Prism Book Alliance® would like to thank Antonia Aquilante for stopping by today.
Title: The Scholar’s Heart
Author: Antonia Aquilante
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Anne Cain
Genre: Fantasy, Gay Romance
Release Date: 05/30/2016
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.
Thank you so much to Prism Book Alliance for hosting me today! There are a lot of characters who populate the world of Tournai by now, some that you’ve already met if you’ve read the other books in the series and some that still live only in my mind and my notes, waiting for their time. I love creating vivid characters who feel like real people even though they live in a fantasy world in my books. I want this for both my main characters and my secondary characters, and I hope I’ve managed it for you. If you’ve read the previous two books in the series, you’ll see some familiar faces in The Scholar’s Heart, and you’ll meet some new ones as well. Some supporting characters end up shouting for their own stories, as Etan and Tristan did, and some seem content in their supporting roles.
I’ve been asked if I ever base characters on real people, and I never really have. I might take a trait or a quirk from someone I’ve met, but I’ve never done more than that. Until maybe this book. My cousin’s husband, who is a great guy and was so happy for me when my first book was published, asked me if I would make him a character in this book. Like I said, I don’t put real people into my books, but I made a little bit of an exception. I didn’t exactly make him a character, but there is more than a little of Steve in one of the supporting characters in The Scholar’s Heart. And it’s going to be a bit of a surprise because I never told him I was actually going to do it. I can only hope Steve doesn’t regret asking.
He’d done his best to let his irrational feelings go when Tristan left the tavern. He refused to ruin a friend’s evening by being in less than a celebratory mood. He thought he’d done a fairly good job of it too, until he’d found himself alone with Stefan. The two of them walked Vita home from the tavern late—or early in the morning, depending on point of view. They’d been some of the last people in the tavern, and the streets were quiet, nearly empty, by the time they left. Etan had tried to slip away and let Stefan walk Vita home on his own, not because he didn’t want to do it, but because he thought he might have seen some flirtation between them earlier, and even as annoyed as he was, he wouldn’t get in the way of a potential budding romance.
But they wouldn’t let him sneak away, towing him along through the empty streets as they continued their merry conversation. They kept to the well-lit main roads until they reached the warren of streets surrounding the university. Both Vita and Stefan kept rooms in the university quarter, so the three of them plunged off the main road onto a narrow, winding lane. The street lights were mounted on the front of the buildings here, most of which were nearly touching. Their footsteps echoed on the old, uneven cobbles that paved the lane. They didn’t meet another person the entire time they followed that lane to Vita’s doorstep.
She parted ways from them with a kiss on the cheek for each of them and thanks that were sincere if a little wry. Vita could take care of herself; she had strong Talent for offensive and defensive magics, something that often confounded many of her male colleagues, but there were enough senior scholars in the university who respected her Talent and mind that her position there was secure. She could also knock a man into a wall with a wave of her hand. Stefan often joked when they went anywhere with her, that she could protect them.
Once she was inside behind a locked door—because both Etan and Stefan were considerate enough to wait even if she could take care of herself—they turned together without a word and walked in the direction of Stefan’s lodgings. Walking with Stefan didn’t take Etan out of his way in his return to the palace, so he walked with his friend.
They hadn’t gone far when Stefan spoke. “Do you want to tell me what happened back there at the tavern?”
“Hmm? What do you mean?”
Stefan raised both eyebrows in an expression of exaggerated incredulity. “Are you really going to pretend with me?”
He shouldn’t bother. Though Stefan presented himself as perpetually relaxed and easy-going, escaping the university to go hunting and fishing every free moment he had, he was really quite sharp and observant. “Nothing happened. Nothing that mattered.”
But irrational anger and jealousy still bubbled and simmered underneath the surface.
“It didn’t look like nothing,” Stefan said, his voice mild. “I just want to make sure you’re all right.”
Etan sighed. That was the other thing about Stefan—he made merry and had a wickedly sharp tongue, but he was a good friend. “I will be. Tristan was there, at the tavern.”
“Ah.” Stefan said nothing else, just slung a companionable arm over Etan’s shoulders and left it there until they parted. Stefan knew only that Etan’s friendship with Tristan had ended badly, but he probably inferred much more.
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.
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