#EnterTheFantastic Book Review | “Secrets of Milan” (Night Flyer Trilogy, Book Two) by Edale Lane

Posted Wednesday, 1 July, 2020 by jorielov , , , , , 0 Comments

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Acquired Book By: When I first started book blogging in [2013] one of my first touring companies to work with was Tomorrow Comes Media who worked in conjunction with Seventh Star Press (an Indie publisher of Speculative Fiction) whilst featuring other Indie and/or Self Published authors. I am a regular blog tour hostess with Tomorrow Comes Media and enjoy getting to read a wide range of Speculative Fiction across Science Fiction, Fantasy and Cosy Horror genres of interest. Sometimes the stories are genre-benders and/or they’re embracing the beauty of #SpecLit to such a degree they are their own unique niche in the larger expanse of the genre itself. 2020 marks my seventh year hosting for Tomorrow Comes Media and Seventh Star Press respectively.

I received a complimentary ARC copy of “Merchants of Milan” direct from the author Edale Lane in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

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Let’s re-visit why I have enjoyed sharing my features showcasing this trilogy:

The author I am featuring for a regeneration of my featured posts showcasing Fantasy novelists I love reading (ie. #EnterTheFantastic) is Edale Lane. I originally crossed paths with Ms Lane earlier this year wherein I first started my journey into her Night Flyer trilogy and of whom has written such a convicting slow-burn Historical Romance set within a Renaissance Fantasy world.

I first discovered her style of writing whilst I read “Merchants of Milan”. I am anchouring the delightful #vlog interview I shared after my readings of “Merchants of Milan” with my ruminative thoughts of “Secrets of Milan” and a follow-up interview on behalf of the second installment as well. To continue hosting this author via Tomorrow Comes Media has been a delight of joy – as they truly champion Indie Authors and Indie Publishers. You’ll have to come back to Jorie Loves A Story lateron on this blog tour (Monday, 6th of July) to read over our conversation which delves into the series at large and what comes ‘next’ after ‘Chaos in Milan” (book three).

For those of you whom are new to Jorie Loves A Story, let me share a bit about why I loved reading the Night Flyer trilogy:

Lane inserted such a beautiful scene wherein the children of Maddie, Florentina and her childhood friend discussed how da Vinci painted The Last Supper, noting the techniques he used in the paint choices, the ways in which he used perspective to draw your eye towards a particular section of the painting itself and what this representation of the scene he painted reflected on himself as a painter, an artist and a man of faith. This isn’t the first inclusion of Medieval thoughtfulness on religious discourse in the novel – where Lane has bridged the gap between known history and religious history as it would be anchoured into this background given the age of where enlightenment first began and how openly curious those persons were who lived in the age of the Renaissance. It was a time of rebirth but also of intellectual curiosity – where pursuing knowledge was the mainstay of those were intellectually adventurous.

This first installment sets down the foundation of how Maddie and Florentina must join forces in order to seek the truth of what is happening in the shadows of Milan’s powerful houses. There is something untoward going on whilst the rest of the city is going about its business as usual. If the Night Flyer hadn’t started to make appearances and seek out truth from the shadows of night, they might not have learnt as much as they had now. It was only when they each started to question certain truths in their own lives did they start to discover the levels of deceit in their lives. The hardship of course is what to do with all the information once it is learnt? This became a bit of a battle of wills for the women as neither of them felt they would have anything to gain but vengeance and peace of mind for their actions.

The Night Flyer exists similar to Zorro – as a person for the people and the ones in their society without the voice to give light to the ills of the city. It is here where you start to see how the Night Flyer has taken on more than what they originally sought because it is too hard to bypass the needs of the people in pursuit of one man who wronged so many in his lifetime. It was a clever plotting how the Night Flyer could have a bit of duality – not only in their life when their unmasked but as a masked figure they had a certain layer of freedom and of movement that would not have been afforded to them if they hadn’t conceived of the masked identity. That in of itself spoke volumes about the greater purpose of the Night Flyer and also how hard it would be to find truer justice in this world that was severely unjust to the working class.

There is a secondary focus on the villain’s family – wherein his wife Daniella and his daughter Agnese are discussing their health and how the mother feels that perhaps her own health was destroyed by the personal care products she had been using ahead of her own health’s decline. Products such as cosmetics and hair dye – which I felt were a fitting reference, as in other historical narratives it is revealled how toxic those products were to be used and how uninformed people were of what they were actually using on their hair and face. It was also a stark contrast to today’s world where there is still a misalignment with safety when it comes to personal care products and cosmetics overall.

