Thanks for having me on your blog today, Lex! I’m Antonia Aquilante, and my new book, The Artist’s Masquerade, came out December 21st from Dreamspinner Press. The Artist’s Masquerade is the second book in the Chronicles of Tournai series, but it can be read as a standalone if you haven’t read the previous book, The Prince’s Consort, yet. It’s the story of Cathal, cousin to the prince and son of a duke, and Flavian, an artist on the run.
In The Artist’s Masquerade, Flavian spends the majority of the book disguised as a woman as he tries to escape the restrictive and dangerous conditions in Ardunn, his home country. When I was thinking about Cathal’s story, what would become this book, inspiration for Flavian’s disguise came after I finished reading a m/f romance that included the crossdressing trope, in which the heroine disguised herself as a boy to gain more freedom in her life. I’ve read books that used the trope before, but this time it sparked an idea. I thought it would be fun to turn the trope on its head and play with it a little. Usually the heroine adopts the disguise willingly to accomplish some aim of her own and the hero finds himself attracted her like that, though he’s often disturbed to find himself attracted to a man. Which wasn’t going to be the case here. Flavian disguises himself as “Lady Flavia” as he runs from his home. Flavian hates the disguise and the role he has to play while wearing it. In fact, he thinks the whole idea of doing it, which was his friend Velia’s, is utterly crazy and will never work. But he has no better ideas. He consoles himself that the plan is for him to remain in disguise for only a short while.
Of course that goes out the window almost immediately. Flavian finds himself trapped into continuing his role, and at the royal palace of all places. His attraction to Cathal is an additional complication he doesn’t need while trying to maintain his disguise under so much scrutiny, especially when he finds out Cathal is attracted to him as well. Something that doesn’t change when Cathal finds out who Flavian really is. But Cathal is betrothed to Flavian’s friend and Flavian must keep up his disguise until he can find a way to disappear, leaving them in quite a tangle. I hope you enjoy seeing how they figure it out.
The Artist’s Masquerade
by Antonia Aquilante
M/M Fantasy Romance
Series: Chronicles of Tournai
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Anne Cain
Release Date: December 21, 2015
Length: Novel (300 pages)
As the first-born son of the Duke of Tournai and cousin to the prince, Cathal has always tried to fulfill his duty to family and country, including following through with an arranged marriage to Velia, cousin to the emperor of Ardunn. But it’s Velia’s companion, Flavia, who fascinates Cathal. Cathal doesn’t know that Flavia is really Flavian, a man masquerading as a woman to escape Ardunn, a restrictive place in which Flavian’s preference for men is forbidden.
Even when Cathal discovers Flavian’s true gender, he cannot fight his attraction to him. Flavian is intrigued by Cathal, but Cathal is still betrothed to Velia, and Flavian worries Cathal is more taken with his feminine illusion than the man beneath it. While both men battle their longings for each other, spies from Ardunn infiltrate the capital, attempting to uncover Tournai’s weaknesses. They are also searching for Flavian, who possesses a magical Talent that allows him to see the truth of a person just by painting their portrait—a skill invaluable to Ardunn’s emperor.
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 and the New Jersey Romance Writers.
Giveaway: One signed paperback copy of The Prince’s Consort, the first book in the Chronicles of Tournai series. (Paperback for US entrants only; if winner is international, they’ll receive an ebook.)