Thank you so much to Divine Magazine for hosting me today! When I started putting posts together for this tour, I asked on social media if anyone had any questions they’d like me to answer, and I got some really great questions.
I can’t answer some of them yet because of spoilers – sorry! – but I’ll answer the ones I can. One question I was asked is where I get inspiration for my stories.
Which is a really difficult question.
To answer it, um, everywhere. Truly, little things from all over – places I go, something I see or read, someone I meet, any of these things can spark inspiration for a character or a story. Most of the work happens in my subconscious, I think. It pulls all those scattered bits together and presents me with characters and settings and scenes. Part of what went into creating Tournai was given to me in a vivid dream. I think my subconscious knows better than my conscious mind a lot of the time. My conscious mind will think and then overthink and worry over everything, but my subconscious doesn’t do that. I’ve learned to trust it because it so often comes up with what I need just when I need it.
Mostly when I write, I start with a character and build from there, letting my mind do its thing and reveal the character and their story bit by bit. I’m not sure if that answered the question very well, but I tried for you.
“There you are!”
Tristan’s musical voice made the simple sentence something special, or perhaps Etan’s feelings made it seem so. Etan smiled as he looked up from his book, a glow of warmth and welcome lighting him up inside.
Tristan strode into the small room that Etan had claimed for his own in the palace’s labyrinthine library. He had a desk in the university library as well, but these days, out of necessity and preference both, he conducted most of his work in this cozy little room. Obscure history books filled the shelves lining the walls. The table in the center of the room held Etan’s notes on his studies and projects, all neatly organized so he could find anything he wanted quickly. But this morning he slouched on the comfortable couch instead, book propped in his lap.
He sat there, book forgotten as he watched Tristan, the morning sun streaming in through the window and glinting off Tristan’s bright gold hair. Tristan seemed to bring the sunshine into the room with him, brightening what had been an ordinary morning until that moment.
“Good morning, Tristan.”
“Good morning to you.” Tristan sent a flirtatious smile in his direction and skirted the table, coming closer.
“It’s good to see you.” He probably sounded ridiculous, but he hadn’t seen Tristan in a few days, and, well, he’d missed him.
Tristan’s smile warmed, turning a bit softer. “You too.”
Etan frowned as Tristan flopped on the couch at Etan’s side. Not at the action, but at the look in Tristan’s eyes. The bright blue seemed shadowed somehow. “Everything all right?”
“Fine. Why do you ask?”
“No reason. You just seem a little….” Etan shrugged. He couldn’t quite put a word to it, and he couldn’t very well say he didn’t think Tristan’s eyes sparkled as much as they usually did. “Troubled, maybe.”
Tristan was quiet for a moment, then scooted closer and rested his head on Etan’s shoulder. “I’m fine. A little tired. What are you up to?”
“Doing some reading.”
“For work or pleasure?”
Etan suppressed a shiver at the way Tristan’s voice shaped the word pleasure. Certainly it had to be unconscious on Tristan’s part, but it put ideas into Etan’s head that he didn’t want there, not yet, not when he and Tristan hadn’t spoken of feelings between them beyond friendship. But he could see those feelings were there. Perhaps he should just come right out and kiss Tristan. Tristan seemed to be over what feelings he’d had for Amory, Tristan’s lifelong friend who was now married to Etan’s cousin. Etan didn’t see any of the emotion or longing he used to in the looks Tristan sent Amory’s way. Maybe Etan had waited long enough.
He’d certainly paused long enough before answering. “A bit of both. Want me to read to you?”
He’d read to Tristan before, many times, sometimes with Tristan sitting as he was now, snuggled up against Etan’s side, sometimes with Tristan lying with his head in Etan’s lap. Tristan seemed to like when Etan read to him, seemed to enjoy the legends and histories Etan habitually occupied himself with, seemed to even enjoy when Etan forgot himself and ran his fingers through Tristan’s soft hair as he read. Etan hadn’t read to anyone before except for his youngest sister, Meriall, but reading to Tristan was a far different experience from reading bedtime stories. He liked it, liked having Tristan close and hearing Tristan’s comments and reactions.
“I’m not sure I can sit still today. I’m sorry.”
“That’s all right.” He’d realized early on in their friendship that Tristan was an athletic person who enjoyed being active and outdoors. Etan came to treasure the moments of stillness and quiet, when he saw Tristan’s intellectual side and his softer side in equal measure, but he enjoyed sharing the other more active times with Tristan too. Tristan always made the rides through the countryside and the hikes along the cliffs and the rambles over the beach fun. “What would you like to do?”
“Will you go for a ride with me?”
He thought briefly of the work awaiting him in the office he shared with Cathal, of his plans to spend the morning with his books and his studies before he returned to that work. And tossed it all aside with one look into Tristan’s eyes. As he always did. His books would still be there when he returned to them later.
And he wasn’t convinced Tristan really was all right.
“Of course. Shall we go now?”
When Tristan agreed, Etan set his book aside and tidied away a few papers. On the way to the stables, they stopped in Etan’s suite so he could change into riding boots, but they didn’t dally otherwise. Stable hands saddled their horses quickly, and they mounted up. They rode together out of the palace gates and through the city, an easy conversation flowing between them. Once they left the city, Etan let Tristan lead. When Tristan took the road that would lead them out to the cliffs, Etan knew his suspicions about Tristan’s state of mind were correct. Tristan seemed to prefer a gallop along the cliffs when he felt he needed to escape something, some pressure in his life. He talked to Etan about it sometimes, at least a little, but only after the ride.
