Russian history. It’s bloody, scandalous, deceitful. Passionate. Never forget passionate. You may think cold temperatures equals cold hearts but that’s far from the truth. The poet Alexander Pushkin is a perfect example. He died on a cold snowy day in a duel protecting his wife’s honor.
Nineteenth century Russia appears a whole lot steamier than I expected. Isabel Roman’s Kiss of Scandal is an action packed and evocative thriller. ~Snapdragon’s 4 star review from LASR
See? Steam, it’s all about the passion. Well, that and the romantic suspense elements—gotta have plot! I have political stories, like Kiss of Scandal, and carefully weave in that aspect into the romantic plot to create external tension between my couple. Which then creates internal tension between the. And then there’s tension everywhere!
A good romantic suspense takes you on a ride with more than just the actual romance of the couple. It weaves you through a mystery or thriller type path, taking you on a suspenseful journey as to what’s going to happen next—and how it’ll effect the couple. Most times, romantic suspense has a specific pace to them. Really, really fast pace, or very slowly like a mystery with clues and red herrings for the reader to stumble upon.
In Kiss of Scandal, I used the Tsar’s Royal Court as the backdrop, but chose to use the glamour and opulence of the court, but the same type of story can be set in a diner in Topeka, Kansas. Because when it comes down to it, it’s about the interpersonal relationships. Someone wants to harm the hero or heroine, or envies them and sets out to destroy them.
Amongst the suspense story, there’s always my couple’s story. Their emotions individually and for each other, are wrapped in the same journey. For me, whether I’m writing a paranormal historical, just an historical, a contemporary or a combination thereof, I prefer to create the story as a romantic suspense. To me, they’re the most intriguing reads.
Here’s the book video I did.
This is the opening scene:
St. Petersburg, Russia
January 21, 1855
Count Peter Andreiovitch Orlov pounded his silver tipped walking stick on the roof of the carriage. His heart pounded in time to the quick clatter of the horses’ hooves, yet they moved too slowly.
“Faster!” he bellowed to the driver. Gusts of wind and snow howled around the carriage impeding their rapid movement.
His hand drifted to the case on the seat beside him, checking once again his proof lay safe. He’d long suspected something these past years, perhaps a bit of smuggling or tidbits of information passed to the enemy. But nothing as deep-rooted as he’d found.
The Tsar will crush his family.
The metal sled suspending the carriage tore through the heavy falling snow blanketing the streets. Jerking the curtain back to check their progress, Peter stared past the frost as the glowing lampposts blinked by his view. At this speed, they should reach the Winter Palace within minutes. With impatient fingers he opened his pocket watch and noted it was almost two in the morning. There’d be a delay in waking the Tsar, the attendants would try to block his visit. Hell, they’d scream murder before waking the Emperor.
Tapping the case once again, though it could not have disappeared, Peter nodded to himself. “He has to know now.”
Leaning forward as if by sheer will he could move the carriage faster, Peter thought of his family and the politics of this untenable situation. The Tsar’s temper would flare uncontrollably, but they’d have to consider the nobility. This must be handled with utmost caution.
Peter jerked up, he’d heard a distinctive noise through the howl. A pistol shot. Wiping the fog off the window, he peered out once more.
The carriage veered sharply to the right, away from the palace route. “Driver!” he yelled. “Stay on course!”
Looking out the window he saw two other horses, both with single riders, alongside the carriage. His driver screamed something he couldn’t make out as the carriage rocked violently from the sharp turn.
Opening his case, he removed several of the more important papers. Detailed expenses, a travel itinerary, and a small leather book listing accounts. Without a second thought, he knelt on the floor and separated the seat from its frame with a hard yank. Stuffing the papers into the hollow gap, he pushed it back. Retaking his seat and bracing his feet on the opposite bench for more leverage, Peter pushed the edge with his walking stick, wedging the frame into place. Glancing around the interior to make sure nothing was amiss, he snapped the lid of his case shut.
Peter pulled out his revolver and braced himself on the seat. With the erratic rocking of the carriage settling, he opened the door just in time to see one of the riders throw something at his driver. He tried to block the onslaught of snow hitting his face with his left hand, and leaned his shoulder against the door frame to steady himself.
Over the winter’s storm, the horses cried and the carriage came to a jolting stop. Peter jumped from the velvet interior into the whipping snow, gun held high before him. With a steady pace he approached the rider he could see. There were two, but he dared not look for the second man.
“Who are you?” he demanded. “Dismount immediately!”
The man jumped off his horse, face covered with heavy winter garb. Peter noted, in the dim light from the lamppost, he dressed as a gentleman.
“I was trying to help,” the rider screamed through the biting wind. “You were about to race into an overturned carriage. There is an accident down Nevsky Prospekt, near the palace.”
“Where’s my driver?” Peter kept the revolver aimed squarely at the stranger’s chest.
Looking around, as if the driver lay buried in the snow bank, the man gestured for Peter to lower his weapon. “He must have dismounted from the other side.” The stranger pointed. “There, behind you, your driver.”
Keeping aim on the stranger, Peter turned his head and was met with a strike to the temple. He collapsed, but didn’t lose consciousness. He felt groggy, as if struggling to wake from a dream. Blinking, he searched for his pistol, bleary eyes focusing enough to see someone snatch it from the cushions of snow.
“Don’t leave any blood on the ground.” He heard one of them yell as they picked him up to move him back into the carriage.
4 Cups of Coffee from Coffee Time Romace: This remarkable story paints a vivid picture of life in the Russian court with all its intrigues and dangers. The characters are well written and their emotions are brought to life. The action is fast paced and believable. You will enjoy this story.
4 Books from LASR: The life and love of Katria is the heart and soul of the story. She is a young woman determined to get some control of her own fate….the story remains compelling and fresh throughout. Try something a little different; Kiss of Scandal is well-worth reading.