Inspiration is all around us and sparks uniquely in each person. That is the beauty of individualism and creativity. So when I read an article about a Roman poisoner, I’m guessing I’m the only one who envisioned her in Tudor England.
Locusta was a female poison assassin from Rome (Gaul) and is considered to be the first serial killer. Days of research later, I discovered there is not much known about Locusta, but that only incited my imagination. The fact the first serial killer was a woman also struck me. As a female engineer, I relate to the challenge of going against traditional stereotypes. I imagined the challenges Locusta must have faced and wondered if her gender ended up being an asset in a field where surprise would provide an advantage. And with the little historical bits I could find, a story began to weave in my mind.
During this time, my priest gave a sermon about how easy it is to fall into a cycle of sin and penance. How often we realize our actions are incorrect and then feel guilt and perform penance. But after a while the guilt wears and it becomes easy to commit the sin again. Of course he was talking about minor offenses, but as a matter of reductio ad absurdum, I applied this concept to a murderer. My main character, Lavinia, believes she can continue to murder because confession forgives the sin.
Inspired by the notion confession could provide a source of false permission, I lifted Locusta’s inspiration out of Rome and placed my novel at the height of the Catholic church in Tudor England, my favorite period of history. The exact year is open within the book, but I imagine it to be ~1520. During this time, the priest was a powerful official at the local level and the historic practice of “indulgences” helps bolster why Lavinia may (falsely) think she can simply go to confession to be forgiven for mortal sin.
APRICOTS AND WOLFSBANE follows Lavinia’s career as a poison assassin, however Lavinia could never justify her skill to the magistrate she loves. When the magistrate uncovers her ruse, he pressures her priest into breaking her confessional seal. Lavinia must decide between the magistrate or her love of her craft, but the betrayals are just beginning. This Historical Novel Society Editor’s Choice novel was also shortlisted for the 2018 International Chaucer Award for Historical Fiction, among other awards and honors.
If you do decide to google Locusta for yourself, you’ll discover she was ultimately executed for her crimes. I do not believe the lore she was raped to death by a giraffe, but I’ll leave that up to your imagination . . . (Now you want to google her, don’t you?)
K.M. Pohlkamp is a blessed wife, proud mother of two young children, and an aerospace engineer who works in Mission Control. She operated guidance, navigation and control systems on the Space Shuttle and is currently involved in development of upcoming manned-space vehicles. A Cheesehead by birth, she now resides in Texas for her day job and writes to maintain her sanity. Her other hobbies include ballet and piano. K.M. has come a long way from the wallpaper and cardboard books she created as a child. Her award-winning historical fiction thriller, Apricots and Wolfsbane, is published by Filles Vertes Publishing.
Lavinia Maud craves the moment the last wisps of life leave her victim’s bodies, to behold the effects of her own poison creations. Her morbid desires are balanced with faith since she believes confession erases the sin, though she could never justify her skill to the magistrate she loves.
At the start of the 16th century in Tudor England, Lavinia’s marks grow from tavern drunks to nobility, but rising prestige brings increased risk. When the magistrate suspects her ruse, he pressures the priest into breaking her confessional seal, pitting Lavinia’s revengeful instincts as an assassin against the tenets of love and faith. The dilemma distracts her struggle to develop a pledged tasteless poison and avoid the wrath of her ruthless patron.
With her ideals in conflict, Lavinia must decide which will satisfy her heart: love, faith, or murder, but the betrays are just beginning.
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A fiend is murdering the Queen’s agents.
Menagerie Special Agent, and tiger shifter, Mordecai Pope is charged with apprehending the villain who litters the river’s edge with the half-shifted corpses of his colleagues. As he examines the bodies he discovers the murderer has not only taken tissue samples and blood, but removed the talises – a special tattoo used to prove the shifter’s registration and animal class. When an unregistered, half-shifted man is found alive and repeating the Reaver word for venom, Mordecai begins to suspect there are more to the murders than meets the eye.