I loved how approachable Lane made this world – you took up residence in the story as soon as it began – with the presumption of a horrid man getting away with a despicable truth and wherein two women join together to take-on the conspiracy of injustice they both mutually shared. I loved the descriptions of the objects in the novel, too, from Florentina’s father’s clock to how Lane wanted you to have a fuller appreciation for the engineering and production of things in this world.

-quoted from my book review for Merchants of Milan

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Quote banner for Secrets of Milan provided by the author Edale Lane and OWI Blog Tours; used with permission.

If you haven’t yet seen the lovely in-depth #behindthebook featured guest essay Ms Lane contributed to my stop on her tour with OWI – kindly take a moment to visit her words to find out how Art History and research into the world of art played such a strong role in how she developed the background of this series! This previous blog tour was a bit of a preview of what would come next during the Tomorrow Comes Media tour – I was thankful to be a part of both tours and have the chance to feature this author on three separate occasions whilst helping to relate to my readers why I am enjoying her stories and why they ought to consider placing her trilogy on their #nextreads list!

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#EnterTheFantastic Book Review | “Secrets of Milan” (Night Flyer Trilogy, Book Two) by Edale LaneSecrets of Milan
Subtitle: Book Two of the Night Flyer Trilogy
by Edale Lane
Illustrator/Cover Designer: Enggar Adirasa
Source: Direct from Author

The Night Flyer had brought Florentina and Madelena together but now threatens to drive them apart. While Florentina searches for a mysterious underworld organization that has attempted to murder the woman she loves, Maddie struggles to deal with the danger Florentina is courting. Her brother, Alessandro, has become the most prominent merchant of Milan, but the Night Flyer uncovers a secret so shocking it could destroy them all.

Secrets of Milan is the second book in Edale Lane's Night Flyer Trilogy, a tale of power, passion, and payback in Renaissance Italy. If you like drama and suspense, rich historical background, three-dimensional characters, and s romance that deepens into true love, then you'll want to continue the Night Flyer saga. Order your copy today!

Genres: Fantasy Fiction, Feminist Historical Fiction, Historical-Fantasy, LGBTQIA Fiction

Places to find the book:

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 979-8643642060

Also by this author: Merchants of Milan, (Video) Interview feat. Edale Lane (Merchants of Milan), Secrets of Milan (Guest Post by Author), Secrets of Milan (Interview)

Also in this series: Merchants of Milan, Chaos in Milan

Published by Past & Prologue Press

on 5th May, 2020

Format: Unbound Manuscript (ARC)

Pages: 262

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Merchants of Milan by Edale LaneSecrets of Milan by Edale Lane

The Night Flyer trilogy:

Merchants of Milan (book one) | see also Review

Secrets of Milan (book two) 

Chaos in Milan (book three) *forthcoming release!

Genre(s): Fantasy, Historical Fantasy, Alternative History,
as well as Renaissance (time period), Action and Adventure, Superhero Fiction

Identities represented: F/F Romance, Lesbian friendship/relationships

Converse via: #WyrdAndWonder, #HistoricalFantasy, #SapphicFiction,
#SpeculativeFiction, #LGBTQ and #NightFlyerTrilogy with #EdaleLane

About Edale Lane

Edale Lane

Edale Lane is the author of an award winning 2019 debut novel, Heart of Sherwood. She is the alter-ego of author Melodie Romeo, (Vlad a Novel, Terror in Time, and others) who founded Past and Prologue Press. Both identities are qualified to write historical fiction by virtue of an MA in History and 24 years spent as a teacher, along with skill and dedication in regard to research. She is a successful author who also currently drives a tractor-trailer across the United States. A native of Vicksburg, MS, Edale (or Melodie as the case may be) is also a musician who loves animals, gardening, and nature.

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one aspect of the trilogy I am in love with:

I am truly captured by how Lane has chosen to tempt us with a rapid curiosity about the secret society who consistently meets in the shadows of the novel(s). They do not disclose their names nor their full intentions of why they have chosen to meet in clandestine ways but in this Prologue for Secrets of Milan – you gather a bit more of a sense about what is motivating them even if you’re still trying to guess what their endgame might entail.

Keeping with the secrecy, Lane only gives us a smidge of an idea about how expansive their reach truly is by disclosing how when it comes to interacting with each other, they only know the location of their individual cities vs disclosing identifying information! This is a bit interesting on several levels because it shows how the society itself is dearly entrenched into the events of the series itself – as they have this peripherical viewing of the events as their unfolding but they also are a step removed from them as well.

