Book one of NOLA Knights, the heart-stoppingly sexy spin-off 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.
I received a copy of this book from Carina Press via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
This story will draw lovers of contemporary fairytale romance in, like nectar to a bee.
Evie’s strength comes across in the first pages. She’s lost her job, but she has to find another immediately. Her son needs his schooling, and that costs. As the story progresses her character matures, her son is still the centre of her world, but now she realises her actions have consequences, what she has to decide is can she accept them?
Sergei, is an enigmatic man, physically commanding, this is a reflection of his inner strength. He protects those he values, but he is complex and not a good man, in the conventional sense. Organised crime and protection are his worlds, and whilst he would love Evie in his personal life, he keeps her to the fringes, not wanting to sully her.
This a ‘Cinderella’ type romance, but like all true fairytales, it isn’t all hearts and flowers. Crime, danger and violence are part of Sergei’s world. Evie struggles, but she is honest and law-abiding and has her son to think of. Can the chemistry they both feel ever be something more permanent?
The conflicts in this story are realistic and pose moral questions. Should Evie expose her son to a world of crime? Evie has made poor decisions in the past and is determined not to repeat them. So, the chances for a happy ever after for her and Sergei seems remote.
Despite the criminal ethos, the focus is on Evie’s struggle to find a better life for her son. Currently, they live in a poor, high crime area, where he is likely to be drawn into gangs and crime, simply because of where he lives.
Then there’s the romance…
The romance is gentle and courtly, in contrast to the sizzling chemistry. This makes it realistic, because Sergei, doesn’t want to hurt Evie in any way, and Evie has to decide if falling in love with a man like him, is worth the risk.
Compulsive chemistry, realistic contemporary issues and a gentle love story, make this an engaging modern fairytale romance.
A native Oklahoman, Rhenna Morgan is a certified
romance junkie. Whether it’s contemporary, paranormal, or fantasy you’re after,
Rhenna’s stories pack romantic escape full of new, exciting worlds, and strong,
intuitive men who fight to keep the women they want. For advance release news
and exclusive content, sign up for her newsletter at http://RhennaMorgan.com.
You’ll also find all of her social links there, along with her smoking hot
When you’re working undercover the smallest mistake can cost you your life.
Detective Constable Bailey Morgan has been out of the undercover game since her last job went horribly wrong, leaving her with scars inside and out. When her colleague Alice is found dead whilst working deep cover in a women’s prison, Bailey steps in to replace her.
Working alone, Bailey embarks on a dangerous journey through the murky underbelly of the prison and soon discovers that Alice’s death was part of a spate of brutal murders.
Surrounded by prison officers, criminals and lowlifes, the slightest mistake could cost Bailey her life. Illicit drug trafficking, prison gangs and corruption are just some of the things she’s up against… and behind it, all lurks a sinister and terrifying secret that will truly test her survival instincts.
Is ‘Jailbird’ inspired by a particular event? Can you share your inspirations for this story?
‘Jailbird’ isn’t inspired by any particular event. It’s more like it emerged out of a collision between various interests and preoccupations of mine.
I’d been wanting to write a women’s prison thriller for a while because I’ve always enjoyed prison-themed books, films and TV shows. I tried several different variations on the story but none of them felt quite right until I got to the scenario of a cop going undercover in a prison. And that tapped straight into a preoccupation I’ve always had with how far people put up facades to fool others for good motives or bad, and how far you can see the cracks in those facades if you look closely enough. The idea of an undercover cop, having to conceal her identity in order to fight crime, takes this to the extreme, because if people see through her facade she’s a dead woman!
Why are prisons popular settings for crime fiction and thrillers?
I think prisons make for good crime thriller material because they’re a closed environment with an inbuilt element of criminality which provides the potential for lots of intrigue and conflict. The atmosphere of a prison lends itself well to this genre because you’ve got that claustrophobia from hundreds of people being locked in with each other against their will, and the constant simmering tension which arises as a result.
I love reading books set in prisons and I don’t think there are enough of them which is one reason why I wanted to write ‘Jailbird’, to make my own contribution to this crime sub-genre.
What makes your story unique, in such a popular genre?
Well, they say no story is truly unique, don’t they? So I guess it’s the way you tell it that makes it special…
I think good well-defined characters play a very important part in making a story stand out. The main character of ‘Jailbird’ is Bailey Morgan, the policewoman who goes undercover in the prison. I’ve tried to make her as three-dimensional as possible – yes she’s tough and resourceful, with an appetite for danger, but she also has a vulnerable side which is explained by a backstory that actually ends up feeding into the very risks she’s facing on a daily basis as an undercover cop in a prison.
As for the plot itself, there have been stories before about cops going undercover in prison, but I think the female cop/female prison angle makes ‘Jailbird’ different from what I’ve encountered in the genre so far. Plus the fact that it’s set in the UK perhaps makes it a little more unusual.
There are also other elements to the story that makes ‘Jailbird’ unique, which you discover towards the denouement, but of course, I’m not going to give that away here. You’ll have to read it to the end to find out!
There is a varied cast of characters in your novel, how did you make them realistic and relatable?
