Thursday, February 21, 2013

Guest Blogger Rose Anderson

Please welcome author Rose Anderson to Full Moon Dreaming! Today she is going to talk about her book and its sequel - Loving Leonardo, and Loving Leonardo the Quest. And she's going to talk a bit about some interesting people, namely the Victorians! While I pour the tea, would you care to begin, Rose?

Those Surprisingly Sexy Victorians

I’ve just finished my sequel to Loving Leonardo—my unusual bisexual, poly-amorous, Victorian love story with a touch of reader-interactive art history. It’s called Loving Leonardo—The Quest, and continues the tale of Nicolas, Ellie, and Luca. In this romantic part two, as the last, the main observer is Nicolas Halstead, a man of means forced by society to wear a disguise. He’s the narrator here and it’s through his perspective that we see and feel his world. An art historian by profession, Nicolas can’t help but compare life to art. Because of this, he leaves many references to artists and artworks scattered throughout the pages. I designed the book to be reader interactive. Peppered throughout are artists and art references. Should the reader care to look them up, they’ll see exactly what Nicolas sees when he makes those references. Think of it like a full-color story book for adult readers. :)

When we think Victorian, we often get an image of tight corsets, sexual-repression, and strictly adhered-to codes of behavior. While researching the details for Loving Leonardo, I found that Victorians seldom lived up to their stereotypes. In fact, I came across an account that said Queen Victoria herself liked to draw and collect sketches of naked men. One of which was a gift to her husband. That was the first of many surprises.

There was an interest in neoclassical Hellenism at that time, and many Victorian artists and poets sought to recreate the perfection of the classical age. This led to other studies of ancient Greece, particularly in the area of pederasty that promoted an erotic relationship between an older man and a younger man as an advantageous male bonding. It’s quite possible that this pursuit of the classics pulled the curtains back on same-sex relationships because the late Victorian era also spawned the Decadent movement in literature.

Decadent writers used elaborate symbolism to discuss taboo topics such as death and deviant sexualities. As far as this symbolism goes, it’s interesting to note that the word Decadent with its uppercase D held a different meaning from the lowercase use of the word. The lowercase d represented a decline of morals of the like seen just before the Roman Empire fell. Conversely, the symbolic D shouted to the world that followers of the Decadent movement took pride in their opposition to everyday morality and social mores.

In London in my novel’s time period of 1897, there was a distinct same-sex subculture—a shadowy Decadent underworld of secrets, clubs, codes, and body language. The notable persons of the day leaning toward that decadence with a D were Oscar Wilde, E. M. Forster, Somerset Maugham, Edith Cooper, Edith Somerville, Prince Edward, Lord Alfred Douglas, and on and on. Though no longer a crime worthy of the death penalty, homosexuality was still considered a punishable offence. Oddly enough, the same did not apply for lesbians. Queen Victoria declared this particular sexual inversion to be “impossible”, or at the least, a “French vice”.

To the horror of the moral enforcers of the day, same-sex relationships were moving into the light, thanks in part to the highly publicized trial of Oscar Wilde and the charges of sodomy and gross indecency against him. And just like Halley’s Comet gave birth to the sale of “Comet Pills” to keep you safe, a whole slew of medical treatments, barbaric procedures, and wild contraptions arose to stem the tide of deviant sexuality. Nonetheless, curiosity was piqued.

There arose a scientific study of human sexuality or “sexology” as it was called, and it attempted to classify “normal and perverse” behaviors. From this study, a third classification of human sexual behavior appeared—the Sexual Inversion. In other words—Homosexuality. Social reformers of the time came up with a label of their own to categorize what they deemed a curious state: Uranian. The name itself implies a lack of female involvement, for according to one mythic view, Aphrodite was born of Uranus. Uranianism went on to encompass the female homosexual and soon softer language borrowed from the Greek myths appeared—Lesbian and Sapphic.

Loving Leonardo
The Blurb:
Bound by limits dictated by society, Art Historian Nicolas Halstead lived a guarded life until a tempest in the form of Elenora Schwaab blew into his world. At first Nicolas can’t decide if the audacious American is simply mad or plotting blackmail, for not only does she declare knowledge of his homosexuality, she offers him a marriage proposal.
After Ellie tells him of a previously unknown work of Leonardo da Vinci, a book of erotic love poems and sketches dedicated to the artist’s long-time lover Salai, Nicolas joins her in a race to save the book from destruction. Along the way they encounter Historian Luca Franco and discover a comfortable compatibility that comes to redefine their long-held notions of love. The trio embarks on an adventure of sensual discovery, intrigue, and danger. Little do they know Leonardo da Vinci’s book is far more than meets the eye.

