Hi Rebecca! I appreciate so much you letting me stop in to talk about Victory Portrait. Though not a true historical, the world resembles our own at a point just prior to industrialization. Gunpowder has been discovered; scholars understand the world is round and orbits the sun; and hygiene is better than our Middle Ages. Also, pantheism may actually be true—but I digress.
Today I want to talk about the point of arranged marriages in Uttor’s otherwise liberated society.
In the fourth Pride of Uttor book, Victory Portrait, the Uttoran emperor tells young Peta Kordeun in no uncertain terms that Peta and his family—indeed all imperial captives—are imperial assets, and the emperor, though fond of them, has every intention of treating them as such. One of the themes of the series is how the captive Kordeun family members are married off to secure alliances and territory.
Emperor Gaspar is politically canny. He knows that humans can be incredibly useful assets. Human minds, skills and bodies have worth. That worth is decided by the society and culture we live in, and no society exists in which human beings lack economic, social, or political value.
History records the many ways in which humans can be used to secure alliances, exchange property, enrich, protect, or feed the more fortunate, reward the loyal, and merge bloodlines.
Such is the case in Uttor. The Kordeun siblings possess royal rank, educated minds, and extraordinary beauty. In Uttor those qualities are highly valued and competition to acquire these lovely captives as consorts is fierce. Beautiful mates have been status symbols throughout history, about which Uttor is no different, but a royal mate confers advantages guaranteed to elevate any partner’s social standing. To obtain on is the highest honor.
Better yet, Gaspar himself has decided to marry Peta’s pretty sister.
The emperor wishes for Peta to become the consort of his favorite general, Darius. Darius and Gaspar have a history and are as close as brothers. But they are not brothers and Darius is, in fact, of ordinary birth. His military rank and long record of victories carry him only so far in the political arena, where he must square off against his social betters. Being homosexual is not an obstacle in Uttoran society (though it was death sentence in Peta’s). What limits a man of Uttor is being born into a lesser social class.
Gaspar has come up with a plan he’s certain will make everyone involved, including him, happy. Darius is his best friend and the empire’s greatest general. A great asset. Peta is the beautiful son of a conquered king and brother to the woman Gaspar plans to marry. A politically advantageous asset. Combining assets seems like the best of all worlds. What could possibly go wrong?
You got it. Everything.
Book Name: Victory Portrait
Series: Pride of Uttor
Release Date: April 6, 2016
Categories: Alternate Universe, Fantasy, Gay Fiction, M/M Romance, Romance
Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/29851588-victory-portrait
Publisher: Resplendence Publishing
Cover Artist: Melody Pond
Imperial captive and former Sebboyan prince Peta Kordeun has one great wish: to meet Darius Arrento, conqueror of his country and a man he has idolized since childhood. That wish comes true the day the Uttoran emperor assigns Peta to assist the artist who will be painting the great general’s official portrait.
General Darius Arrento would rather take a crossbow bolt through his flesh than sit for a portrait, until his friend the emperor forces his hand. The notorious artist, Brazzi, uses semen and other sexual fluids to bind his colors—and Arrento is captivated by the artist’s pretty helper. Before long he is driven to possess the gorgeous young man who draws battle maps and whose naïve charm has won more hearts in Uttor than Arrento has won battles.
When Arrento learns that Peta, the slave he covets and wants for his own, is one of the despised Kordeun princes, he storms from Uttor toward a far corner of the empire—where he quickly finds himself embroiled in a plot to tear Uttor’s empire apart. His emotions and loyalties frayed, the great Arrento is in the battle of his life…and Peta may hold the key to his survival.
“You want me to assist the painter. Only that?” Peta asked.
“Yes. I just want you to understand you will be naked and…Brazzi will want you to be sexually aroused.”
“It’s what Brazzi does. Not for himself—not unless you’re a woman—but for his method. He was tried three years ago on charges of obscenity because he uses…sexual fluids for mixing his paint. He truly is a genius. His colors are astonishing.”
“And you want Arrento to see me like that? Naked and…being used?”
“No.” Gaspar was being firm. “I want a portrait of my general. And I happen to think that the sight of you will keep his ass firmly planted for whatever sittings the painter requires. You see, Darius has one weakness—only one. He cannot resist a thing of beauty—and you, my pretty slave, are the most breathtaking young man I have ever had the privilege to look upon.”
Peta flushed. Gaspar wasn’t smiling. The man was serious.
Could he do it? Did he want to do it? Peta knew he was pretty. His looks had blessed and cursed him all his life. His beauty had attracted Kesme as a fellow cadet and was what Kesme had praised that last night when they’d made love…and Peta’s face was what Lukacz, his own father, had sought to destroy, thinking that doing so would release him from predation and unnatural desires. And now Gaspar, too, wanted only one thing…
“Just sit there and look pretty,” he said, heart sinking as he grasped what Gaspar was asking him to do.
“Only if you’re willing. I’m not completely oblivious to what this sort of service might entail. It could be rather…awkward. On the other hand, it might not be for long. Darius can be stubborn. It’s possible he won’t show up.”
And just as possible that he would.
Peta wanted to say no but he could not get his mouth to form the word. He might never get another chance to see Arrento, perhaps hear his voice. Be in the same room with him.
He’d be silent…naked…terribly exposed even in his utter worship.
But he would at least be able to say he had seen the great man.
“I’ll do it,” he said.
Tali Spencer delights in erotic fantasy and adventure, creating worlds where she can explore the heights and shadows of sexual passion. A hopeful romantic and lover of all things exotic, she also writes high fantasy and science fiction. If you would like to see inspiration pictures for her characters, or glimpse how she envisions her worlds, check out her Pinterest boards.
Thanks to a restless father, she grew up as a bit of a nomad and still loves to travel whenever she can. Her longest stint in one place was Milwaukee where she went to college, enjoyed a series of interesting careers, and raised three surprisingly well-adjusted sons. She later married her true love and put down new roots in Philadelphia, where she lives in an ongoing Italian American family sitcom. At least she’s learned how make good pasta. When not writing, Tali reads everything from sweet goofy romances to medical research, manages her fantasy football team—go Gekkos!—and takes long walks with her loving, if slightly neurotic, poodle.
Tali’s other books include the three preceding Uttor books: Captive Heart, Dangerous Beauty, and Adored, all with Resplendence. Her gay male high fantasy stories, Thick as Thieves, Sorcerer’s Knot, and The Prince of Winds, are published by Dreamspinner Press. She often posts free stories and excerpts on her blog.