A Rose by Any Other Name
by Charlie Cochet
Genre: M/M historical romance, 1920s
Length: Novel, 270 pages
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Nights in the roaring city remind bright young things that life’s too short to take for granted. Tucked away in Times Square hides the Pantheon: a secret cabaret for wealthy gay men. Pretty young men in elaborate costumes and rouged lips are eager to please, and the champagne flows all night long. It’s a world of frivolity, fantasy, and debauchery. As Eros, the most sought after performer at the Pantheon, Julius uses his beauty and charm on enthusiastic patrons, but growing weary of superficial love, he longs to make a better life for himself.
Five years after being declared mentally unfit after surviving the trenches of No Man’s Land, Edward Joseph Clarence Junior pieced his shattered life back together. Now he’s ready to take on the family empire. To celebrate his thirtieth birthday, Edward’s cousin takes him to the most posh nightclub in town, the Pantheon. Falling under the sway of Eros, Edward and Julius find a love they’ve never imagined and the chance for a future they had only dared to dream about. But as Ares, a notorious gangster and Julius’s most important—and dangerous— client watches them, the threat to their love and their lives grows by the day.
Available September 12th, 2014
“There you are. I’ve been looking for you two for—” Eros stopped in his tracks and stared at Edward. “You’re here. Again.”
Edward stood and took Eros’s hand, giving it a kiss. “I thought maybe after the second or third night you would have believed me.” The young man looked absolutely stunning as always, the gold cloth wrapped low on his slim hips working a now familiar magic.
Eros wasted no time in removing his hand from Edward’s grasp. “What reason do I have to believe someone who broke into my dressing room and then lied to me about who he was?”
Well, this was certainly news to him. “I said I was an executive for Clarence and Company Department Stores, which I am.”
Eros leaned toward him, his voice lowered. “You seemed to have conveniently left out the tiny detail concerning you also being heir to the Clarence and Company multimillion dollar fortune.”
“Does it matter?” It wasn’t as though Edward wished to go about advertising his wealth, but he wouldn’t have thought Eros had any reason to be discreet about it.
“Does it—?” Eros shook his head and let out a humorless laugh. “I don’t have time for this.”
Perhaps it was time for Edward to get to the heart of the matter and the reason why Eros was doing his best to avoid Edward to the point of being brazen with him when every chorus boy, cupid, and Ancient Greek deity seemed to be in a constant state of frenzy each night in the hopes of roping themselves a wealthy patron.
“Have I done something to offend you?” Edward took hold of Eros’s hand again, refusing to let it go. After the second tug, Eros let out a sigh and left his hand in Edward’s grip. Eros was absolutely enchanting, even when he was irritated.
“No, nothing. I apologize.”
Then it struck him. How could he not have seen it? He’d been looking at this all wrong. The thought had Edward smiling from ear to ear. “It’s not me you’re upset with, is it? You’re upset with yourself.”
“Don’t be ridiculous,” Eros scoffed. “I happen to be quite fond of myself.”
“You were hoping I’d be here.”
Eros tugged at his hand again. “Well, aren’t we sure of ourselves. For Pete’s sake, would you let go of my hand?”
“You’ve been curious about me since we met. Only now you know the extent of my wealth, you feel threatened. You believe I’ll be no better than the others, wanting nothing more from you than what I pay for, and it’s disappointed you.”
Eros narrowed his eyes at him, at which point Edward promptly let go of his hand. For a love God, Eros certainly had one hell of a murderous glare. Edward was pushing his luck, but he went with his gut feeling.
“Edward, if I felt threatened by a man’s wealth, I would hardly be in this line of work. It’s quite the opposite, in fact. I feel empowered.”
Eros closed the distance between them and ran his hands slowly up Edward’s chest, over his shoulders, and down his back, smiling triumphantly when Edward gave a start at the feel of Eros’s fingers digging into his backside.
“You see, you may have wealth, but I have the power to take it away.”
Eros gave a low, sultry moan before running his tongue over his bottom lip. Pressing himself against Edward, one hand discreetly moved around the front to grip Edward through his trousers. Edward shut his eyes, willing himself to breathe.
“I can feel how hard you’re getting, Edward. Don’t play games with me, or I will make you wish you never set foot in here. Do you think I haven’t come across men like you before?”
His hand slowly started to stroke Edward through his trousers.
“Jesus,” Edward breathed, his hands going to Eros’s shoulders. He had to put a stop to this madness. It was clear Eros was willing to take this as far as he needed to in order to get his point across, and Edward was foolish enough to stand here and let him.
“Honey-sweet words mean little to me, Edward. Do you know how many men have offered to whisk me away from my filthy, devious life? Put me up in some Fifth Avenue penthouse, pay me an allowance, and give me anything I wish for? Do you want to make me your personal whore?”
Edward gently pushed Eros away, drawing a look of surprise from him. “Enough. I neither believe so little of you nor of myself. I won’t have my character insulted. If you have the power to take my wealth as you say you do, why didn’t you take it? You saw how eager I was, yet you continually push me away.”
“You turned him away?” Pothos asked, gaping at Eros.
“Of course not.” Eros lifted his chin defiantly and took a step back. “He stated he would make an arrangement with Aphrodite, and I didn’t object.”
“Only after I refused to leave,” Edward reminded him. “You had ample opportunity to take what you wanted from me, yet all you wanted was for me to leave. Why? What are you afraid of?”
Eros rolled his eyes. “Being bored to death. Honestly, why aren’t you doing Vaudeville with your act? I choose my clients, Edward, and I didn’t choose you. Your bruised ego will simply have to get over it. Now if you will excuse me.”
“Why haven’t you told anyone else who I am? Do you refuse to share me, or are you protecting me?” Edward held back a smile when Eros spun around and marched back to poke him in the chest.
“You seem to have developed this ridiculous notion I care about what you do, Edward. I haven’t spoken of it to anyone as it’s not my place to do so. I pride myself on my discretion and integrity. However, if you wish to announce your wealth to the whole damned club, be my guest! And you’re right; you aren’t like the others, because no one is as infuriating as you are!”
Eros threw his arms up in frustration and stormed off.
“Did I mention you look stunning when you’re angry?” Edward called after him.
Eros grabbed a champagne glass off a passing waiter’s tray and hurled it at Edward. “Go fly a kite!”
With a laugh, Edward managed to jump out of the way in the nick of time, the glass shattering on the floor where he’d been standing. By the time he looked up, Eros was nowhere in sight.
“I think he likes me.”
About the author
Charlie Cochet is an author by day and artist by night. Always quick to succumb to the whispers of her wayward muse, no star is out of reach when following her passion. From Historical to Fantasy, Contemporary to Science Fiction, there’s bound to be plenty of mischief for her heroes to find themselves in, and plenty of romance, too!
Currently residing in South Florida, Charlie looks forward to migrating to a land where the weather includes seasons other than hot, hotter, and boy, it’s hot! When she isn’t writing, she can usually be found reading, drawing, or watching movies. She runs on coffee, thrives on music, and loves to hear from readers.