Hello! My name is Hannah Kollef, though for my romance novels you’ll find me under H. E. Kollef. I’m here to tell you a little bit about my new book, The Danger in Bohemia, coming out from Dreamspinner Press on March 23rd. I’d also like to say thank you to Divine Magazine for having me on!
The Danger in Bohemia was written in two countries (The Czech Republic and South Korea), neither of which I live in anymore. Most of the story takes place in Prague, where I lived for almost two years as an English teacher. Prague holds a very special place in my heart. It was my first time living abroad for so long, the first phase of my independent, grown-up life. I fell in love with the city and all its gothic romance. The Danger in Bohemia is almost as much a love letter to Czech culture, food, and Prague itself as it is a romantic thriller.
Now, beautiful city aside, I thought you might find it interesting to know a little bit more about my main characters, Max Knight and Hadrian Walls.
Max, born Will Mracek, is a true bibliophile. A book repairer by trade, he probably would have stayed very happily in his New York studio for the rest of his life, busily repairing rare books while crafting new works of book-art. Unfortunately, witnessing a murder tends to mess up your life plans. Max is quiet, shy, but with moments of ferocity that are surprising from such a small person. He loves to eat but destroys everything he attempts to cook, and is woefully bad at self-defense. This does not stop him from trying, and god forbid you back him into a corner!
Hadrian, Max’s lover, was named for the famous landmark in England. He grew up near the wall, his mom has a bad sense of humour—and I am helplessly in love with terrible puns. Poor guy. I had a lot of fun crafting Hadrian’s character. On the one hand, he’s a tough, ex-RAF type, very dangerous when threatened (or when you’re attacking someone he’s decided to protect). On the other, he’s an excellent cook and has a real weakness for classic sci-fi novels. This contrast—dangerous and sweet, sarcastic and dorky—was a real joy to write.
The two of them meet, of course, in a bookstore in the heart of Prague. It takes a few misunderstandings and an attempted mugging, but eventually they go on their first date.
Here’s a short excerpt from that date. Their first kiss—along the romantic Wenceslas Square, right in the heart of Prague.
“It’s okay, lad. That’s fine. Would a restaurant do?”
“Well….” Max took a deep breath while Hadrian held his. “I still haven’t tried goulash,” he said, carefully.
“That can be arranged,” Hadrian said. He moved closer, going slowly, letting Max see every move he made.
Max shivered but didn’t move, instead looking up at Hadrian through half-lidded eyes. His lips parted slightly, and Hadrian saw how full they were.
“Can I touch you, lad?” Hadrian asked, voice low.
“Yes,” Max whispered.
Gently, carefully, Hadrian lifted a hand and laid it against Max’s cheek. His skin was cold and soft.
Max leaned into his touch. “This is a bad idea, you know. I—”
“You’re dangerous, you’re trouble, you’re complicated,” Hadrian interrupted, rubbing his thumb along the ridge of Max’s cheekbone. “I know. I don’t care.”
“I’m just trying to be honest,” Max said, and Hadrian could hear that truth in his voice. “There are parts of me that are broken. I don’t know if they can be fixed. I don’t know what you’re expecting, but I probably can’t give it to you.”
“I. Don’t. Care,” Hadrian repeated, voice gentle but firm. “All I want is the chance to know you better.”
“Really?” Max asked, and the surprise—the genuine surprise, almost shock—pushed Hadrian the extra step he needed.
He leaned down, pressed his thin lips against the softness of Max’s mouth, and felt Max trembling beneath him. Hadrian held himself very still, rubbing thumb over Max’s cheek, trying to say with his body what his mouth could not: You’re safe. Let me know you.
Slowly, Max yielded to him.
Now, it’s my turn to ask y’all a question, so let’s put you in Max’s shoes. You’ve just witnessed a very powerful man kill someone in cold blood. You know they have ties to the FBI and the local police, leaving you with only one option: flee the country and start a new, anonymous life. Where do you go? And what’s your cover story? Let me know if the comments below!
H. E. Kollef
“Will Mracek is forced to flee to Prague when he witnesses his boyfriend, powerful security magnate Jean Claude la Bête, commit murder. On the run, and with help from his cousin John, Will becomes an English teacher named Max Knight and does everything he can to blend in. Meeting Hadrian Walls, however, changes everything.
Max falls in love with the grumpy ex-RAF, now bartender, and Hadrian finds himself doing the same, despite not knowing the secrets of Max’s dangerous past.
But trouble has a way of coming home, and Max and Jean Claude will face each other one last time in a confrontation that sends both of them over the edge….”
1. Dreamspinner Press ebook: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=7561
2. Dreamspinner Press paperback: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=7562
6. All Romance e-books: https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-thedangerinbohemia-1997245-145.html
Review by Roroblu’sMum
Persist – it’s a worthwhile read though heavy on the author’s love of Prague (which got a bit too much tbh).
This isn’t strictly what I’d call a romance or a romantic suspense as there wasn’t much of either in the tale, but the perhaps it’s the very low-key ordinariness of it that made me plod on til the end. If you’re looking for crazy action, police, danger, and intrigue, with hot, sexy romance, you’ll be disappointed. If you’re looking for a well-written tale – though it drags at times and I found myself skim-reading a few bits – then you’ve found one, though it’s heavy on things Prague.
I can’t say that I loved it or that it drew me in, but it had something and it had a couple of decent leads who found, I think, a true love that both of them had unconsciously been wanting, even if their hearts and minds hadn’t cottoned on to the fact. The sex scenes are a bit à la Barbara Cartland, i.e., they’re barely there and then fade away, and they’re not hot or sexy, but they connected the leads, and it worked for them.
ARC courtesy of Dreamspinner Press and Divine Magazine in return for an honest review.
Rating: 3.5 Stars
H. E. Kollef currently lives in the UK, where she splits her time between her latest novel, tackling her MSc in Library Science and attempting to pet every dog she comes across. She loves Prague and romance almost as much as a well-organized library, and hopes to incorporate all three in her next novel. You can learn more about her work at HannahKollef.com, or follow her on Twitter @braveworldgirl”