Please welcome my fellow Wild Rose Press author Jannine Corti-Peska!
Tell us about your new historical romance novella, Mine to Keep.
Lady Elizabella Aldrich receives notice of an inheritance in Padua, Italy. Arriving from England, she discovers another heir lays claim to the castle. An unreasonably handsome Italian rogue stands between her and the castle she’s inherited.
Leonardo Da Mitri never met the noble who included him in his will. But after one look at Lady Eliza he relishes the challenge of defeating the beauty to make the castle his own.
Astonished to learn they must wed and remain married for a year, it soon becomes apparent someone does not want the nuptials to take place. As Eliza fights her growing desire for Leo, he fights for his life. Will he walk away from his inheritance—and Eliza? Or is he willing to risk everything to stay married to the woman who has claimed his heart as hers… to keep?
What are you working on now? Do you have any releases scheduled for this year?
I’m writing TEMPT NOT MY HEART, book 4 of my Italian medieval series, set in Siena. There’s intrigue involving the Palio, Siena’s famous horse race. I think many women will identify with the heroine. She’s definitely not petite or perfect in any way. She’s the “ordinary” woman. The hero, Niccolo Ghilberti, is the cousin of Cristiano de’ Medici, the hero in book 1, THE LILY AND THE FALCON.
I don’t have any other releases for the rest of the year. I hope to have a few for next year, although at the rate I’m writing, it won’t happen.
What are your writing goals for this year?
I will finish writing TEMPT NOT MY HEART (I repeat that over and over again!). I hope to have a short story written as well. I’ve been invited by two different publishers to take part in three different anthologies. Other than that, I hope to stay sane so I can follow through on my goals.
Can you share with us “the call” story?
It was in October 1999. I was in my office, writing. Amy Garvey, an editor at Kensington, called me to say she’s been trying to contact my agent but she couldn’t get through to him. She said she didn’t want to discuss anything with me until she spoke to him.
The instant I got off the phone, hands shaking, eyes watering from tears of anticipation, I emailed my agent and called repeatedly to tell him to call Amy. Not long after he returned my call, he called back to tell me I was offered a contract for THE LILY AND THE FALCON. After that, I fell to the floor like a blubbering idiot. The first person I called was my husband. He was alarmed, thinking something was terribly wrong because he couldn’t understand me through my tears. He said, “I’m coming home.” I told him not to then calmed down enough to get the words out, ‘I SOLD!!!!!”
What do you like least about writing?
Writing love scenes are tortuous for me. I don’t want them to sound unreal and implausible.
Writing in general has always been difficult because I can’t sit in one spot for too long. My concentration always wanders. I honestly think I have ADD.
However, I would say the absolute least is promoting. It can consume your day and your life. I’ve been tempted to give in to the beast and give up writing. It’s that frustrating for me. I’m still trying to figure out what’s the best way to promote without it cutting into my writing time. If anyone has a solution, I’d love to hear it.
At the opposite end, I love the alone-time of writing. I’m a loner by nature and love being home with no distractions. Well, maybe not exactly “no distractions.” The laundry, dirty dishes, dust, and everything else sidetrack me. Then there are my 3 energetic Rat Terriers………
What is your favorite scene from this story and why?
That would have to be the moment Lady Elizabella and Leonardo first met. She’s a prim and proper noble Englishwoman. Leo is what we’d call today “street wise.” When Eliza realizes they’ve both inherited the castle if they abide by the stipulations, she cannot believe the marchese chose another, more pointedly a pauper, to vie for the inheritance.
They couldn’t be more opposite. Her proper manner is fodder for Leo’s amusement throughout the story.
What is your favorite memory from your early writing days?
I suppose my favorite memory is in the form of how and when I wrote. I began writing 30 years ago. Back then, I found so much joy in creating plots, characters and settings. There were so many books to write, and I’d see each of them in Technicolor in my mind. I couldn’t look sideways without an idea popping into my head. It was fun and exciting, and I wrote with such energy and motivation. Unfortunately, things changed over the years. I wish I still had that energy and motivation. But I do appreciate how it used to be.
These are few of my favorite things:
In no particular order, they are:
2. Italian soccer; did I mention puppies?
3. My husband, kids and grandkids…and my dogs (and puppies and dogs of all kind).
Signor Da Mitri nodded then held his hand out toward the table. “It has been left up until you ate your first meal. Do sit.”
“The table has been set up since I arrived.” Couldn’t he see she wasn’t easy to sweet talk or sway? “I shall accept your offer, for I am ravenous.”
