Special delivery from Santa! Whoops! We mean from your Kindle! It’s finally here–the Christmas present we’ve all been waiting for…the arrival of Sempre Redemption. I’ve read it, and it captured my heart.
In this thrilling and sexy follow-up to Sempre, two young lovers struggle to keep their relationship intact after they become deeply enmeshed in the dangerous mafia-run crime ring they once tried to overthrow.
Haven Antonelli and Carmine DeMarco have been through a lot. Haven was taken in by Carmine’s father, and with his family’s help, she escaped a gruesome fate. However, saving Haven from the dark intentions of a mafia family cost Carmine a steep price: he was forced to swear loyalty to them.
Now, still passionately in love, Carmine and Haven must face the fall-out of Carmine’s forced service, as Haven discovers terrifying secrets about the family that enslaved both her and her mother—and why she matters so much in this intricate web of lies.
EXCLUSIVE BLOG TOUR EXCERPT
The smile fizzled from his face as he strolled through the house, heading straight for the drink table. He grabbed a small glass and filled it from an open liquor bottle, disregarding Corrado’s warning. The burn lessened the pressure in his chest, unwinding the knots and loosening his taut muscles.
He leaned against the table as he drank, his attention shifting to the front door. Hours had passed, yet the girl still stood there, as silent and still as ever. He studied her, wondering where she had come from and how long she had been trapped in Sal’s home. He couldn’t recall her ever being there before.
She snuck a peek after a moment, tipping her head up slightly so her blue eyes met his. Her brow furrowed when she saw him watching her, and she dropped her gaze again quickly.
“What’s your name?” Carmine asked curiously.
She peeked up once more but didn’t have a chance to respond before laughter sounded out behind him. Carmine turned at the noise of a clinking liquor bottle and froze, the glass nearly slipping from his hand as he stared at the badly scarred face. The familiarity took his breath away.
“Her name’s Annie, I think,” Carlo said, casually pouring a glass of scotch.
“Abby,” the girl whispered, her voice shaking as she corrected him.
“Not that it matters,” Carlo continued, shrugging. “You can call her anything you want.”
Carmine couldn’t tear his eyes away from him. Everything about the man screamed vile, from his callous words to his horrid face. “I prefer to call her by her name.”
Carlo looked over at him, studying him carefully. “DeMarco’s kid.”
“Makes sense.” Carlo brought his glass to his lips. “She’s your type.”
Anger swept through Carmine. He fought to control himself, forcing his feet to stay where they were. He wouldn’t be provoked. Not here, not now. “Excuse me?”
“Ah, no reason to be ashamed,” Carlo said. “If it’s any consolation, I’ve always liked to sample the help, too. Little Annie over there is a sweet thing. Submissive. Didn’t even put up a fight. Not that any of them do. Well, except yours. Feisty one, isn’t she? Didn’t get that from her mother.”
Carmine’s rage spiraled over. “You son of a—!”
Before he could leap over the liquor table and pound his fists into the man’s grotesque face, the noise in the room grew louder as a slew of guests filtered in. They scattered through, some heading for the door while others made their way to the back den. Carlo took a step back, tipping his glass at Carmine with a menacing smile. “Nice to officially meet you, kid. I’ll see you around.”
He sauntered away as Corrado approached, grabbing the glass from Carmine’s hand and slamming it on the table. “Your ability to listen is astounding.”
“Do you know what that motherfucker just said to me?” Carmine asked, clenching his hands into fists. “He just—”
Corrado cut him off. “I don’t care. He’s made, Carmine. You don’t disrespect a man who earned his button.”
We are filled with gratitude to be able to welcome Ms. Darhower to our blog! It’s such an honor to be able to promote her on a larger scale than by just a word-of-mouth recommendation. We know so many of our friends are long-time fans too!
1. We always want to know…. what was your inspiration in choosing the names Carmine and Haven?
I put a lot of thought into Haven. I wanted a name that would capture her essence, to describe her character with a simple word. A name says a lot about a person. And after going around in circles for a while, picking out keywords to describe her to try to find a name that matched, I just kept coming back to Haven. She’s a haven for a few characters, and it just seemed like the perfect name, something her mother would call her. As far as Carmine goes, he was easier. The moment it came time to give them names, he was just Carmine. It’s a fairly popular Italian name, and it sort of captures him, I think… beautiful, yet edgy. Took me all of five minutes to pin his full name down… Carmine Marcello DeMarco.
