I must confess, I think telling someone you love them for the first time on Valentine’s Day is embarrassingly corny–but that’s Henry. He’s sweet and sappy, and he wants to do the same things any young man in love would do. He wants his love to receive the same consideration as a “normal” person’s.
Henry is fortunate enough to be invited to attend a slave party and wedding in early February 1901. Now, I must say, my husband (who knows everything about Henry and Martin despite never reading a word I’ve written) was incensed when I told him Henry was going to a slave party. He was adamant that the slaves deserved something of their own, separate from masters, and I don’t actually think he’s wrong, but the fact is that Henry wanted to go and Martin wanted him there, so he went. I do think it was very unusual for Henry to be there, but it’s well-established that Henry does a lot of unusual things.
In Chapter 18 of A Willful Romantic (GQ Book 3), Martin reads Henry the February installment of Drake’s Progress and that’s that. There was, however, an entire sex scene that originally finished off the chapter which was cut in the final round of editing.
There are all sorts of reasons for cutting a scene, many of them well-thought-out and logical, but this one got cut because I just didn’t want it in the book, basically. I do love the conversation they have at the end, though, and I tried to think of a way to keep that, but the book’s fine without it.
It’s a sex scene so it’s NSFW, obviously.
In case you hadn’t noticed, as above, in either in the right-hand column (if you’re on a computer) or at the very bottom (if you’re on your phone), I’ve uploaded a graphic of the protection stones Henry and Martin give one another. Henry gave his to Martin at the end of A Proper Lover (GQ Book 2), and Martin gives his to Henry near the beginning of A Willful Romantic (GQ Book 3). Ulvar did a perfect job rendering them for me, and I’m so grateful for her talent and her patience in dealing with my requests.
Near the beginning of AWR, Henry and Martin go shopping for waistcoats at Hamilton & Sons and Henry persuades Martin to wear something a bit fancier than plain black. Unfortunately, it’s too subtle to be seen on the book cover in most formats, I think, but Martin’s waistcoat does indeed have chrysanthemums and stripes, as you can see here :)
Henry’s choice is so very, very LOUD, but I would have had it even louder if I could. However, the only way I could think of to achieve that end would be to animate it (fireworks? glitter?), and we can’t do that with book covers (yet).
Near the beginning of A Willful Romantic (GQ Book 3), Henry and Martin go ice skating on the Lake in Central Park with their friends. This clip from 1902 is a good example of what I was picturing when I wrote the scene.
There was a signal to let people know the ice was ready for skating in Central Park: a red ball raised from the bell tower. Was it on a stick? Did it levitate? I haven’t a clue. For skating in Prospect Park in Brooklyn, they would fly a white flag with a red ball/circle from the streetcars to alert the public, so this red ball thing is pretty consistent. I have to say, the red ball=ice connection isn’t really an obvious one to me.
I have Henry and his friend Freddie Caldwell (and Martin and Tom, of course) go downtown to buy skates for the slaves, and what I had in mind was Modell’s, a sporting goods store that’s been around since 1889, with a store in Lower Manhattan dating from that time. I don’t know for a fact that they carried ice skates, but there’s no reason to think they didn’t.
(I was pretty good at rollerskating, but I’ve never gotten the hang of ice skating, and I have no idea what the difference might be.)
Love is everything, but sometimes it’s not enough.
At the dawn of 1901, Henry Blackwell is gathering the courage to share his feelings with his companion slave Martin. Henry is in love, and he’d do anything to make Martin love him in return. In anticipation of making such a declaration, Henry works to be a better person, the sort of man whose love is worth having.
But simply having love returned isn’t enough. Henry wants unreasonable things, impossible things. He wants his love for Martin to be accepted and acknowledged, even admired, by the world at large. He desperately wants there to be a place in the city where he can behave as he likes with the person he loves. Practical Martin doesn’t approve of Henry’s romantic notions and urges caution. Henry struggles between keeping Martin happy and pursuing his dream of acceptance.
This is the third of four installments in the Ganymede Quartet, continuing the story from A Proper Lover (Ganymede Quartet Book 2).
Awhile back, I posted a poll that a few people were kind enough to respond to (feel free to click a button there if you haven’t done so yet), and I am not at all surprised to discover that Martin is generally the favorite between the main characters. Many people did not wish to be forced to choose between Henry and Martin, which is understandable. Poor Henry alone is much less popular than his beloved. Which is also understandable ;)
Anyway, I’m in the midst of working on the Martin story that will accompany Book 3/A Willful Romantic, so my brain is full of Martin and Ganymede and slaves. I know there are a number of people interested in Martin’s back story and training, and some particularly significant parts of that will be covered in this piece. As I’ve said before, I really like doing the Martin stories. I can’t promise I’ll write it, but if there are any specific aspects of the GQ world readers might like to know about from Martin’s point of view, please do feel free to tell me what you’re interested in.
As for the poll, Henry and Martin are both my babies, so I guess I’d have to be in the “don’t make me choose” camp. I think they’re both ridiculous, really, but I have an affinity for Martin, although Henry certainly endears himself to me through his foolishness. I have things in common with both of them (Henry’s social anxieties, Martin’s work ethic), but I actually think Henry’s cousin Jesse is most like me, albeit a better version, friendlier and less cynical.
So: Be on the lookout for books in the near-ish future. I’m still aiming for mid-March.