Welcome to Ink & Magick. I'm your friendly neighborhood witch. What kind of spell can I get for you today?
If I could order a spell from a magic shop, I would probably specify one that would propel my books to the bestseller lists within a year of each one's release. Either that, or a spell that would restore youth and eyesight. Getting old is no picnic, and the alternative is worse.
Wisdom comes at the high cost of experience, but how about a success spell? String seven metal keys together on a red thread. Hang them up in the wind to attract good luck and prosperity.
Tell us about your book, Russian Pride, set to release September 30, 2017.
In an unfamiliar environment, Bratva princess Inessa wakes from the latest and most vicious beating delivered by her husband in the home of handsome mafia capo Giovanni Maglione, cousin to Giancarla who's married to her father's second-in-command. Investigation reveals that Inessa's husband has double-crossed the Chinese triad. Not only are they out for recompense, they're out for blood. In an effort to save his daughter from the triad, the Bratva leader convinces Giovanni to marry his now-widowed daughter. The ruse fails, and the most dangerous man in the Great Lakes states wonders if he can be gentle enough to earn Inessa's trust and love while exercising the cruel brutality necessary to protect her and win a mob war.
Marriage to a woman he found himself wanting and who did not want him back promised to punish him for every evil deed he had committed.
Giovanni had committed many.
Gathered around the kitchen table that evening for supper, Bianca held court as usual. Lively conversation and friendly insults flew back and forth in a merry combination of affectionate bickering that Inessa still had not quite gotten used to. These boisterous, openly emotional Italians bewildered her, especially when Paolo flung an insult at his cousin that no one in the Bratva would have dared utter to her father. Yet Giovanni laughed it off and gave the boy a playful swat, while the elderly housekeeper frowned in resigned acceptance that the hooligans at her table might never grow up and act like gentlemen. Giovanni’s sparkling eyes met Inessa’s across the table. She felt a blush rise at the instant transformation of amusement to heated desire.
A hand gently patted hers, distracting her from the man’s intense stare. Looking at Bianca’s soft smile, she smiled back, though her expression held more than a tinge of anxiety. She could not--and would not--deny that Giovanni Maglione was one sexy, beautiful man. But the thought of submitting to a man made her blood run cold. The nightmares of experience doused any answering spark of desire.
Giovanni would want and expect children.
Inessa lowered her gaze to her plate and let the family discussion flow over her.
From the head of the table, Giovanni forced a smile at whatever inanity his young cousin spewed. Paolo, he knew, attempted to show off his wit to impress the shy, lovely woman who would marry into the family and unite Bratva and mafia. He also knew that his adolescent cousin, suffering from surging teenage hormones, had a crush on the quiet Russian woman. He made a mental note to keep a watchful eye on Paolo to ensure the boy didn’t do anything too stupid.
Giovanni also noticed the pretty blush that turned Inessa’s cheeks such a lovely pink. Within his mind, he winced at the sudden fear that flashed in her eyes and surmised her thoughts. Somehow, he had to convince her that beating women was not his style. He would never hurt her, would never tolerate a hand raised against her.
She was his and he protected what was his.
Russian, Italian, and Chinese mafia? That's quite a cast. What sort of research did you do for this book?
I actually spend more time on language translations than on research for this series. I know--and my readers know, too--that mobsters of any sort take deplorable behavior to despicable levels. My mobsters may not be completely free of criminal or nasty behavior, but they're sanitized and romanticized. These are not gritty, true-to-life stories.
Russian Pride is the fourth and final book of a series. Tell us a little about the books before it.
Russian Lullaby came about because I read a mafia romance that was utterly awful, and I thought I could do better than that. I never intended to write a series; however, I received sufficient requests to take the plunge and decided to write a trilogy: one book each for the three college roomies. Then I received requests to write books on the Bratva men; however, rather than flog a tired horse, I decided to bring the series full circle back to the the original character's family and star her cousin Giovanni and the Russian mafia princess Inessa.
I am sure readers are thrilled their requests were heard. Who is your favorite or least favorite character and why?
In this series, the heroes are my favorite characters, with Iosif Drakoniv as my go-to guy. He's not only a badass alpha male, but he's capable of tenderness. He doesn't dither around denying his affection and exhibits a caring patience that makes even me swoon. My least favorite character is Gennady, who's a secondary character. He's honest and loyal to the Bratva, but not a nice man in any sense of the word. I begin to soften his character in Russian Dawn, and he shows even more humanity in Russian Pride. If you asked readers, they'd probably arrive at a consensus of dislike for Cecily in Russian Gold, who is probably the most like me. Unfortunately, I didn't portray as sympathetically as I should have. Her salt-of-the-earth background differs substantially from her friends'. She has a strong moral character that leads to a crisis of conscience, which then results in an impulsive decision with significant consequences. Gia and Latasha are more morally casual when it comes to the men in their lives, which I suppose a woman would have to be to marry a mobster.
Sounds like a diverse cast. If you could time-travel, would you travel to the future or the past? Where would you like to go, and why would you choose that time period?
Although I'm a history buff, I absolutely would not want to travel back in time. I happen to like modern hygiene, indoor plumbing, and the right to vote, own property, and establish my own bank account. I think I might like to visit the future, long after my expected expiration date, to see how the world turns out.
All of those things make me glad I live in the 21st century as well. What can readers who enjoy your book do to help make it successful?
To help the book become successful, readers can post positive reviews and refer the book to others. I do appreciate critical feedback, however, and consider insightful suggestions when working on subsequent books.
Read, like, share! What can we expect from you next?
Once Russian Pride is finished, I'll be veering back into paranormal and fantasy romances. I just love magic. I've started the sequel for The Dragon Wore a Kilt. It will feature Robbie (the Lothario of Glencarol) and it's titled The Dragon Sang Tenor. I have no idea when I'll get that finished: too many ideas and not enough time. The Falcon of Imenotash came about after watching a movie, which sparked an idea that simply wouldn't leave my mind. It's a new favorite of mine, even though it took away precious time needed for Russian Pride. I'm mulling over a new idea now, sparked by a military romance series I've been reading. If it bears fruit, it will be a military paranormal romance.
Those sound interesting as well. I hope you will stop by again and tell us more about them when they're ready!
Holly Bargo is a pseudonym and really did exist as a temperamental appaloosa mare who has long since crossed the Rainbow Bridge. The author lives on a southwest Ohio hobby farm with her husband, children, and menagerie that includes, yes, horses. She works full-time as a freelance writer and editor under the supervision of a cat named Brutus.
And you can order the rest of the Russian Love series on Amazon.