Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Guest Post & Giveaway with Author Carolyn Rosewood

Today I want to welcome Carolyn Rosewood.. Take it away Carolyn.....

Thank you so much for having me here today, Danielle! I’ll be giving away a PDF copy of HUNTED, Book 2 of my Seduced By A Demon series from Evernight Publishing! Just leave a comment with your email address for a chance to win!

Are demons sexy? Well that depends on how you look at them.

Demons, depending on what you read or believe, can be anything from Satan's imps to a spirit of happiness. In some present-day cultures demons are still feared largely due to their believed ability to possess humans. Freud believed the fact that demons are always regarded as the spirits of those who have died recently shows better than anything the influence the influence of mourning on the origin of the belief in demons.

In art they've been depicted as everything from a winged bull to a beautiful female. Stories of demons are found in literature from all over the world, including romance novels.

My husband likes to refer to the demons in my Seduced By A Demon series as the "kinder, gentler" demons. Indeed I give them great strength and supernatural powers, including the ability to slide into shadow form and evaporate, moving from one physical plane to another in the blink of an eye. But I also make them seductive and redeemable. Well, some of them, at any rate.

In Book 1 of the series, THE LAST SOUL, the heroine Faina is a demon whose job in Hell is to seduce men into signing away their souls. The men she seduces are bad-to-bone, and she’s been working for her demon boss Mastema for one hundred and fifty years, hoping one day she’ll be made human again. Mastema tricks her into bringing him one last soul – Jace Blackmon – and then she’ll be human again. The only problem is that Jace is a really decent guy and Faina is falling for him.

I made Faina vulnerable and a bit naïve on purpose. In the story, she dies in a fire at eighteen, after being forced into prostitution in her human life. Mastema, on the other hand, is evil and ruthless. But don’t worry…he gets what’s coming to him at the end.

In Book 2, HUNTED, the heroine/demon is Jahi Wickes, who is a good friend of Faina’s. Jahi was hung as a witch in 1692 and has worked in her demon existence forging documents and credit cards for demons like Faina to use as they lead men to ruin. When her former guardian angel, Vassago, comes after her, Jahi is forced to give up some of her independent streak and rely on a Nephilim bounty hunter named Dagon. Dagon has been hunting Vassago for three years. Jahi isn’t a ruthless demon, but rather someone who felt unworthy of love in her human life, and now feels she deserves her fate as a minion of Hell. Until she proves herself worthy by sacrificing herself for a friend, that is.

Book 3, PLAYING FOR KEEPS, coming from Evernight Publishing in December 2011, introduces Teresa. We meet Teresa in Hunted, and she’s as ruthless and cunning a demon as you can imagine. She gives up Jahi to Vassago to save her own skin. As Playing For Keeps opens, Teresa is on the run from her own king, Apollyon. If the demons he’s sent to hunt her down find her, they’ll destroy her. She wanders into a bar in a sleepy Ohio town, and convinces the owner, Damien Walker, to give her a job. But Damien isn’t an ordinary bartender, and he knows what and who Teresa is.

You’ve met a few of the demons in my series. Now let’s talk about Nephilim. Most authors write them as heroes with a bad boy nature although some have chosen to cast them as villains. I've chosen to let Nephilim play both roles in my series.

Damien Walker would bet his bottom dollar that Teresa is on the lam from Hell. He should know. He used to track demons before he was forced to give up his Nephilim bounty hunter status. Now he serves drinks to locals in a run-down bar. It's easier to mire in self-pity when you do something pointless for a living. But Teresa isn't like other demons masquerading as humans. She's sexy but scared, desperate to hide her true identity-and the reason she's on the run-from everyone, including Damien. The fact that he's drawn to her is a complication he'd rather do without, but one he can't ignore.

If you Google "Nephilim," you could spend days reading all the theories and arguments for or against their interpretation in the Bible and other texts, both secular and non-secular. Whoever or whatever they are, whether they are real or simply the product of our fertile imaginations, clearly our fascination with these beings continues because they pop up in romance novels quite frequently.