Lady Evangeline Murray has spent the last seven years cursing the memory of her fiancé who was lost on an exotic expedition to the far ends of the world. His pursuit of scientific discovery often overstepped the bounds of morals and propriety. Through the years, Evangeline has had to keep her own counsel over the man all of society dubbed “a man without peer” but whom she felt little respect. To prove his madness and free herself from binding betrothal laws, Evangeline has embarked on a perilous venture of her own. In possession of her fiancé’s notebooks, Evangeline has painstakingly recreated his experiments and deciphered his secret codes even though scientific exploration is illegal for women in East Angelía. Now her work has brought her under the suspicion of her new beau and Menagerie Agent, Mordecai Pope.
When Mordecai’s case and Evangeline’s past collide, they must work together to find a killer bent on creating an army of shifters and setting them loose on the world, even if it means losing each other forever.
Note To Readers: This is a stand-alone novel, a complete story, and free of cliffhangers.
NEW YORK TIMES and USA TODAY bestselling author Catherine Vale writes urban fantasy stories of magic and mayhem and paranormal romance.
Everything Celina thought she knew was a lie.
Her husband’s murder, her family’s religion…nothing was what it seemed. The avenging blood on her hands is barely dry, but she’ll do whatever it takes to save this unshakable proof of their love. Even swallow her terror to fulfill the bargain that was sealed on a bed of lies.
But there’s little time for tender reconciliation. Demons are being murdered, their mutilated bodies marked with cryptic threats only Celina can decipher. When visions of the massacres plague her at every turn, Kai sends her back to the human world in the care of the demon she fears most.
Secured in Shiriki’s high rise, she must uncover her own shrouded history. The key to saving the dark realm lies in her past, but an angel with a diabolical mind may lead to their destruction.
She wrapped her arms around his neck and pulled him closer. “I’m fine.”
“And how are you feeling about us?” he asked quietly.
She took a deep breath. “We have a lot to work on for the next while, but we’ll do it together.”
“We will certainly do many things together,” he said with a lewd grin.
In less than a second, he stood naked, his muscles rippling in the low lighting of the room. She ran her hands against his hard chest, her pulse racing as she stared at his pale skin.
The word resonated inside her mind as she felt him invade her thoughts. He growled as he pressed her body against his, kissing along her neck as she closed her eyes. He felt so good, and he was hers as much as she belonged to him.
“Your body, soul, and life are mine.” His tone darkened. “And although I never had a soul of my own, though my life is endless, you have all of me.”
Before she could respond, he took her mouth, thrusting his tongue inside. She moaned as he cupped her breasts, her nipples hardening under his touch. When he tugged at the hard peaks, their lips parted, and she let out a harsh breath.
“I want you.” The words left her in a whisper, a plea from the need pulsing through her.
He lifted her in his arms and carried her to their bed, sitting her on its edge. Despite his gentleness, an animalistic expression flashed across his face as he stared. He crouched in front of her and glided his hand along her thigh.
Heat filled her, burning so hot she was sure she’d combust. Licking her lips, she parted her legs. Her throbbing increased when his gaze traveled to her sex. He stared with such carnal desire, she was sure she’d orgasm.
“You are so beautiful … and no one else will ever touch you.” He kissed her inner thigh and trailed his tongue across her skin, nipping along the way as she gasped.
Letting herself fall onto the bed, her chest heaved as her stomach fluttered. He licked her swollen lips, and she trembled under the pleasure of his touch. He flicked her clit, and she whimpered. “Please.”
His muffled groans against her wetness had her trembling, and she writhed as he sucked hard on her pink flesh. She grabbed hold of his hands holding her hips, digging her fingernails into his flesh, crying out.
“Your screams are as delicious as you are, dove.”
Running her fingers through his hair, she tugged, so he’d look at her. He growled at being denied, his gaze darting to her sex as he licked his lips.
She panted. “I want you.”
He stood. Feathers flew around him, black as night. Within seconds, the feathers falling around him dissipated into smoke, leaving Kai in his true form. Her demon.
The horns on his head held the same red arcane symbols, glowing brightly. He folded his black wings as he took a step closer, the darkness behind his red irises sending a shiver down her spine. Her chest heaved as she crawled farther onto the bed and reached her hand out to him. She wished she had the words to tell him how much she loved him, but showing him would be better.
He chuckled as he got onto the bed, even kneeling he towered over her like a looming shadow waiting to pounce. “You do not need to use words. I can feel it radiating off you as easily as I smell your lust.”
Evernight Publishing: https://www.evernightpublishing.com/magali-a-frechette/
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