What keeps my curiosity piqued though is finding out (at long last) how influential they were on the course of the events which led to certain tragedies in the series and of course, if they had any leverage of power which might have affected how other circumstances would play out as well. They definitely seem to have an interesting attachment to monitoring the Night Flyer and in that regard, readers will denote one interesting observation about how they are gaining their information. (in effect they mention something about the Night Flyer which eludes that even they do not know as much as they believe they do about everything)

my review of the secrets of milan:

I felt elated knowing Florentina finally saw a celebration of her ardent love for Maddie come to a head so early-on in the opening bridge of this sequel – however, as this is a slow burning romance, Lane definitely had a few surprises awaiting us for the two women. Maddie has been emotionally distant since the very beginning as she entered into this romance from a different junction in her life than Florentina. I oft felt Maddie had the longer walk to resolve between the two of them because of her past and because of the events which have crisscrossed through their own romance. It is one thing to know you’ve found your life partner and the person who will unconditionally support you (as I believe both women felt this instantly in the first installment) but it is quite another to shed the emotional baggage of the past and to simply walk with a renewed sense of self and freedom knowing that the present can have a kind of graceful mercy on your life.

When it came to finding out about Maddie’s passion project I was truly overjoyed she took such a thoughtful approach to how she could give back to her local community. It isn’t often you get to see characters having the fortitude of thought to think through what they can do to best affect change in their local community and towards that end, to reach as many people as they can to give them a bit of a lift when their lives have taken rather adverse paths where an outreach of compassion and aide would become a welcome blessing. Maddie has the heart for this kind of charity because she’s quite maternal – she likes to take care of people and she has a natural sense of business. You see a different side to Maddie as she’s making the plans to launch this project – of how she can compartmentalise her life into different subsections and how it is through this organisational divisions of the people in her life she feels the most comfortable moving forward.

As we see the anguish of Maddie distancing herself from Florentina, we also see how distraught Florentina becomes for how Maddie hasn’t been openly honest with her about what she is feeling in regards to their relationship. It is such a tricky slope – how much to reveal of your innermost demons and the thoughts which afflict your mind with emotional upheaval and how much do you keep to yourself – to find a way to process the emotional tirades of your mind and not have it affect the person who has your heart? I felt Maddie didn’t see an exit for her duress and only felt that if she remained distant from Florentina that perhaps she might offer a layer of protection for them both – whether that was a rational response or an impulsive one sparked out of her own fears was still yet to be seen.

One of the beautiful inclusions of this series is how da Vinci himself becomes an incantation of joy – his presence is permeating throughout the background of the series, almost as if he might take a more active role in the narrative. His influence on Florentina is undeniable and how Lane chose to include him was quite lovely because it speaks to the technology and the gadgets which guide us into the more fantastical bits of the series itself. I, for one, was most inspired by these moments spent learning about da Vinci’s influence but also to see how keenly contemporary those ideas were at the time they were being used. Not only did da Vinci inspire Florentina to use models of ideas he had himself but the ways in which she utilised how to create them was also a practice of self-directed creativity I felt he would have celebrated as well. She definitely took to the art of using found objects in her ordinary life to re-use like a tinker might re-discover a use for in what they were creating and that led-in to some of the best disclosures of Lane’s fantastical weapons and gadgets because of how much realism was shared in how they were created.

Florentina was starting to uncover more about the status of the thieves in her community than she first realised possible – especially when one started to hint towards why they continued to live their life in this fashion and the reasons behind why they felt no remorse from taking from others. It was another layer of sociological insight into the heart of the series – to not just see the moments on the surface of what they were but to understand the reasons behind the actions (good, bad or indifferent) which each of Lane’s characters were choosing for themselves. There was more a gray area in this novel where the line between what was right and what was wrong was not as easily defined as even Florentina might have preferred.

At the heart of this series is family – both the ones you create for yourself and the one you are bourne into which is what makes it such a compelling drama. Especially if you take into account the lengths Florentina has always gone to ensure the sanctity of honour for hers and the protective armour she tries to envelope over Maddie and her children. Yet there is a third carefully considerate character emerging in the background of their lives which is Maddie’s brother Alessandro who is just as observant as Florentina and has keen insight into their lives from an outisde perspective. He seemed to be the kind of brother who you’d want in your corner – kind, supportive and willing to let you live your life without interference or commentary.

