Gina Takes Bangkok (The Femme Vendettas #2) by S.M.Stelmack-Review, Guest Post and Giveaway
Gina Takes Bangkok
The Femme Vendettas #2
Release Date: Sept/Oct 2013
About the Book: NOTE TO READERS: This story follows FOX HUNT, the first in the series and where Gina Zaffini is introduced. But you can read the second before the first. It’s something Gina would do.
Before starting, here’s what you’re in for.
The last heir of the Zaffini crime family, nothing scares Gina. Not car crashes. Not death threats. Not assassins. Not even Kannon Takahama, the legendary gunman her father charged with avenging the slaughter of his best friend’s family. Set loose on the shifting underworld of Bangkok, the two must outmaneuver a monstrous clan from the nightmare jungles of Cambodia, all the while negotiating the minefield of their mutual attraction. There’s a chance they could win the first battle. As for the second, well, Gina intends total surrender from the muscled hitman. After all, she can’t be frightened, and there’s nothing more scary than love.
GINA TAKES BANGKOK is the second storyline in S.M.Stelmack’s contemporary action-packed The Femme Vendetta series but can be read as a stand alone without too much difficulty. Our heroine Gina Zaffini was first introduced in Fox Hunt and our couple from the first storyline have a small but revealing role in Gina’s story. Gina Takes Bangkok forwards the series by one to two years.
The premise follows Gina Zaffini as she must return to Thailand to hunt for the people responsible for the attempted murder and abduction of her god-sister. But Gina’s life has not been all flowers and sunshine. As the only surviving heir to the Zaffini crime family, Gina knows a thing or two about violence and murder. It is upon her return to Bangkok that Gina will be swept into a life and death struggle for control of the gangs and the streets of the seedier side of a beautiful Asian city.
We are reintroduced to Kannon, a man we first met in FOX HUNT and the man with whom Gina will fall in love. But a relationship between members of two of the most powerful crime families is not easy, especially when death and dismemberment threaten to pull everyone apart. Their relationship is slow to build and at times you will begin to wonder if either will survive the outcome of a potential war between Bangkok and Cambodia’s powerful crime syndicates.
Gina Takes Bangkok is a gritty read. It is not a story of romance, hearts and flowers. The storyline is rife with violence, murder, torture and a realistic look at the sadistic and murderous underbelly of Asian gangs and those who find outlets using the most innocent of humans. There is no mistaking the intent of many of the storyline characters. And no one is safe from the attempted abductions and killings.
Our heroine Gina is a strong woman but also a woman with a heart. She is compassionate yet knows that there are people out there who will take advantage of a woman in power. And it will be her compassion that may prove to be her weakest attribute when the time comes to stop the rivalry in Bangkok.
S.M.Stelmack pulls the reader into a roller coaster ride through the back streets of a city known for its’ beauty but also its’ decent into gang wars and crime; poverty and death. You can almost feel the anxiety and angst of the people as they struggle to survive in a world that has become foreign and is no longer familiar. The construct of a world that is awash in a colorful façade that hides an ugly culture beneath the silk and marketable goods will pull you under until your only recourse is to come up for air and start all over again.
Gina Takes Bangkok is a story of family and loss; pain and heartbreak; revenge and the evil that resides in some of the world’s most powerful people. But it is also a story of hope and love. When everything in the world begins to crash in around you, you hold on to the one bright spot in your life, hoping that both of you will survive to see another day.
Copy supplied by the author.
Reviewed by Sandy
The Real Story Behind Our Stories
Doesn’t that photo of us make it seem as if we could spend all day wrapped up in each other’s arms, whispering naughty stories to each other? Yeah, no. That’s not us. There’s a story behind that picture, the revealing of which I divulge on my GoodReads blog.
Serge and I have turned writing novels into a creative slugfest in which the only true winner is the story itself. He and I swear we’re never going to write another book again (one of us swears it every page or so as we intuitively cooperate in our dissension) and then no sooner is it out the door, then we start yapping about the next one. Why?
We haven’t a clue.
It all starts innocently enough. We have a wonderful brainstorming session as we invent a situation and so engaged is Serge that he wanders off and writes the opening scene almost immediately. That’s the way it was with the opening scene of Gina Takes Bangkok. We chatted a few minutes about the kind of person Gina is, he got a glazed look on his face and tapped out the scene at the kitchen table, while I crashed around him making supper.
