Today I'd like to talk about scarlet women, since in my new release the heroine, Keliana, is a courtesan who must wear scarlet to identify what she is.
The term scarlet woman has often been used to describe prostitutes, and in ancient Greece they were required to wear distinctive garments much like Keliana is in the story, while in later periods of history they were required to either shave their hair or wear veils in public.
However, Keliana is not a prostitute but is instead a courtesan. Originally a courtesan was a female courtier, a person who attended the court of a monarch or other powerful figure. Often in the past, royal couples led separate lives, marrying for the purposes of alliance and because of bloodlines, and would seek companionship from people living at court. The closest, intimate companion of a ruler was called the 'favourite'. Over time the word evolved from meaning 'to reside at court' and eventually came to mean 'court-mistress'.
At the beginning of the story Keliana herself is the Harem Mistress of the Imperial Prince Sethan, who rules over all over princes, promoted to that position by Sethan's father before his death. Brought to the harem when little more than a child, it's the only home and life she's ever known, but with Sethan's marriage, his new wife has decided to dissolve the harem, leaving Keliana's fate hanging in the balance. She dreams of freedom, and the right to be with the man she loves as a free woman.
However, things do not turn out quite as planned...
Keliana is an imperial harem mistress, but that doesn't stop Jareth Nikolai from wanting her. A colonel in the imperial fleet and the prince's right hand man, Jareth has earned his reputation as a loyal, stone-cold soldier, but thoughts of Keliana heat his blood to boiling--even though she's the property of his prince.
Keliana knows it's forbidden, but she can't get the handsome colonel of out of her mind, nor can she ignore her dreams of one day loving him openly as a free woman. When she's called before her prince and given to Nikolai as a gift, she thinks her dreams have finally come true. Until Nikolai is raised to prince and cannot marry his harem mistress.
And deep within the shadows, enemy machinations work to keep them apart forever...
Available now from: Amazon | Amazon.co.uk | ARe | OmniLit