Today, I have author Leigh Kenzie in the interview chair. We’re discussing her latest release Il Pardrone, book one in the Vendetta series, a dark mafia romance. Be sure to check out my review of the book, and don’t forget to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway.
1. Hi, Leigh. First off, readers have an idea of the writer you, but what about the everyday you? Can you share about your personal life?
Leigh: Hi! My everyday self is pretty hectic. I have a job that requires quite a bit of organization, which I love but that means I’m not always the most organized outside of it. I work as an assistant and have several different bosses. Every day is different for me and I love that. At home, I have two Jack Russell Terriers and they’re both a joy and frustration in my life. They’re very high-energy dogs so they keep me on my toes! I’m also the one who takes care of my family, including an older relative so I’m pretty busy. It’s also why writing calls to me so much. It’s just pages, the words, and me. For however long I’m able to write, that time lets me disappear from everything else. In turn, I hope I’m able to offer a reader the same escape.
2. I’ve been perusing your Goodreads page, and noticed you are drawn to dark m/m romance. Why dark romance? And why male/male?
Leigh: I’m a firm believer that to appreciate the light, the dark is needed. I find dark romance both healing and a way to play around with the forbidden. Pushing myself—and a reader—is important to me. As for male/male it’s a genre I really love. I’m very active in the LGBTQ+ community and although I read all genres, it’s my preference. Also, I’ve tried to write male/female. It doesn’t work well for me. My characters always say no!
3. I hear the word “dark romance” a lot. What do you consider a dark romance?
Leigh: I love this question! Thank you for asking it because dark romance is in many aspects a personal opinion. I always think of dark romance as a continuum. What I may find dark, others don’t or vice versa so I recognize there are always going to be preferences within the genre. For me, I want to see characters that are going to push boundaries. I need the anti-hero or even villain that I can root for because while I don’t condone much of what I write in a real-life situation, I can appreciate it in a book. There’s value to that. I also love the mafia genre so I tend to be a bit bloodthirsty with it!
4. Your latest novel is Il Padrone, book one in the Vendetta series. Can you tell me what inspired you to write this book and develop the series?
Leigh: I was talking to someone about wanting to read a dark M/M mafia book. She suggested I write one. As always, I sent a very rough idea to one of my alphas. After getting encouragement there I wrote a bit and approached my other alpha with a snippet. Both of them insisted I continue with it and these alphas don’t take it easy on me. From there the words just kept flowing. It wasn’t meant to be a series but the naughty plot monkeys in my head always have different ideas than I do.
5. Since Il Padrone is the first in the Vendetta series, what can we expect from you in the future? Care to share about your current WIP?
Leigh: I sadly can’t give you anything from my current active WIP. It’s book 4 and hopefully the last of the Vendetta series. I plan on releasing that series monthly. My next one will be a story in Heard It in a Love Song, a charity anthology for Black Trans Advocacy Coalition. Learn more here: blacktrans.org. This is such an important cause and I’m honored to be in it along with an amazing cast of authors. I have several ideas already in progress as well so it will be a matter of what comes from those. No matter what expect some level of darkness and kink. If I do my job right, it’ll be a way to step outside real life and escape into words.
6. When first developing Il Padrone, did the plot come first or the characters?
Leigh: Oh, definitely the characters! I’m not a plotter. I’d love to be organized and able to outline but that never works. Now I go with where the story leads me. Characters tend to pop up and I just roll with it. I trust the crazy voices 😉
7. Let’s talk about the main character Allesandro. What do you love most about him and what makes you want to shake him?
Leigh: Ah, Il Padrone. Such a complex character. I adore him because of that. He’s unapologetic. I both love that and it makes me want to shake him. There are a few scenes that may be challenging for readers on what he does. Yet he wouldn’t be him without it.
8. The same for Emilio. What do you love most about him and what makes you want to shake him?
Leigh: I love seeing Emilio’s response to what he goes through. At the same time, his naïveté can frustrate me. However, that’s who he is and I wouldn’t change it.
9. Without giving away any spoilers, what was your favourite scene to write and why?
Leigh: This is actually really hard. For book 1 I’ll go with the introduction of the inner circle characters. I love secondary characters. They fascinate me and are really important so I’ll go with that for book 1.
