by Michelle Smart, author of Taming the Notorious Sicilian
Regular readers of this blog will (hopefully) recall a post I did back in March about standing at my kitchen sink when a snapshot of a scene came into my mind. That snapshot was of Grace walking into her kitchen to find Luca, the husband she was in hiding from, there. That snapshot became the basis for What a Sicilian Husband Wants and, by extension, the Irresistible Sicilians trilogy. At the time though, I wasn’t thinking that far ahead! Pepe and Cara’s story, The Sicilian’s Unexpected Duty, evolved naturally but it was Francesco, the nemesis of the Mastrangelo brothers, who really demanded his own story.
What can I say about him? Devilishly dangerous are the two words that spring to mind. Whereas Luca flirted reluctantly with the gangster lifestyle, Francesco Calvetti has seemingly embraced it. He’s a man feared by all, his power assured. But he has demons, secrets from his past that have been revealed and that he has sworn to avenge. His thirst for revenge is consuming him and the last thing he needs are distractions, especially of the female kind!
As I already ‘knew’ Francesco before I started writing his book, it was a simple (ha!) case of finding the perfect heroine for him. I knew from the outset that he needed someone pure of heart, who could reach inside and touch his soul—exactly the kind of woman he swears away from, not wanting to bring them anywhere near his dark world.
While the ideas were fermenting in my head, a personal tragedy struck my family when my two-year-old nephew was diagnosed with cancer. He’s in remission now (and doing fantastically well) but there were many months when everything was on a knife’s edge, us not knowing what the outcome would be. During those months, I spent a lot of the time in the children’s oncology ward with my sister and nephew, surrounded by all these amazing people working so diligently to try to save him and all the other suffering children there. These people were like angels. There was one doctor in particular who fascinated me—she looked so young, as if she should still be in secondary education! Of all the people in all the world who should be swept away by a gorgeous Sicilian billionaire, she was the one…and so Dr Hannah Chapman was born.
Hannah Chapman is an amazingly dedicated doctor. Her whole world revolves around her job, leaving her (deliberately) no time for any kind of social life, which is just the way she likes it. All that changes when she’s knocked off her bike, and the knight in shining armour who saves her life is none other than Francesco!
In some respects, Taming the Notorious Sicilian is a reworking of the classic Beauty and the Beast with a hero who can’t find the prince he is beneath the skin until he can cast off the demons plaguing him. But his Beauty has demons of her own to face, too…
So all of this makes me wonder—who out of all the people in all the world do you think deserves to be swept away by a gorgeous Sicilian billionaire? And if the answer to that question is you, then where would you like to be swept away to?
Francesco doesn’t do nice, and he doesn’t do damsels in distress. Apart from that one time. He never thought he’d see Hannah Chapman again. A woman like her, pure and untouched, has no place in his world.
Ever since losing her sister, Hannah has sheltered herself from the world, but being knocked from her bike is a wake-up call. A call she’s ready to accept. There’s one thing left on her to-do list and there’s only one man who can help her. But will the dangerous, devastatingly gorgeous Sicilian oblige her?