Hello everyone! Prepare yourselves for a serious post later in the day… but for now we’ve got the wonderful Julie Leto visiting with us! First, I want to say happy release day, Julie! I’m also super thrilled that she’s writing a series with Blaze for the first time – one of my favorite Harlequin lines! Exciting news, yes? Anyway, I think of it as something of a milestone. 😀 Without further ado, Julie!
After 30+ books for Harlequin, you’d think I would have written a series for them by now. Surprisingly, I have not! I’ve written series for NAL and Pocket and I’ve written connected books for Harlequin, but never an interwoven, deeply connected, back-to-back release three book series until now.
Legendary Lovers is about three half-brothers who are brought together after the death of their father. They learn, over the course of the three books, that they are the descendents of Joaquin Murrieta, a name that probably doesn’t mean much to most people. But Joaquin Murrieta was a real, historical figure—a California bandit who made a name for himself with feats of daring-do.
Rumor has it that Johnston McCulley, the author of “The Curse of Capistrano” and later, the novel, The Mark of Zorro, studied Murrieta and based his legendary bandit on him. I used this bit of history to weave my own legend and thus the series was born! In my version, Joaquin had been a rough, unschooled and sloppy thief until he won the ring of a Spanish nobleman in a game of chance. In my story, the ring gave him—through the power of suggestion or magic or both—the need to be a better man. He grew more adventurous. He fought for justice. He became more talented with the ladies.
In other words, he became worthy of the legend.
It was so much fun to twist history to suit my needs…and I was surprised during my research how real history popped up in so many fictional versions of the story. In fact, the film, The Mask of Zorro, starring Antonio Banderas, got a lot right, though they twisted the story to fit their needs, too. But if ever there was a character better suited for romance novels, it’s the man in the
black mask. He’s sexy, mysterious and capable. He’s strong and clever and romantic. I think it’s pretty universal that he’s scratched a little Z on the hearts of women everywhere!
Reading all this, you might think the books are historical, but they’re not! These are sexy contemporary romances grounded in legends of the past. Alex, the hero of Too Hot to Touch and his brothers, Michael (Too Wild to Hold) and Daniel (Too Wicked to Keep) are very modern men grappling with the legacy left to them by a man they all have mixed emotions about. And there aren’t any more modern women than my heroines. Lucy, who tangles with Alex, is a fence who has a life-and-death reason for wanting to steal the ring from its new owner. Claire, who meets her match in FBI agent Michael, works as a private investigator in sultry New Orleans and is being stalked by a sociopath who deeply identifies with the masked hero. And Abby the heiress doesn’t take long to wrap Danny, a renowned jewel thief, around her finger.
Men in masks can be very sexy. (They can also be creepy and terrifying, but stay with me here.) Sometimes, the masks are physical…but more often than not, especially in our modern world, they’re emotional. I played with that theme, too…and I can’t wait to hear if readers enjoy it.
What do you love about a man with a mask?
By all reports, Julie Leto was a sweet child once, somewhat shy, preferring to play quietly in her room making up stories. However, being raised with three brothers in a loud, primarily Italian household did have its influences and Julie discovered her inner tough girl. That’s probably why most of her heroines kick serious butt. Writing sassy heroines has worked out, as she’s sold over forty books to four publishers featuring strong, confident women and the super-sexy men they drive to their knees. Julie lives in Florida with her daughter, a spoiled dachshund, a haughty lynx-point Siamese and a wide range of relatives all within driving distance.
Julie has very generously offered one of her back list books to one commenter! So – what do you love about a man with a mask? Psst and Too Hot To Touch? That comes out today!
ETA: Since Julie and I both love this clip… I don’t think she’ll mind me sharing it. <3