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Merchants of Milan

Book One of the Night Flyer Trilogy

by Edale Lane

Merchants of Milan - Edale Lane - Night Flyer
Part of the The Night Flyer Series series:
  • Merchants of Milan
Editions:Kindle: $ 4.99
Size: 5.50 x 8.00 in
Pages: 251
Paperback: $ 14.99
ISBN: 978-1654780197
Size: 5.50 x 8.00 in
Pages: 206

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

Renaissance Italy. Florentina, set on revenge for her father’s murder, uses Leonardo da Vinci’s ideas to create an alter-ego known as the Night Flyer. She planned for everything… except falling in love.

Madelena, whose husband was also murdered, hires Florentina as a tutor for her children. She becomes infatuated with this singular woman, completely unaware Florentina is also the fearsome Night Flyer.

Will the Night Flyer’s dance with danger cause her death before Florentina can declare her love?

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 sweet lesbian romance, then you are sure to love this series. Buy this one of a kind novel today and let the adventure begin!

Cover Artists:
Tropes: Ancient Weapon, Conspiracy, Museum/Store of the Unusual, Quest, Redemption Arc, Secret Society
Word Count: 70,500
Setting: Renaissance Milan, Italy
Languages Available: English
Series Type: Continuous / Same Characters
Tropes: Ancient Weapon, Conspiracy, Museum/Store of the Unusual, Quest, Redemption Arc, Secret Society
Word Count: 70,500
Setting: Renaissance Milan, Italy
Languages Available: English
Series Type: Continuous / Same Characters

In 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 which, 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 face-mask 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 arquebus 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 arquebus 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.


Reviews:poulie and moolie on Amazon wrote:

What an entertaining and exciting story! This was a joy to read from beginning to end. Will be looking into the next book very soon. The slow and seductive love between the two main characters and the exciting action from the Night Flyer were so engaging. Totally loved it and recommend for an exciting lesbian romance.

Margaret F. on Amazon wrote:

Book One of the Night Flyer Trilogy invites you into the lush world of 1502 Milan during the Italian Renaissance. Wealthy merchants had almost as much power as the ruler, and the rule of law did not apply to them. It begins a little slow with a prologue full of implication rather than action. That scene, though, sets the stage for Florentina’s dual life as the tutor of two bright children and a black-clad dagger of vengeance starting with the first chapter.

The characters are well rounded, their personalities revealed through interactions more than description. Don Benetto earns my hatred from the first scene, but many others made me care about them. Though the book really has one main character, Florentina or Fiore, there were many interesting and good people. These include Madelena, who wins Fiore’s heart; Maddie’s brother Alessandro; her children; and many others. Nor is Don Benetto alone in deserving contempt or worse. These characters and more gain control of the narrative for a scene or more, building their story within the greater one.

I knew I’d been drawn in fully when I commented how I didn’t want anything to happen to a secondary character. I have a soft spot for adults who encourage and treasure children, but Fiore and the leading secondary characters had more than that going for them. We get to see how they interact within their world and the choices they make as compared to others with less strength of character.

Nor is the world ignored in favor of fleshing out the characters. This book made me learn something of myself as I commented that the detailed description of clothing and furniture to set the scenes, while well written, might become overwhelming. Then we hit a passage about a Leonardo da Vinci mechanism, and I was fascinated. It’s clearly a matter of preference. However, the description is limited to when something new is introduced and never became too much.

This novel is a cross between a story of vengeance and one of love, but the two plots are intertwined with consequences and risks in both directions. I found the earlier lesbian references awkward, but once we learn Fiore has never acted on her inclination, the awkwardness becomes a matter of character depth, not weak narrative. The romance is a slow awakening, taking Fiore from inclination to love with no detailed open-door scenes.

In contrast, the vengeance plot brings us along to see each strategy and how it’s put into play with the aid of contraptions from her father and da Vinci himself. Her father had been da Vinci’s assistant, and she learned at his side. Fiore is almost a Renaissance Batman (a comment from my notes that made me laugh when I read the Batgirl reference in this morning’s interview) without wealth or freedom from employment to make things easy. Instead, she employs innovation and her understanding of the mechanical and combustive sciences.

The story offers a rich environment full of mystery and danger where law keeping has limited power and the rich are ruled only by their conscience. Precocious children, greed, and upstanding citizens trying to do good add to the mix. I enjoyed both sides of this story and was pleasantly surprised by several of the characters while others lived up to their presented natures. The story is not predictable so much as well seeded with characters who are either consistent or change because of something happening. This makes them, and the world, feel more tangible. The main plots both come to a satisfying end point, but hints and plans lead the reader to the next book in the series.

I have so many more notes, but I’ll stop here with one more comment: Reading Merchants of Milan reminded me of when I picked up Swordpoint by Ellen Kushner. I was looking for a different author and did it by accident, but the story and world sucked me in. Edale Lane does the same.

P.S. I received this Advanced Reader Copy as part of the Other Worlds Inc blog tour in return for an honest review.

About the Author

Edale Lane is the pen name used by Melodie Romeo for her LGBTQ literature to differentiate from her more mainstream stories. Melodie Romeo is a native of Vicksburg, Mississippi. She 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 with Prime, Inc. Her first book, Vlad, a Novel, ( an historical thriller, was published in 2002. She has short stories published in anthologies by Seventh Star Press, Charon Coin Press, Alban Lake Press, and Less Than Three Press. She has a son, Peter and daughter, Michele who both serve in the US Army, a daughter-in-law, Jessica and two grandsons, Mark and Asher. Melodie resides in Utica, MS with her longtime partner, Johanna. Some of her works can be found at
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.