2. There are so many heart-breaking moments in the story that many of your readers will say moved them to tears or feelings of anguish. I remember feeling gutted at certain points. Which scene was the hardest for you to write? Did any of them actually make you cry? If so, which one(s)?
I tend to get emotional when I’m writing about death and loss, and yeah, a few times I shed some tears. The opening line of Redemption, when I wrote it, made me tear up a bit (writing those words were strangely hard). There’s also a letter in it that a character writes that made me cry. The hardest scene, in general for me, occurs over halfway through the sequel, when a certain character confronts the truth and finds his redemption in his own way (people who read it will completely understand).
3. We know through your writing and social media, you have tried to heighten awareness of modern-day human trafficking. Was there a particular event, news story, teacher, or something else that inspired you to base your story around this subject matter?
I can’t really pinpoint a specific event that inspired it as a whole… I just often think about the victims of human trafficking, the invisible people who exist in our society, nameless and faceless…. They’re there, breathing, and dreaming, and fighting for survival, and so few people notice them. So many people go missing, just vanishing into thin air, and we never know what happened to them; we never know their stories. So for me, writing Haven was sort of a way to say, “we see you”, in a sense.
4. We all have movie hopes for Carmine and Haven’s story, but we understand how difficult the process is and that there have been snags along the way. Are there any positive developments with the movie rights you can share with readers?
I’m afraid all I have is not-so-positive news on that front, currently. The snags seemed to be more like roadblocks and detours, and I’m not sure when or if we’ll ever get diverted back to the main road. Alas, the hope is still there, but at this point it’s not much more than an idea and a plan that’s been explored a bit. Nothing tangible. (A/N: I feel a Make-Sempre-A-Movie Twitter Campaign coming on!)
5. We had the privilege of interviewing one of our favorite book boyfriends, Bryce Thompson, (see sidebar) and know you met him at The Naughty Mafia convention this past summer. Heather from Love N. Books called into the show and told us a few authors in attendance said they’d love to have him in the movie adaptation of their books, if given the chance, including you. We’re all for that, of course, and would love to know which character you could see Bryce playing in Sempre?
Ah, Bryce… what a gorgeous, kindhearted creature with a to-die-for accent (and goodness, he smelled AMAZING). I indeed recall saying he could come be in my movie anytime. Not quite sure there’s a part suited for him in Sempre, sadly, since my main characters are all either late teens or in their forties. Although, we do have Gavin and Remy in Redemption, and they’re in their mid-twenties. Hmmm…. (A/N: It’s good to hear him described as ‘kindhearted’!)
It’s so hard to talk about this book without wanting to give away spoilers (which I don’t). I think there are too many of us who have loved this story and its characters for so long (way back from its FF roots), that every reader should have the opportunity to discover and become invested in the story themselves.
It’s intense. There are some elements I was already familiar with from the original story, but it’s been streamlined in a less-is-more and right-to-the-point kind of way. The story flows so beautifully that I was always ‘in the moment’ while reading each scene.
One of the greatest compliments I think I can pay Ms. Darhower is to say this: There are some wonderful books that I’ve read where I felt like I was this privileged audience member, looking through a window, watching the story unfold. Then there is her story, where when I was reading it, I literally felt like I was shadowing the characters–and not just the one I most identify with or the one I like the best. It’s all of them. What each character has gone through in the past and how they react along the way is very emotional, and I felt it all. And the entire time, as I continued the book in search of redemption for all this couple had gone through already, I kept remembering the words the author had offered about Sempre…
I hope you will all not only read this fantastic sequel to Sempre, but also read it the way I did, not stuck on the sidelines watching a story, but instead experiencing all of the character choices and emotions!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
JM Darhower is the author of countless stories and poems, most of which only she has ever read. She lives in a tiny town in rural North Carolina, where she churns out more words than will ever see the light of day. She has a deep passion for politics and speaking out against human trafficking, and when she isn’t writing (or fangirling about books) she’s usually ranting about those things.
Chronic crimper with a vulgar mouth, she admits to having a Twitter addiction. You can usually always find her there.