Merchants of Milan by Edale Lane [Book Spotlight – Historical Lesfic]

Merchants of MilanEdale Lane has a new FF historical romance out, book one of the Night Flyer Trilogy: “Merchants of Milan.”

Three powerful merchants, two independent women in love, one masked vigilante.

Florentina, set on revenge for her father’s murder, creates an alter-ego known as the Night Flyer. Madelena, whose husband was also murdered, hires Florentina as a tutor for her children and love blossoms between them. However, Florentina’s vendetta is fraught with danger, and surprising developments threaten both women’s lives.

Merchants of Milan is the first book in Edale Lane’s Night Flyer Trilogy, a tale of power, passion, and payback in Renaissance Italy. If you like gadgets and gismos, rich historical background, three-dimensional characters, and fast-paced action with a slow-boil lesbian romance, then you are sure to love this series. Buy this one of a kind novel today and let the adventure begin!

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Merchants of Milan MemeIn the wee hours past midnight only a week after the attack on Viscardi’s weapons shipment, Florentina crept out of bed. She had paid close attention to each floorboard in the room, determining which would creek even when too dark to see them. She crouched at the chest at the foot of her bed and felt the secret buttons carved into the decorations that when pressed in the proper sequence would open the hidden compartment comprising the bottom third of the storage space. There was just enough moonlight shining through the window for her to see its contents.

She glanced up at the sleeping Angela. Don’t worry; she won’t wake up. That tea I made for her will keep her out until morning, she thought and pulled out the drawer beneath the false bottom of the trunk her father had designed. She lifted out a black silk blouse with long, fitted sleeves and a pair of black leather leggings and supple black lace-up boots. Next she retrieved the matching coif and facemask that completed the ensemble. Underneath them in the compartment were safely tucked away the tools and weapons she had devised to carry out her vendetta. She spied a half dozen iron spheres about the size of small caliber cannonballs only fitted with wicks. Some were explosives while others were merely smoke bombs. These were what she had used on the caravan, both to create confusion and to destroy the cargo.  I won’t need these tonight. Beside them was a curious device about as long as her forearm with a cylinder in the middle and a crossbow configuration at one end with a handle and trigger mechanism at the other. She pulled it out dragging behind it a cord with which she could strap it to her waist or hang it over her shoulder.  Better have this just in case.

Leonardo da Vinci invented or improved upon hundreds of weapons, many of them during his years in Milan, years when Florentina had observed and even helped with experiments. She recalled his schematics for a rapid-fire cannon with twelve barrels set in a kind of wheel which was turned by a large crank. He had explained to Duke Sforza how the artilleryman would load all twelve then light the variable length fuses and turn the crank. They would fire one after the other with no reloading in between each shot. Sforza had turned down the design complaining that to be feasible the barrels would be too small and range would be lost. He was also concerned the contraption would be too heavy to move, especially if the ground was muddy. Florentina took the design and modified it for a lightweight miniature crossbow, only with eight slots instead of Leonardo’s twelve. She had tested several prototypes before being satisfied with this one. True, it did not have great range, but it was accurate and could fire the shots as quickly as she operated the trigger. It gave her an advantage over foes armed with a conventional crossbow or arabesque which could only fire one shot at a time.

Next she removed a black leather belt and short scabbard that held an eighteen-inch carbon steel arming dagger.  Also attached to the belt was a length of cord tied to a small grappling hook. Definitely need these, she decided. Last, she ran her hands over a black leather pack bag with two shoulder straps instead of one and two hooks at the bottom that clipped onto steel rings in her belt. It was the largest item in the chest. She hesitated, then lifted it out, taking one more glance at the sleeping woman. Always be prepared, she confirmed, and proceeded to peal out of her nightgown and slip into attire as dark as pitch.

Once completely transformed, she looked at herself in the mirror. No hair showed, her physique was obscured, and her face was unrecognizable. One would not know she was a woman with her height and slender build. She was a phantom, a highwayman, an obscure shadow in the night. Satisfied, she slipped on thin black leather gloves and tiptoed out toward the storage room where she could take the drainpipe to street level. From there it was about a fifteen minute jog to Viscardi’s warehouses. This was planned as a spying mission, but she needed the outfit of a thief in the event she was spotted. She patted one of the pouches sewn into her belt and felt the familiar lock-pick tools and she sensed the buzz of excitement, the thrill of the hunt, and the rush of danger. No, Florentina knew she was not a typical female, but she really didn’t care. She was her father’s avenging angel and nothing would get in her way.


