Title – Shadows over Milan, book five of the Night Flyer Series
Author’s name – Edale Lane
Genre – Historical fantasy action mystery/lesbian romance
Cover Artist Enggar Adirasa
Release Date November 2, 2021
page count 260 PDF/print version (246 e-book page count)
Content Warnings fighting violence, ff kissing with assumption of off-scene sex, brief scene where a character recalls an act of animal cruelty
What happens when heroes fall?
Murder strikes Milan, threatening the city’s future under an ominous shadow of war. Was it the Spanish, the Germans, the Milanese, or were darker forces at play? The city is thrust into a frenzy only the Night Flyer can quell, but can she halt the wheels of war?
Maddie’s greatest fears are realized when the Night Flyer suffers a serious injury that leaves her just short of dead. Florentina suffers more than physical pain as she grapples with a crisis of faith. Will she be forced to choose between continuing as the Night Flyer and staying with the woman she loves?
The final installment of the Night Flyer Series is riddled with mystery, political intrigue, danger, and heart-felt moments as the various storylines from throughout the saga come together in an exciting conclusion you don’t want to miss!
That night Florentina stood on Madelena’s balcony in her nightgown and robe, gazing up at the stars. The rain had passed, leaving a fresh scent in the air. As she contemplated a myriad of subjects, she felt Maddie’s arms wrap around her from behind, and was comforted by her nearness.
“What are you doing out here?” Maddie asked as she pressed her body to Florentina’s back.
Fiore exhaled in blissful satisfaction, bringing her hands to cover Maddie’s at her waist. “Contemplating the mysteries of the Universe.”
Florentina caught Maddie’s chuckle as she squeezed her tight. “Of course you are,” she cooed with delight. “And what enigma have you discerned?”
Florentina sighed and turned in Maddie’s arms to face her. “That I have limitations,” she uttered in dismay, “and I would rather I did not.”
Over a year ago when Shadow Guild assassins in the employ of a chaos lord threw bombs through the church windows onto the very row she, Maddie, and the children occupied, her Night Flyer reflexes got them safely out of harm’s way. She still bore a few light scars from the glass and large splinters that were blasted into her back. But today….
“I would say that is a drawback common to all humans,” Madelena responded.
“I was so terrified, Maddie,” Fiore admitted. “I heard the thunderous hooves, then saw, and I ran. I tried to get to her, but I realized I wouldn’t make it. I knew the horses were faster and I could not save Betta. It felt like a sword slicing me from throat to gut,” she bemoaned.
“Sweetling, I heard, saw, and experienced the same panic, the same hopeless fear,” Maddie said. She kissed Florentina’s lips tenderly, keeping her in a tight embrace. “You were swifter than I was.”
“But I wasn’t fast enough,” she lamented. “It makes me feel like, if I can’t protect the ones I love, then what good am I?”
“Come to bed with me now, Fiore,” Maddie instructed, and she led her by the hand.
They snuggled in Maddie’s oversized bed, complete with pastel satin sheets and an array of goose-down pillows. Despite the lover nestled on her shoulder and being drowned in luxurious comfort, Florentina was troubled.
Maddie placed a kiss to her cheek and slid fingers across the smooth fabric of her gown, tantalizing the flesh beneath.
“We weren’t alone,” she explained as she lay facing Florentina propped on pillows. “Betta and Matteo would not have been so far ahead of us, and you would have had time to reach them. Benetto was closest; thank God he was able to protect her.”
Florentina locked eyes with Maddie, a bewildered expression on her face. “I kissed him; I was so grateful and relieved that I kissed him.” She breathed in and out and shook her head. “I am so conflicted now.”
Maddie pushed loose brunette hair behind Fiore’s ear and kissed her tenderly. “I can only imagine.”
“It was one thing to forgive him, to not think about him at all, to be indifferent to the man,” she continued. Florentina sensed the churning of too many raw emotions. “He killed my father, and yes, he is working to better himself and he has been grandfatherly with the children, but now I have all this thankfulness and appreciation for him. It just doesn’t feel right.”
“To be honest,” Maddie said, stroking Florentina’s cheek. “I am having some of the same mixed emotions, though not with the intensity of yours. People can change. They usually don’t, but it is possible, and I believe he has.”
Florentina nodded. “Would it be a betrayal of my papa if I were to develop any measure of affection for the man who murdered him? Forgiving and forgetting is one thing, but I see him all the time now; he is part of the family. I just don’t know how I should feel.”
Madelena kissed her again and asserted, “What you need to settle in your mind and heart is the answer to one question: is the Benetto who protected Betta the same man who killed your papa two years ago?”
“That is indeed what I must determine,” Fiore agreed. “Oh, Maddie, if he had not been there… I couldn’t…” Tears streamed from her eyes in a most unfamiliar way.
“You can do amazing things, mi amore; but no one can do everything or save everyone. Betta is safe, and you did everything humanly possible. Speaking of which, you haven’t said what happened when you and Antonio caught up with the coach.”
“Oh.” The tears dried up. Florentina propped herself on an elbow and turned her body toward Madelena. “We discovered Marquis Jaquet de Lozere’s dead body. He had been stabbed.”
Concern arrested Maddie’s features. “That is indeed an unfortunate turn of events.” They gazed at each other for a long moment. “I suppose the Night Flyer will wish to investigate.”
“You are quite correct. But there is nothing I can do about it tonight.”
Another pause hung in the air, then Maddie spoke. “Let me hold you. It has been a dark day and much weighs on your mind. It is my turn to be strong for you.”
Fiore caught her lips, kissing them with life-affirming fervor. When she released them, she breathed, “I love you so much. You always know exactly what I need and are happy to give it to me.”