At a recent archeological dig in Greece, the bones of what appeared to be a giant were hailed as "proof" of the existence of Nephilim as depicted in ancient texts. It was later proven to be a hoax. According to the Book of Genesis, Nephilim are the "sons of God." They are also mentioned as giants in the book of Numbers. Scholars have called the interpretation of these passages into question.

There is no clear answer as to the meaning of the terms used. Commentary in subsequent translations of the Bible draw conclusions from books in the New Testament as proof of the nature of Nephilim mentioned in the Old Testament, but again there is no clear answer. Other ancient texts assign the term "fallen angel" to Nephilim and similar beings.

In the Hebrew Bible and several non-canonical Jewish and early Christian writings, Nephilim means the "fallen ones." They are described as a people created by the crossbreeding of the "sons of God" and the "daughters of men." Interpretations for these terms vary among scholars.

I hope you’ll check out my Seduced By A Demon series from Evernight. Even though several characters make appearances in all three books, each one is a stand-alone, so you can read any of them first. Leave a comment here today with your email address and you could win a copy of Hunted! Thanks for dropping by.

Buy It Here!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Guest Post with Suzie Grant - A wrong Kind of Paradise

The City that Sank

I’d like to take just a moment and thank Danielle for giving me this opportunity to share some of my research on my latest release Wrong Kind of Paradise. I hope this inspires your curiosity for the city as much as for the book because it has a fascinating history. 
Once known as the 'Wickedest City on Earth,' Port Royal, Jamaica was one of the largest towns in the English colonies during the late 17th century.
If you know anything about me or have read any of my blogs before you’ll know how much I adore adventure and the sea. My dream is to one day retire on a sail boat and sail around the world to see all the places I’ve dreamed of for years.
My love of the sea started when I was young and I must confess it was probably handed down to me through my father as my mother cannot swim, despite our yearly trips to the coast. I can’t explain the pull of the ocean but it’s in my blood. And once you acquire the taste nothing less will satisfy.
So for this blog I thought I would share my love of a bygone era: The Golden Age of Piracy, such a beautiful era, full of mystery, adventure, and romance.
My new release Wrong Kind of Paradise is a story set in 1692 Port Royal, Jamaica, the last year of its glory before it was swept into mother—natures grasp by an earth quake.

Liquefaction occurs when earthquakes strike ground that is loose, sandy, and water-saturated, increasing the water pressure and causing the particles to separate from one another and form a sludge resembling quicksand. Eyewitness accounts attested to buildings sliding into the water, but it is more likely that they simply sank straight down into the now unstable layer.
The horror for anyone caught in this soupy mix was
that it solidified rapidly. The Reverend Heath graphically described the consequences: Some were swallowed up to the Neck, and then the Earth shut upon them; and squeezed them to death; and in that manner several are left buried with their Heads above ground.


In 1981, the Nautical Archaeology Program of Texas A&M University, in cooperation with the Institute of Nautical Archaeology (INA) and the Jamaica National Heritage Trust (JNHT), began underwater archaeological investigations of the submerged portion of the 17th-century town of Port Royal, Jamaica. Present evidence indicates that while the areas of Port Royal that lay along the edge of the harbor slid and jumbled as they sank, destroying most of the archaeological context, the area investigated by TAMU / INA, located some distance from the harbor sank vertically, with minimal horizontal disturbance.

In contrast to many archaeological sites, the investigation of Port Royal yielded much more than simply trash and discarded items.  An unusually large amount of perishable, organic artifacts were recovered, preserved in the oxygen-depleted underwater environment.

Together with the vast treasury of complimentary historical documents, the underwater excavations of Port Royal have allowed for a detailed reconstruction of everyday life in an English colonial port city of the late 17th century. 
The Port Royal Project concentrated for 10 years on the submerged 17th-century remains on Lime Street, near its intersection with Queen and High Streets in the commercial center of the town. At present, eight buildings have been investigated. 
Most of the finds are varied and completely fascinating anything from pewter plates to tobacco pipes. But I ran across a story there that captured my heart and my imagination. Excavated building 4/5 has a haunting story to tell. It is a large and rambling complex consisting of at least six rooms and three back yards.  The complex is approximately 65 ft. wide and over 40 ft. long and represents at least two, possibly three, houses or combination houses/shops.