As Etan expected, Tristan veered off the road as they neared the cliffs. The path he chose wound through some trees until it ended in the meadows overlooking the sea. Once they were through the trees, the view opened up before them, with fields dotted with wildflowers and a rocky precipice tumbling down to the vivid blue of the sea. The area was one of Etan’s favorites. He’d rather walk along the cliffs or picnic at the top so he could better appreciate the view, but riding was exhilarating too. Well, any ride with Tristan was. Tristan was a skilled and fearless rider, who ended each ride flushed and smiling. Etan always wanted to grab him close and kiss him when he saw Tristan that way, to see if he could make Tristan breathless for another reason entirely.
Maybe today he would.
The Scholar’s Heart by Antonia Aquilante
M/M Fantasy Romance
Series: Chronicles of Tournai
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Anne Cain
Release Date: May 30, 2016
Length: Novel (294 pages)
Youngest son of a royal duke, Etan is a scholar at heart who juggles his work for the prince with his studies of the history and legends of Tournai, something of particular interest to him because he shares the magical Talent that runs in the royal bloodline. Etan’s peaceful world turns upside down when his best friend—the man he secretly loves—unexpectedly marries a woman. Though Tristan values his friendship with Etan and has always been attracted to him, he is a dutiful son, raised to shoulder responsibility for the family business one day. That day comes far sooner than anticipated, and he makes a deathbed promise to his father to marry the woman his father chose and become head of the company and family.
A year later, Tristan is a widower with an infant daughter and a mother who demands he marry again quickly—something Tristan resists. Circumstances throw Etan and Tristan together, and even as they succumb to the desires they’ve always harbored, Etan battles his feelings, wary of being cast aside again. When Tristan’s daughter is kidnapped, Etan and Tristan must come together to find her, find the person responsible, and support each other through the ordeal… and maybe beyond.
Review by Elaine White
Book – The Scholar’s Heart (Chronicles of Tournai #3)
Author – Antonia Aquilante
Star rating – ★★★★★
No. of Pages – 294
Cover – Stunning!
POV – 3rd person, past tense, multiple POV (Predominantly Etan and Tristan, which small instances of Philip and Amory)
Would I read it again – Yes.
Genre – LGBT, Fantasy, Adventure, Romance
** I WAS GIVEN THIS BOOK, BY THE AUTHOR, IN RETURN FOR AN HONEST REVIEW **
This has to be the best in the series so far. Though I absolutely loved the light, sweetness of Amory and Philip, and the tension between Cathal and Flavian, the story of Etan and Tristan had me nearly in tears the whole way through. Not only was it heartbreaking, with a few light moments, but I’ve waited so long to read it and how it ends up is just so unfair, after all, they’ve been through.
Well, as I expected, I absolutely LOVED this story. I’ve been waiting so long to read about Etan and Tristan and I wasn’t disappointed. But, due to not wanting to give away spoilers and being emotionally drained after finishing it, I don’t really want to say too much.
I was crying by 3% because Tristan was still perfect, I still loved Etan and now Bria was included. It was just too much for my heart to take. Then there was that conversation between Amory and Tristan. Amory, as usual, rushing to Tristan’s side in his time of need, doing everything possible to make his best friend happy and take care of him.
I hated Tristan’s mother right from the start and, as the story progressed, that didn’t change. I didn’t much like Selene either.
Seeing both sides was so much more effective in this story, because the relationship is so much more uncertain and unsettled than the previous stories. For the first time, all I wanted to do was grab them, shake them and scream at both of them about how obvious they were, misinterpreting what they thought they knew.
The brotherly talks – Etan and Cathal, Amory and Tristan, now Maxen and Tristan too – seriously killed me. They were the absolutely heart-breaking moments for me.
Overall, the story was so much sadder than the others. I must have spent about 80% of it near to tears, with the rest evenly split between smiling and crying. I’ve always loved Tristan and Etan, since they were first introduced in this series, and that hasn’t changes. But sometimes they can be such idiots!
“Tristan blinked bright blue eyes once, then again, at his harshly spoken question. Etan had loved those eyes, loved how bright everything about Tristan seemed to be. Now, looking at them just hurt.”
““I don’t want you hurt, Etan.”
“I know. So this morning needs to be the end of it with Tristan.”
“The end of everything?””
““You can, you know,” he said quietly, trying to convey all his feelings, all that he would do for Tristan in just his voice as he spoke the words. “You can break if you need to, here, with me. I’ll be here, and I’ll hold on to you, and I’ll help you put the pieces back together.””
Book 1 – The Prince’s Consort – https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1602454837?book_show_action=false
Book 2 – The Artist’s Masquerade – https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1602454848?book_show_action=false
Giveaway: Winner’s choice of ecopy of The Prince’s Consort or The Artist’s Masquerade
About the Author:
Antonia Aquilante has been making up stories for as long as she can remember, and at the age of twelve, decided she would be a writer when she grew up. After many years and a few career detours, she has returned to that original plan. Her stories have changed over the years, but one thing has remained consistent – they all end in happily ever after.
She has a fondness for travel (and a long list of places she wants to visit and revisit), taking photos, family history, fabulous shoes, baking treats which she shares with friends and family, and of course reading. She usually has at least two books started at once and never goes anywhere without her Kindle. Though she is a convert to ebooks, she still loves paper books the best, and there are a couple thousand of them residing in her home with her.
Born and raised in New Jersey, she is living there again after years in Washington, DC, and North Carolina for school and work. She enjoys being back in the Garden State but admits to being tempted every so often to run away from home and live in Italy.
She is a member of the Romance Writers of America, the New Jersey Romance Writers, and the Rainbow Romance Writers.