In the summer of 1995, young American writer Martin Paige agrees to help chaperone a group of high school seniors on their graduation trip to Paris as a favor to his best friend, teacher Diane Jacobs. Diane hopes Europe will act as a catalyst to lift Martin from his grief following the suicide of his lover, Peter. But the trip proves to be more than either of them bargained for, as Martin finds himself falling in love with one of her students, David McLaren, who is unprepared to cope with his burgeoning sexuality.
Once in Paris, Martin meets a mysterious widow, Irène Laureaux, who is debilitated by agoraphobia and spends her days spying on the hotel guests across from her apartment. Martin and Irène discover they have a logic-defying connection: a small tribal tattoo on their left hands that means “equal but opposite.” This is same tattoo that Martin’s lover and Irène’s husband had inked into their skin.
All the characters lives are irrevocably changed in a horrifying terrorist attack at a Paris metro station. Liberated by the blast, forced from her own self-imprisonment, Irène learns her husband’s death was not an accident, and dares Martin to acknowledge the role he played in Peter’s suicide. Diane, harboring her own secrets, takes a drastic step to force David out of the closet and admit his feelings for Martin.
From America to England to France, the globe-hopping story places fictional characters amidst historical events such as the Nazi occupation of Paris, the student/worker riots of 1968 and the terrorist bombings of Paris in 1995.
Coming August 2009 from Vanilla Heart Publishing
Acclaim for Conquering Venus
Unflinching and mysterious, Conquering Venus is that rare combination of poetic and page-turner. Collin Kelley – who refreshingly faces taboos head-on – has packed his cinematic debut novel with compelling characters, meaty plot twists and satisfying surprises. This novel is freshly contemporary as well as, in its own fashion, a love letter to Paris. – Kate Evans, author of "For the May Queen"
From Memphis to London and to Paris, Martin Paige seeks redemption after a terrible and violent loss. The wonder is that he still believes in love, even when it appears like an apparition in an elusive and conflicted young man. Collin Kelley takes you on a sometimes frolicsome, sometimes tragic tour of the heart in this engaging first novel. - Gary Zebrun, author of "Only the Lonely"
Collin Kelley writes with the heart of a saint and the horns of a satyr. Conquering Venus – poetic, personal and proud – goes off like a starter's gun to announce a fine new writer of fiction. - Charles McNair, author of "Land O' Goshen & Past Magazine Book Editor