One thing I did when I was writing ‘Jailbird’ was to create questionnaires for all of the main characters which ran the gamut from things like, ‘where does she live?’, ‘what’s her height?’, ‘what’s her favourite colour?’, ‘what’s her favourite song?’ etc, right through to deeper things like ‘what was her first experience of death?’ and so on. For the most part, the answers to these questions didn’t make it into the actual book. But when you force yourself to think through the answers to these questions for each character, they really start to become alive and much more three-dimensional. And once that happens their motivations for doing what they’re doing become a lot clearer.
What sort of books do you enjoy reading and why?
I love crime and thriller books obviously – recently I’ve been enjoying novels by Stephen King, Joe R. Lansdale, Heather Burnside, Gillian Flynn, Don Winslow and Martina Cole amongst others. Reading other people’s novels is a great way to understand some of the techniques these very talented writers use in order to generate suspense and create great characters.
I also do like horror fiction – authors like Adam Nevill, James Herbert and C.J. Tudor. From a personal writing perspective I find horror complements crime quite well and in fact, there can often be a cross-over.
I read quite a bit of non-fiction as well. True crime, current affairs, popular psychology. Some of it is research on what I’m writing, some of it I read just because it interests me!
What are you currently writing?
I am currently working on the follow-up novel to ‘Jailbird’. After all, Bailey Morgan is still around and she’s not going to be able to put up with normal life for very long before she’ll be wanting to go undercover again…
I received a copy of this book from Boldwood Books via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
If you enjoy prison drama, suspense and menace, Jailbird is an exciting new story to explore.
It contains everything you would expect in a novel of this type, a courageous, challenged protagonist, who is only there to finish a job, her friend was unable to, after her violent death. A corrupt prison ethos, where it is debatable who is in charge, and a culture of abuse, drugs and violence.
This story contains well-written, but graphic descriptions of the violence, and so this is for a mature adult audience. There is a varied cast of characters, most are complex and realistically flawed. A setting like a prison demands that the characters are exceptional, and for the most part they are. The plot has twists, that keep you guessing, and the build-up of suspense is well done.
Gritty, graphic and powerful, this is a story that makes you think.
Extract from Chapter 1 – Jailbird – Caro Savage
The clank sounded out of place. Alice Jenkins stopped pushing the laundry trolley and lifted her head. She tossed her long reddish-blonde hair out of her face. ‘Hey, who’s there?’ She was answered only by the repetitive groaning of the huge industrial washing machines and dryers which lined both sides of the prison laundry. She peered uncertainly into the shadows beyond the giant wire racks, which held folded piles of freshly laundered bedding and towels. Down here in the basement there were no windows and the overhead strip lighting flickered with a sickly insipid yellow which failed to illuminate the room properly.
Alice had only started her job in the laundry two days before. Normally there were other inmates working in here, but this afternoon she was all alone. That was because she’d volunteered to do some overtime, explaining to the laundry supervisor that she wanted to earn a little extra cash for her canteen account.
She hadn’t been in prison for very long. Just a few weeks. She’d been sent down for benefit fraud. Not a major crime but enough to land her inside for a year and three months. But she seemed to be getting the hang of things. Like managing to get this job in the laundry.
There was still plenty of stuff that she was unfamiliar with though, so she wasn’t totally relaxed by any means. In fact, she’d found that this place could suddenly put you on edge when you were least expecting it. Like now for example.
She glanced around nervously.
‘Hey stop messing about!’ she said.
Maybe some of the other inmates – her laundry colleagues – were playing a practical joke on her. She hoped so. Because if it wasn’t them then maybe it was one of the dangerous looking cliques she’d seen around the prison. Maybe they’d taken a dislike to her for some reason. Maybe they had it in for her.
‘Haha. Try and creep up on Ally. Yeah, that’s hilarious. You can come out now.’ She tried to sound breezy but her nerves betrayed her, her voice instead coming out reedy and uneven.
There was no answer. Just the incessant rumbling of the machinery.
Her knuckles turned white as she tightened her grip on the handle of the trolley and squinted into the dim recesses of the cavernous laundry. A burst of excess steam hissed from a nearby pipe. She jumped and gasped, her heart thumping in her chest.
Her mind raced to think what had made the clanking sound. It might be a rat.
The prison did have a rodent problem. Or maybe she was just spooking herself out unnecessarily.
‘You silly girl,’ she muttered, shaking her head and pulling herself upright.
She recommenced pushing the trolley, awkwardly manoeuvring its bulky weight towards one of the empty washing machines at the end of the room.
Then, out of the corner of her eye, she noticed a shadow pass behind one of the sheets that were hanging up, waiting to be folded and placed on the wire racks.
She let go of the trolley and spun around to look. Was there someone there? She could have sworn she was the only one in here.
No. It was surely just a ripple in the material caused by convection in the warm air currents generated by the dryers. She turned back to the trolley, taking hold of the handle once again.
But then in the darkness beyond the racking, just behind the dryers, something caught her eye.
A brief sparkle.