The remains of a 70-ft. long ship was washed up from the harbor in the tidal wave that followed and plowed through building 4's front wall, heeled over on to its port side, and came to rest in the middle of the rooms. The remains of a young child was uncovered from under the bricks of the fallen front wall just outside of the two adjacent front doorways.  The remains of two more children were found in Rooms 3 and 4. 
As a mother of three boys my heart ached when I read that but as a writer my imagination took flight. What were the children doing there? It’s my understanding this was the shadier part of town. A prostitute’s daughter perhaps? Maybe a set of young boys playing peeping tom? The possibilities are endless and I couldn’t help but try to fit this information in my work in progress.
As one walks along the narrow streets of the poor fishing village of Port Royal today, it is hard to imagine that it once was the largest and most economically important English settlement in the Americas. Port Royal is the site of the only historical earthquake which can be dated closely by not only date, but time. This is documented by recovery from the sea floor in the 1960s of a pocket watch stopped at 11:43 a.m. recording the time of the devastating earthquake on June 7, 1692. Here time literally stands still. 

Shortly after the quake a man was quoted as saying: It’s haunting to see the spires of masts within the harbour from the many sunken ships.
There are discussions of one day being able to dive down to the wreckage as a tourist attraction. And you can bet your shiny gold doubloon I will be right there when they do.
To read more about this fascinating excavation please visit the site
The sea truly is one of the last unexplored frontiers. I realize not everyone loves the ocean as I do, so tell me what are you passionate about? Have you run across something in a book you’ve read or your own research that completely drew you in to another world?
Wrong Kind of Paradise
Even the Hell’s Angel needs a guardian to adventure into the Wrong Kind of Paradise.

Blac must choose between revenge against the British Lieutenant who’d ruined his family or keeping his word to the pirate who’d saved his life. Escorting the pirate’s daughter to her grandfather’s care becomes impossible when the little wanton steals his ship. Ordered by the lieutenant to retrieve the woman they call the Hell’s Angel, Blac is determined to honor his word to his friend and use the wayward wanton as bait. But will his plan cost him the only woman to ever steal his heart?

When Angel De’haviland’s father is imprisoned with charges of piracy, the pirate’s daughter commandeers a British privateer’s ship and plans to kidnap a high ranking official to ransom for her father’s release. But her attempted abduction is foiled by the very captain whose ship she’d stolen, and she becomes a captive herself. Now she must trust her handsome captor to free her father as he leads her right into the Wrong Kind of Paradise.

Adventure into Romance with Suzie Grant. She writes with a hint of history and plenty of thrills on every page. Still believing in happily-ever-afters Suzie writes steamy love scenes with a pace that will leave you breathless. She lives happily ever after with her new beau, three boys and one little Shitzhu named Peppy Le’Pew in Charlotte, NC. One day she plans to retire and sail along the east coast — an adventurer to the end.

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Monday, August 29, 2011

Guest Post & Giveaway with Nadia Lee

Today I want to welcome Nadia Lee. 

Fated: You and I Are Meant to Be Forever

In paranormal romance, the fated mate trope is almost a cliché now. How many times have we seen a couple meet, feel instant lust and decide that they're fated to be together forever?  (The fated mate realization is usually on the part of the male, who then chases the female around.)

I understand the appeal of the scenario. There's something very thrilling about a powerful man doing everything he can to claim a woman and make an everlasting commitment

But in many books I'm not sure why the couple should spend even a minute together, much less marry.  The hero and heroine have nothing in common, they don't seem particularly empathetic, and aren't even nice to each other.  Some of them have such a dysfunctional relationship that I feel like they belong on Jerry Springer. However, because the couple is fated, the readers are asked to swallow the unbelievable relationship.

A skilled writer can make me believe that, fated or not, the couple belongs together.  When such a writer uses the fated mate trope, the resulting story is cracktastic.  I can believe that the couple will be happy forever, and that their relationship will endure whatever difficulties and hardship they may face together in the future.

