Title: Dangerous Works
Author: Caroline Warfield
Genre: Regency Romance
A little Greek is one thing; the art of love is another.
Only one man has ever tried to teach Lady Georgiana Hayden both. She learned very young to keep her heart safe. She learned to keep loneliness at bay through work. If it takes a scandalous affair to teach her what she needs to complete her work, she will risk it. If the man in question chooses not to teach her, she will use any means at her disposal to change his mind. She is determined to give voice to the ancient women whose poetry has long been neglected.
But even poetry is dangerous when you partner with the love of your life.
Some scars cut deeper than others. Major Andrew Holden returns to Cambridge a battle-scarred hero. He dared to love Georgiana once and suffered swift retribution from her powerful family. The encounter cost him eleven years of his life. Determined to avoid her, he seeks work to heal his soul and make his scholarly father proud. The work she offers risks his career, his peace of mind, and (worst of all) his heart. Can he protect himself from a woman who almost destroyed him? Does he want to?
She attempted to make her work, as always, her sturdy bulwark against the blows of life. This time, the work only added to her emotional vortex. She read the epigrams with new eyes, and what she found there disturbed her. “Erotos” she knew meant love, certainly, and romantic love at that. How should I translate this line? she wondered.
“‘Nothing is sweeter than love.’”
“‘Nothing is sweeter than Eros.’” In English the meaning tilted slightly with the change of wording. The next phrase appeared to be about delight or pleasure.
“Definitely Eros,” she said to the empty room. Whatever it is, Nossis prefers it to honey. Yesterday, Georgiana wouldn’t have understood. Love has a taste; she knew that now. She recalled the feel of Andrew’s mouth on hers, and the taste when he opened and let her explore. The taste was sweeter than honey, indeed. She felt warmth rise again deep within her. Heat colored her neck and pooled deep in her belly.
The words of Nossis hadn’t changed since yesterday, but Georgiana had. Andrew had kissed her when she was a girl, sweet innocent kisses, not like he had kissed her the day before. The raw pleasure of it opened her eyes to Nossis. She understood nuance and meaning she didn’t see before. What other secrets do they hold? With these distractions, how will I ever finish the translations?
“‘Nothing is sweeter than desire.’”
“‘Desire,’ Georgiana?” They had moved on to the poet Nossis of Locri, and to more treacherous ground.
“‘Erotos’ is very specific,” she said with more confidence than she would have a month ago. “I could translate it as ‘love,’ but each of the five or more Greek words that could be translated as love has a slightly different meaning. I could translate it as ‘eros,’ using the actual word, but in English that is pretentious. ‘Nothing is sweeter than Eros’ doesn’t ring true.”
“Perhaps not,” he said but withheld comment, allowing her to consider her choices.
“Isn’t Eros also another name for Cupid?” she asked. At his nod she continued. “That left desire. I think eros or erotos refers to physical love. Am I correct?”
She had been pale, his Georgie, when he first encountered her weeks ago. Lately she had a sweet rosy glow, but today a bright pink colored her neck and face.
“Plato understood Eros as the deep longing of one soul for union with another,” he explained. “Could ‘longing’ be your word choice?”
“‘Nothing is sweeter than longing.’’ Interesting. I’m not sure that conveys the author’s intent in this case.”
“Perhaps not. ‘Desire’ does come closer,” he said and continued reading her translation, “‘All other delights are lesser.’ Clumsy that. You might invert it, move the negative, and it becomes ‘No other delights come as high’ or ‘are as great.’”
“That isn’t quite right either.” Her willingness to contradict his suggestions delighted him. He watched her worry her lower lip with her teeth in the adorable way he had come to expect before she went on. “‘All other pleasure takes second place,’ perhaps?”
It was an excellent suggestion. The teacher in him kept his tone even or he would have overwhelmed her with delight. “Your variation works very well. It will do nicely. ‘Pleasure’ or ‘delight’? Your initial translation was ‘delight.’ Did you consider ‘joy’?”
“‘Pleasure.’” Her voice was firm, but the delightful rosy color rising up her neck deepened. Knowledge doesn’t always come from books.
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Caroline Warfield grew up in a peripatetic army family and had a varied career (largely around libraries and technology) before retiring to the urban wilds of Eastern Pennsylvania, and divides her time between writing and seeking adventures with her grandson and the prince among men she married. She reckons she is on at least her third act, happily working in an office surrounded by windows where she lets her characters lead her to adventures in England and the far-flung corners of the British Empire. She nudges them to explore the riskiest territory of all, the human heart.
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