A shiny surface which captured the few photons bouncing around behind the stacks of machinery and reflected them back to her…
She stopped again, momentarily entranced by it as it twinkled in the shadows like a lone star aglow in the distant black depths of deep space. For a brief moment, she forgot her apprehension as she tried to make sense of it floating there in the shadows like the needle of a compass… turning… pointing in her direction…
Then a depth charge of cold fear detonated in her gut as she realised what it was.
Her heart began to hammer inside her chest. Her hands fell away from the handle of the trolley.
‘Oh fuck,’ she whispered. They’d come to kill her.
They’d decided to come for her when she was all alone. She cursed her stupidity for making the mistake of being down here by herself.
Somewhere along the line, she’d messed up and now she was going to pay for it with her life.
She felt a heavy nausea rise up inside her, the fear of impending death.
Slowly, she edged backwards around the trolley to put it between herself and whoever was behind the dryers. She again squinted to try and see more.
In the shadows, silence. A flicker of movement in the darkness. A shadow within a shadow. It was big. It was no rat. That was for sure. It was a person.
She gulped. Her mouth was dry. She glanced towards the doorway. It was at the far end of the laundry. That distant metal door had never looked more appealing. Nor had it ever seemed further away. She glanced back at the row of dryers.
Tensing, she took a deep breath… and bolted.
Caro Savage knows all about bestselling thrillers having worked as a Waterstones bookseller for 12 years in a previous life. Now taking up the challenge personally and turning to hard-hitting crime thriller writing.
Izzy is a seven-year-old girl who lives in Ireland and loves all sport, especially Gaelic Football.
Izzy plays football with her brothers on a regular basis in their back garden and dreams of playing for her county in the All Ireland Ladies Football Final in Croke Park when she is older.
One day, Izzy puts on her great grandmother’s bracelet, which is made of old All Ireland medals that her great grandmother won a long time ago, and something unexpected and magical happens, which may make Izzy’s Croke Park dream a reality sooner than she expected…
I received a copy of book from the author in return for an honest review.
A lovely family story, about believing in yourself and your dreams, and practice makes perfect.
Izzy regularly plays Gaelic football with her three brothers, and despite trying hard, is often on the losing side, which is frustrating and makes her unpopular with her teammate brother. Banished to her room, when she has a tantrum, she finds her grandmother’s bracelet, and then with a little magic, she sees what the future could be.
The characters are relatable, the adventure full of magic and motivation, and the illustrations follow the action beautifully. The introduction to Gaelic football is interesting, for those who are not familiar with it, and the story is pitched appropriately for the intended age group.
I read the electronic version of this, but the illustrations are clear and still enjoyable.
My name is Emma Larkin, and I am the founder of “Emma Larkin Books” and “Rebel in Kerry Press”. I have recently written and published my first book “Izzy’s Magical Football Adventure”, and I hope to write many more books about Izzy and her adventures in sport. As may be evident from the name of my publishing imprint, I am a “Rebel in Kerry”! This means that I am originally from County Cork in Ireland, which is known as the Rebel County, but I moved to Kerry (another county in Ireland which neighbours Cork) in 2006 and have been happily living in Kerry since then, with my husband and four children. My husband is a Kerry native and we live in North Kerry, near Listowel, where my husband is from and is an area which is rich in literary history!
I have always enjoyed reading and
writing. Writing essays was my favourite part of primary school!
In my spare time, I love to run. I am very involved in my local park run in Listowel. I also coach ladies’ football at underage level with my local ladies’ football club and did attempt to play ladies football for a few years with my local “Gaelic4Mothers&Others Team”! I may not have been the greatest football player, but I could run! And it was an hour each week where I could exercise in a fun environment with a fantastic group of women, who I remain friends with to this day.
My inspiration to write this book was my grandmother, Maureen Hennebry, née Cashman. She was on the Cork camogie team which won the All-Ireland Camogie Championship three times in a row between 1939 and 1941. She came from a family rich in GAA history, the Cashman’s of Blackrock in Cork, and is even mentioned in the following poem by the famous Irish poet, Patrick Kavanagh:
Camogie Match –Patrick Kavanagh 1905 – 1967
Bright shone the sunlight on Peggy and Doreen
Wild swung the ash sticks. Be careful astoreen;
Josie is getting into her stride now,
Kathleen is hurling with all her Cork
A shout from the side-line: Mark your
man, Kathleen Cody.
Kathleen pucks it. I tell you that puck was a dotie.
The game is exciting, it is indeed
Maureen Cashman is tackling the bold
Ide O’Kiely …
In hindsight, I am in awe of the fact
that my grandmother and her teammates played camogie at such a high level at a
time in Ireland, where a woman’s role was predominantly to be a wife and
homemaker. Which comes to my reason for writing this book, my grandmother was
my inspiration to write it, but my reason for writing it was to encourage all
young girls to play sports. It is crucial for our wellbeing and development and
we need to make it as normal for girls to play sport as it is for boys. The
growing popularity of women’s sports in Ireland and further afield is so
encouraging and we need to continue to develop this. As the current 20*20
campaign says, “if she can’t see it, she can’t be it”. I hope that my book can
in some way help to normalise girls playing football and that both boys and
girls will enjoy reading about Izzy’s adventures!
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