Today we welcome Belinda McBride to Two Men to talk about her latest release, The Tenth Muse.
With His Sweet Breath…Zephyrus
The Tenth Muse is a love story featuring characters from the Greek Pantheon. It’s quite a cast of characters, so I thought I’d take a moment to introduce readers to a few of the supporting gods and goddesses. Some are familiar, so not so much.
Zephyrus is a fairly major deity in Greek mythology. I first heard his name through Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. He’s the God of the West Wind, and the bringer of the Spring. There are strong connections to Spring and life and re-birth, so to me, I visualize him as a good natured man, with pale golden-red hair and vivid green eyes.
He was best known for his part in the myth about the youth Hyacinth, who was the lover of Apollo. Zephyrus was also infatuated with the youth, and was quite jealous. When Apollo and Hyacinth were practicing the discus, a gust of wind from the west blew Apollo’s shot astray, sending it wild to strike Hyacinth…killing him.
Of course, Zephyrus denies everything and we only have Apollo’s word on what really happened…
In The Tenth Muse, Zephyrus plays a small, but vital role in the story. He’s the close friend and reputed lover of Hermaphroditus, the half-brother of our hero, Eros. Zephyrus is a bit of a busy-body, but doesn’t mind getting his hands a little dirty when it’s time for mischief.
It’s quite possible that the God of the West Wind is bearing a torch for Herma, one that is unrequited. As you read The Tenth Muse, you’ll notice that wherever Herma goes, he’s always accompanied by light breezes that lift his hair and whisper secrets in his ear. Those are wind sprites Zephyrus has sent to live with Herma. While the sprites are children of Zephyr’s creation, they are not of his body, and they will never “grow up.” When I wrote them, I perceived them like little fairies or pixies. They are completely loyal to Herma, aiding him as servants, company and as spies.
As a god associated with spring, of course, Zephyr is associated with goddesses with similar attributes. He was married to Chloris, also known as Flora, a nymph of the Elysian Fields. He pursued her, carrying her away and ravishing her, but took her to wife. He also was the lover to Iris, the Goddess of the Rainbow, who was the messenger of Zeus.
As an author, I take liberties, reading various sources, picking and choosing the characters I like and embellishing them to suit the story I’m writing. Choosing who to include is much like standing before a massive buffet filled with beautiful and appetizing selections…it’s hard to decided which goes on the plate! The more I played with Zephyrus, the more appealing he became, so someday…he might wind up in a story of his own!
In a wicked game, the God of Love falls to his own arrow, and a gentle scholar learns how dangerous knowledge can be.
Aphrodite has had it.
It was bad enough that her son Eros walked a fashion show in drag, but did he really have to show the entire world his wings? Desperate to rein in the impulsive young god, she recruits the scholarly muse Rees to lure him back to Olympus until the scandal dies down.
After hundreds of years, Eros has finally located the reincarnation of his former love, Psyche. The only way to her heart is through fame, so the God of Love plans a daring campaign to win her back. Yet the closer he gets to Psyche, the more he’s drawn to a geeky young professor who came crashing into his life.
Eros drags Rees into his wicked world of high fashion and risqué parties, only to expose him to danger from an unexpected source. When Rees’ secrets come out, they threaten to destroy Eros’ love for him. Yet when Rees is kidnapped, Eros is forced to turn to the woman who set this catastrophe in motion—his mother, Aphrodite.
Reader Advisory: This book contains some scenes of kidnapping/captivity and graphic scenes of death and violence. This book also contains references to/discussions of rape.
“What else do you know about Eros? Not me, but the god.” He was intrigued. Granted, Rees seemed to know a great deal about…well…everything. But it was just weird to hear him talking about the historical version of Eros.
“He loved long and true. Odd, that the god you say symbolizes lust is one of the few who had only one consort and one child.”
He pressed his eyes closed at the mention of his daughter, Bliss. She’d been his blood, half-divine, but like her mother, she’d finally succumbed to mortality. And like her mother, she’d chosen forgetfulness and rebirth. She’d been a mere heartbeat in his long existence. The memory of her made his heart ache. Sometimes he spotted a man or woman on the street, his gaze drawn by golden hair and blue, blue eyes. His grandchildren, hundreds of generations removed. It was another thought he avoided.
“It’s all fairy tales and fantasy, Rees.”
