Today I’m excited to welcome the delightful Angela Bissell on the Story Behind the Story. Angela is addicted to daydreaming and romance from a young age, Angela suspects she was always destined to become a writer although she did travel a convoluted career path on her way to authordom. Like many an intrepid Kiwi she also travelled the world, backpacking through Europe, Egypt, Israel, Turkey and the Greek Islands, before settling down to live and work for a few years in London. Now she lives back home in the vibrant harbourside city of Wellington, New Zealand, never taking a day in her beautiful country for granted and loving the challenge of pursuing her writerly dreams. Over the years her list of incurable addictions has expanded to include coffee, chocolate, Pinterest, her iPad, and her husband, though not necessarily in that order!
Alli, thanks so much for inviting me to share my “story behind the story” today. It’s great to be here!
What inspired you to write Surrendering to the Vengeful Italian?
Many years ago I lived in London and worked at The Dorchester, a beautiful hotel on Park Lane that was owned back then by the Sultan of Brunei and was, as you can imagine, a world quite different from the one us ordinary folk inhabit. Although I worked “back of house” in personnel and recruitment, one of my duties was to lead visiting groups of students from Europe’s top hospitality management schools on tours of the hotel. It meant I was able to escape my little cubicle in the basement now and again and get a wee glimpse of how the rich and famous live! I loved those little excursions above ground, not only for the chance to revel in luxurious surroundings but for the tantalising prospect of spotting a Hollywood starlet or famous celebrity or two on my jaunts around the hotel.
It was, of course, terribly glamorous and my writer’s imagination often ran riot thinking about the types of people who stayed in those beautiful suites and rooms. I’ve always loved a good rags-to-riches character, a hero or heroine who, against the odds, has clawed their way out of poverty and attained a level of success no one had believed they were capable of achieving. But I was also fascinated by the idea of the reverse scenario—a character born into wealth and privilege who then chooses to walk away from that life. What would motivate someone to make that decision? What sacrifices would they have to make and why? And would they grieve for their old lifestyle, or would they enthusiastically embrace the challenges of their new life?
So, I guess Helena and Leo in Surrendering to the Vengeful Italian were ultimately born out of those early musings. Seven years before the story starts, they were lovers irresistibly drawn to each other from different worlds, Leo from humble beginnings in Rome, Helena from a background of money and privilege. When they’re thrown together in the present day of the story, their positions are dramatically reversed. Leo has enjoyed a meteoric rise to success during the intervening years and now enjoys the power and privilege that comes with being a wealthy man, while Helena has turned her back on that world and chosen instead a modest life far removed from her family’s wealth and connections. It makes for an interesting dynamic in this story about second chances, and just to make sure Helena and Leo’s path to Happily Ever After wouldn’t be too easy, I threw another of my favourite romance tropes into the mix—revenge!
Oh, and did I mention the opening scene is set in a glamorous London hotel? Of course. I couldn’t resist!
Why did you choose to write category romance?
I discovered Mills and Boon romances at the tender age of thirteen when I found a box of them in the bottom of my mother’s wardrobe. I can’t remember what I was doing when I stumbled upon them (quite possibly snooping for Christmas presents!) but the minute I started to read, I was hooked! Fans of category romance will know that these stories are shorter than single title books, and that was one of the things about them that immediately appealed to me—that I could effortlessly devour one in a single sitting. Also, the smaller word count makes for a fast-paced story that focuses very intently on the hero and heroine’s relationship, without any secondary plot lines, and I love the powerful emotional intensity of these stories. Of course, I don’t only read category romance. I read many kinds of commercial and romantic fiction of varying lengths and enjoy all sorts of genres and subgenres. But traditional category romance was my first love and what I always dreamed of writing—and now do!
Blurb for Surrendering to the Vengeful Italian
One step from surrender…
For seven years, formidable Leo Vincenti has planned his vengeance on Douglas Shaw and nothing will stop him. Not even Shaw’s stunning but treacherous daughter, Helena, who—right now—is pleading for leniency. Grim satisfaction spreads through him as he knows she would willingly never take up his challenge to return to his side.
But he has greatly underestimated Helena. Secrets drive her as if the very devil were on her heels. And suddenly the passion that left them undone years before is forcing them both to the brink of surrender…
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