and celestial mechanics. Going forward with his charade will be dangerous, and not only because he might be discovered. In that event, even his own father would kill him. How much is Endre willing to risk for love?
One thing readers mention often when talking about Dangerous Beauty, the second book in the Pride of Uttor series, is that they enjoy the secondary characters. I love secondary characters, who often become my favorite characters in books I read, because while their roles may be minor, their impact is huge. That’s probably also why I love writing them.
Take two of Dangerous Beauty’s minor characters: Yanni, the Uttoran courtesan, and Gaspar, the Uttoran emperor. Both are integral to how the story plays out. They stay comfortably on the perimeter until, not even remotely out of the blue, they become pivotal.
Yanni was especially fun to write. Endre, the title’s beauty and hero, could not be more serious. He’s conflicted about his sexuality, has a homophobic father forcing him to do things he doesn’t want to do, and is torn up about what’s happening to his family. The last is also because of his father, but Endre blames it on the emperor who conquered his country. Endre is angry and scared and feels helpless. Yanni is both mirror and contrast.
Yanni is also beautiful, but he’s not conflicted about sex. Yanni openly has sex with men who pay him handsomely for the privilege. He grew up in a sexually open society that doesn’t condemn him and he doesn’t have a family to worry about. His family is all of Uttor—a consequence of his birth in the Temple of Chasca, and being sent off at the age of seven to be trained as a courtesan. Uttor, he was told, would be in need of his services someday.
As it turns out, that day has arrived. Endre crosses paths with Yanni. Yanni becomes instrumental in resolving Endre’s conflicted homosexuality—and also gets mired in Endre’s father’s schemes. Which leads everyone involved to that other secondary character: Gaspar.
As Uttor’s emperor (whose romance with Endre’s sister, Julissa, is told in Captive Heart, the first book of the series), Gaspar is part of the engine that drives the greater plot. In Dangerous Beauty, readers don’t even meet him until late in the book. But he’s there in background and very much in play. Endre hates Gaspar and is willing to plot against him for good reasons. His country was conquered. He thinks his sister was raped. He fears for himself and the rest of his family—largely without reason. Endre’s father is poisoning the pond, so to speak.
Gaspar is also a factor for the man Endre loves, Arshad. Arshad is a foreign prince who enjoys a good relationship with Gaspar. He knows what Endre feels is poisoned and wrong, but how is he to persuade him? In trying to help Endre emerge from under the thumb of his hateful father, Arshad chooses to keep things from Gaspar. Important things.
Endre’s choices end up throwing everyone involved into the danger part of Dangerous Beauty.
And that’s why secondary characters are so much fun. They are the bridges. They are color and voices, danger and fun.