My new Presents duet, Princes Untamed, was greatly inspired by two things: a bad vacation and the TV show Ice Road Truckers.
Okay, it was inspired by a lot more than that. But those were perhaps the biggest surprises. As anyone who is a writer/ artist / gardener/ musician / chef knows, inspiration can come from unlikely places.
Five years ago, I went to Hawaii with my family. It wasn’t a perfect success. In fact, it was awful. I even wrote a blog about my misery for I Heart Presents: The Top 5 Reasons Why Reading Presents Is Better than a Hawaiian Cruise.
Though the “vacation” was, alas, not very relaxing, I fell in love with Hawaii itself. I always knew I would someday set a book there.
Now, I’ve set two.
The two books of my duet, Dealing Her Final Card and A Reputation for Revenge, are both set partly in Hawaii. And as my snowy mountain home has gone from zero temperatures to wicked ice storm to slush (just in the last week!), I can’t stop remembering the warm trade winds of
Hawaii, the palm trees, the bright blue sky and sea. I can’t stop wishing I could go back there, just for a little while!
My duet tells the stories of two estranged brothers, Princes Vladimir and Kasimir Xendzov: “two brothers torn apart by the past, bitter rivals in the present,” who are determined to destroy each other – that is, until they each get distracted by two very different sisters…
Dealing Her Final Card, the story of Vladimir and Bree, is out this week. (A Reputation for Revenge follows next month.)
Bree Dalton and her naïve younger sister Josie are both working as hotel maids in Hawaii, having fled there from their Alaskan home. Alaska?! You ask. In a Presents?! Are you insane? (you ask) – Well, maybe. Last year I fell in love with two TV shows set in Alaska, Ice Road Truckers and Bering Sea Gold. I was dazzled by the romantic idea of panning for gold in the glassy sea, and driving big rigs over the frozen rivers, finishing up a hard day’s work with huckleberry pie at the diner in Coldfoot. I watched shows about Alaskan homesteaders, who are independent, self-sufficient and raise their own food for their families, miles from the nearest town. A hard life, yes; but a good one. An old-fashioned life from a different time.
My love for Alaska even came through in the Russian background of the heroes. I’ve been fascinated by Sitka, once the capital of Russian America, since I read about it as a teenager.
Bree and Josie’s last name, Dalton, comes from that famously dangerous road in north Alaska: the Dalton. (Sadly I didn’t find any way to include huckleberry pie in the story. But I’m sure I did eat some as I wrote it.) Bree’s hard-edged drive to protect her innocent young sister comes from that frontier mentality. She won’t accept help from anyone.
But it’s also this pride that gets Bree into trouble. Ten years ago, she gave up her livelihood, card sharking and being a con artist, that she’d been taught by her father. At eighteen, she gave up everything in an attempt to be worthy of the man she loved with all her innocent heart. But Russian Prince Vladimir Xendzov betrayed her, deserting her when she needed him most.
Now, Bree sees him for the first time in ten years. And the man she hates most on earth makes her a wager, based on the turn of a single card, that she cannot refuse: her body for a million dollars.
Have you ever had inspiration from a surprising source? Where did it take you?
(Right now, I’m personally wishing it could be Hawaii…)