France in the year of the Lord 1516: Born a nobleman but long since reduced to the dishonourable profession of executioner, Geoffrey de Bressac is the most skilled headman in all of France. But when he is called to the town of Charentes to put a traitor and assassin to death, a shock awaits him. For the traitor and assassin Geoffrey is supposed to execute is a woman, beautiful and young Angeline de Golon.
Geoffrey has long since hardened his heart against the plight of the men and women he is forced to put to death. But Angeline manages to stir feelings in him that he thought dead. What is more, she insists that she is innocent of the crime of which she has been accused.
Geoffrey does not want to behead an innocent woman? But how can he save Angeline, when she is to die at sunrise?
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Some background information:
- Kiss of the Executioner’s Blade is 4000 words long and was first published in Man’s Story 2 No. 7.
- The story is still available online at the Man’s Story 2 site, where you can also see the original illustration. (Attention: adult link).
- Kiss of the Executioner’s Blade won the Man’s Story 2 “Story of the year” award, which is the only writing award I have ever won.
- Coincidentally, this story also jumpstarted my brief erotica writing career, which is odd, because Kiss of the Executioner’s Blade has no explicit sex, just plenty of sexual tension.
- In many ways, this story was my homage to the Angelique novels by Anne Golon, which I adored as a teenager. Indeed, my hero and heroine are named in honour of Anne Golon’s novels.
- The town and the Comte of Charentes are entirely fictional. Based on the sites of the other executions carried out by Geoffrey, it is most likely located in Northern France.
- The practice of executioners being allowed to pardon a female condemned by offering to marry her, however, is real, though it was rarely invoked, mostly because the women refused.
- The cover image is the painting The Martyrdom of St. Catherine by the Italian Baroque painter Giovanni Francesco Barbieri a.k.a. Guercino, painted in 1653 and currently held in The Hague. I picked this painting, because it is not overused (unlike e.g. Paul Delaroche’s Execution of Lady Jane Grey) and because the models match modern aesthetics fairly closely. What is more, there even is a bare chest and what would a historical romance cover be without a bare chested hero?
- The first version of the cover with somewhat different typography may be found here.