10. If a reader asked you why they should read Il Padrone, what would you tell them?
Leigh: If a reader enjoys angst, dark, erotic scenes, and plenty of kink, please give Il Padrone a chance. It’s the beginning of a series that will take a reader on a ride with plenty of twists. The romance itself is slow to build throughout the series.
11. What do you enjoy most about writing?
Leigh: Being able to disappear into a whole different world with characters that are incredibly real to me.
12. What do you enjoy least about writing?
Leigh: I’m not the best at social media. I’m pretty shy so it’s hard for me to promote myself.
13. I enjoy doing random questions, so humour me:
- What’s your favourite movie?
Bad Company with Anthony Hopkins and Chris Rock. It’s guaranteed to make me smile each time.
- What book is currently in your e-reader?
There are so many! Right now Sara Dobie Bauer gave me an early copy of Abstract Love. She’s one of my favorite authors and this book is amazing.
- Who’s your favourite musical group?
I don’t really have a favorite musical group. I tend to go with songs. Right now Tom Gross’ “Son of a Preacher Man” is the one I have on loop. Its lyrics are reimagined and it is such a powerful song. Watch the video if you can. It was done in partnership with The Trevor Project, which is one of my favorite charities, and PFLAG, a vital organization.
- What song puts a smile on your face?
“You Broke Up with Me” by Walker Hayes. I love how catchy it is and will even admit that despite having zero ability to carry a tune I will sing this when it’s on.
14. Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Leigh: I’d like to say thank you for choosing to interview me and giving me this opportunity. I love your questions and I’m truly honored by the response the indie author community has given me for my debut solo book.
Book Title: Il Padrone
Series: Vendetta, Book 1
Author: Leigh Kenzie
Cover Artist: Temptation Creations
Release Date: August 18, 2020
Genre/s: Dark MM
Trope/s: Dark MM Mafia, Stockholm Syndrome, Age gap
Themes: Mafia, Dub-con, Captive/Captor, Forced Submission
Heat Rating: 5 flames
Length: Approx. 44 500 words/ 190 pages
Now that I own him, there’s no escape
I’m Il Padrone, the Master of this Family, and Emilio will learn his place. I’ll bathe in his tears and watch as he humiliates himself. It’s all for my pleasure. I own it all and he’s just another addition to my collection.
Il Padrone calls me his toy. His property. He says I can earn the right to be higher in his organization if only I submit. If only I change who I am. I may be younger, but he hasn’t seen the likes of me before.
Just how twisted can a tale of vengeance become?
Trigger Warnings: This is a dark MM Mafia with graphic violence and extreme sexual situations.
Note: Book 1 of the Vendetta Series ends on a cliffhanger. Book 2 releases September 2020!
Buy Links – Available on Kindle Unlimited
I watch my servants scurry around to complete my orders as I get ready for my guest. I laugh mentally because he’s definitely not going to feel like a guest. I’d care if I had a heart, but as most accuse me of, I don’t. I’m greedy, and I know it.
The bedroom is two doors down from mine. It’s a basic bedroom, freshly painted white. There’s a bed in the middle and a closet with built-in hangers. A small bathroom is joined to the room, but there’s no door. The toilet, sink, and cramped shower is barely enough to stave off claustrophobia. I’m sure he’ll complain about the door—or the lack thereof—but really, I’m being nice considering the size. Most of the comforts my previous boy enjoyed have been removed. It takes time to earn those luxuries. I like to leave some rewards in the room like blankets, pillows, and even a limited amount of clothing. It’s not out of kindness, really. It serves my purpose to give him things I can take away when he rebels as he learns his new role in life—and he will rebel.
I’m pleased with how everything is coming together. The room between us has already been fixed to my specifications—it’s a place for me to play with my new acquisition. It’s the one room that I wouldn’t let the servants touch. It didn’t need much anyway, but the cell is ready for any significant disobedience. I can’t stop my evil grin because no matter how well I explain someone’s new life to them, they always end up there. Thankfully, I have cameras in all three of the rooms, so I’ll get to enjoy the show as he breaks, and as I mold him into my perfect boy.
As the servants leave, Luca walks in holding a file.
“I have all the information you requested,” he notifies me with a disapproving look, barely able to meet my eyes.
“Give me the highlights.”
