Baron Romano DiSanto returns home to straighten affairs after his sire's death. He never intends to stay...until a woman wheedles her way into his castle, pretending to be his maidservant. Soon he is torn between returning to his life as a warrior or giving in to an emotion he has never before experienced.***
After her father's death, Mariella Rizzoli is alone and desperate to ensure the family keep remains hers. Past marriageable age, she intends to live out her life in seclusion in the only home she's ever known. But the DiSanto family claims the keep, and the mystery surrounding it drives Mariella to seek employment with the new baron knight, hoping he will sign it over for eternity. Her plan goes awry when Romano discovers her reason for being in his castle. When he bids her to seduce him for the keep, she will do whatever it takes to retain her home. But can she seduce the handsome knight without losing her heart to him?
Is this your first book with an unusual setting?
No. I love stories with unusual settings. I write primarily 15th century Italian medieval romances that are single titles. I've written four before Knight's Desire. However, this is my first attempt at a novella, set a century earlier than the period I love. It's also my first ebook.
What influenced your decision to write Italian medievals?
My heritage was my influence. I'm 100% Italian. My father was born on an island off the coast of Italy and my mother was Sicilian. There is so much beauty in Italian history. It's rich with famous people in all the arts and intellect, and the architecture is absolutely gorgeous. I'd probably set stories in Italy if I weren't Italian. Who doesn't associate love with Italy?
Tell us how KNIGHT'S DESIRE came about.
A publisher I had been with asked for submissions for a knight anthology. The story couldn't be more than 20,000 words. I stressed over the decision to write it because I had always written very long. But the idea of a knight in Italy intrigued me. The knighthood was nothing like England's. The following is on the "author's notes" page and explains why:
The process of Italy's history was complicated. It was divided by 1) city-states in the north and central regions, 2) the Papal States across the middle, and 3) the kingdom of Naples/Sicily in the south. Although there were certain areas of Northern Italy where feudal traditions prevailed, there was no strong or enduring set of codes and traditions, like those found in feudal Northern Europe. Therefore, in practice, Italy did not follow so closely those various chivalric traditions, codes and formalities of knighthood as recorded in most of Europe.Will you be working on other projects with unusual settings?
Yes, I plan to. One will be set in WWII in California. I will soon start work on book two of a trilogy that takes place in 15th century Andalusia. I also would like to revise one of the first manuscripts I wrote over twenty years ago, set during the Crimean War.
Do you write light-hearted, humorous or dark stories?
My stories are mostly dark because of the subject matter. My first book published was THE LILY AND THE FALCON, set in 15th century Florence. The hero struggled with the ghosts of an abusive father. He never wanted to get married because he was afraid he'd turn out like his father. Yet through all the darkness, I always write a bit of humor. I like to break it up. In KNIGHT'S DESIRE, I was able to give the seduction a light flavor. Mariella had never undressed in front of a man in her life. Now she was determined to seduce the knight to retain what she believed was her father's keep. I envisioned her attempts at seduction as awkward. Instead of the knight getting angry with her, he is quite amused.
Here's an excerpt:
Knots twisted her stomach as Mariella climbed the stairs. She prayed she'd remember all Rene had taught her. Grateful for her newfound friend, Mariella mumbled Rene's instructions under her breath. By the time she stood outside the knight's chamber, her body was covered by the heat of a blush that refused to go away.
She turned her nose down to sniff her underarms. "This is not good."
The labors of the past days clung to her with an unpleasant odor. Mayhap the knight would not notice she hadn't bathed in three days. After all, he was used to bedding down near men who had not seen a bath in weeks, perhaps months. Would that she could bathe away her smell and fears.
"The keep, Mariella. Remember, you are going through with this for Father's keep."
Her hand trembled on the door handle. She prayed the knight was already asleep in bed. Instead, she found him walking out of the adjoining room. They both stopped and stared.
"I shall turn down your bed," Mariella said, wishing her throat wouldn't constrict. It made speaking a chore.
The knight nodded but did not move. When she finished, she waited in awkward silence for him to bid her to something more. She'd remove her shoes and hose, but she knew not if he wanted to watch again.
Finally, he walked over to his chest and pulled off his boots and hose. Only his thigh-length undertunic remained, which he usually wore in the privacy of his chamber.
"Your pardon, messere." He kept his back to her, giving her the chance to appreciate the sturdiness of those bare legs she had viewed at close range just two days past. "May I bathe in the servants' quarters?"
"You may bathe. However, you will make use of my personal tub." He came around then, a light of amusement in his eyes. "And I will be here to help you."
Please visit my website to find out more about me and my books. You might enjoy the All Things Italian page. I'd like to thank Carrie and everyone else at Unusual Historicals for having me as a guest blogger.
Would you like to try Jannine's writing? Maybe the lure of medieval Italy attracts you too. Leave a question or a comment to be entered in a drawing for a free copy of KNIGHT'S DESIRE. Good luck!