Book Name: Victory Portrait
Series: Pride of Uttor Book: Four
Release Date: April 6, 2016
Pages or Words: 78,600 words
Categories: Alternate Universe, Fantasy, Gay Fiction, M/M Romance, Romance
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.
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Thanks, Nephy, for having us as guests. Today I’ve brought along—okay, dragged…I had to drag him—Sar Darius Arrento, Uttor’s foremost general and all around badass. He’s the main character in Victory Portrait, so the perfect man for answering your questions.
1) What or who is the greatest love of your life?
Uttor is my greatest love. People may be surprised by that, given my passions, but my first love is for my country. I love its history and traditions, its ethics and values…and I love its emperor, though not in that way.
2) What is your favourite journey?
In terms of seeing other lands, I am fondest of Tabar. It is a land of warm sun, pink and gold beaches, and very polite people. Nearer to home, I enjoy the two-day ride to my estate in Verossa, which becomes most pleasant when taken at leisure with supplies of good wine, fine cheese, and a delectable companion.
3) What is your most marked characteristic?
People tell me I’m stubborn. I prefer the word ‘tenacious’.
4) When and where were you the happiest?
I think that would be at the end of this story. Before that, I would say I was happiest in the weeks following my friend Gaspar’s coronation as Uttor’s emperor. I had slain Leonnte blood and, even with Gaspar’s pardon, had needed to purge my earthly spirit by performing penance for Chasca, our goddess. Cruel penance for a cruel but necessary deed. When I emerged with my spirit cleansed, I felt my burdens lifted from me and I was happy. My friend was emperor and our bond stronger than ever. Uttor was safe. The world presented only opportunity, not obstacles to life and limb.
5) What is it that you most dislike?
The bloody necessity of war. Followed closely by camels.
6) What is your greatest fear?
That the Tyrpoes should grow powerful enough to invade Uttor. If you are not afraid of this, you do not know Tyrpoes.
7) What is your greatest extravagance?
Beautiful youths. I have spent outrageous sums on pretty men, both in the buying and the wooing. Ultimately the money has never been well-spent because I bore of them.
8) What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
I can be unforgiving. Not every insult is intended as I perceive it, nor always deserving of my harsh reaction. Decisions in the field are made with great calculation, but I am not always as patient when it comes to personal matters.
9) What is the trait you most deplore in others?
Treachery. A person who will stab another in the back can be trusted with nothing. Such a snake is not fit to hold my chamber pot.
10) What do you most value in your friends?
Trust. I would not have as a friend any person I did not trust with my life. I don’t have a lot of friends.
11) What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
Honesty. It is a good thing, to be sure, but needs care in the wielding. Sometimes truth is necessary, and so must be delivered. Other times, however, honesty is but an excuse to inflict pain or harm. A low blow may be honest, yes, but not good.
12) On what occasions do you lie?
When the truth is imprudent or cruel. By nature, I am not cruel—though I have done many cruel and terrible things. I will not use the truth to inflict suffering. Also, I will lie about what I am doing to promote a military advantage.
13) What is your greatest regret?
That I left Uttor and was not there to deal with King Lukacz’s rebellion. I wanted to kill that man. The chance arose—and I was not present!
14) If you were to die and come back as a person or thing, what do you think it would be?
A lion. Lions are the protectors of Uttor. I am a protector, and I would want to continue as such.
15) What is your motto?
Screw you. Though the one printed on my banner says No Surrender.
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.
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