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About the author:
Libre Paley spent a number of years living and working in several different countries before returning to her home country of England. Since then she has made her home in the windswept and sometimes wild moorlands in rural North Lancashire, a brooding and stark landscape from which she derives much inspiration.
In addition to her full-time job, she is raising her children, and sits down (or remains standing up) to write in her non-existent spare time.
What inspired you to write your book?
A life-long book-lover, I writes because I enjoys it, and I write erotica because I enjoy that too, especially when it is honest, sensual, and features strong women. This book was inspire in particular by my travels in Eastern and Central Europe and by a love of history.
Here is a short sample from the book:
Erdély, December 1st 1872.Extract from Gabriela’s diary.
Winter suits my beloved. Today saw the arrival of December’s chilly kiss, the shake of sleet that glides under the iron-studded outer doors of the Castle, shadowy evenings and long nights. This drift into dark allows him to roam beyond our high walls without fear of harm.
Inside fires warm us, alight under every chimney, kept banked by the staff, and we are thankful that the season’s welcoming shade lies all around. In his bed it is the warmest of all, heated by our love-making. Though he will insist upon separate chambers. I assumed this to be a matter of decorum before the exchange of marriage vows, but no; we will continue to follow this arrangement throughout our union. There is much to learn about how the nobility is required to conduct itself.
Then, too, I have a great amount to learn of my betrothed. Bathed, night-gowned, and scented, it has become my practice to creep in to his apartment, having waited out a decent pause after he presses his chaste parting kiss to my hand. Each evening since our earliest meeting, the dawn of the first day of November when he took my virginity. Mere minutes after we met. Because I knew. We both knew.
He has schooled me both in affairs of the bedroom and of the aristocratic estate. I a raw country-town girl of not yet twenty, a lawyer’s daughter of the petite bourgeoisie. My lover chose me for my spirit, he said, and reassures me that I give him no cause for regret. Indeed, he marvels at what a quick study I am, crinkling to a smile as he congratulates himself on his own excellent choice. Over time, I gain understanding of what he likes me to do, for him, to him, with him.
All our nights with one another, I discover where to touch, to lick, when to go fast, slow. One moment I am plying him with tenderness, the next he is urging me to take command. To seek sweet release for myself and to not falter until I am sated.
I relish how alike we look, as if bad twins separated at birth. Black of hair, pale of skin, he not my match for slenderness, though his musculature is lean, with eyes of an obsidian depth where mine shine the golden-brown of a tiger’s-eye stone. Today he is the lofty King to my quiet pawn but, given time, I believe our partnership can become one of equals.
We share a passion for the outdoors, but at the height of day he needs me to fetch the scents and sensations of the outside to him. Circumstances force him to restrict his own movements, yet he encourages me, adores me to hold the tang of bitter air on my skin, to see my pale cheeks made pink. At these times he will gather me against him to capture the cool of me.
Throughout my formative years I have been chaperoned, even at the age of nineteen, allowed nowhere without my sisters, a governess, my mother, or sometimes our maid Gertrud. My infantine memories are of hours spent perched in stifling rooms, devising small talk, forced good manners making my cheeks ache, when I longed for open space. Now, ensconced on his ancestral property, a few miles then a world away from my childhood home, freedom tastes of cold, of early mists, and nocturnal frosts.
Denied pets as a child, I can indulge my delight in having animals around me. He has bought me a horse, a Friesian with hair black as my own, that I have named Este. The mare is built for cross country. Clad in a habit of breeches under my skirts I ride out, kidskin gauntlets on my hands, cantering until my breath rasps, traversing the grounds a great number of miles at a time. Though in one month I have still to reach the outermost limits of his land. Soon to be our land.
More grudging was his agreement that I choose a kitten from a new kindle sired out in the stables. A low-born moggy of a creature, ebony sleek. Needless to say I hold an inevitable affinity with her, feeding her on raw minced fowl and permitting her into my rooms. She has no name; I call her simply Cica—‘Kitty’.
If convention allowed it, I would spend half of my time outside, but my love reminds me there are duties to attend to, to undertake the running of the household. Also that I must dress in a manner appropriate to my station.
He insisted on ordering the latest fashions from Paris and called a seamstress up from Kolozsvár to adjust them and make copies of anything my mind conjured. I favour the slimmer silhouette, with the longer bodice that is the recent fashion. Finding myself uninterested in gaudy colours and frivolous detail, I instead select clothes and designs of a simple severity, most often in sober hues. Though I cannot help but pander to my fondness for having sumptuous fabrics next to my flesh—silk, velvet, and cashmere. After years of coarse linen, plain poplin, and scratchy wool, they bring voluptuous reprieve.
Underneath, too, I deem it a different circumstance. I select the softest satin and batiste, sewn with the flimsy chafe of fine thread-work. I have ordered up camisoles, under-petticoats, jupons, and bed-gowns rich with Valenciennes lace and embroidery. Each corset is of silk or of solid lacework, the garters of frilled cameo fastened with buckles and bows. Before my small audience of one I parade these confections, permitting him to draw the delicate ribbons through the multiple eye-holes of my corsetry as I practise how to tantalise through the art of wearing little.
This morning I was up before the day broke. None but two or three of the servants were about, sounds of bakery clattering from the kitchens. I let the dogs out and walked with them, breathing out garlands of white. I wished I had thought to have Este saddled up for me, but then seeing a soft early snowfall, I became a giddy child. Into my palm I scooped up a portion, rolling a ball of tiny winking crystals, intending to bring him a souvenir of light and air.
Upstairs, to my perplexity, he all but dismissed my gift, the merest of patient smiles when I merrily brushed the snowball’s freezing chill to his serious cheek. Next moment he held me by the shoulders, his face insisting I grow calm. He had something to tell me, he said; I had to listen, and to trust him.
I froze as rigid as the snow turning to ice in my grasp, dropped to the floor as I perceived its burn. I feared my dearest had changed his mind, was calling off our wedding. Bowed to the disapproval of his family, the weight of which had been the one blight on our new-found happiness.
To my relief, he took my wrists and his eyes locked onto mine as he told me never. Never, he said, assuring me of his unbreakable devotion.
I have only further to add that it was the next worst thing. After being awarded these past few joy-filled weeks together, István has to leave. To go far away from me.