I first encountered this author when I read one of his historical novels. I liked the book a lot, but had a couple of problems with it, and wrote him a long e-mail about the book. His reply was gracious and understanding, and a further exchange of e-mails followed.
His newest novel will be available from Dreamspinner Press on July 31st of this year. See link below.
Where My Love Lies Dreaming
by Christopher Hawthorne Moss
As the famous riverboat Le Beau Soleil lazily steams down the mighty Mississippi into the heart of the South, distractions of every sort attempt to pull agent for the Treasury Johnny Stanley away from his assignment. While liquor and gaming are no great temptations, his fascination with Le Beau Soleil’s owner, the debonair Frankie Deramus, means Johnny’s steadfast denial of his attraction to men is no longer feasible. Johnny fights his lust, but when he must come to Frankie’s aid, he can’t ignore his urges any longer.
Their passionate love affair falls apart when Johnny refuses to admit two men can be in love. A bitter confrontation between the lovers at a Mardi Gras masquerade forces Johnny to run north. Frankie tries to follow, but the Southern states secede one by one, making it impossible to track Johnny down. The Civil War pits brother against brother and separates lover from lover. When at last the lovers meet again, it’s on the battlefield….
Categories: Novels, Americas, Christopher Hawthorne Moss, Historical
Book Type: eBook and paperback
Twilight descended before Le Beau Soleil left Cairo for points south on the river. Johnny found he shared a stateroom every bit as elegant as Lehrer had described. Johnny relaxed when he met his roommate, a mousy little man with spectacles, a parson or some such.
He made his way to supper in the grand cabin, which he found fitted out like a Paris restaurant. It had a design of fleur-de-lis and sunbursts on the wallpaper, framed paintings of what he assumed to be scenes of New Orleans, and furniture upholstered in the same forest-green velvet as the curtains on the windows. Elaborately carved and gilded doorframes seemed a touch too much even in all this luxury.
Johnny looked up and up at the tall ceiling, at least three decks high, he guessed, and saw the fading light shining through the stained-glass skylight. As a steward led him to his table, he caught sight of the statue in the fountain. The Apollo Belvedere, if he was not mistaken. His cheeks flushed pink at the magnificent physique of the god. The statue’s arm extended gracefully. His genitals were, indeed, masked with a white cloth of some kind. Johnny felt drawn to the solemn face, with its marble lips that seemed somehow soft and warm.
At the sound of a cleared throat, he realized the steward had pulled out a chair for him at a table. He thanked the man and sat.
Johnny sat at a table with well-dressed but obviously second-class passengers, two women, mother and daughter, neither attractive, and three men. Instead of a dinner party seating, which alternated men and women, they sat with people they knew or by themselves. Two of the men were obviously friends or colleagues, judging by their familiarity. The third was a middle-aged man whose bald head reflected the light from the elegant chandeliers.
“So, Mr. Hamilton, you going to get in on a game this evening?” one of the younger men, a pudgy fellow in a too-tight suit, asked.
“I might, Mr. Knowles. At least I will have a look. They say Deramus is a cold-blooded fellow, which I guess you have to be to be a cardplayer.”
Mr. Knowles’s companion, Mr. Casey, who turned out to be a fellow surveyor, joined the conversation. The three talked about what they had heard of Frankie Deramus and how he did not always win, but when he did win—often enough—he always won big.
The older woman pressed her lips tightly together. “Gamblers are the worst sort of people!” she declared. Her daughter, a fork of salad greens on its way to her mouth, stared at her.
“Worse than a murderer, Mrs. Montane?” the bald man said, his lips twisted in a sardonic smile.
“Cheaters, bounders, river slime. Debauchers of innocent women. Catholics,” she concluded, adding emphasis to the last word.
Johnny turned to Mr. Knowles, who sat next to him. “Can you point out this Deramus fellow?”
“Sure thing. He’s over there, the fellow who needs a haircut, the one with the thin mustache and the big gem in his cravat.” He pointed to a table not in front of, but near the scandalous statue. “See him? He’s looking over here right now, in fact.”
Johnny followed the man’s pointing finger straight into coal-black eyes. That must be Deramus. The only one at the table of high-class folks who fit Knowles’s description, he stared straight at Johnny.
“Must have a sixth sense for attention,” Mr. Casey put in. “Knew we were talking about him.”
Mr. Hamilton chuckled. “That type always thinks he’s the center of attention.”
Johnny could not tear his eyes away from that steady gaze. He had no doubt Deramus looked directly at him. Why? Did he have some sort of sign on his forehead? Was the man really what Lehrer had said, a Miss Nancy, and could he see if another man liked other men? Johnny frowned and tried to look away. When he finally started to turn his face, he saw the man smile amusedly and lift his glass of wine in a salute. Johnny felt his face go red.
He wanted to go watch Deramus play cards that night, but he didn’t. Instead, he sat in his stateroom and read a newspaper while his mousy roommate studied a Bible.
That night, he dreamed of marble arms coming around him, turning him, and marble lips that were indeed soft and warm on his own. It felt like the statue had grown a thin mustache.