Book Title: The Art of Love
Series: The Golden City, Book One
Author: A.B. Michaels
Publication Date: 4th May 2014
Publisher: Red Trumpet Press
Page Length: 360 Pages
Genre: Historical Fiction
Your Journey to The Golden City begins here... FORTUNE…SACRIFICE…PASSION...and SECRETS A tale of mystery, social morality and second chances during America’s Gilded Age, The Art of Love will take you on an unforgettable journey from the last frontier of the Yukon Territory to the new Sodom and Gomorrah of its time - the boomtown of San Francisco. After digging a fortune from the frozen fields of the Klondike, August Wolff heads south to the “Golden City,” hoping to put the unsolved disappearance of his wife and daughter behind him. The turn of the twentieth century brings him even more success, but the distractions of a hedonistic mecca can’t fill the gaping hole in his life. Amelia Starling is a wildly talented artist caught in the straightjacket of Old New York society. Making a heart-breaking decision, she moves to San Francisco to further her career, all the while living with the pain of a sacrifice no woman should ever have to make. Brought together by the city’s flourishing art scene, Gus and Lia forge a rare connection. But the past, shrouded in mystery, prevents the two of them from moving forward as one. Unwilling to face society’s scorn, Lia leaves the city and vows to begin again in Europe.
The Golden City offers everything a man could wish for except the answers Gus is desperate to find. But find them he must, or he and Lia have no chance at all.
Buy Links: The Art of Love — The Depth of Beauty — The Promise — The Price of Compassion — Josephine’s Daughter — The Madness of Mrs Whittaker
[Gus Wolff has hired the artist Amelia Starling to paint a mural of a property he owns across the bay. They have just returned from visiting it.]
It was nearly dark by the time they boarded the ferry in Sausalito. Lia and Gus sat side by side and he put his arm around her. The gentle sway of the boat was like a lullaby and her eyes began to droop. Ever so gently, Gus pressed her head against his chest. The next thing she knew he was shaking her just as gently.
“Wake up, Lia. We’re back in the city.”
The ride home in his open car was cold, but Gus had bundled her up in two blankets this time and put her almost-forgotten red hat back on her head. Still, she was wide awake by the time they arrived back at her bungalow. She didn’t want their time to end. Should she invite him in for coffee? Would he think her a loose woman if she did? He solved her dilemma by insisting that he come in and build up her fire. He tossed his coat on the table and knelt next to her small fireplace.
“Thank you for today,” she said quietly, standing next to him as he worked up a respectable blaze that would warm her through the night.
He rose to his full height and faced her, standing close. “Believe me, the pleasure was all mine.”
At that moment she realized how big he was compared to her, and yet how calm and deliberate his moves were, as if he thought she were made of china and might shatter. Somehow the thought bothered her. “I’m not quite sure what we are to each other, but … but, would you like to kiss me goodnight?”
Gus gave her a crooked smile. “Well, let’s see. Would you like me to kiss you goodnight?”
She raised her chin. “Well, I …”
“First the hat,” he said, ignoring her hesitation and moving her slowly backward. “It’s all about the hat, you know.” He pulled off her beanie and tossed the cap onto the table before taking both of his large hands and running them through her long, dark locks, spreading them about her shoulders. “Then it’s about your beautiful throat.” As if he had every right in the world, he calmly unbuttoned her jacket and removed it from her shoulders, tossing it on top of her cap. He bent his head to inhale her and nipped her just below her ear. “Then the lips,” he murmured before lowering his mouth to hers. Gently. Softly. After a moment he raised his head.
“I won’t break,” she whispered. She could hear the slightly petulant tone in her voice and wondered if he’d take offense.
She looked up to see a slow smile make its way across his face. He had backed her up to the wall. “Then you’d better hold on,” he said.
Resting one forearm on the wall beside her head and taking her waist in the other, he cocked his head and leaned in to capture her mouth. Not gently. Not softly, but powerfully, as a chieftain might claim his consort, his tongue brooking no disobedience from her. The intensity of his kiss declared passion barely leashed; it demanded an immediate response. Lia moaned and pushed her hands up the front of his shirt, half intending to push him away but changing course midstream and reaching up to twine her fingers around his neck. An explosion of feeling like nothing she had ever experienced engulfed her. She felt the hard planes of his body fit themselves to her soft curves and begin to move, giving her a taste of what he was capable of. Her breath hitched and he took the kiss deeper, letting her know that he wanted more. So much more.
And much to her chagrin, she might have given it to him right then and there if the knock on her door hadn’t broken the spell so abruptly.
“Lia, where have you been, darling?” Sandy called as he opened the door and entered the living room. Fortunately, the door blocked his immediate view of them.
Lia did push then, and Gus stepped away, running his hands through his wind-blown hair and telling her with his eyes that this was not over. “I … I was just saying my goodbyes to Mr. Wolff,” she said, smoothing her own hair and stepping out so that Sandy could see her.
Sandy looked from one to the other, and from his expression Lia could tell he knew exactly what was going on. Still, he was the soul of propriety. “Ah, Mr. August Wolff, is it? I don’t think we’ve had the pleasure.” He stuck out his hand and Gus shook it, nodding.
“Mr. de Kalb, I take it.”
Sandy smiled jovially. “One and the same. I just came to check on my … cousin … since I hadn’t talked to her all day.” Sandy, blast him, actually seemed to be enjoying the awkward moment his arrival had caused.
Gus looked at Lia for a moment before taking his coat from the table. “Well, it was a very productive day, Miss Starling. I look forward to showing you the space I have in mind for the mural. I’ll be in touch.” He nodded again at Sandy. “Good night, Mr. de Kalb.”
“Good night, sir.”
A native of California, A.B. Michaels holds masters’ degrees in history (UCLA) and broadcasting (San Francisco State University). After working for many years as a promotional writer and editor, she turned to writing fiction, which is the hardest thing she's ever done besides raise two boys. She lives with her husband and two spoiled dogs in Boise, Idaho, where she is often distracted by playing darts and bocce and trying to hit a golf ball more than fifty yards. Reading, quilt-making and travel figure into the mix as well, leading her to hope that sometime soon, someone invents a 25+ hour day.