His eyes twinkled. “Sì, I too am ravenous.”
Eliza wasn’t stupid. She knew exactly what he was hungry for. More pointedly who. She sat on the bench with grace and slid close to the end, away from the Italian. “Did you not partake of the morning meal?”
“My appetite has suddenly returned.”
Eliza couldn’t help the frown turning down the corners of her mouth. When he had the audacity to sit beside her, she wanted to scream. “There is plenty of bench for you to move to the opposite end.”
“How will we converse? I fear I am in no mood to shout.”
And in no mood to be truthful either, she might have chastised, had he not given her a stunning smile. Her frown deepened, and she held herself back. Having no other recourse—except taking her meal in her bedchamber—Eliza turned away from him and tried to concentrate on the hearth. She might have succeeded if the signore hadn’t brushed against her arm. She scooted to the very end of the bench. Any farther, she’d land on the floor. She’d had more than enough of that particular humiliation.
The servant chuckled, rattling Eliza’s forbearance. Why did men find annoying a lady amusing?
“Your food will be out shortly,” the servant said with a bow of his head.
He walked away, his upper body slightly bent forward. Eliza upheld her silence and reinforced the protective wall she’d erected. She hoped Signor Da Mitri understood that she wanted no part of his menial conversation. The cretin didn’t take the hint.
“Where in England do you live?”
She searched his face to decide if he was serious or being playful. “I would rather not say.” A modest smile drew her attention to his lips. “Where in Italy do you live?”
“Here,” came his quick response, along with a wide grin.
“What did you just say?”
“I know that,” she spit out. He really did think she was stupid. “Carina. What does that mean?”
He answered with another smile. His head drew nearer. His mouth moved closer. His lips floated, she was sure of it. Eliza held her breath, afraid to speak without stuttering from apprehension. The moment his smooth lips dusted hers, she shivered. Never mind the indecency of what he was doing. Her heart raced, and heat bloomed over her entire body. She had no control, it seemed, because her own lips accepted his in an explosion of unfamiliar sensations. She gripped the bench with one hand and the table with the other. He rested his hand on her waist. Eliza squirmed, but naught she did stopped her from losing her senses to Signor Da Mitri’s kiss. It was heavenly, and she pouted when he lifted his head away.
“Ah, signorina,” he whispered. “A kiss beyond all others.”
Beyond all others? She’d best retain a sharp mind, else the rogue would steel her inheritance away. She crossed her arms. “I am sure you have tasted the lips of many ladies, but you are lying, signore. That was my first kiss, and doubtless it is to be above all the other women you have kissed.”
“I beg to differ. I spoke the truth.”
Entranced by the huskiness in his voice, Eliza gasped when he kissed her again, this one bolder, more forceful. His hands framed her face as if to make certain she didn’t end the kiss prematurely. Slapping him crossed her mind…until he folded her into his embrace, tilting her head back and bracing it with his hand. The heat she’d felt before was mild compared to the fire consuming her from head to leather-bottomed shoes. She gripped his waist, afraid the flames were real and she’d perish. Never had she experienced such wonderful shivers marching up and down her back. Gooseflesh attacked her arms. Her head spun out of control. The tip of his tongue slipped out and traced her lips. It was wrong. Yet it was right. A voice of decency spoke up and filled her head with the reasons she shouldn’t allow the signore to kiss her, to caress her body.
“He is molesting milady,” Leticia shouted from across the hall.
Their kiss ended abruptly. Both turned to find the maidservant running toward them, a broom raised in her hands. Eliza had no time to cool her body’s unwanted desire. She jumped to her feet, but with Signor Da Mitri’s weight, the bench didn’t budge. She tipped backward, desperately grasping for the table. He reached out to save her, instead closing his fingers over her breasts.
“You dishonorable beast,” Leticia screeched. The last thing Eliza remembered was her maidservant whacking the signore with her broom.
Jannine Corti Petska was born in New York but raised in Southern California. Her parents’ first language was Italian, and Jannine was raised in an Old World environment. She began writing romance novels when her three daughters were young and she was a stay-at-home mom. In-between writing and caring for her family, she tutored Italian, Spanish, German, and English as a Second Language at a local college. Although she loves placing her stories in medieval Italy, she has also written romantic tales of the cowboy in the American West. Jannine lives in Southern California with her husband of 40 years and three high-energy Rat Terriers.
To find out more about Jannine, please visit her website www.jcortipetska.com
You can also find Jannine at:
You can find Mine to Keep at:
The Wild Rose Press