Thursday, August 20, 2009

Villains to heroes... or heroines

My guest today is author Jeanne Barrack who writes both m/f and m/m stories. This m/f story is one of her favorites...

The story behind “The Crystal Flacon” and Lucrezia Borgia

Not too long ago I took part in a wonderful series about a mysterious Collector who needed to find magical artifacts from around the world to fulfill a lifelong mission. Because the Collector was physically unable to seek these items himself, he found emissaries with different talents to find them for him for a fee. The one thread that tied these stories together was that each set of characters and the items they searched for had a connection with love. So, our tales were each stand-alones and covered the globe from Ireland to Italy, India and Brazil, Richmond, VA and Vancouver, BC and many other exotic places.

My husband suggested that Lucrezia Borgia might be an interesting character to involve in my story because I could have my characters search for the poison ring she was reputed to own, only I decided that it would contain a love potion and be magical. Beyond that, I created a crystal perfume flacon that had magical properties on the fragrance Lucrezia believed to be an aphrodisiac. This fit in better with the story’s setting of a perfumery in Italy.

As I delved deeper into Lucrezia’s life, I was stunned to find out that Lucrezia Borgia was very maligned. She ended her days much beloved by both her husband, and the people of Ferrara. In fact, when he was away from home fighting innumerable wars, he made her his regent. There is no real evidence that she was a poisoner or murdered her first two husbands or had incestuous relations with her brother and father.

Now her brother, Cesare, of course, is well known as a master manipulator and deceiver. Her father, Pope Alexander VI had mistresses and children during his papacy and there’s one scene in “The Crystal Flacon” -- the orgy scene -- that was taken directly with a few literary tweaks from “reports” of orgies like this that the Pope hosted.

I’ve done copious research on the period and just about everything else relating to Lucrezia. I even found a genealogy of her descendents. What one discovers is that the Duke adored her. She took six years to bear him *any* children, much less an heir. In those days, she could have easily been divorced for this, especially since her father, Pope Alexander VI and her brother Cesare, lost power soon after her marriage. Instead, she gave her husband several children and suffered through earlier miscarriages before she died in childbirth almost twenty years later. It was said that her husband was so moved by her death that he fainted at the funeral and had to be carried out. Seems Antonio was a one-woman man, mourning Lucrezia for a decade before formalizing his relationship with his mistress. The major liberty with Lucrezia’s life that I took is that I created a descendent; unfortunately, the line died out in the early 18th c. There no longer is a d’Este in Ferrara. Within the story, we find out more about Lucrezia through a lost diary that Abby finds. Antonio is a hot-blooded Italian and I assure you, this is one of my sexiest heroes.

The Blurb for the story:

Abby Foster, owner of Nannies, International, has been commissioned by the secretive Collector to obtain the Crystal Flacon, believed to have been in the possession of the infamous Lucrezia Borgia and to contain a magical aphrodisiac.
But why should a nanny be set such a task? Seems Abby has secrets of her own.
She also runs Finding Justice, an organization dedicated to returning art and other treasures lost during WWII to their rightful owners. With the specialized skills she’s gained, getting the Flacon should be easy. She isn’t counting on channeling Lucrezia through visions and dreams or falling for Antonio, duke d’Este, the present day owner of the Flacon.

Antonio d’Este, the direct descendent of Lucrezia Borgia, is a modern man with modern problems. A recent widower, he needs a nanny to take care of his five year old daughter while he prepares for the launching of “Lucrezia”, the new scent for Borgia, the family-owned perfumery. Inspired by the stunning Crystal Flacon, Antonio focuses everything on making “Lucrezia” a success. He has no time for the distraction posed by the beautiful nanny or the strange effect making love with her has on him.

When someone attacks the perfumery, destroying property, disrupting projects in an attempt to ruin the company and killing innocent people, they both need a change of plans. Together, using Abby’s skills honed while working for Finding Justice, they must find the saboteur, before everything they love is lost.

I fell in love with Abby, Antonio and little Lucy and along the way, fell in love with Lucrezia and the beautiful city of Ferrara, Italy. I hope you’ll read their story and fall in love, too.

Thanks so much for having me here today, Jeanne!

Buy Link:

To read an excerpt of part of the orgy scene click here:


Jeanne said...

Thanks so much for having me, Jeanne and giving me an opportunity to share.

BrennaLyons said...

So, the question is what villains/villainesses you'd like to see redeemed or have seen redeemed and liked?

I'd have to say that I loved the way JKR redeemed Snape in Harry Potter. And I loved the way they redeemed Bryce Larkin in Chuck.

Of my own, I adore taking a perceived bad guy and turning him around, simply by showing his POV and/or how he pulls himself up and remakes himself. Some of my own favorites were Jorg/Veriel in my Night Warriors series (who was always something of a villian...or at best a villain/hero) and Mik and Jurel in my Kegin series.