by Rhenna Morgan, author of HIS TO DEFEND
Over the years, my writing circle has gotten smaller. Richer for sure, but also fewer in number. You see, when you first start out in a writing career and are trying to find a publisher, you learn fast that there are a ton of people just like you starving to get their stories some love and attention. And because you’re all starving for the same thing, you bond together. Build alliances. Spend ridiculous amounts of time on Facebook Messenger oohing and ahhing about “the latest thing” you heard on how to get that big break. (Or marketing, or new authors, or whatever.)
But after a few years? After you’ve heard “no” a bajillion times and have gone through industry shakeups that make you wonder why you’re still writing, that horde turns into a select group of people you know you can count on no matter what.
And then the chatter on Facebook Messenger gets really good. LOL.
It was in one of those Messenger chats with my faithful writer pal Juliette Cross that I learned of an article that left me breathless. If I remember right, Juliette and I were talking about Kresley Cole’s Game Maker series (specifically, book one—THE PROFESSIONAL—and its to-die-for hero, Savastyan) and how it was the ultimate Russian hero book. That’s when she shared an article about what it was like to really have a Russian boyfriend. How, in Russia, it’s expected for a male to physically defend his lady’s honor. How you don’t meet a Russian man, but are chosen by one, and that they act like your boyfriend from the very beginning.
With every word I read, the hunter-prey vibe fueled by unapologetic passion grew thicker.
And Sergei came to life.
Just like that.
I wanted him, and I wanted him in my books.
At the time, I was writing Trevor and Natalie’s book in the Men of Haven series—CLAIM & PROTECT. And while I still had three more books to write in the series (none of them slated to feature Russian badasses), I couldn’t shake the idea of Sergei or this idea of how possessive and alpha Russian men were purported to be.
So, I decided to fudge things a little. Knox’s heroine in TEMPTED & TAKEN turned out to be a Russian fleeing a ruthless vor who really didn’t know the word “no.” And if you’ve got a Russian heroine fleeing Russia…well…lookey there! Just the introduction we needed for Sergei.
I talked it over with my editor (and sent her a little man candy example of what I thought he’d look like) and said, “I want to do a spinoff.”
Now, here we are—God only knows how many months later—celebrating Sergei’s release and the beginning of a new brotherhood in the colorful city of New Orleans!
Why New Orleans?
Well, for one, it’s an amazing city. I’ve made many trips there—some to visit Juliette, some for reader conventions, and some just to goof off—but they are all filled with fantastic stories and colorful details I can pass on in books.
There’s also the fact that it’s really freaking warm there. And if you’ve lived the vast majority of your life in Russia, wouldn’t that be a big factor?
In the end though, it really boiled down to the town fitting the alternative approach to the bratva lifestyle Sergei wanted to create for himself and his new family. A place ready for change. Neighborhoods with all manner of people and rich diversity. People in need of a dark, suit-wearing Robin Hood who would do anything to protect those under his care.
Just a few weeks ago, I turned in the original draft of book two in the series, HERS TO TAME. It features Kir and his heroine, Cassie. (You’ll meet her in book one.) Now it’s just down to Roman, and I have to tell you—I love them all.
I hope you do, too, and would love to hear your thoughts after you’ve read their stories.
What about you? Have you been to New Orleans? Have any favorites sights, sounds, or tastes you want to share?
I look forward to hearing from you! Until then, enjoy HIS TO DEFEND!
About HIS TO DEFEND:
Book one of NOLA Knights, the heart-stoppingly sexy spinoff series by Men of Haven author Rhenna Morgan
His world. His rules. Her love.
Though his methods may be rough, when it comes to protecting what’s his, Russian vor Sergei Petrovyh’s heart is always in the right place. That’s never been more true than when the gorgeous Evette Labadie asks him for a job. He knows enough to keep his hands off someone as beloved by the locals as Evie, but there’s something about her that calls to him—no matter how badly he burns to make her his.
Don’t think Evie hasn’t noticed the powerful Russian mafia boss who makes her favorite diner a regular stop. How can she not? He’s as hot as his reputation is dangerous. But everyone in her struggling New Orleans neighborhood knows he’s the man to turn to. And right now she needs money to get her son out of trouble.
Her other needs—needs she knows damn well Sergei can more than satisfy—will have to wait.
Evie soon finds herself playing Cinderella to a man who, despite what people believe, is definitely more prince than villain. She can’t help falling deeper in love with each passing day. But when a turf war between Sergei and a rival brings violence to her doorstep, Evie must come to grips with loving a man who will do anything to defend her…or walk away from her best chance at a happily-ever-after of her very own.