sky spotless blue. From the plane window, the landscape filled his mind, pushing out his worrying thoughts. He glanced down at the sinuous Amazon River snaking through the land below. The unbeatable view was worth the case of nerves he’d nursed all week.

It wasn’t just the view and hurtling in a metal tube across the sky distracting him from the open botanical journal on his lap. He closed it with a snap and shoved it into the pocket of the seat in front of him. He rummaged around in his messenger bag and pulled out the folder with the notes for the paper he was going to present at the conference tomorrow. He’d spent the past year interviewing a noted ethnobotanist, now retired, and helped him write his memoirs. A trained tropical botanist himself, he’d written an introduction for the memoir and been asked to present it at the conference. As he settled down to re-read it for the zillionth time, the airplane coughed, as if they had gone over a speed bump in mid-air. He and his fellow passengers shouted in fear, and a babble of languages filled the small cabin.

The two flight attendants raised their voices to reassure the passengers that all was well, but an acrid stench began to seep into the air. Smoke billowed out from the right wing, obscuring Hector’s view.

“Christ!” He pulled the strap of the messenger bag over his head, adjusting it on his shoulder in case they had to evacuate.

The world blew apart.

Pain woke him—from head to toe he ached, but the more brutal ache in his head shrieked at him, and he opened his eyes. Wetness blurred his vision, and he rubbed his palm across his face. Blood. He fingered the deep gash on the side of his head, wincing. Buzzing insects had been feasting on him. In a panic of loathing, he pulled a bandana from his pocket and covered his head so nothing could lay eggs in the wound.

Gradually his awareness returned. The emerald of the rainforest he’d been flying above was now a hundred shades of green suffused with a low amber light. The hush, as if the forest held its breath, confused him. What happened? Why was he here and alone?

He looked down and found he was still strapped to his airplane seat, the messenger bag caught in the belt. Some scattered debris surrounded him—likely what had hit him in the head.

“Oh, fuck,” he whispered as he disengaged the buckle. “Hello!” His voice was hoarse. He needed water—he cleared his throat and spat. “Hello!”

A sleepy-sounding bird answered.

The forest was too quiet, as if in the aftermath of something big. The scent of burning hung in the air. The plane falling from the sky likely had frightened away the inhabitants, if not outright killed them. He had to find out if there were other survivors—maybe they needed help. Hector stood and stepped away from the broken seat. He gazed down on it. Someone had been sitting next to him, in front of him, and behind him. Trembling, he looked up.

Fell out of the fucking plane and still alive.

A weird hysteria gripped him, and he laughed wildly until the tears came. He sat again, rocking back and forth, chanting, “Ohshitohshit,” until he calmed.


Title: Ardent
Author: Heloise West
Publisher: Manifold Press
Release Date: February 1st 2017
Genre: Historical MM Romantic Suspense



In the village of Torrenta, master painter Morello has created a color that mimics the most expensive pigment of all, the crimson red. Master Zeno, from strife-ridden Medici Florence, tells him the color gives him a competitive advantage – but Morello must be careful. Fraud is ever-present in the dye and pigment markets.

As they work together in Torrenta, Morello falls hard for Zeno’s assistant, Benedetto Tagliaferro, a young man of uncommon beauty and intelligence. Benedetto is still fixed on his old lover, the master painter Leo Guisculo, and cannot return Morello’s affections.

But when Leo dies in a terrible accident, it’s to Morello that Zeno and Benedetto turn for help. And Morello soon finds that in Florence, every surface hides layers of intrigue.

Find Ardent on Goodreads

Purchase: Amazon US | Amazon UK | B&N | Manifold Press | Kobo


The village of Torrenta, Tuscany, June 1475


The sun thrust warm fingers into the ancient Tuscan earth. The gray-green leaves of the olive trees shimmered, and the woods beyond beckoned Morello to abandon the painters’ workshop for their cool refuge.

In the growing heat the apprentices inside settled into an afternoon nap, curled on benches in dark corners behind him. The harsh fumes of linseed oil and varnish had irritated Morello all morning, and he was unable to sleep in the miasma. Perhaps before their visitors from Florence arrived, he might escape the heat. A long tramp in the woods pulled at his bones.

He reached for the walking stick behind the door, but a horse’s whinny stopped him, and a man’s voice called out. When no one stirred within to answer, he cursed the sleepers and stomped back through the shop, thwarted. In the lane in front of the workshop, two men removed packs from their horses.

“Good day, Master Zeno!” From the doorway, Morello called to the older of the two. “You made good time!”

At the sound of Morello’s voice, the apprentices roused themselves from sleep and peered around him.

The gray-haired master raised his hand and smiled. “Good day, Master Morello.”

Master Zeno’s companion, a tall young man with flowing golden hair, took the older man’s pack for him and shouldered the straps of both.

“Take their horses to the stable and fetch Master Franco,” Morello ordered the apprentices, and they hurried to obey.

Master Zeno’s journeyman brushed dust from the sleeve of his sweat-stained linen shirt, slapped more dust from his long thighs, and ran a forearm across his brow. His smile was uncertain as his glance met Morello’s.

Donato stood at the window yawning and scratching his stomach. He shaded his eyes for a better look into the misty glare of the afternoon. “Who’s the beauty with the master?”

Donato’s fellow journeyman Primo jumped to his feet and crowded against Morello in the doorway. “Can it be? He’s brought Tagliaferro?”

Donato groaned. “The man you’ve been mooning about since you last went to Florence, Primo? You’ve only just finally shut up about him.”

Morello ignored them. His irritation over his interrupted walk had vanished. Primo’s garlic- and onion-laden breath on his neck registered only remotely. He gazed out at the man from Florence, who, in Morello’s memory, had once been a long-legged boy with a head of yellow fluff too big for his skinny body. Morello stepped out into the sunlight that appeared to pour itself over the grown man, and stretched out his hand in greeting. Maintaining frank eye contact, Benedetto Tagliaferro adjusted the packs and took his hand.

When flesh met flesh, Morello stumbled – at least, his heart did. As if the wind from the beating wings of the love-inspiring putti he had painted just that morning pushed them toward each other.

“Do you remember me?” Benedetto asked with the shadow of that boy’s grin.

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About the Author


Heloise West, when not hunched over the keyboard plotting love and mayhem, dreams about moving to a villa in Tuscany. She loves history, mysteries, and romance of all flavors. She travels and gardens with her partner of thirteen years, and their home overflows with books, cats, art, and red wine.

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