I’ve finally revamped my author site (Can you believe it? I had “The Vampyre’s Revenge” listed as “coming soon.”) mostly because I have a new ebook due out from Dreamspinner Press on the 28th of August. It’s entitled “Call Me But Love” and it’s four separate but entangled views of Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” with the relationship between Romeo and Mercutio the central focus of each story. From the Dreamspinner website:
Mercutio is a funny, moody, complex foil for Romeo in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, but in the four stories presented here, each an independent tale, Mercutio’s love for his friend goes far deeper, always somehow entwined with the fates of Romeo and Juliet.
The first tale sets the trio back in Renaissance Verona, where Mercutio vies for Romeo’s love. Romeo is oblivious, but the love triangle has deadly consequences. Next, we find Romeo and Mercutio in Victorian England. Though Romeo knows Mercutio loves him and returns his passion, he struggles to fit his desires into the strict mores of the day. The third story takes us to post-WWII America, where war-weary Romeo, Juliet, and Mercutio long for the right to love whom they choose. The final story in the collection brings the three characters into contemporary times, a band on a road trip that will change their lives forever.
I chose the title from the balcony scene where Juliet, musing on the irony of loving an enemy says: “Romeo, doff thy name,/ And for that name, which is no part of thee/ Take all myself.”
Romeo replies, saying: “Call me but love, and I’ll be new baptized./ Henceforth I never will be Romeo.”
Love has changed him and he will change for love. This is the thread that follows him throughout the four stories in this collection; Romeo must decide to brave everything, to change, to become a different person in order to love whom he will. In each story he moves a little closer to being able to become the person he wants to be. The path isn’t always smooth or simple. Here’s an excerpt from the second story, “Give Me a Case to Put My Visage In”:
“What are you thinking, Montague?” David Mercutio, Lord Ackham, appeared at Romeo’s side, peering out from behind a red and gold Venetian Scaramouche mask. He was wildly out of place in a room filled with ladies and gentlemen waltzing in their formal attire.
“Why are you wearing that?”
“I found it in the garden. I am of the opinion there was some naughtiness occurring out there earlier.”
“And I am of the opinion you are eccentric and difficult. Take off the mask, and look at that girl over there in the silver-gray gown, the one with your brother. What do you think of her?”
Mercutio shoved the mask upward. The long golden nose made him look like a demented unicorn. “Capulet’s daughter? Pretty enough, not much of a dancer.”
“Really? Lord Valentine just danced with her.”
“My brother is a terrible dancer too. He wouldn’t know the difference.”
“I’m thinking of wooing her.”
Mercutio was gleefully shocked. “Madman! Scandal!”
“No, really. It makes good sense. The feuding has to end sometime, doesn’t it?”
“And how will you do that, Montague? How will you win her father’s consent?”
“By winning the girl, of course. She’s his only child. He almost certainly dotes on his little girl.”
Mercutio nodded thoughtfully. “You make a good point. Perhaps I should marry her and use those earrings to pay my gambling debts.”
Romeo rolled his eyes. “She wouldn’t have you; your reputation is foul.”
Mercutio clutched at his chest. “Harsh words. I am a marquess after all, dear boy. Reputation notwithstanding, my title rather trumps your bank, don’t you think?”
Romeo was annoyed but refused to show it. He was frustrated because his family remained without a single title in spite of owning a successful banking concern and their long-time support of the crown.
“I suppose we’ll see if you decide to woo her, which we both know you won’t.”
“She’ll not have you either.” Mercutio pulled the mask back down over his face.
“I think she will.”
“Shall we wager on it?” Mercutio’s sardonic mouth twisted into a smile beneath the appalling gilded visage of Scaramouche.
“All right, then, what shall we wager? You have no money.”
“If you win the maid’s heart I will….” Mercutio stared upward for a moment or two. “I will speak to my father and suggest that it is past time the Montague family is recognized for its service to the country. Harold Montague OBE has a nice ring to it.”
“So does Romeo Montague OBE.”
“And what have you done for the country, you little upstart?”
Romeo conceded it was a bit early to look for his own honors, but one for his father would be a leg up into the nobility. “Well, what about Sir Harold?”
“I will do what I can. More I cannot promise.”
“Not so fast. Your wager is not yet on the table.”
Romeo possessed the coin that would bind the wager. It was the one thing Mercutio had wanted from him since they’d met. “You shall have the thing you want most from me,” he promised coyly.
Mercutio tipped his head. “How if I say I am no longer interested?”
Romeo shrugged and looked back at the Capulet girl who was laughing at something. Who had made her laugh? He’d have to get her away from the other men to pursue his plan. “I’ll woo her, wager or no. It matters not to me. And then….” He turned back to Mercutio. “Should I win the wager, what do you lose?”
“All right, then, done. For such a pretty boy, you have the personality of a wasp.”
Remember, release date is August 28th. Cover by Reese Dante. Let me know what you think of “Call Me But Love.”