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Sunday, July 14, 2013

Guest Blog: Mona Risk: Life, Inspiration, Romance

In a previous life, I was the director of an environmental laboratory. Day after day, I supervised a staff of chemists who performed analytical tests. I wrote proposals and competed for more government contracts—a boring predictable life.

Suddenly everything changed when my boss asked me to look into the DOD section for international projects. Not one to refuse a challenge, I wrote a winning proposal and our company was awarded a contract to refurbish a military laboratory in Belarus. To be honest, I almost collapsed when the boss ordered, “Now you need to go to Belarus and work on this refurbishment.”

The Internet didn’t abound in information about Belarus, a former USSR country located South of Russia, East of Poland, and North of Ukraine. After learning a little bit about the food, I decided to play it safe and take my own supply of water and nonperishable food: crackers, BabyBel gouda cheese, and green apples previously washed and individually wrapped in plastic bags and of course a dozen bottles of water. At the time, it wasn’t forbidden to carry liquid on the plane.

My first trip to Minsk, capital of Belarus, occurred at the end of October 1994. Our delegation included the DOD contract manager and his interpreter, two government auditors, my lab manager, our computer specialist and me.

My initial impressions are related through the heroine’s voice: cold weather, gray skies, and cigarette smell everywhere. The curious looks of the local people made me feel as if I was wearing the wrong clothes. Of course I didn’t have a chapka (fur round hat). I remedied the problem by buying a cute mink chapka at the Minsk Big Bazaar.

Between May and October there is no central heating in Belarus. On my first night at the hotel, I literally froze in the drafty room. The next day, our delegation bought several electrical heaters. During our meetings, I continuously asked for a hot cup of tea. Of course I was often offered vodka instead.

Many of my special stories are related in my book, TO LOVE A HERO, that has been released at

My fall on the broken escalator of the airport is included. I was rescued by my lab manager while my heroine, Dr. Cecile Lornier (the smart woman) fell into the arms of a hero to die for, the handsome Major General of Belarus, Sergei Fedorin, who stole her heart with his penetrating blue gaze. And let’s not forget the time I got sick and was treated with vodka. Here is a short excerpt where my heroine, Cecile is sick in her hotel room.

“We hope you feel better. For you, from the Major Generalle who wishes you a speedy recovery.”
Nicolai presented her a vase of gorgeous red roses. Delighted, she took the vase and stuck her nose in the flowers. “They smell divine.”
Poor Sergei, she imagined his disappointment. There was no way he could visit her in the hotel but he sent her the expensive flowers to cheer her up. “Please, tell the general I love the flowers. Thank him for me.” She deposited the vase on the night table and twisted on the pillows to face it.
To her surprise, Nicolai unscrewed a bottle of vodka, filled a shot glass and handed it to her. Befuddled, she gasped. “Are you kidding? I can’t swallow anything.”
“Trust me, Cecile, vodka is the best thing to cure you. It will cleanse your system. You’ll be back to normal faster than you can count to ten.”
He brought the glass to her lips. “A few drinks will kill all your germs.”
“I must be crazy to listen to you.” She sighed and sipped from a shot glass until she emptied it. She felt warm and relaxed.
“Go ahead, a second one,” Nicouvitch coaxed as he gave her another drink.
“I’ll be drunk soon.” She giggled as she emptied the next one. “How many am I supposed to down according to your prescription?”
“Two or three more until you sleep.”

My story, TO LOVE A HERO, highlights the hospitality and warmth of the gorgeous and gallant Belarusian officers who sing and toast and make a woman feel like a goddess. I had a lot of fun writing this book and I hope you will discover a new country and interesting civilization while reading TO LOVE A HERO.
Admired by men and adored by women, Major General Sergei is a true hero in his country. When a lovely American chemist stumbles straight into his arms, Sergei has more on his mind than patriotic duty.
On her first international business trip to Belarus, a Russian country dominated by male chauvinism and intrigues, Cecile finds more chemistry than she bargains for.
Can she betray his trust to save his career? Would her love cost him everything he values?

Two Lips Review: Mona Risk tells a poignant yet beautiful and sweet story of two people falling in love, who must fight their attraction… This is a story readers will enjoy.

Review Your book: Mona Risk is a talented author. She knows how to weave intrigue and romance into her story. Fans of romance and suspense will enjoy To Love a Hero.

Simply Romance Review: Outstanding Read. Mona Risk's To Love a Hero is a wonderful love story complete with deception, conceit, stubbornness and the love of a lifetime for two people who couldn't be more different. Ms. Risk hits a homerun with this story.

Publishers Weekly, Saturday Blurb Special  Beyond her Book Blog: “The sense of the unfamiliar makes the story exotic, and a subtle tension was maintained with the trace of fear for an unknown culture and its politics…”
If you like sexy romantic comedies, you'll enjoy reading Mona Risk's other novels:
BABIES IN THE BARGAIN: “ER” and “Grey’s Anatomy” in the NICU.
NEIGHBORS and MORE: With too many skeletons in their own closets, would her dear neighbors do their best to save her or incriminate her?
NO MORE LIES: a lie that brings a smile or a truth drawing tears?
RIGHT NAME, WRONG MAN: What's a girl to do when she whispers another man's name in her fiancé's arms?


Mona Risk said...

Thank you Marianne for uploading my post. I hope it will show the events that prompted me to write my first book and launch my career as a writer.

Melissa Keir said...

I loved your post and could certainly tell your love for this country. I know you have so many wonderful stories I'm sure. And you were so brave to go! Wow...what a once in a lifetime trip!

jean hart stewart said...

What a great trip you must have had! Loved reading about it.

Mona Risk said...

Hi Melissa, it was a unique experience, 14 trips between 1994 and 1997. I made so many friends. One colonel found me on FB and still email me.

Mona Risk said...

Hi Jean, To Love a Hero is the book of my heart. I re-live my trips to Belarus when I wrote it and every time I read the book.

Maggie Toussaint said...

You're so lucky to have had a science job that took you places! And even better that you could mine it for use in a story. Repurposing. I need to do more of that with my life experiences, if only I could remember all the good stuff...

Cara Marsi said...

Mona, you've lived such an interesting life. I love your books. This one is on my to buy list.

Mona Risk said...

Maggie, you're a scientist too, and that helps structure your suspense novels and gives them the logical flow they have.

Mona Risk said...

Yes! Cara, I now you'll enjoy it as you love to travel and enjoy a good plot. A lot of the situations in that novel are true and I lived through them.

Vonnie Davis ~ Romance Author said...

I always love hearing how your storylines come about. I love your romances. Simply love them.

Mona Risk said...

Thank you, Vonnie. I love yours too.

Paris said...

What a wonderful experience! Thanks for sharing!

Paisley Kirkpatrick said...

Waving, Mona. Sorry it took me so long to find you. I've been in deep edits and just sent them off so I can get back to life again.

You know how much I love this story. You gave us such great descriptions of Russia and took us right into the life you know so well.

Best for lots more sales of this great story. :)

Molly Daniels said...

I loved this story and now I want to go back and reread it!

I wish I could fit into your suitcase; you always go to the neatest places when you travel! Where you off to next?

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