During the next few months, he keeps tapping out the story, and I read the scenes alongside him. As the story thickens and more is tossed in, he and I brainstorm again. Serge rewrites enough to get the story back on track and ploughs on, until the next creative roadblock occurs. Somewhere along the way, we realize what the story is really about. But even then, Serge pushes on, and I stay out of the way unless he asks for feedback. My comments stick to issues of pacing and plot holes, the big picture stuff. I let my husband freewheel, let him play out scenarios, let those imaginative juices flow. Let him be an awe-rtist. Who am I to point out that every blinking person does not need to nod every blinking time they agree to anything anybody blinking says?
Once he completes his precious first draft, he hands it over to me to edit. His take: make a few minor alterations and have it back for the final read-through in a week. My take: change every blinking word of every blinking scene. Write more blinking scenes. This is where I typically build up the romance, tighten the inner conflicts to the outer, flesh out the characters, give them their quirks, dream up the zingers. Now, I am the awe-rtist. As I write them, I turn the scenes over to Serge who is now the editor. While I’m the most genial and empathetic and nurturing of editors, he’s mean, mean, mean. He tells me my prose is overwrought and pointless. He says I can do better. I huff out and just to show him, I do better.
There is a quick breather while we send it out to an editor. Once back, we undertake The Read-through. This is the grueling stage where the kids subsist on air and the dream of the day they’ll have a place of their own. Where neighbours clap their hands over their children’s ears as they hustle them into the mini-van. Where divorce lawyers camp out on our lawn, sure that this time we’ll cave, sure that this time there’ll be a marital implosion. This penultimate edit is the most excruciating marathon two people have ever willingly submitted to. It is a deceptively straightforward exercise: I sit in front of the computer and read the manuscript to Serge. We sail along, the words rippling out in a lyrical stream, on and on until we hit line four. He stops me. ‘Vintage’ was repeated.
‘How about we take it out?’
‘Moira, your solution for every problem is to take it out.’
‘Not everything. You’re still here.’
‘Ha, ha. Can we stick to the topic?’
‘Okay, what would you suggest?’
‘I don’t know. I thought you’d gone over it. Why are there still repeated words?’
Insert long studied gaze at screen during which much is thought and ends with “How about ‘retro’?”
“Retro? It’s not the exact right word but it’ll do.”
I insert the change and continue reading.
“Could you start from the top? To see if it flows right.”
And that’s how it goes for a full weekend plus weeknights plus another full weekend. Stop, start, stop, start, stop, stop, and stop. While Serge fixes my bungles (slight mishaps, I assure you) I do kid patrol and throw together meals of chips, water and whatever I can wave the flies off. Sometimes I’m doing the fixing, unraveling some particularly knotty problem while Serge gets busy with his nap. The man has been known to doze off while I’m reading. Those naps are always very rudely interrupted. An attack by a band of howler monkeys would be less rude than what I do. Finally, through sheer orneriness and because murder is too messy, we reach ‘THE END’.
The story is now worthy. It is the best we have; we poured heart, soul and bile into creating something that wasn’t there before. It, like our marriage, survived trial by creative fires. After this, I do another edit to make things as pretty as possible.
Serge and I both know that we are over-the-top and hypersensitive. We both know that calm minds ought to prevail. We both hope our children are not permanently scarred, as we try to salvage the damage by telling them that their parents are idiots who love each other anyway. Both of us wish there was a different way, and truthfully, we are getting better with each novel as we learn each other’s strengths and weaknesses—and our own, for that matter. Truthfully, I exaggerate the drama—though only a little. And truthfully, when we’ve hit it, when that piece in that scene sings high ‘C’, there’s no feeling like it.
Gina would compare it to sex. She might be right. Hmmm….
Pardon me, while I interrupt my husband’s nap. Not so rudely, this time.
S.M.Stelmack are offering an ecopy of GINA TAKES BANGKOK to one lucky reader at The Reading Cafe. The book will be delivered upon release of the novel.
1. Please register by using the log-in at the top of the page (sidebar) or by using one of the social log-ins.
2. If you are using a social log-in, please post your email address with your comment.
3. Giveaway is open INTERNATIONALLY
4. Giveaway runs September 23 to 27, 2013