Recommended Romantic Reads
Book: The Casanova Papers
Author: Kate Zarrelli
Ellie Murphy takes a contract teaching English at a school in Venice. There she meets the sexy, enigmatic Professor Piero Contarini, from an ancient Venetian family, and agrees to help him in his work curating a new edition of the memoirs of the famous seducer, Giacomo Casanova. Taking their task seriously, they start to enact his adventures with each other, ecstatically revealing their own kink sas they do so. But who is watching them from the shadowy alleyways of Venice?
Kate Zarrelli is the romance and erotica pen-name of Katherine Mezzacappa. Kate is Irish but now lives in Carrara in Northern Tuscany, between the Apuan Alps and the Tyrrhenian Sea, with her Italian husband and two teenage sons. She is the author of Tuscan Enchantment (eXtasy: Devine Destinies). Kate/Katherine writes historical, erotic, feel-good and paranormal fiction, set allover Europe, and in her spare time volunteers with a used book charity of which she is a founder member.
Social Media Links–Twitter: @katmezzacappa
Masked and dressed in 18thcentury costume for the Venice Carnival, Ellie goes with Piero Contarini by gondola to St Mark’s Square; first they have a drink at the famous café, Florian’s. As if he had read her mind again—how is it he does that—he said, “Casanova loved observing a woman’s hands.” He took both of hers and stroked his thumb across her palm. “He liked them small, and smooth—tapered fingers like these ones. Her feet too...a lovely ankle in a neat shoe...a smooth rounded neck. He loved women dressed as you are now, Ellie, where he had to imagine what lay beneath, once those intricate layers were peeled back, one by one.” She saw his eyes glitter darkly behind the impassive mask. “Pornography is so tedious, so soulless,” he said suddenly. “We live in a world where nothing is left to the imagination, yet lovemaking isn’t just the act, it’s the thinking about it, the anticipation, the longing—don’t you think?” Ellie nodded, thinking her breathing too loud. She felt her nipples stiffen just looking at his mouth forming those words, desire sparking like a lit fuse right through her body. Within the hoops of her dress she shifted on her seat, her thighs parting slightly. There was a flicker of those dark eyes behind the mask. He’d seen her restlessness. Piero folded a bank note and anchored it under his empty glass. “Shall we go back to the party?” It was a party like none other, all about seeing and being seen, a parade. It’s a relief, in a way. Nobody knows who anyone is, and nobody really talks to anyone except who they’re with. We just look, and wonder. In the loggetta at the base of the bell-tower of the basilica was a string quartet, dressed all in white in eighteenth-century costumes. Even their hair and faces were white, as were the instruments they played—a group of marble statues come to life. Ellie was enthralled as the music of Vivaldi soared into the night air, only a few paces away from where the composer had worked as an organist in the church of the orphanage of Venice. “This is magic,” she breathed, turning to Piero. To her bewilderment, she realised he was no longer holding her hand. Where is he? A Pierrot in a black mask, his—or her—face framed in huge white petals, loomed up before her, hands weaving before her face. “No!” cried Ellie, feeling suddenly that the crowd was hemming her in. She spun round. A woman in a bustled Victorian dress watched her through the feathered mask that covered her eyes. Ellie saw her mouth open and realised that the woman was laughing at her. She turned away. The crowd heaved around her. Stiff masks with inscrutable eyes gazed at her, emotionless. The atmosphere was utterly changed. She was in a strange place, amongst people who cared about nothing except revelry. Then inexplicably, a space opened up amongst the tulle, the taffeta, the silks, the feathers, and she saw Piero—or a man dressed identically. Hanging on his arm, and stroking it with an insistent paw, was a figure wearing a jewelled cat mask on a lithe body encased in close-fitting velvet, its clean lines relieved only by a tutu, its layers encrusted with—what?—marquesites? Mirrored beads? On a night like this, Ellie thought, they could be diamonds. Piero’s head was bent to hear what the cat was saying, so Ellie couldn’t see his eyes. It was the cat who saw her first. She raised a paw to her whiskers and held her head prettily to one side, then patted Piero on the mouth, before rising on points—ballet points—and pirouetting away. Piero was immediately at Ellie’s side. “I thought I’d lost you in all these people,” he said, taking her arm. Ellie forced a smile. I don’t know if I believe you, but who am I to complain?