We’re so pleased to welcome author Tali Spencer to The Novel Approach today, on the tour for her latest novel, Victory Portrait. Enjoy Tali’s guest post, and then be sure to check out the Rafflecopter giveaway below, where you can enter for the chance to win a $10 e-gift card.
The Cult of the Beautiful Boy
Victory Portrait has a lot to say about beauty. The celebrity status of beautiful young men has been a feature of societies throughout history. The idealization of youthful beauty in Ancient Greece is particularly well-known, but the aesthetic and sexual allure of beardless young males is a common feature of many cultures—including our own. Teen idols famed more for their looks than any other reason are just the latest incarnation.
Mythical beauties female and male often attracted the sexual interest of gods. Aphrodite became enraptured by beautiful Adonis. Zeus pursued and impregnated many beautiful women (whose offspring became demigods), but he also abducted a gorgeous young boy, Ganymede. Ganymede became cupbearer to the gods and was the only one of Zeus’ lovers to be made immortal.
Beauty confers a kind of immortality even among mortals. One of the most famous beauties in antiquity was Antinous, a Greek youth from the Roman province of Bithnyia who became the favorite of the Roman emperor Hadrian. When Antinous drowned at the age of twenty years, and at the height of his beauty, Hadrian arranged to have his lover declared a god. Hadrian ordered temples built to the divine youth, named a star after Antinous (he tried for a constellation but the Roman Senate shot down that notion), and had a city built bearing his lover’s name.
When beauty has such a powerful hold on the imagination, other things get tossed completely aside. Adonis and Ganymede are mythical, but we know very little about what Antinous was like as a person. Everything we know about him is filtered through the more famous Hadrian. Ultimately the beauty is overshadowed and only the celebrity survives.
For that reason, beauty as a character trait has a tendency to come off as shallow. It sometimes seems that every character in a romance novel is beautiful, with the possible exception of a villain—and they’re often beautiful too. But I don’t think beauty is shallow. Like any other quality a person might possess, the character owns it and has developed either weapons or defenses, and often both.
In my Uttor series, elements of beauty-worship buttress each story. Uttoran society is sexually open, and attractive persons of all orientations are praised, raised to celebrity heights, and coveted as conquests. There was an example of this in the second book of the series, Dangerous Beauty: the alluring male courtesan Yanni, who has access to even the highest strata of society. The beauty of the title, however, is Endre, a foreign prince and imperial captive whose golden good looks attract a kind of attention he would rather not have.
Though Endre’s beauty is the first thing readers or other characters know about him, he undergoes a transformation that lets us know him as a person. The Kordeun royal family at the heart of the Pride of Uttor series has beauty to spare, and their captivity to the Uttoran emperor, which happens in the first book, plays out as each sibling encounters danger, passion, and love. In some cases beauty is an advange; in others it bestows a kind of curse.
In the newest book, Victory Portrait, the Uttoran emperor presents the youngest Kordeun prince, Peta, with an opportunity to meet Darius Arrento, the great general Peta worships. That opportunity creates danger, however, when Arrento learns that Peta—who he thinks is a slave—is really a prince. Wanting a beauty is simple, no strings attached…until the beauty becomes a full person.
A beautiful boy. A powerful man. History in the making.
About the Book
Series: Pride of Uttor – Book Four
Length: 244 Pages/78k Words
Publisher: Resplendence Publishing
Categories: Alternate Universe, Fantasy
Blurb: 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.
About the Author
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.
Follow the Tour
18-Apr: Prism Book Alliance
19-Apr: Decadent Delights
20-Apr: Bonkers About Books, Full Moon Dreaming
21-Apr: Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words
22-Apr: Fangirl Moments and My Two Cents
25-Apr: The Novel Approach, Happily Ever Chapter
26-Apr: BFD Book Blog
27-Apr: My Fiction Nook
28-Apr: Bayou Book Junkie, V’s Reads
29-Apr: Oh My Shelves
2-May: Elisa – My Reviews and Ramblings, Book Lovers 4Ever
3-May: Kirsty Loves Books, Open Skye Book Reviews
4-May: Alpha Book Club
5-May: Wicked Faerie’s Tales and Reviews
6-May: Molly Lolly
9-May: A.M. Leibowitz
10-May: Divine Magazine
11-May: Love Bytes, Man2ManTastic, The Fuzzy, Fluffy World of Chris T. Kat
12-May: Andrew Q. Gordon, Nephy Hart, Rebecca Cohen Writes
13-May: Louise Lyons, MM Good Book Reviews