Today on First Kiss Friday, we welcome romance author, Holly Bargo, and an excerpt from her Mafia Romance novel, “Russian Pride,” the fourth and final book in the Russian Love series.
Rescued from domestic abuse, Bratva princess Inessa recuperates from the latest beating in the home of Giovanni Maglione, the mafia captain of Cleveland. Learning that her husband double-crossed the Chinese triad, and they want their pound of flesh--and they're happy to take it out of Inessa--her parents ask Giovanni to marry their newly widowed daughter. The Chinese triad will be looking for a Russian mobster's wife, not the wife of an Italian mobster. Inessa agrees to this marriage of convenience which, of course, isn't so convenient. The ruse fails, which forces Giovanni into a violent and bloody mob war, because he protects what's his... and Inessa is most definitely his. Russian Pride is the fourth and final book in Holly Bargo's Russian Love series. Each book in the series can be read as a standalone novel.
First Kiss Excerpt
“What does that have to do with me? I wasn’t involved in his business. Ruslan forbade me anything like that.” Ruslan had forbidden her almost everything.
“The Triad doesn’t care. They see you as collateral.”
“O, Bozhe,” Inessa murmured with renewed horror, which made her babble. “I’ll sell the house, all my jewelry to pay them back. I’ll get a job and send them payments, everything I earn.”
Giovanni took her gloved hand in his and gave it a little squeeze. “It’s about more than money, Inessa. Ruslan double-crossed them and more. They lost face. Now they’re determined to restore their honor and get revenge.”
“They’ve launched a vendetta.”
“Sì, and it will not be complete until they’ve annihilated you, Ruslan’s family, your family, and recovered their funds.”
“And that’s why Mama and Papa won’t discuss my moving back home. They hope the Triad won’t think to look for me here.”
He nodded, though he suspected the Triad would not be so easily fooled. “And that’s why they have also asked me to marry you. The Triad won’t be seeking a Mrs. Maglione.”
Inessa gaped in horrified surprise. “They can’t expect you to do that!”
“Maksim and Olivia do not expect any such thing, but they did ask… and I find I am not entirely averse to the idea.”
“You are not—what?” Inessa halted and fisted her hands on her hips. “I married the first time because I was stubborn and stupid. I won’t be coerced into a second marriage.”
Giovanni raised his gloved hands and cupped her face, tilting it gently upwards toward his. His intense, dark chocolate gaze locked with hers. Snowflakes caught on her eyelashes and she blinked against them. He leaned down and pressed his cold lips to hers. Warmth bloomed at the light touch. He pulled back a hair’s breadth and then tasted her again, a slow, moist pressure that lured but did not overwhelm.
Raising his head, Giovanni said, “We have grown fond of each other and I find you… attractive. You do not fear me and you do not pull away from my touch.”
At that damning statement of faint praise, Inessa did jerk herself away from his touch. She trembled. From surprise. From longing. From fear. But would it have been better if he had lavished insincere compliments upon her? Giovanni’s hands dropped to his sides. He stood still, quiet, patient, and waiting.
“It’s good to know that you don’t find me repugnant,” she muttered with bitter sarcasm. How nice of him to overlook her scars, her reconstructed face. Inessa shook her head, then looked at the beautifully made man who had been her host, friend, and confidant for the last few months. “No. No, I can’t give myself to the control of another man, not after what Ruslan did to me.”
Giovanni wanted to ask why she assumed he would seek to control her; but, he understood her reservations. No woman who had endured that kind of abuse would be quick to submit to another man.
Taking her hand, he said, “Think about it.”
They resumed walking, each immersed in his and her own thoughts.
“Russian Pride” is available through: