Guest: Julie Leto!

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

0 thoughts on “Guest: Julie Leto!

  1. Angie T

    May I just offer up four words? Gerard Butler~ The Phantom. Oh.Em.Gee. Had the worst time reading that book until I saw him in the movie. Ok. I’m shallow. I admit it! 😉

  2. Portia Da Costa

    Oooh, this sounds like a wonderful series!

    May I offer up another masked man, another Zorro?

    Frank Langella played Zorro/Don Diego in a 1974 television movie and he was gorgeous!!!

  3. Julie Leto

    Portia, I’ve seen all the Zorro movies and I loved Frank Langella. Of course, he made a hot Dracula, too. (I even loved George Hamilton in The Gay Blade.)

    Angie, I’m the same as you! I totally didn’t get the Phantom appeal until I saw that version. Then…WOW.

  4. Portia Da Costa

    Oooh, yes, Frank was divine as Dracula too. A very lush, sensual, seductive Drac. I was totally smitten when that film came out.

  5. Kim Lyn

    This will show my age … but I do believe my first love was a man in a mask. Well, he was in a mask for a short while. Cary Elwes, who played Westley in The Princess Bride. Thinking about that movie makes me miss being young … when I thought love included kidnapping and sword fights. 🙂

  6. Julie Leto

    Portia, I just saw this on Publisher’s Marketplace:

    Actor Frank Langella’s memoir DROPPED NAMES, including his with Elizabeth Taylor, Laurence Olivier, William Styron, Marilyn Monroe, Arthur Miller, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and others, to Jonathan Burnham at Harper, for publication in 2012.

  7. CrystalGB

    It is the mystery and freeing of inhibitions that I love about a man in a mask. If he hides who he is then he is more exciting.

  8. Paula Robinson

    What I love about a man in a mask is the air of mystery that surrounds him. I want to know who he is, what he does, why he wears a mask. Plus the appeal of the “bad” boy never hurts either. I need to make a trip to the story post haste. Jules, I’m so looking forward to reading these, and the tease of the other two books….can’t wait! Have a great day here with Lime.

    Hi Lime!!!

    Peace and love,
    Paula R.

  9. Na

    What I love about a man in a mask? It has the be the mystery. It’s sort of like anticipating unwrapping a present.

  10. Fedora

    I think it might be more fun if the man AND the woman are in masks–playing into that sense of roleplaying or being freed to be someone other than yourself for a while 🙂 And woohoo, Julie! Can’t wait to read your latest Blaze!

    1. Julie Leto

      So interesting that you should say that, Fedora! My heroine is actually wearing a mask as much as the hero…if not more so. In fact, I didn’t really realize that this was an ongoing theme through out the series until I started writing the last book. And here I thought they were just going to be about sex, LOL!

  11. Chelsea B.

    Being able to slowly peel it away 🙂
    Congrats on your major success, Julie, and congratulations on your new release!!

  12. Mary Froelich

    The appeal is the sense of mystery of the man behind the mask. The fun in the unveiling. what exactly was hidden? so appealing. definately an incentive to turn that page

    Congrats with the new releases Julie, so looking forward to them

  13. Jen B.

    Physical mask – it is mysterious and can be very sexy.
    Emotional mask – it can be tortured and very sexy.
    Hmmm…I see a theme!

  14. Limecello Post author


    So exciting to hit yet another milestone! You made a great point about Antonio wearing a mask albeit not a physical one in that clip. In that… yes – men in masks are sexy. But suspicious! I guess a bit part of the appeal is when they’re finally honest and let the heroine see all of who they are.

    Thank you so much for guesting today!

    1. Julie Leto

      Thank you SO MUCH for having me! And for finding that clip…I have a feeling I’ll be watching it a lot over the next few weeks. Keeps me in the mood for promoting the book!

  15. Liza

    Julie, you so need to read The Princess Bride. I read it the first time in college and re-read it every few years(actually still have the copy from my college library, yes it made it out of the library in my backpack and is still on my bookshelf to this day).

    I absolutely loved Alex’s story and can’t wait to read Michael’s and Danny’s books. Happy Release Day!!!

    1. Julie Leto

      Thanks, Liza! I appreciate your kind words and the great review at your blog and on Amazon! Diana Peterfreund sent me a copy of The Princess Bride years ago…I don’t know why I haven’t read it yet. (Probably because it’s not on my Kindle, LOL!)

  16. Tracie~

    The fascination with masks is definitely the mystery of what they hide. I am always completely enthralled when reading about a masked ball and the anonymity. The opportunity to step outside of one’s comfort zone and explore their boundaries without recognition or judgement.
    Congrats on the Blazes! Looking forward to enjoying your reads.
    Good luck and happy writing!

  17. Jeanne Miro

    When I think of a man in a mask my first thought is of Zorro! An aristocrat doning a mask to fight evil and bequiling all women he came in contact with while being faithful to his true love. What more could a woman want! Of course when I watched Zorro it was on a black and white TV but I always imagined him with piercing blue eyes and I was his damsel in distress – okay I was about 8 years old at the time but I also adored the 3 Musketeers fighting for right and justice as well for crown and country!

    I love Julie’s your books and since I’m married to an Italian and we had two boys who take after him I know exactly what your talking about growing up with your brothers. I hate to think what they put your dates thru when you were a teenager!

    I love the Blaze books and am thrilled that you have a series coming out! What were they thinking for waiting so long to ask you to do them?

  18. KaraT

    I just read an older Blaze…2009…Feels Like the First Time by Tawny Weber and the hero wore a mask!! Loved it…the mystery, the sexy guy who wore it…and the heroine who couldn’t resist.

    I love reading books about masked heros and heroines…both physical masks and emotional ones. I guess it is all about the revelation at the end…the emotions and mystery while the identity remains a secret.

    These books sound fantastic…can’t wait to read them!!!!

  19. Pingback: Julie Leto’s Winner! « Limecello

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