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Authors: Louisa Burton

In the Garden of Sin

BOOK: In the Garden of Sin
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WHISPERS OF THE FLESH

“Enticing and erotically intriguing… A fabulous read!”

—Fresh Fiction

“Whispers of the Flesh
is a fast-paced, sexy, energetic, twisty romance … It definitely gives a lot of fodder for our own fantasies.”

—Romance Reader at Heart

“As erotically charged as the previous books,
Whispers of the Flesh
weaves humor, romance, and a dark sensuality with an interesting plot that easily jumps back and forth in time … For another charmingly erotic glimpse into the adventures behind the doors of Grotte Cachée, pick up your copy of
Whispers of
the Flesh
today.”

—Romance Reviews Today

BOUND IN MOONLIGHT

“Within these pages are three tales that carry heat, sizzle, and passion … Louisa Burton forms well-developed characters, strong conversation and enough sparks to keep the fires always lit. For those who enjoy erotic journeys that lure the audience, these tales will satisfy in every way.”

—Coffee Time Romance

“Louisa Burton is an absolute genius!… Refreshing and erotically sexy… The surprising last pages are keeping me breathless for the next installment.”

—Fresh Fiction

THE HOUSE OF DARK DELIGHTS

“Exquisite and riveting literary erotica… Readers willing to be seduced into a world of dark sensuality and sexual taboos will be spellbound.”

—Romantic Times Book Reviews

“A very sexy bit of Victorian erotica to entice the mind and senses… a captivating tale… Pick up
House of Dark Delights
and indulge yourself.”

—Romance Reviews Today

A
LSO BY
L
OUISA
B
URTON

Whispers of the Flesh
Bound in Moonlight
House of Dark Delights

For my Evil Twin and her husband,
Pamela Burford Loeser and Jeffrey C. Loeser,
with love and gratitude for your support,
friendship, and kick-ass Thanksgivings

Blessed Isidore, in the last chapter of his 8th book, says: Satyrs are they who are called Pans in Greek and Incubi in Latin. And they are called Incubi from their practice of overlaying, that is debauching. For they often lust lecherously after women, and copulate with them; and the Gauls name them Dusii, because they are diligent in this beastliness. But the devil which the common people call an Incubus, the Romans called a fig Faun; to which Horace said, “O Faunus, love of fleeing nymphs, go gently over my lands and smiling fields.”…

That which appears true to many cannot be altogether false, according to Aristotle (at the end of the
De somno et uigilia
, and in the 2nd
Ethics)
. I say nothing of the many authentic histories, both Catholic and heathen, which openly affirm the existence of Incubi.

Malleus Maleficarum
by Heinrich Kramer and Jacob Sprenger, 1486

Fair ladies, if man were to spend a thousand years in rendering thanks to his Creator for having made him in the form of a human and not of a brute beast, he could not speak gratitude enough.

The opening of “The Pig King,” the inspiration for
“Beauty and the Beast,” from
The Facetious Nights of Straparola
by Giovanni Francesco, 1553

  AM IN MY AUTUMN YEARS now, sitting quill in hand before a high, arched window in the library of my marble palazzo overlooking the Grand Canal, preparing to record the events that had driven me, as a virginal young Englishwoman of gentle birth, to seek an education in whoredom.

Almost four decades have elapsed since my fateful decision, following much deliberation and prayer, to pursue such a course, but that decision and its aftermath, which altered my life in ways unimaginable at the time, are branded indelibly into my memory.

The curtain opened on my tale on the eighteenth day of July in the year of our Lord 1626, when I still lived in London, where I had been born and reared. Through covert inquiries, I had ascertained that there was a visitor to that city, a Venetian
nobleman and poet named Domenico Vitturi, who acted as a Pygmalion of sorts to young women from every corner of Europe who sought to improve their circumstances through the exalted form of prostitution for which Venice had long been notorious. Under his direction, the prospective courtesans were groomed in the social graces and such gentle pursuits as singing, dancing, gaming, and rhetoric, as well as in the mysteries of the bedchamber, in preparation for their introduction by him to aristocratic gentlemen who would pay handsomely for their company and their favors upon their arrival in Venice.

Signor Vitturi, who was said to be worth four million ducats—the equivalent of one million pounds sterling!— assumed all costs pursuant to this endeavor. He paid for his apprentices’ transportation to Venice, bought them lavish new wardrobes, provided houses, servants, food, even their own gondolas. Their every need was provided for until such time as they could support themselves in a queenly enough manner to suit him. It was not unusual, I learned, for his hand-picked, carefully trained courtesans, renowned far and wide for their beauty and accomplishments, to enjoy the company of princes, cardinals, even kings, and to amass extraordinary riches of their own. They bedecked themselves in the finest jewels and silks, and it was said that some even owned fully staffed palaces as grand and opulently furnished as those of their wealthiest benefactors.

I was astounded. Whores living in palaces?

Such was the depth of my ignorance in matters of a worldly nature. As the only child of learned parents, well tutored but cosseted on account of my sex, I had found myself, at one-and-twenty years of age, a bookish innocent. Although I prided myself on my erudition and my enlightened attitude
toward affairs between the sexes, my knowledge of those affairs was largely theoretical.

So naive was I that it did not even occur to me to wonder what benefit Signor Vitturi might accrue from all this beneficence until it was explained to me that his chosen few were expected to keep themselves at his sexual disposal from the moment he took them under his wing. In this way, he maintained a virtual harem of some of the most extraordinary and cultivated beauties in Europe. Aside from occasional visits to his bed, however, no other recompense was expected of them. Their earnings were entirely theirs to keep.

That summer, Signor Vitturi had selected three candidates, two Italians and an Englishwoman, to travel with him to a secluded French castle called Château de la Grotte Cachée, where their education in courtisanerie was to take place. It was Vitturi’s custom when visiting Grotte Cachée for this purpose, which he had done five times previously, to bring along a few companions. This time, one of them was to be the most influential, if controversial, man in England outside of the royal family: George Villiers, Duke of Buckingham, erstwhile favorite of the recently deceased King James, and now chief minister to James’s son, the new King Charles.

Desperate for a solution to an agonizing dilemma, the nature of which I was loath to admit openly for reasons that will become clear, I resolved to contrive an audience with Signor Vitturi in the hope that he would deem me worthy to partake in this venture. And so it was that I found myself, that damp and unseasonably chilly morning, being ushered by a liveried footman into the high-ceilinged, darkly paneled great chamber of York House on the Strand, where Vitturi was a guest of Buckingham.

BOOK: In the Garden of Sin
9.33Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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