So what makes me buy into the fated mate trope?  The biggest one is shared values.  When the hero and heroine both place importance on things such as honesty, loyalty, families and/or generosity, etc. it signals that there's more than just lust between the two. That in turn makes me believe that the couple has a solid foundation for a relationship.

How about you? What makes you buy into the fated mate trope?  Answer for your chance to win an e-copy of any one of my current releases plus an early author e-copy of The Last Slayer (December 26, 2011, Carina Press).


About Nadia Lee:

Bilingual former management consultant Nadia Lee has lived in four different countries and enjoyed many adventures and excellent food around the globe. In the last eight years, she has kissed stingrays, got bitten by a shark, ridden an elephant and petted tigers.

She shares an apartment overlooking a river and palm trees in Japan with her husband, winter white hamsters and an ever-widening pile of books. When she's not writing, she can be found digging through old Asian historical texts or planning another trip.

 Visit Nadia here

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Are you ready for Serendipity? (Serendipity #1) by Carly Phillips (Excerpt #1)

When his bedroom door cracked open slowly, he couldn’t have been more surprised.
“Come in, Tess,” he called out.
“It’s not Tess.”  To his shock, Faith, dressed as she’d been earlier, which he for some reason found sexier than a string bikini, stepped inside.  “Rosalita let me in on her way out.”
His heart staggered inside his chest.  Putting up emotional distance was hard but necessary.  “Why bother?” he asked coldly.
Faith shut the door to his bedroom and turned the lock, leaning against the closed door.  “I was worried about you.”
He admired her courage.  At his darkest, he wasn’t someone to mess with.  “Well don’t be.  I’m fine.”
“You don’t look fine.  Your eyes are flat.  Dead.”  She stepped closer, slowly making her way across the room.  Towards him.  “There’s no life, no twinkle,” she went on.
And she obviously thought she could put it back.  A few hours ago, maybe she could have.  Right now, he was back where he’d been ten years ago.  Nobody could save him.  Not even Uncle Sam.
“Your brothers aren’t being fair.  People change.  I’ve seen how you talk about wanting a relationship with them.  You’re here.  They’ll come to realize that.”
“Don’t psychoanalyze me or my family.  You don’t know anything about us.”
“True.  And you knew nothing about me and my father but that didn’t stop you from giving me advice.”  She stood toe to toe with him. 
He smelled her fresh scent, teasing him, tempting him, making him want to lose himself inside her until he couldn’t think about who he was. 
But he felt the anger at Nash and Dare simmering inside him and he knew he wouldn’t be gentle with her.  He couldn’t.  Didn’t have it in him to think about her when it was all he could do to put one foot in front of the other and get through the night to face Tess tomorrow.  And his brothers the day after that. 
So if Faith pushed him now, yeah he’d take her up on what she was offering – but it would be sex.  And she wouldn’t like him much afterwards.  He wouldn’t like himself either, but that was pretty much a given.
She reached out and stroked his cheek with her delicate fingers. 
Fire licked across his skin.
“Someone has to look out for you,” she said.
He cocked his head to one side.  “And you want that someone to be you? For the last three weeks you didn’t want anything to do with me.”
Something deeper flickered in her golden gaze.  “There’s no way you want to have this conversation now.”
“You’re right.  I don’t.” 
Her fingers still touched his face and she cupped his jaw.  “Talking’s overrated anyway.”  She leaned in, pressed her lips against his, soft and willing.  Giving him the escape he desperately needed. 
He deepened the kiss, thrusting his tongue inside her mouth.  She moaned, her hands coming to his shoulders, her nails digging into his skin as she kissed him back, easing her body closer until her breasts crushed against his chest.  Her thin tee-shirt might as well have been nonexistent.  He felt the rasp of her nipples and his body hardened.  She sighed and climbed on top of him, bracketing him with her thighs, straddling him in heat.
Thrusting his hand into the back of her hair, he pulled her head back till he looked into her eyes.  “Be sure, Faith.”  Because this was going to be no gentle lovemaking.
“You need me,” she said simply.
He didn’t argue.
She pulled her shirt over her head, baring her bra-less breasts.  With a groan, he cupped them in his hands, dipped his head, and curved his lips around one distended nipple.  Nipping, laving, losing himself in tormenting her.  Her cries of pleasure aroused him beyond reason and he switched breasts and repeated the process, drinking in her taste and scent.
