Thursday, May 08, 2008

Thursday Talk-Time - The Italian's Passionate Revenge

A big welcome to Lucy Gordon, who joins us to talk about a debut book for a new-to-her line, and a smashing excerpt! (If it doesn't make you want to buy the book this minute I don't know what will!)

May is a big, big month for me, because it sees the publication of my first Harlequin Presents, THE ITALIAN’S PASSIONATE REVENGE.

For the past ten years I’ve been writing for the Romance line, but always hoped to do Presents. Now my first one is just out, and I’ve contracted for two more.
It takes place in Italy, which is where I set a lot of my books, because I’m Italian by marriage, and now know that country very well. My husband comes from the glorious city on the water, Venice, which is where we met.
If you told our story in a book people would say it was unbelievable. We fell in love on the first day, and he proposed two days later. All our friends predicted disaster, but years later we’re still together, and always will be.
You’ll find the full story on my website,

So Venice has to be my favorite city, and the setting for a lot of my books, including THE ITALIAN’S CINDERELLA BRIDE, a Harlequin Romance, which comes out in June.

But the May Presents is set in my next favorite city, Rome, a place of glamour, fashion and money. The hero, Vicente, is a hard man, rich, powerful and set on revenge against Elise, the woman he blames for the death of his cousin.

He sets out to lure her to Rome, using all the seductive skill at his command, which is considerable. He’s a man used to getting his own way, whether in business or with women.

Elise is at first reluctant. She was in Rome once before, madly in love with a young man, but forced to leave him and marry another man that she hated. But before she left she tossed a coin into the Trevi fountain and made the traditional wish to return to Rome.

Now her husband is dead, and years of misery with him have left her tense and strained. At first she’s cautious with Vincente, but gradually she succumbs, as he’d always meant her to.

From the start, he’s one step ahead of her – or he thinks he is. But to his surprise he discovers that, as well as being beautiful and sexy, she’s also shrewd and brave. She takes him on, fighting him as an equal, in bed and out, no quarter asked or given.

Here’s a little ‘trailer’. Elise has discovered Vincente’s true motive for pursuing her, and confronts him.
“Oh, I’ve really got to hand it to you,” she said softly. “As a shrewd manipulator you’re the tops. But of course you have no conscience, which is a big help. You plotted for eight years without let-up. How could you do that? You told me not to judge you too easily, but you’ve judged me every moment. You never thought that there might be something to be said on my side.”

“No, I didn’t, and I’ve blamed myself for that ever since you told me what really happened.”

“But it came too late, didn’t it? I was already in the net by then. How you must have enjoyed closing it around me! Every word you said to me was a lie. Even when – ”

She checked herself as a wave of anguish washed over her. She fought it with every fibre of her being. She couldn’t afford it.

Vincente, watching, drew a tense breath, but stayed still before the rage in her eyes.

“Even when you seemed most sincere, it was a lie,” she said. “That takes some doing. I congratulate you. It was a good act, but it’s over. You served your purpose.”

“And what does that mean?”

“It means you’re not the only one concealing their real thoughts. I hadn’t slept with a man for years. I was ready for – shall we say? – a new experience. No ties. No conditions. You fitted the bill perfectly.”

That struck home, she was glad to notice. He paled, his mouth tightened and his face had a withered look.

“What are you saying?” he asked quietly.

“You know exactly what I’m saying,” she said, challenging him with her look. “I said you were shrewd and calculating, but you’re good in another way – just the way I needed. Do you want me to elaborate?”

“I don’t think you need to,” he said quietly.

“I didn’t know a man could be that skilled in bed,” she went on, disregarding him. “It’s something I won’t forget, because it gives me a touchstone to measure the others by.”


“In the future. And there are going to be others, make no mistake. You did fine job, now I’m going to discover just how fine. I remember everything, you see. Are your special little touches yours alone, or do other men know them? And if not, how quickly can they be taught? Never mind. I’ll have fun finding out.”

“Don’t talk like that,” he almost shouted.

“I’ll talk as I like. If you don’t like it, tough. Remember, I’m partly your creation. I’ve learned a lot from you, not just about sex but about cruelty and ruthlessness, deception with a straight face. I’m glad of it. Your lessons are going to come in very useful.”

His mouth twisted cynically.

“Well done, Elise. You turned out to be everything I thought you. I knew you’d show your true colours in the end.”

“Yes you did, didn’t you? And now I have. So have you. So we can toss each other on the scrap heap and go our ways without regret.”

“And admirable idea,” he snapped. “I’m glad you feel you learned something from me.”

“Ruthlessness, manipulation – ”

“I’m commonly held to be a master. You’ve been learning from the best.”

“Every word you ever said to me – ”

“Pretence, all of them. Every word, every caress, every moment of passion – all done for a purpose.”

“All those times we made love - ?”

“You don’t really think I could love you, do you?” he demanded coldly. “To me you’re little better than a murderess.”

* * *
From THE ITALIAN’S PASSIONATE REVENGE, Harlequin Presents, May 2008

I don’t always have Italians as my heroes. Sometimes they’re English. The English man has a reputation for being rather uptight prosaic, which is often an unfair judgement. When an Englishman sheds his inhibitions he can romance with the best of them, and it’s great fun depicting it.

However, I know, from letters that readers send me, that among all heroes, they find a special magic intensity about Italians. They are reputedly more passionate, more charming, more romantic than all other men.

It’s true, but not the whole truth. A man who was permanently passionate and charming would get a bit one-sided after a while. I lived in Italy a few years ago, and during that time the only man who kissed my hand was an Englishman who clearly thought he was conforming to the local custom. A real Italian would have slapped me on the back and asked if I’d heard the football results.

Ah football! That’s what I call a really interesting man!

I have another reason for celebrating at the moment. My Romance The Mediterranean Rebel’s Bride, made the finals in the Romance Prize given by the Romantic Novelist’s Association, in February. It didn’t win but I’ve just heard that it’s also in the finals of the National Readers Choice Award. The presentation will be made in July, at the Romance Writers of America conference in San Francisco. So I’m crossing my fingers.


  1. Lucy, I loaded your post yesterday, and then bought your book at the grocery store. I said at the top if that excerpt didn't do the trick...well it worked for me! LOL

  2. You do such great Italian heroes, Lucy! But I have to admit to being partial to a couple of the British ones, especially Myles in Judgment of Paris who is one of your all-time greats.

    So glad we're going to be reading you in Presents now! Excellent news.