I’m apparently in a season of sharing book news instead of my usual Thursday musings. 😉 And today I wanted to take a few minutes to tell you about a book that will be coming out next May, called Shadowed Loyalty.
So, let’s rewind about, oh, 13 years. It was the summer when my son was 6 months old–and I had an idea for a mafia story. More specifically, I had an idea for the story of a mafioso’s daughter, the man everyone had assumed she would marry, who had pursued the law instead of the mob, and the Prohibition Bureau agent who tried to steal her heart…for a way to infiltrate her family. Back in the day, I’d called it Mafia Princess, and my critique partner, Stephanie, declared it the novel that would get me published. (Ahem. We’ve been known to be wrong in our predictions, LOL.) My agent was happy with it. We sent it out. It went to committee at a few places. And then…nothing.
Fast forward to last year. Bethany House took a look at several of my old manuscripts, purchased Dreams of Savannah, and told me I was free to do whatever I liked with the ones they passed on. Round about this time, WhiteFire was launching a new imprint–Chrism Press. And I joked to David, “Well, if all else fails, we’ll just see if Chrism wants my mafia story!” After all, Chrism is targeted to Catholic and Orthodox readers…and my mafia family, being Sicilian, are certainly Catholic. I didn’t do a very good job writing that element of it originally, but I can fix that.
Fast forward again to a couple months ago, when the committee at Chrism emailed to say, “We’d love it!” So here we are. Shadowed Loyalty (which my agent approved as a MUCH better title than my original, LOL) has found a home at Chrism and will be making its appearance next May, between the final two books in my Secrets of the Isles trilogy! I’m so excited to be not just an advisor to Chrism, but one of the authors, and to bring new life to this story I’ve had sitting around for such a long time. It needs a ton of work–that’s what I’ll be doing in September, LOL–but I know it’ll turn out to be just the story it was meant to be.
I’ll paste the working back cover copy below, but first I’ll just tell you a bit of the behind the scenes.
Anyone watch NCIS back in the day? Remember the story line that one season with Tony and the romantic interest with the lovely doctor who turned out to be the daughter of the international criminal they were tracking? That’s actually what inspired this book, in a way. Or rather, as I watched it play out, I thought, “So in this framework, the law endorcement officer is clearly the one we’re rooting for. But what if it wasn’t? What if he was the villain? Because come on, from her point of view, he is. He’s out to destroy her family and even if he did feel some affection for her, it doesn’t change facts.” So I starting thinking about other scenarios…and a love triangle involving this agent on the one hand and a hero on the other who was part of her world…and yet not. A stand-up guy.
I don’t recall exactly how I settled on 1920s Chicago and the Mafia, but I spent quite a long time reading several books, choosing the year of my setting, buying and studying a Sicilian dictionary, all that fun stuff. And while my son sat in his bouncy chair at my feet, I hammered out the story for Sabina and Lorenzo and Roman. I learned 20s slang (and decided how much to use or not). I looked up when pizza first arrived in Chicago. I wrote gun fights and speakeasies and corrupt Bureau agents. I included poetry and faith and looking at old friends through new eyes. And most of all, I wrote a heroine who really saw, for the first time, the cost of being part of a family who dwelt partially in the underworld. I examined what it meant to love them and be loyal to them when you came to hate what they were doing.
I have no idea what this book will look like when it’s finished, but I’m excited to dive in and really hone those themes!
Also exciting–I get to design the cover! I haven’t started yet, so the world is still wide open with possibilities for that. Do you have ideas for what you love to see in 1920s fiction? Or a trend you think I should explore? Please share them below! (I know, this is new for me, right? I’ve gotten your take on a couple options before, and I certainly always show you my covers as soon as I can, but I’ve never actually invited anyone into the brainstorming stage before!)
You can track the progress of the book at its page on Chrism Press’s site; as links and covers and all the other fun stuff become available, they’ll be added there. And of course, I’ll keep you updated here as always. =)
About Shadowed Loyalty
Sabina Mancari never questioned her life as the daughter of Chicago’s leading mob boss until bullets tear apart her world and the man she thought she loved turned out to be an undercover Prohibition agent. Now she sees how ugly the underworld can be. Ambushes, bribes, murder, prostitution—maybe Lorenzo, her straitlaced fiancé, had it right when he said it is better to stay far removed. And maybe, if she can understand him and his baffling faith, he will give her another chance.
But Lorenzo isn’t sure he’s ready for that. All his life he has loved Sabina, only to realize she had never felt the same about him. While he’s relieved to see her pursuing God, the Prohibition agent is pursuing her father just as intently, and it falls to Enzo—and his legal skills—to keep trouble at bay. He wants to believe that Sabina can change…assuming they can stay alive until their wedding day.
Shadowed Loyalty, set amid the glitz and scandal of the Roaring Twenties, examines what love really means and how we draw lines between family and our own convictions, especially when following the one could mean losing the other.