She slipped her hands to the waistband of his jeans and impatiently tugged at the zipper.  “Help me,” she said, frustrated.
He gripped her around the waist and lifted her off him so he could yank her sweats down, gratified when her underwear went with them.  Faith kicked the clothes into a heap while he rid himself of his jeans.  With an eager smile, she wrapped her arms around his neck, clearly ready to climb back on top of him.
Instead he turned her around and sealed his body against hers.  His front against her back, he soaked in her heat from behind, his erection a hard ridge between them and he thrust his hips forward, immediately feeling her body tense.
“Relax for me, Princess.”  He slid his arm around her waist, letting his hand trail down her smooth flat stomach to her slippery heat.  He eased one finger into her dampness, finding her pulsing center.
She whimpered and tried to turn in his arms.
“Uh uh.”  He brushed her hair off to one side, kissing her neck, dampening her skin, grazing her flesh lightly with his teeth.
Ethan couldn’t take it anymore.  He needed to be inside her. 
“Bend over,” he said gruffly.  Intentionally rough. 
She hesitated.
He waited.
He wanted to shock her and he was sure he had, certain her ex-husband and past high society lovers had never pushed her for anything that made her uncomfortable.  He hoped like hell she’d comply because as much as he wanted her, he refused to give himself the pleasure of looking into her beautiful face while he lost himself inside her.  He wanted release but refused to accept anything more.
She’d always been his shining star, the ultimate representation of all that was good.  He didn’t deserve her and had been deluding himself in thinking it didn’t matter.  Tonight with his brothers had proven otherwise, putting him back in his place.  So here he was with Faith, pushing her boundaries, hoping she would run and prove to him he was the bastard he thought he was.
To his surprise, she suddenly bent over, holding onto the bed with both hands – taking his breath and humbling him at the same time.
With everything inside him, he knew he should run far and fast because even without seeing her face, he knew he was in trouble.  She was offering herself to him, giving him what he needed. 
A better man would call a stop.  He’d never been that man, he thought, gripping her hips and thrusting into her feminine heat. 
Buried inside her, he knew he was in trouble.  From this angle, he was tighter, deeper than he’d been before.  He felt everything she was, everything she was giving him.
Unable not to move, he slid out, then pushed back into her, out and in, only to find her immediately picking up his rhythm, her gasps and moans telling him she was building to a fast and furious climax.  She wasn’t alone.  He pumped into her, doing as he wanted, as he needed, losing himself and the painful memories as he found heaven inside her willing body. 
She clenched her inner walls tighter around him, milking him for all he was worth as came in one last, powerful thrust.  And though she followed him over, she continued to shudder in his arms and he kept up the tempo of their joining until he was certain he’d wrung every last contraction out of her body. 
When it was over, he didn’t allow himself to remain inside her or find pleasure or comfort after.  He separated them, his earlier gut-wrenching pain returning, multiplied tenfold, eating a whole in his chest. 
 She’d come to him, but he’d accepted, planning only to use her body to find meaningless release.  Instead he’d discovered that with Faith, there was no such thing.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Guest post & Giveaway with Sayde Grace on Writing Advice

Hello everyone! First let me say a huge thank you to Danielle for letting me stop by today and blog with you all! This week I sent her an email asking whether I should do book release promo stuff or writing advice. She said, writing advice, so blame it on her that I’m going to bore you all to death today!!

Usually when I write a blog or give a chat talk about writing I start with an intermediate level selection. It occurred to me that I’ve never actually given advice to readers who are trying to break into the writing field. So today, well, today we are going to discus TEN TIPS. Like the topic states, these are only tips. There is no right way or bad way for you to start writing. No one can tell you how you should write or what you should write. Those things you have to figure out on your own. However, there are lots of things that other writers, readers, agents, and editors can tell you. Let’s start here:
1.       No story is useless. If you have an idea floating in your brain, write it down. Even if you never look at it again, you’ll have an idea and can play with it if you want.