“You are my life, my very breath,” Maddie uttered in a husky tone. “Now, come to me.”
Maddie pulled her in and Florentina snuggled close with her head resting on one full breast and a hand cupping the other in the sweetest embrace she had or would ever know, and prayed for sleep to capture them both.
1. What inspired you to write this book? OR Tell us a little about how this story first came to be. Did it start with an image, a voice, a concept, a dilemma or something else?
The Night Flyer Series that this book concludes, began as a concept. I wanted to write something unique, so I set out to discover what time periods and locales are under-represented in historical romance novels. I also wanted to create a sort of superhero for the era. When I noticed not many recent books set in Renaissance Italy, my mind rushed to Leonardo da Vinci, one of my all-time favorite people. What if my leading woman had been a student of his and proceeded with knowledge of his many inventions? And what if an unscrupulous arms merchant killed her father leaving her to carry out the Italian Vendetta? She could invent a flying glider that would shock and awe her enemies. I then began to formulate my primary characters and the plot that would lead them through the trilogy. But, alas, Florentina and Madelena didn’t want to stop there, so I wrote two more books in the series to satisfy them.
2. What, if anything, did you learn when writing the book?
In Shadows over Milan, my main cast travels to Venice. Research taught me much about the fabulous city and one of its leading attractions – the Rialto Bridge. Did you know the current bridge has been spanning the Grand Canal since 1591? It began as a pontoon bridge in 1181, then was replaced in 1255 with a wooden one that could be raised to allow the passage of ships, because of the increased traffic to and from the Rialto Market that boomed on the other side; hence it became known as the Rialto Bridge. In 1444 a tremendous crowd gathered to witness the boat parade for the Marquis Ferrara’s wedding celebration and it collapsed under the weight. The version of the bridge at the time of my novel (which included space for vendors to sell their wares lining both sides) fell down in 1524 and the city decided the next one would be constructed of stone.
3. What surprised you the most in writing it?
How quickly I finished it! Missing in Milan was released in August and by the middle of October I had completed Shadows over Milan, the longest novel in the series. Every time I write a book, it seems I get faster at it, but I doubt that will be the case with my present work in progress as it requires all new research.
4. What does the title mean?
In the previous books in the series, the readers learn of an underworld organization that reveres war and chaos. They work behind the scenes to influence government leaders, spread dis-information to the people, and try to sow dissention within and between nations. They are called the “Shadow Guild,” and they are back attempting to manipulate France and the Holy Roman Empire into a war over Milan. The book opens with the murder of an important French nobleman, seemingly at the hands of a German, which casts Milan under an impending shadow of war.
5. Were any of the characters inspired by real people? If so, do they know?
While both Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo appear in the series and are mentioned frequently, neither one is cast in Shadows over Milan. Several historical leaders such as France’s King Louis XII, Emperor Maximilian I, and Spain’s Ferdinand and Isabella are mentioned, but none are characters in the story. Florentina and Maddie were both inspired by different sides of myself. I was a teacher for 24 years and I have an unquenchable thirst for knowledge like Florentina; I was a widow with two children at a young age like Maddie. And yep, you guessed it – I know when I draw upon my own thoughts, feelings, and experiences!
6. Do you consider the book to have a lesson or moral?
It does, or I wouldn’t have bothered to write it. To avoid giving spoilers, I’ll be very generic and list a few: forgiveness, redemption, trials of faith, seeking of wisdom, learning to let go.
7. What is your favorite part of the book?
My favorite part of the book is a scene I almost didn’t include because a few people advised me it may be disturbing to some readers, but it is so vital to understanding Don Benetto. In book one, Merchants of Milan, Don Benetto was a greedy, mean, ruthless arms dealer who was abusive to his wife and cared about no one but himself. After a life-and-death encounter with the Night Flyer, he began to re-examine his life in book two, to change his ways in book three, to learn to love in book four, and here we have him striving to make amends in book five. But why was he ever that overly ambitious brute to begin with? Villains are people too, and I felt strongly that relating Benetto’s backstory would add depth to the character and allow readers to understand how he became who he was, and therefore how he was able to transform his life.
8. Which character was most challenging to create? Why?
The most complex character to create was Don Benetto. Despite all the times assassins tried to kill Maddie, how many times Florentina was outnumbered in a fight, how disastrous Antonio’s battles while in the army, Don Benetto faced the toughest bout of them all – to become a better man, he had to defeat his old self. People can change, but they usually don’t. Few endeavors on this earth are more difficult, and to make the transformation believable, I needed to detail the steps and measures he took over the course of the series.
9. What are your immediate future plans?
I have begun work on a completely fresh novel, also in an under-represented setting: pre-contact Native British Columbia. I now live in beautiful Chilliwack, BC, and have started immersing myself in everything I can find about the First Nations people and their culture. It won’t be ready in under three months like Shadows over Milan; it may take a year to complete, but it will be done right.
Until November 23rd, you can enter to win a Kindle copy of the first book in the series (Merchants of Milan (Night Flyer Trilogy, #1).
Edale Lane is an award-winning author (Rainbow Awards, Imaginarium Awards, Lesfic Bard Awards) who also drives a truck. She is the alter-ego of author Melodie Romeo, (Tribute in Blood, Terror in Time, and others) who founded Past and Prologue Press. Both identities are qualified to write historical fiction by virtue of an MA in History and 24 years spent as a teacher, along with skill and dedication regarding research. A native of Vicksburg, MS, Edale (or Melodie) is also a musician who loves animals, gardening, and nature. When not driving around North America, she resides with her partner in beautiful Chilliwack, B.C. Canada.