I would like to thank Chris Quinton for taking the time to talk to us about her latest Caravagio’s Angel. Check out my review here. There is also a giveaway, so stay tuned for that.
Two hours later, Paul stood on the steep slope of Battery Street, the bunch of keys in one hand and the boxed urn of ashes in the other. The first and second floors were accessed through the dark green door facing him, and two names were barely legible beneath the buzzers on the doorpost—Calleja and Triganza. Oliver Triganza lived on the first floor with his extended family. The second floor and the studio-cum-sun room on the terraced roof were—or had been—Uncle Larry’s domain. Now they were his. Because of the slant, the door to the ground floor apartment, where old Mrs Felicia Agius and her daughter lived, was around the corner.
The sharp gradient of Battery Street, as it turned the corner and descended the hill, meant that the Agius ladies had a balcony only on the one side. The other stories boasted both closed-in and open wraparound balconies, though all the woodwork and ironwork was in need of paint. The whole façade was shabbier than he recalled. It reminded Paul forcibly that his uncle was many months dead, and he hadn’t known.
Paul took a deep breath and unlocked the front door, opened it onto a large entrance hall with rounded arches. Ahead of him, natural light came in through the tall windows and half-glazed door that opened onto the small courtyard. A partition of glass panels separated the first floor apartment from the impressive flight of stone stairs that swept up to the floors above. Steeling himself, Paul unlocked the door and slowly walked through. The faint scent of the carved limestone blocks hung in the still air and his footsteps echoed as he climbed the stairs. The familiarity of it pained him.
He reached the wide landing on the second floor, where more windows admitted light to the area. The airy passageway angled around the stairs and the light-well. To his right, it led to the living room, bathroom and Uncle Larry’s bedroom. To his left lay the dining room, kitchen and his bedroom. Behind him on the other side of the stairs was the guest room. He paused in front of the living room door. The silence was profound. Taking a steadying breath, Paul opened the door. When he entered the spacious living room and smelled the dust and old cigar smoke, the invisible knife dug a little deeper.
Closed shutters and heavy curtains kept the room comparatively cool. And there on the far wall, where direct sunlight would not fall, was Uncle Larry’s pride and joy, an oil painting of an angel. Against the flaking white plaster, the picture’s dark frame seemed heavy, out of place. It confined the deep shadows and glowing colors in its shackles. The artist’s skill made it seem as if the painting was illuminated from within. The golden light was focused on—or came from, Paul could never be sure—the angel. The picture was about five feet high and a couple wide, beautifully executed in the style of an old master, namely Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio—the key words being in the style of. But not according to Uncle Larry.
Memories carried Paul to happier times and the echo of his great-uncle’s rich voice. ‘See, he’s still here. My Angelo. My Caravaggio. Who else used light the way he did? Who else worked straight to canvas with no preliminary sketches? I don’t give a damn what those so-called experts say—this is a Caravaggio, a rare and priceless jewel of a master’s art!’ Uncle Larry came out with the same spiel every time Paul visited, and it hurt to stand in silence now. He gazed up at the face in the painting and sighed. Like his great-uncle, he would never tire of studying a countenance very much to his taste. The appeal had grown with every passing year, exponentially so as he had discovered and come to terms with his sexuality. Seeing it again was like meeting a friend he’d known all his life.
The unknown model hadn’t been the plump-faced pretty androgyne so often featured in Caravaggio’s work. By the standards of male beauty in the artist’s time, the man was not handsome. But the proud-boned features framed in a shoulder-length tangle of black hair were real. Eyes so blue their color seared, gazed from beneath frowning brows arched like a falcon’s wing. The level glare was fixed on a point above the viewer’s line of sight, and Paul always fancied he could read accusation there. Why did you allow this…? The full, perfectly shaped mouth was set in anger and sorrow. In his clenched fists he held a cream-colored robe, splashed with blood. Gilded by diffused light, wings of iridescent black feathers were mantled, protecting the robe or whoever had worn it.
This was no adoring angel, soulful and acquiescent to God’s will. That fierce gaze challenged as well as mourned.
Lawrenz Calleja had always maintained the painting was a section removed from a much larger picture depicting the martyrdom of Saint Sebastian, cut away because
Caravaggio had refused to paint over it. He’d seen a letter from one of the artist’s patrons, or so he asserted. The writer had complained that Caravaggio was impossible— temperamental—unwilling to bow to the wishes of the one paying for his talent. Rather than change the offending section he had snatched up a knife and cut it away. Uncle Larry had been convinced the letter referred to his angel. If he was right, and scientific tests would go a long way to proving it, the panel would be worth a fortune.
From the Publisher:
A seventeenth-century artwork, a portfolio of canvases and a gorgeous man no one seems to notice— Add in a jealous brother and a scheming stranger, and Paul has inherited trouble.
Paul is estranged from his family, and inherits property on Malta from his artist great-uncle Lawrenz Calleja. It includes a portfolio of canvases Lawrenz painted over the decades, and an artwork that might be a seventeenth-century piece in the style of Caravaggio, but is more likely a symptom of his great-uncle’s obsession—the same man appears in every painting. Paul has grown up knowing that face, the man Lawrenz called Angelo. When he meets someone who matches the image exactly, Paul is hooked.
Their friendship rapidly deepens into love.
Angelo is in exile on the island of Malta—he has to learn compassion and love before he can return to his Father’s house. But he learns the lessons too well, and that proves dangerous. Nico has watched him for a long time, waiting for just this moment, when Angelo is at his most vulnerable. Nico gains an ally when Paul’s brother, Calvin, arrives in Malta. Calvin is convinced Paul inherited a fortune and is determined to claim a share of it. But the battle between Angelo and Nico is far more than it seems and the Calleja brothers are in danger of becoming collateral damage.
About the Author
Chris started creating stories not long after she mastered joined-up writing, somewhat to the bemusement of her parents and her English teachers. But she received plenty of encouragement. Her dad gave her an already old Everest typewriter when she was about ten, and it was probably the best gift she’d ever received – until the inventions of the home-computer and the worldwide web.
Chris’s reading and writing interests range from historical, mystery, and paranormal, to science-fiction and fantasy, mostly in the male/male genre. She also writes male/female novels in the name of Chris Power. She refuses to be pigeon-holed and intends to uphold the long and honourable tradition of the Eccentric Brit to the best of her ability. In her spare time [hah!] she reads, embroiders, quilts and knits. In the past she has been a part-time and unpaid amateur archaeologist, and a 15th century re-enactor.
She currently lives in a small and ancient city in the south-west of the United Kingdom, sharing her usually chaotic home with an extended family, two large dogs, fancy mice, sundry goldfish and a young frilled dragon (Australian lizard) aka Trogdorina.
Chris Quinton has kindly offered an eBook copy to 1] lucky commenter.
Contest ends 30 April @ 11:59pm CST. Must be 18 or older to win. Void where prohibited.
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.
Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,
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