“Yes, of course. But people created these mythological beings out of a need for explanation. For comfort. They needed reassurance that there was more to the world than hard work and eventual death.”
He waded out farther, still facing Eros. His hands drifted in the clear water. “And think of it, Eros. Most of the Greek pantheon were rather fearsome characters, representing that which they feared and what they desperately needed. Apollo promised that when we woke in the morning, the sun would rise. Poseidon controlled the seas—when fishermen didn’t come back, it was the god’s will. And the fertility deities, Aphrodite, Hermes, Demeter…so very many gods and goddesses to pray to for successful crops and children. Then there was Eros. He was all about love. Not the weather or the crops or pregnancy, but quite simply…love. That was an amazing step forward in social development.”
Eros waded out into the water, enjoying the sensation of the sand slipping under his feet. He smelled salt on the air and thought of his mother. “He sounds a bit unnecessary to me.”
Rees turned and smiled at him. “He sounds like the creation of an evolving society.”
For a moment, Eros was afraid Rees would see his erection and be spooked, but even as the thought crossed his mind, warm water slipped up over his hips, hiding his groin. He tried to see if Rees was aroused, but the ebb and flow of the water revealed nothing.
Without much thought, Eros gave himself to the ocean, gliding under the surface, smiling a brief greeting to the tiny fish darting past.
Nearby, Rees was cutting through the water as though he’d been born to it, gliding down into the depths then rising, breaking the surface in a smooth, tireless stroke. The water was shallow. Eros skimmed along the bottom and kicked upward, rolling onto his back to watch the stars.
The version of Eros that Rees had described seemed like a stranger. How long since he’d really cared about others? He’d certainly known about Justin and Alejandro, but hadn’t been concerned enough to intervene. He’d worried over Rosalinda, and had almost talked himself out of the idea that she’d once been the love of his life. Because how could she be Psyche when he felt little for her beyond lust and a warmth that warred with his annoyance at her selfish behavior?
Beside him Rees drifted, completely comfortable in the water. Like Eros, he watched the sky, smiling at the path of a falling star.
“Did you make a wish?”
Eros blinked, surprised at how much the saltwater stung his eyes. “Yeah. I made a wish.”
He wished the hollow spot in the middle of his chest would go away. He wished that the two young men back at the hotel would gather up their courage and grab their happiness. He wished like hell that Rees would touch him, just brush a hand against his cheek. Nothing happened, and his buzz faded away. When he looked up, they’d drifted far down the beach.
The lights of the hotel were distant. He wanted nothing more than to keep drifting, away from his past and his present. Away from the heartache of Rosa.
His eyes were burning again.
A strong hand settled on his arm and the gentle surf tugged them back to shore. He landed on the sand with his head pillowed on Rees’ chest, his ass coming to rest on boney knees. Rees wrapped his arms tightly around Eros’ shoulders. He held on as the waves tugged at them, pushing, pulling and bathing them in warmth and the tingle of sea foam. It felt odd to have someone else holding him. And when a strong, graceful hand settled over his heart, Eros could no longer blame the ocean for the sting in his eyes and the salt on his cheeks. He turned his face into Rees’ chest and he cried.
Belinda was born in Inglewood, California, but grew up far to the north in the shadow of Mt. Shasta. While her upbringing seemed pretty normal to her, she was surrounded by a fascinating array of friends and family, including various cowboys, hippies, scoundrels and saints.
She has a degree in history and cultural anthropology, but in 2006 made the life-changing decision to quit her job as a public health paraprofessional and stay at home full time to care for her severely disabled niece. This difficult decision gave Belinda the gift of time, which allowed her to return to writing fiction, which she’d abandoned years before.
Belinda’s hobbies include soap making, dog shows, collecting gemstones, travel, and Chinese martial arts. She has two daughters, three Siberian Huskies, two Salukis, and an array of wild birds that visit the feeders in the front yard.
As an author, Belinda loves crossing genres, kicking taboos to the curb, and pulling from world mythology and folklore for inspiration. She won the Passionate Plume in science fiction for her m/m romance An Uncommon Whore and the EPIC in paranormal romance for Blacque/Bleu, and in science fiction for The Bacchi. She, along with co-authors Cherise Sinclair and Sierra Cartwright were nominated for an RT Reviewer’s Choice Award.
You can find Belinda on the web at her website, goodreads, Facebook and Twitter.