When I first published Valentine in 2010 (then republished in in 2015), I didn’t plan on writing so many books in the series. At most, I thought the Valentine series would contain three books. Instead, the primary series has five books, with a spin-off series which contains five books and another series with six books. All together, there are sixteen books in the Valentine universe, and I have another series planned which will contain at least three (possibly five; I’m wacky like that).
Valentine led to the Valentine Apart series: five books about characters featured in the primary series. The lives of Allan and Mac Avery, Lola Vencent, Kelly McCormick and Jo Fuentes are explored in a series of prequels as well as stories that coincide with the events in the primary series. Readers learn about Allan and Mac’s lives as hitmen, how Lola came to work for Rafferty, how Kelly became a member of the Syndicate and what led Jo to work for Kelly. But there’s a story before all of these stories. There’s a character who ultimately laid the foundation for all of these different paths to cross.
Enter Lucia Milazzo: the star of Lucia and the Saints. If Valentine Apart is a prequel, then Lucia is the prequel to the prequel. Before Val got her reputation, before Lola fired her first shot, there was Lucia. With all of the heads of the Syndicate (the network of criminals found in the Valentine series) being men, it’s ironic that the most important members can be traced back to one woman. She’s responsible for bringing John Rafferty into the fold, which technically makes her responsible for every event that occurs afterwards.
Lucia and the Saints not only introduces Lucia herself, it introduces many of the characters from the Valentine series. Readers meet young Allan and Mac Avery, learn how Vincent and Victor Entienne came to work for Rafferty, and why Jacob almost wasn’t hired. They also learn how Rafferty made his fortune (with Lucia’s help).
At the end of the sixth and final book in the series, Lucia finds herself with a choice to make. Her decision ultimately effects the lives of everyone in the Valentine series.
I used to be against prequels. I felt like they didn’t serve a purpose: if you’ve read the main story, then you already know the outcome. Then I decided to give prequels the credit they deserve. They offer insight into certain characters and situations. In Lucia and the Saints, the questions of “How did Rafferty become so powerful?” and “How did the Syndicate get started?” are answered. Also, the main question: “Who is responsible for all of this?”