The Story Behind The Kiss by Libby Mercer

I’m delighted to be in the Hot Seat today, and I thought I’d discuss the Rodin’s iconic sculpture, The Kiss. Why, you might ask? Well in my debut novel, Fashioning a Romance, released by Musa Publishing just yesterday (hurrah! Still can’t believe it!) there’s a scene at the Rodin Museum in Paris. My hero and heroine discover the story behind the sculpture and their reactions are divided.


Here’s the thing: The Kiss depicts two actual historical figures from the 13th Century.  The woman is Francesca da Polenta, AKA Francesca da Rimini, and the man is her brother-in-law, Paolo Malatesta. Yep, that’s right. Her brother-in-law. The bloom is already starting to come off the rose, isn’t it?  Legend has it that Francesca was conned into marrying the elder Malatesta brother, Giovanni, who was brave but deformed. His handsome younger brother, Paolo, was essentially used as bait to rope Francesca into the marriage, and Francesca, unaware of the deception, fell in love with Paolo. She wasn’t made aware of the truth until after her wedding. Although both Paolo and Francesca were married at this point, they began an affair, which ended tragically. Giovanni murdered the both of them, and The Kiss is meant to capture the very moment before they were caught in the act and subsequently slain.


In Fashioning a Romance, John and Caitlyn are standing before the statue, wrapped lovingly in one another’s arms, feeling blissfully serene. Before they move on, they read the placard explaining the story behind The Kiss, and upon learning the truth, Caitlyn is devastated. She feels that the sordid story sullies the beauty of the image. John disagrees. He feels that the bittersweet context makes the image even more powerful. What do you think? I’d love to know.


Fashioning a Romance by Libby Mercer


Faced with a man so smooth he can charm the clouds from the sky, will Caitlyn be able to stick to her strict No Players policy?



Dedicated American fashion girl, Caitlyn Taylor, can’t stand players, and has successfully dodged them like enemy fire all her life. And then she meets fun-loving British CEO, John Harrington. Not only is he her boss’s brother, he’s the charismatic kind of womanizer that nightmares are made of. Worse still: he’s exactly Caitlyn’s type. As if his being the Superman of sex appeal isn’t enough, he’s also got that quirky something-something that she adores. Not that she’s even considering falling prey to his methods. No way.



John can’t fathom how Caitlyn can be impervious to his charms, given the extraordinary chemistry between them.  The more she resists, the more determined he is to break down the walls she’s built up to keep him out.  Forced to get creative, he orchestrates a “surprise” weekend in Paris for the two of them.  Game on!


An Excerpt:


About twenty minutes later, she was interrupted by the sound of a melodious, male voice. “Methinks it is a token of healthy and gentle characteristics, when women of high thoughts and accomplishments love to sew; especially as they are never more at home with their own hearts than while so occupied. Nathaniel Hawthorne.”


John was standing in the doorway with an irresistible grin and two steaming cups on saucers. “Tea break, Caitlyn?”


No. No, no, no, no, no.


But he was her boss’s brother. What choice did she have?


“Um… okay.” She set the dress aside while John crossed the room and placed the tray on the side table before taking a seat next to her on the sofa. She got a whiff of yummy soapy cleanness from him, and felt the blood forcing its way to the surface of her skin. He was sitting close – too close. His long, lean, muscular thigh was just inches away from hers. And she would almost swear that she could feel the heat radiating from him. Man, talk about a hot guy.


“Milk and one sugar, right?” He handed her one of the cups.


"Yes, thank you.” He’d obviously done his research. Yep, total player. No doubt about it. Caitlyn took a sip and counted to five before glancing up at John, who was beaming his million-watt smile down on her. The silence was too much to handle. “So…” She searched her brain for something to say. “What’s up with the quote? Are you like a Hawthorne expert or something?”


He chuckled. “I’m afraid not. I must confess to calling upon the wonders of Google to impress you with a quotation that was both literary and relevant to your craft.”


She nodded her head slowly. Who was this guy? Yes he was posh, but so was Sophie, and she didn’t talk like she’d just stepped out of the pages of an Austen novel. Man, he was adorable. Adorably quirky. And although she hadn’t thought it possible, he looked even dreamier than before. Clean-shaven, the contours of his jaw were begging to be kissed, and the fitted blue shirt he was wearing gloriously showcased his lean, muscular chest.


Stop it, stop it, stop it.


She took another sip, looked away and reminded herself that he was the enemy. If she got too close, he would annihilate her.

7 thoughts on “The Story Behind The Kiss by Libby Mercer

  1. This story amazes me. My teen and early 20 years, we lived close to the Rodin museum in Philadelphia. I found it the most sensuous oversized sulpture I'd ever experienced. And it was an experience. You couldn't walk around it alone or in the hand one your current love without geting a  "reaction."
    As an art student at that time, I would not have worried about its history. it stands alone, and they were in love regardless of who they were in real life.

  2. what a cool concept for a story..  using both the past and present time, yet different from a timetravel storyline. Sounds like a good read. Although Art is not really an interest of mine, it is very interesting when you do find a background story on a piece and why the artist has created it. Good luck on your new release.

  3. Sad story all round. I'm with Caitln. Paolo was a deceiver, betrayer, and adulterer – don't have a lot of sympathy for his fate.  Sculpture and painting are based on one of Dante's stories from the Inferno. On his tour of Hell, he saw these two lovers in hell – in the circle of lust for their sin.  In the painting the devastation, not anger, on her husband's face as he peers around the curtain is very touching.  BTW, the book she dropped is the story of Lancelot and Guinevere – another adulterous couple who destroyed a family and a nation.  Don't know the significance of the flowers. Love how you incorporated the sculpture and story into the scene. Good luck with Fashioning a Romance.  Rita Bay

  4. I love art history and the fact you managed to work the Rodin into a story.  Theirs always seemed a really tragic story, to me, since she had no clue she was being decieved in the first place.  I agree with John.  The tragedy of the moment adds to the piece.  I also loved that Rodin made his women involved in the eroticism…rather than bystanders for a man's passions.  Since I like my female characters to play active roles in their seduction rather than blinking oblivious and wondering where on earth their bra went, I must say I am intrigued by your premise.  Great blog!!

  5. Thanks for your responses everyone! How interesting and great that I've got a variation here too. And thanks for bringing up Dante's Inferno, Rita Bay. The original draft of my blog did have that info, but I ended up cutting it – thought it was too long, but it's great that you've shared the additional history with everyone here. Thanks so much everyone, for wishing me luck with Fashioning a Romance. 

  6. What a fascinating story. I, like your heroine ,feel just a smidge disillusioned about The Kiss but then life and fairy tales/romances are not quite always the same thing.  I think a lot of people (not real romance fans) feel a love story should end tragically like Romeo and Juliet etc. That is why I love romance cuz you are guaranteed a happy ending! If I want "real life" I can just watch the news and get depressed. LOL. Good luck with your debut novel and enjoy the thrill!!

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