2.       Goals- God I hate goals!!! I think this is my most hated topic. Really, goals suck because human nature tells us we should shoot high. But then if we don’t meet that goal, well, it’s a huge let down. After two years of writing I’ve found I no longer set goals. Not in the traditional sense anyway. What I like to do is buy a book, put it on my Nook and tell myself that after I reach ten thousand words I can take a few days off and read my shiny new book. I hide my Nook with my daughter until its time. She’s a great watchdog over it as at six she loves to read the read-to-me books. By setting a reward point for myself I’m allowed to write at my own pace, when I can, and then take whatever time I need to read my reward. Usually, 10k is down in a few days if I’m working a few hours each day. Otherwise it takes longer but I get it done.

3.       Are you a plotter, pantser, or both?  Never let anyone tell you that you have to be one or the other. I fully admit I am a plotter who plots each chapter and tries like hell to stick to my plot guide. However, there are a few books that I’ve written where the plot guideline just didn’t work out. I tried to make it work, but the flow of my characters wasn’t matching what I’d written so I trashed my plot guide and finished the books as a pantser. Blending is just fine, make it work for you.

4.       Writing friends and/or groups. When I realized I wanted to write I searched the internet for authors I loved reading so I could read their blogs. What I found was that most had joined different writers organizations. I checked out several and found that because I wanted to write romance the most, I fit better with the Romance Writers of America organization. There I found a local group and started attending meetings. We meet the first Saturday of every month at a local library for a meeting followed by a program. Our programs are always writing related and I love going and talking to my writing friends. I also joined several online writers groups. This is a great way to meet others who can share their experiences with you.

5.       Keep a grain of salt with you. By now, if you’ve done 1-4, you’ve realized that you’re getting a lot of different advice and opinions. When I first started writing I listened to everything, tried a hundred different things, and cried, a lot! But having competed on different levels in the equine industry, I remembered that I had always taken things with a grain of salt and needed to do that now also. People are all too willing to give you tons of advice and tell you over and over what you need to be doing. However, you are the only one who can decide if that advice is right for you. Don’t be afraid to say, “thank you, I appreciate it.” And then never use that advice. That’s ok. You can do that if the advice doesn’t work for you.

6.       Keep a tablet of some kind around you. This is my most prized tip. It’s the simplest of simple too. I’ve learned over the years that I might have days of writing thousands of words a day and then something comes up where I can’t get my hands on a computer. Then I feel a huge amount of guilt over not writing. I began keeping a legal pad in my purse or truck. Since then, no matter where I am, I have the ability to write or plot or just tinker with my story. It’s a huge amount of freedom and I never face writers guilt.

7.       Professional jealousy. It happens to the best of us. One day you are writing away and then the next, you’re green in the face with jealousy. I’ve experienced this and nearly every writer out there has too. My critique partner and very dear friend will be the first to tell you that when she got her three book deal to Kensington I screamed and cried with joy for her. Yet, a few days later it hit me. Why not me? Where’s my contract? This is just human nature. I quickly got over the whines and told Rebecca that it had happened. She laughed and told me when I got my contract for my first novella she was jealous too. It happens, you just deal with it and remember that it’s okay to feel a bit green faced as long as you don’t hurt any feelings while being Hulk-like.

8.        Find your inner big girl panties and put them on. Rejections are a part of writer life. You may get two hundred rejections before you ever get a maybe or a yes. It sucks, it pisses you off, and you struggle with what to do. Well, you step up. Put those rejections behind you. You may find a certain book just isn’t right for the market right now, move on. Don’t dwell and don’t wallow. Get them big panties out and where them with pride!