The following is a very Uranian snippet:
The ladies took their sherry as ladies do, and the men headed to the lounge for cigars and port. Of course, wherever men congregate, politics and finances are on everyone’s mind; that, and the Queen’s upcoming Jubilee. The century would be turning shortly and industry and modernization were keen topics alongside investments and instability in South Africa. Queen Victoria’s bellicose grandson Wilhelm had recently alienated public opinion by his interest in the Cape Colony of South Africa. More than one man in the room felt the foreseeable future held a second Boer war. I found I didn’t have much to say, my thoughts otherwise occupied by my body’s surprising reaction to my wife, and the way the blond Dutchman rolled the end of his cigar between his lips.
          I was certain Ellie would retire when she’d had enough small talk. From the little I knew of her progressive attitudes, small talk of hats and fashion weren’t topics to hold her interest for long. I was unversed in American politics but I doubted half the men in my own House of Lords were as well versed in Britannia’s policies as she was in the politics of her country. My wife wanted the vote. As wise and learned as she was, America was wrong to deny her. In quick order, I found myself lost in thoughts of her. Under a newlywed’s pretense, I downed my port, made my goodnights, and took my thoughts to the deck where I became momentarily captivated by the moonlight sparking upon the water. It was an image that brought to mind the dappled water of Pierre-Auguste Renoir, coupled with the hazy quality of Ivan Aivazovsky’s Moonlit Night.
          Although his invitation had been crystal clear, I was nevertheless surprised when the Dutchman walked up and stood beside me. We talked about sea voyages, Lord Byron, and the feel of a fine Cuban cigar over your tongue. His description was such that I asked him to show me what he meant. He “just happened to have one in his cabin,” he said, “a fine hand-rolled Havana, the same sort that Britain’s own Prince Edward enjoyed.” Primed with innuendo, needless to say, I followed.
          The cabin was dimly lit and private from his sister. After he closed the door behind us, he made no move to light the lamp. In a flash he was on his knees before me. It wasn’t a Havana he wanted rolling over his tongue, but then I never thought it was. He kissed his way up my thighs, switching from one to the other as his fingers deftly undid my trousers. Pulling them down to my knees, he closed his hand around my now hard cock, while his other hand freed his own. This would be no long coupling. It would be short and hard and infinitely satisfying.
         My eyes closed and I held my breath as his warm mouth enveloped me. A man knows what feels good, and my Dutchman treated me as if he sucked himself. He laved my shaft until I was sloppy wet. I couldn’t help but sink my hands into his golden hair to guide him, and my fingers coated with his spicy Makassar oil. He gagged, he slobbered, and he sucked me hard. All the while, the whapping sound of his hard-handed abandon filled the quiet space. I knew his delicious act drove him over the edge, and he made little sounds of surrender as I held him fast and fucked into his mouth; plummeting along tongue and teeth, while my balls slapped against his chin. The groan was unmistakable and I knew he shot his spunk by the feral scent in the air. I gave him the rest in quick short jabs. An instant later my floodgates opened and I pumped into him, thrilling to the carnal duet of his muted gags and straining gulps. He was glorious.
About Rose:
I love words and choose them as carefully as an artist might choose a color. My active imagination compels me to write everything from children’s stories to historical fiction. As a persnickety leisure reader I especially enjoy novels that feel like they were written just for me. It’s hard to explain, but if you’ve ever read one of those, then you know what I mean.  I tend to sneak symbolism and metaphor into my writing and always write in layers. You might say it’s a game I play with myself. It’s really a kick to have readers email to say they’ve found something or to ask if I meant what they think I meant when they read a portion and their brain goes, hey wait a minute… I want people to feel the story was written just for them and these hidden insights are my gift to my readers.

Just a few of oh so many links!
Loving Leonardo Buy Link:

Thanks for stopping by, Rose! Come back again soon!

Until next time, take care!

♥ Julie


  1. Thanks for having me today Julie. If anyone has questions or comments, I'll be stopping by throughout the day to answer.


  2. Great excerpt and gorgeous covers! I'd love to read these books, to test my five years of art history classes. (This knowledge is likely long gone! Plus, preferred postwar American stuff, oh well!) what fun, I hope I get a chance to read your erudite, observant, and steamy stuff!
    (Julie, the weather is awful, stay warm!)


    1. Ah fellow Wordie, I think you'd enjoy them. I'm also found of that period for art, earlier too as when Edward Hopper's Nighthawks was painted. Thanks for stopping by!

  3. The only thing that could have made Loving Leonardo better would have been to have the paintings Nic references right there on the page. Great job, Rose.


    1. Thanks Jane. :)You know, in retrospect I'm thinking that might have been a good addition to the back pages.