Benetto was sleeping restfully in his great, feathered, four-poster bed with crisp linen sheets, under a woolen coverlet beside his saggy, unattractive wife when he was roused by a loud pounding on his chamber door. “Don Benetto!” sounded a fretful cry. “My Lord, come quick!”

He rolled out of bed and fought to clear his head while reaching for a robe which hung on a nearby hook. Why is Zuane bothering me at this hour? Why doesn’t he wake Stefano? “Is the house on fire?” Benetto called back angrily. “Because it better be for you disturbing my sleep!” He slid bare feet into his slippers and opened the door.

Stefano was with the man-at-arms and grabbed Benetto by the shoulder. “Sorry, brother, but an intruder has been spotted at the warehouse offices. After the attack-”

“Yes, yes,” he replied curtly, shocked into total awareness. “I want to be informed. Have they caught him?” Lengthening his stride, Benetto struck out into the lead with his two muscular aides on either side.

“Not yet,” Zuane said, “but the extra guard you ordered has paid off. They shall likely have apprehended him by the time we arrive.”

“Are they sure there is only one? A thief or a spy, no doubt, sent ahead of another potential attack. I swear by the devil, I will know who is behind this and finish them!”

A servant busily lit lamps as the three descended the staircase. He bowed his head as his master and escort rushed past.

“Where is the burglar?” Stefano shouted toward the warehouses which were across the street from the grand dwelling.

“On the roof!” sounded a fevered reply.

The three men lifted their heads scanning the opposite rooftop for movement. The warehouse was a large, rectangular edifice taller than the surrounding buildings.  “Over here!” barked another at the sound of feet rushing over clay tiles.

“Zuane, get to the bottom of the fire ladder around the corner in that alley,” Benetto pointed. “If he tries to climb down, you’ll have him.” Zuane gave a quick nod and jogged off, his right hand on the hilt of his sword.

Stefano pulled aside one of the watchmen who was racing past. “Report,” he ordered brusquely.

Wide-eyed the smaller man replied, “I don’t know much. The alarm was sounded signaling a break in. We all raced to our posts and then Giorgio–I think it was Giorgio–spotted the intruder. Everyone has been trying to chase him down. I was sent to go fetch a constable.”

“On your way now,” Benetto gave him leave, and Stefano released the man’s arm.

Suddenly a report sounded from an arabesque followed by another. Benetto and his brother looked up to witness a tall, slim figure nimbly, even gracefully, glide over the peak of the roof and down the side toward the street in front of them. It was impossible to make out details, as the interloper dressed entirely in black was barely visible at all. Squinting and straining with his head tilted to one side, a pensive expression overtaking his face, Benetto detected the figure half turn, an object in his hands catching a sliver of light. One of the two pursuers stumbled, grasping his leg, and the other dropped to the rooftop and lay flat. The intrepid prowler turned back and continued running toward the far edge.

“What?” Benetto stood dumbfounded, fixed on the surreal scene. What happened next he would never have believed if he had not seen it with his own eyes; he was still not certain he believed it even then. The figure in black unfurled huge wings and soared from atop the warehouse across the alley and neighboring houses and out of sight into the night.


Author Bio

Edale LaneEdale Lane is the penname used by Melodie Romeo for LGBTQ fiction novels. She is a native of Vicksburg, Mississippi, earned a bachelor’s degree in Music Education from the University of Southern Mississippi and a master’s degree in History from the University of West Florida.

Ms Romeo is a retired school teacher who currently travels the country as an over the road truck driver. Her first book, Vlad, a Novel, an historical thriller, was published in 2002. She has had short stories published in anthologies by Seventh Star Press, Charon Coin Press, Alban Lake Press, Less Than Three Press, and Past and Prologue Press.

Edale Lane’s first novel, Heart of Sherwood, is an historical retelling of the Robin Hood story supposing that the hooded outlaw had been a woman:

In addition to driving and writing, Melodie is also a musician who plays the French horn, composes, and has spent many years as a choral and instrumental director. She aspires to be a successful enough author to quit driving and devote herself to writing fulltime. Melodie resides in Utica, MS with her longtime partner, Johanna.

Some of her works can be found at

In 2019 Melodie founded Past and Prologue Press. Please visit her website.

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