Hello! My name is H. E. Kollef and I’m here to tell you a little bit about my new book, The Danger in Bohemia, which came out from Dreamspinner Press on March 23rd. I’d also like to say thank you to It’s About the Book 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.
In the real world, Prague is a very safe city. But in the world of my book there’s a lot of danger in Prague, and not just from the smuggler/murderous CEO stalking Max Knight from America. Some of the danger is more mundane—the kind any of us could face.
Here’s a short excerpt to illustrate my point. This is from Max and Hadrian’s second time meeting—in a gay bar, where Max is suspicious and Hadrian flirty after meeting him in a bookstore earlier that day. It starts out innocently enough, but Hadrian unknowingly stumbles upon a piece of Max’s secret past. This sends Max into a panic and sets off a chain of events that will have disastrous and beautiful consequences.
“You know, you say you’re a teacher, but I’d have pegged you for something different.” Hadrian lifted an eyebrow and smiled, unable to stop himself flirting. “Something more artistic. You were looking at that old repair equipment like a drowning man looks at a plank of wood.”
He wasn’t prepared for Max’s reaction. He paled and stepped back, eyes wide, terror written clear on his face. Tension snapped through his body, his chest heaving, leaving Hadrian confused as hell.
What just happened?
“Hey, no harm meant,” Hadrian said, holding up a hand. “Sorry, sensitive subject? I—”
“Stay the hell away from me,” Max interrupted, hand going for his back pocket in a way that told Hadrian he had some kind of weapon.
He watched as Max hurried back to his friends, glancing over his shoulder, panic written in every muscle. The tall one was standing and glaring at Hadrian. He put his arm around Max as he came back to the table. Jealousy, surprising and a little disturbing, seared through Hadrian at the gesture. It pacified slightly as Max shrugged the arm off, making some hurried excuse before running out of the bar alone. The dark-haired girl stood and made as if to follow him. The handsome man put his hand on her arm before she could move.
Hadrian turned away, trying to give himself a moment to think. He’d stepped on something there. Something important. His first feelings had been right: there was more going on with this man than Hadrian had realized. A mystery wanting to be solved. And Hadrian felt it sinking its teeth deep into him.
He fought it. Hard. He’d had enough mysteries in his life, and they’d all ended badly. Leave the other to it. It was none of his business, the life of this strange, and strangely compelling, man.
He’d just about convinced himself to let it go when someone brushed past him. He turned around, ready to tell that chubby tourist where he could put his hands.
It wasn’t the tourist. It was the strange man from before, the one he’d pegged as dangerous. He hurried through the crowd, eyes fixed on the door where Max had just fled.
Hadrian recognized the man’s movements from a lifetime of danger of his own.
The stranger was hunting.
“Mother of Christ,” Hadrian cursed, and set down his drink with a thud. Slipping between people, he hurried out of the bar into the waiting night.
Thanks for reading this far, if you didn’t run away already. And if you like this story, check out my previous short story, “One Cold Night in Prague,” published in Dreamspinner Press’ Random Acts of Kindness anthology. You might recognize the main characters in the short story…
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
Blurb: 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….
Author Bio: 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