Blog Tour + Giveaway: Ardent by Heloise West

Celebrate the release of Ardent by Heloise West with the author and Embrace the Rainbow Promotions! Check out the exclusive excerpt and enter in the Heloise West backlist giveaway!


Title: Ardent
Author: Heloise West
Publisher: Manifold Press
Release Date: February 1st 2017
Genre: Historical MM Romantic Suspense



In the village of Torrenta, master painter Morello has created a color that mimics the most expensive pigment of all, the crimson red. Master Zeno, from strife-ridden Medici Florence, tells him the color gives him a competitive advantage – but Morello must be careful. Fraud is ever-present in the dye and pigment markets.

As they work together in Torrenta, Morello falls hard for Zeno’s assistant, Benedetto Tagliaferro, a young man of uncommon beauty and intelligence. Benedetto is still fixed on his old lover, the master painter Leo Guisculo, and cannot return Morello’s affections.

But when Leo dies in a terrible accident, it’s to Morello that Zeno and Benedetto turn for help. And Morello soon finds that in Florence, every surface hides layers of intrigue.

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The village of Torrenta, Tuscany, June 1475


The sun thrust warm fingers into the ancient Tuscan earth. The gray-green leaves of the olive trees shimmered, and the woods beyond beckoned Morello to abandon the painters’ workshop for their cool refuge.

In the growing heat the apprentices inside settled into an afternoon nap, curled on benches in dark corners behind him. The harsh fumes of linseed oil and varnish had irritated Morello all morning, and he was unable to sleep in the miasma. Perhaps before their visitors from Florence arrived, he might escape the heat. A long tramp in the woods pulled at his bones.

He reached for the walking stick behind the door, but a horse’s whinny stopped him, and a man’s voice called out. When no one stirred within to answer, he cursed the sleepers and stomped back through the shop, thwarted. In the lane in front of the workshop, two men removed packs from their horses.

“Good day, Master Zeno!” From the doorway, Morello called to the older of the two. “You made good time!”

At the sound of Morello’s voice, the apprentices roused themselves from sleep and peered around him.

The gray-haired master raised his hand and smiled. “Good day, Master Morello.”

Master Zeno’s companion, a tall young man with flowing golden hair, took the older man’s pack for him and shouldered the straps of both.

“Take their horses to the stable and fetch Master Franco,” Morello ordered the apprentices, and they hurried to obey.

Master Zeno’s journeyman brushed dust from the sleeve of his sweat-stained linen shirt, slapped more dust from his long thighs, and ran a forearm across his brow. His smile was uncertain as his glance met Morello’s.

Donato stood at the window yawning and scratching his stomach. He shaded his eyes for a better look into the misty glare of the afternoon. “Who’s the beauty with the master?”

Donato’s fellow journeyman Primo jumped to his feet and crowded against Morello in the doorway. “Can it be? He’s brought Tagliaferro?”

Donato groaned. “The man you’ve been mooning about since you last went to Florence, Primo? You’ve only just finally shut up about him.”

Morello ignored them. His irritation over his interrupted walk had vanished. Primo’s garlic- and onion-laden breath on his neck registered only remotely. He gazed out at the man from Florence, who, in Morello’s memory, had once been a long-legged boy with a head of yellow fluff too big for his skinny body. Morello stepped out into the sunlight that appeared to pour itself over the grown man, and stretched out his hand in greeting. Maintaining frank eye contact, Benedetto Tagliaferro adjusted the packs and took his hand.

When flesh met flesh, Morello stumbled – at least, his heart did. As if the wind from the beating wings of the love-inspiring putti he had painted just that morning pushed them toward each other.

“Do you remember me?” Benedetto asked with the shadow of that boy’s grin.


Exclusive Excerpt #2
Morello returned to the street. Benedetto followed, taking his arm as if they were friends strolling to their dinner. He spoke softly, heard by Benedetto alone among all the other citizens filling the street with the buzz of conversation.
“Will you break my heart?” Morello asked.
“You speak foolishly,” Benedetto whispered.
“Did you give all of your heart to Leo? Did you hold nothing back for the someday when a man like me came along?”
“I never thought you would. You are late!” His jocular tone was belied by the sudden tense grip on Morello’s arm. “It worries me. They all watch.”
Morello’s heart twisted for Benedetto. “You were young when the Night Officers questioned you. It has made you fearful, and I do not like to see you worry so.”
The hooded blue eyes filled with suspicion, glanced at him, then away. “It’s not just them. It’s other workshops and painters, the masters and the patrons. We all are fighting up this ladder for commissions and respect. I have never expected wealth in my life but Leo promised me a certain amount of material comfort through the workshop, with time.” The suspicion changed to sadness, deepening the blue of his eyes to the colors of twilight over the fields at home. “My father fought against the Medici long ago and lost everything. Leo wanted their patronage, but maybe my family name held him back. Maybe that’s why he pushed me from him?”
“Maybe I will hold you back. The Medici never forget.” Now hot anger bloomed in those eyes, sharpened the gaze he turned on Morello. “What if – ”
“Enough. Where does all this darkness come from?” Did they not just have the stolen joy of each other in that grotto of Benedetto’s?
Perhaps Leo Guisculo had planted these seeds of doubt that now bloomed in the poisonous atmosphere of the master painter’s death. Would Benedetto truly not be free of the spirit of Master Leo until he had avenged him?
“I cannot tell you, but I fear I will have to,” Benedetto said.

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About the Author


Heloise West, when not hunched over the keyboard plotting love and mayhem, dreams about moving to a villa in Tuscany. She loves history, mysteries, and romance of all flavors. She travels and gardens with her partner of thirteen years, and their home overflows with books, cats, art, and red wine.

Links: Blog | Website | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Tumblr | Goodreads



  1. I'm partial to modern conveniences so I'll stick with the present, thanks.

  2. Thanks for supporting the tour xx