“Name is Emilio, but he goes by Lio typically. Mother is deceased, father unknown. Interestingly, Cliff isn’t his full brother, although I’m not sure if they’re aware of that. It came from the blood work when the mother was in the hospital, and of course, I accessed Emilio’s medical file. We already have Cliff’s. Different fathers,” he states tiredly. I’m sure he didn’t sleep much as he worked to find out everything there possibly was to know about Emilio for me.
He pauses for a moment. I’m not sure why he’s scowling now, but it could be due to my gleeful expression. Knowledge is power, and that’s a good find I can use against Emilio. I try out Lio mentally, but I’m not sure how I feel about the nickname. It’s not like he’ll retain his name anyway, so I dismiss it.
“What else have you found?” I question, gesturing for him to finish.
“He’s…different. Much different than your normal choices. He’s a junior in college. Very young. He’s only nineteen. Extremely intelligent. Everyone in the mathematics department I was able to speak to had glowing recommendations. He’ll be the type to be missed. Aside from his high IQ, which testing shows is among the top percentile, he’s rather oblivious about life. He’s never dated, and nobody can figure out if he’s gay, straight, or other. He’s had both sexes flirt with him, but he didn’t respond. The professors can’t decide if he’s legitimately clueless about being flirted with or simply uninterested in sex,” Luca stops briefly and shifts uncomfortably. “He’s so young, with his whole life ahead of him and his disappearance won’t go unnoticed. After the last boy…”
Luca abruptly halts when he sees the fury on my face. He knows this is not his decision to make. I’m in charge, and it seems like my friend needs a reminder who is Il Padrone here.
“Everything you said increases my interest. I’ll enjoy making him my best boy ever. At least you’d better hope for that outcome. Because once he’s here, you’re going to be the one to cover his disappearance. Oh, and instead of giving him a life to go back to, I want you to completely ruin him. There will be nothing but ashes left when you’re done, correct? Because I know you’re worried about what I want and don’t really care about my new toy, right?” I end the last question with a deadly quiet voice that reinforces my position. I see his face go grey, and I’m satisfied I’ve made my point.
It’s too bad I had to do that, but it’s necessary. At least this means Lio is going nowhere, and when I’m bored, I’ll simply find a solution to take care of the problem. With a quick wave, I dismiss Luca and decide to recheck all three rooms. After all, I need it all perfect for the new property I’ve acquired. This time, I can’t stop the laugh from escaping. Really, I don’t even try. This is going to be perfect.
Yes, this is a dark romance. Very dark. Mind you I have read darker. I’m not going to get into the blurb. That’s already available to read.
First off, the portrayal of Alessandro as a mafia boss kingpin with no conscience, no empathy, no sympathy, and no scruples is brilliantly executed. He stayed in character the whole time. Trying to make this man fall in love is going to be the battle of all battles, because this kind of man is not going to go quietly. Ever. I especially loved the glimpse of him when he was in “boss” mode with the other “family” and his underlings.
Some say Emilio was naïve, I didn’t find so because to survive captivity he formulated a plan, and then stuck to it. Did he falter here and there? Of course. If he didn’t, it’d be hard to believe, considering all he endured at the hands of Il Padrone. His suffering came through brilliantly.
As for Luca, he is loyal to a fault. Even weak. Because he allows a grown man to have total control over him to prove his loyalty. He lets another man torture an innocent college boy and even lusts for this poor boy. Although I felt for Luca many times, I could not sympathize with him because he allows Alessandro to torture captives, and even participates.
The plot was well executed. The pacing was tight. As for the believability, I will admit I did have to suspend disbelief. Still, it’s a great read. The emotions come through on the page and the torture scenes are dark and well written.
Back to Alessandro. I did want to know more of what drives him and the whys of it all. But there didn’t really seem to be any other than he enjoys what he does. I do hope in the next book I get a better peek inside of his brain.
As for the ending, this was brilliantly done. A really great ending. Yes, it comes to a close on a cliff-hanger, but it’s a great way to end a novel. If you enjoy dark romances, I recommend you give Il Padrone a read.
Leigh is a dark M/M romance author from Texas with two needy terrors of terriers and a chaotic family. She considers coffee a major food group and her family fears broken coffeemakers. She writes in her spare time, forced to the keyboard by characters entirely too vocal in her opinion and often falls victim to plot monkeys. In between creating mayhem with her characters and friends, her hope is to transport readers to fictional places and provide darkness with a twist.
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