9.       Published authors are published for a reason. Just because you read a story and it sucks to you doesn’t mean it sucked to the editor who bought it. Remember this because it’s very important. What it means is that you’re taste is not the same as that particular editors taste. So, if you hate everything a certain editor publishes, it’s probably a waste of your time and her/his time for you to query that editor. Research the heck out of each editor you submit your work to, it saves time, stress, and heartache.

10.   This list is too damn long, STOP READING AND WRITE!!

These are in no way any set of rules that one writer must follow. These tips have helped me along my journey. What are some things that seem to help you?
 Thanks everyone! And I will be giving away FOUR books today. If I only have one commenter than that lucky person gets ALL FOUR.  If I have more than that, we will just see how it goes! But FOUR books will be given away at midnight tonight, making someone’s weekend smoking hot! Have a great day and keep writing. Tell your story!
And of course, inspiration never hurts:

 Yes, This is Joe before True Blood!!
For more information about Sayde Grace and her work please stop by her website, You can always find daily updates about her on Facebook and twitter.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Guest Post - Professor Gabriel O. Emerson Speaks By Sylvain Reynard

Please welcome Professor Gabriel O. Emerson on the blog today....

“Amor, ch'al cor gentil ratto s'apprende,
prese costui de la bella persona
che mi fu tolta; e 'l modo ancor m'offende.

Amor, ch'a nullo amato amar perdona,
mi prese del costui piacer sì forte,
che, come vedi, ancor non m'abbandona.”

“Love, that can quickly seize the gentle heart,
took hold of him because of the fair body
taken from me-how that was done: still wounds me.

Love, that releases no beloved from loving
took hold of me so strongly through his beauty
that, as you see, it has not left me yet.”
-Dante, Inferno, Canto 5.100-103

With those words, I begin my seminar on Dante. 

Students enrol in my seminar for various reasons – some choose it because it fits their schedule, some choose it because they can spell the title.  Many students expect the class to be uninteresting because it’s about a dead poet.

Then I start talking about sex.

Talking about sex isn’t as exciting as, say, having sex.  When you talk about sex, your heart doesn’t pound, your breathing doesn’t speed, your skin doesn’t heat.

But talking about sex can leave you wanting more. That’s why I direct my students’ attention to Canto 5 of Dante’s Inferno, where he encounters the Lustful.

Most university students are familiar with lust. I simply expose them to aspects of lust that they’ve never encountered before.

During his journey through the Second Circle of Hell, Dante meets Paolo and Francesca.  Their story has the makings of a dramatic film – two lovers separated by deceit and a political marriage.  Their adulterous affair was precipitated by mutual attraction and story of Lancelot and Guinevere, another pair of adulterous lovers. But Paolo and Francesca’s romance came to a tragic end when they were discovered by Francesca’s husband, who killed them both.  (Parenthetically, it should be noted that Dante places Gianciotto, the husband, amongst the murderers in Hell.)

Paolo and Francesca are captured by Rodin in his famous sculpture, The Kiss, which depicts them engaging in a provocative embrace.   Notice how Francesca’s body is bent back with passion, while Paolo’s hand rests tantalizingly on the flare of her hip.  You’re meant to feel their desire.  You’re meant to feel as if you’ve surprised the naked lovers just as they are about to recline on the bed and make love.

My favourite painting of the couple is The Ghosts of Paolo and Francesca Appear to Dante and Virgil by Ary Scheffer. But if you look at the painting, you’ll notice that the artist has taken license with the text. Part of the lovers’ punishment, according to Dante, is being prohibited from touching one another for eternity. Scheffer has ended their physical separation.

Notice the desperation with which the beautiful Francesca clings to the naked body of her lover. Both Scheffer and Rodin emphasize the beauty of her back.  Scheffer makes the image more provocative by wrapping the lovers in a bed sheet, but he reveals less of Francesca’s body than Rodin.

Students will have to attend the next class if they want to hear more about the connection between the hidden and the erotic.

By the time I speak those words, I’ve persuaded most of the students that Dante is worth studying. And it’s only the beginning of the semester …

-Professor Gabriel O. Emerson
Department of Italian Studies
University of Toronto.

You can visit Sylvain Reynard on the following 

Also dont forget to pick up