Ah, yes, what can be said about the arch nemesis of the Night Flyer, Don Benetto Viscardi? He is truly a man whose torn himself between the choice of revenge (for his destruction in both status and in business) and of choosing to take the harder road towards redemption. He’s a man in conflict with not just himself but with life – how he chooses to deal with his disruptions in life would put anyone at ill ease because he doesn’t own the mistakes he’s made nor does he find any ill will towards placing blame onto others for actions he’s guilty of himself. In may regards, Viscardi is both the most intriguing character of the trilogy and the most vexing; he’s definitely a morally gray character but one who has given Lane the chance to present to the reader in a way that humbly speaks to the choices everyone has within them: do you revert back to your old ways of living after you’ve been interrupted in your vile plans or do you take heed of unwanted advice and choose an alternative path?

This is what intrigued me as I read his sections of the novel – I hadn’t wanted to be invested in his character’s path but there was something about how Lane wrote his sequences in this installment which implores you to hug close to his scenes and to root out what Viscardi chooses to do. Although at the same time, it was his family you grieve for the most – they had to put up with him vacillating in his ruminative state of uncertainty and in regard to his son, Niccolo I felt he was most unfair in how he handled disclosing the current state of their affairs. Children need to know they have security in life – even if you’ve lost your wealth and your way of living, children like the reassurance that they can trust their parents to figure a way forward if nothing else. Niccolo unfortunately was coming back to his family at a state of chaos as his father was not yet ready to step up to be the father he felt he had always been.

Part of the mystery within the folds of this story were also relating back to da Vinci – especially in regards to a particular horse he was commissioned to create for a certain Duke. What made this bit intriguing is how the back-history of this commission was even more interesting than how the horse itself was being used as a clue (at least for me) because of the tragedy of it really – how the Duke wasn’t able to have the horse he truly wanted despite the hard work da Vinci had put into creating it. It felt like such a hard ending to a project da Vinci had devouted himself to doing right – which of course speaks volumes about other characters in this series as well. How sometimes you are aligned on a certain path but suddenly find the trajectory you felt you’d take had to alter course?

Something quite dire happens which could have affected the lives of Florentina and Maddie a bit moreso than it had and I for one was thankful it was only a minor incident rather than major. Around this same period of time, we revisit with Don Benetto Viscardi and observe a conversation with his wife. I was quite taken with their exchange because it showed how part of his family has moved forward and how difficult it is for him to follow in their footsteps. He truly was at a junction in his life where he could either choose to find a measure of peace within his own soul or he could choose to live the rest of his days in absolute misery; as he was self-inflicting the most harm on his person than anyone else ever could.

I love how grounded this series is in how it is told through a philosophical, metaphysical and spiritual background of intuitive knowledge and observation. Lane happily inserts bits of her own research and her own keen insight into the Renaissance in nearly every chapter wherein a bit of back history or a murmuring of realistic foundation is necessary to carry-on the plot to re-anchour the era in the minds of her readers. I’ve been enjoying the disclosures but also how she’s set the pace of the trilogy – to first and foremost focus on the slow burning romance between her heroine and her lover (ie. Florentina and Maddie) whilst keeping our focus secondary on the evolving conspiracy which is shadowing round them.

And yet, what was most beautiful of all is the gift Alessandro gave to Maddie – because he saw her self-worth and her keen head for business, he rewarded her in a way she never felt she’d be able to embrace. It was such a wicked humbling moment because Maddie would never believe she should highlight her skills in front of others as I think she would believe that would be a bit too vain and to have her seen as worthy in his eyes was quite lovely because this was something I felt would help Maddie recognise how much she gives to others as much as how much she has stablised her own family after the death of her husband.

I was not quite prepared for how Secrets of Milan concludes because it owns to the title – wherein there are far more secrets afloat in the series now than there were previously! Including one that I felt would be difficult for Florentina to maintain as it might drive a wench in her relationship with Maddie – time will of course tell in that regard but for me personally, I loved how this one concluded because it honed in on the heart of the series – giving us more time to spend with Florentina and Maddie as their relationship drew closer together and allowed us further chance to peer into this hidden dark world Florentina is bent on exposing. Towards that end, the tenacles of how this secret world interacts with society is more intricate than a spider’s web and far more deadlier than a black widow.

on the historical & fantastical styling of edale lane:

One of the reasons I’ve enjoyed reading this trilogy by Ms Lane is how she’s chosen to merge Historical details from our own living histories of the Renaissance into a new timeline of where Historical Fantasy can cross-sect with known History. In this way, we’re re-peering into the Renaissance through the eyes of a keen researcher who knows how to insert historical details which align with her fantastical elements (such as the Night Flyer). The series itself is definitely a succession of sociological observation and intrigue – in how she chooses to lay a firm hand on the behaviours and choices of her characters (lead, supporting and even the villain’s!) to where she orchestrates this lovely symphony of drama percolating through the series.

There are even moments wherein I learnt more about History and the ways in which History afforded certain allowances for women (both in the freedom of pursuing business to how the structure of society had been laid out) through reading this series and of which I will highlight within our conversation when I share my follow-up interview with Ms Lane on the 6th of July. This is another reason why I love reading Historical Fiction (overall) as it let’s you tuck close to the historic past and re-see those historical eras with finite detail you might have either overlooked elsewhere or been unable to find.

The human condition is definitely explored throughout the Night Flyer trilogy – however, in this instance, for the sequel I felt Lane did a wonderful job of giving us a more introspective response to the continuing events which are shaping her characters’ lives. She choose to take us deeper into the heart of what is fuelling Maddie’s quandary over embracing newfound happiness and romance whilst at the same time she presented us with a morally gray character who was seeking his own redemption for a life he felt was forfeited. It is through these new insights on behalf of her characters we start to see the greater picture of the series itself – not just the intrigue about the unknown but how her characters are shaping the trilogy and how the trilogy is being built behind them.

A special treat of this installment I felt was the inclusion of the Christmastide celebrations of Renaissance Milan! You get to see the traditions and the cultural or religious ways in which people would celebrate the Christmas season as a reflection of the era but also a reflection of how despite everything going on in their lives, Christmas did not take a hiatus from arriving. They each had to find ways to both acknowledge Christmas and either make peace with the holiday on arrival or find ways to muddle their way through it. I loved those details because Christmas has always been a special holiday for me and my family; as it was one of those holidays where traditions were constantly passed down, cherished and celebrated.

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This blog tour is courtesy of:

Tomorrow Comes Media Logo badge provided by Tomorrow Comes Media.

Follow the rest of the blog tour for wicked insightful reviews & more guest features:

Secrets of Milan blog tour banner provided by Tomorrow Comes Media and is used with permission.

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 I look forward to reading your thoughts & commentary!
I’d love to know your reactions to this story and if my review helped you decide if this might be an author you’d like to start reading yourself. I love reading Speculative Fiction – from Science Fiction, to Fantasy to Cosy Horror. Historical Fiction is a mainstay in my life and this is how I easily transitioned into reading Historical Fantasy. If you have similar interests to my readerly wanderings I’d love to hear your thoughts and recommendations in the comments. I celebrate bookish conversations and differing opinions on Jorie Loves A Story.

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#EnterTheFantastic banner created by Jorie in Canva.

This post is part of my #EnterTheFantastic showcases!

A book blogger’s journey into the realms of Fantasy betwixt and between #WyrdAndWonder (annually in May).

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{SOURCES: Book covers for “Secrets of Milan” and “Merchants of Milan”, book synopsis, author photo (of Edale Lane) and biography as well as the TCM badge and blog tour banner were provided by Tomorrow Comes Media and are used with permission. “Secrets of Milan” quote promo banner was provided by OWI – Other Worlds Ink Blog Tours and is re-used with permission of the author. Post dividers by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination. Tweets were embedded due to codes provided by Twitter. Blog graphics created by Jorie via Canva: #EnterTheFantastic Book Review banner, #EnterTheFantastic banner and the Comment Box Banner.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2020.

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About jorielov

I am self-educated through local libraries and alternative education opportunities. I am a writer by trade and I cured a ten-year writer’s block by the discovery of Nanowrimo in November 2008. The event changed my life by re-establishing my muse and solidifying my path. Five years later whilst exploring the bookish blogosphere I decided to become a book blogger. I am a champion of wordsmiths who evoke a visceral experience in narrative. I write comprehensive book showcases electing to get into the heart of my reading observations. I dance through genres seeking literary enlightenment and enchantment. Starting in Autumn 2013 I became a blog book tour hostess featuring books and authors. I joined The Classics Club in January 2014 to seek out appreciators of the timeless works of literature whose breadth of scope and voice resonate with us all.

"I write my heart out and own my writing after it has spilt out of the pen." - self quote (Jorie of Jorie Loves A Story)

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Posted Wednesday, 1 July, 2020 by jorielov in #EnterTheFantastic, #JorieLovesIndies, #WyrdAndWonder, ARC | Galley Copy, Blog Tour Host, Equality In Literature, Fantasy Fiction, Historical Fantasy, Indie Author, Indie Book Trade, Jorie Loves A Story Features, OWI - Other Worlds Ink Blog Tours, Self-Published Author, Speculative Fiction, Tomorrow Comes Media, Twitterland & Twitterverse Event

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