Reader Letter from The Crusader’s Kiss

The Crusader's Kiss, #3 in the Champions of St Euphemia series of medieval romances by Claire DelacroixDear Reader;

One of the most interesting things about writing stories all the time—and one thing that frequently surprises people who aren’t writers—is that I don’t always know how the story is going to work out. Some stories seem to have an energy of their own, and with those books, I feel like the last one to know what’s going to happen. Bartholomew and Anna’s book is just such a story. I knew Bartholomew had a secret. I guessed that Anna had a grudge. I believed that they would have to work together to see everything resolved, but couldn’t see how it would happen. They seemed too different to me, yet their dialogue showed the energy of attraction right from the outset.

I knew the book would be set in England, so I began to compile images for my storyboard on Pinterest that were evocative of medieval England. Quickly, I saw a theme in the pictures that I was choosing: they reminded me of the Robin Hood story. As I delved deeper, I saw that there were similarities between that story and Bartholomew’s history, but even more interesting, I discovered (or rediscovered) that the true story behind that of Robin Hood is believed by some scholars to be almost concurrent with the story of the Champions of Saint Euphemia. (As is often the case, there are several possibilities for the basis of the legend in truth, and there are other scholars who insist that the legend has no basis in truth whatsoever.) I enjoyed using elements of the legend in this story.

It was easy to see that Anna would be the leader of the thief in the woods, just because of her rebellious nature. Does she have a justification for seeing herself as a leader? I love how her disregard for the laws of the nobility contrasted with Bartholomew’s respect for justice and order. What a wonderful time I’ve had with this pair: the woman who accepts no authority and the man who must learn to assert his own. I hope you enjoy their story as well.

The Crusader's Handfast, #5 in the Champions of Saint Euphemia series of medieval romances by Claire DelacroixOne of the other projects I’m enjoying is the writing of Duncan and Radegunde’s story, The Crusader’s Handfast, which is being published in monthly installments between December 2015 and May 2016. I had thought that the arrival of Gaston and Ysmaine at Châmont-sur-Maine would be part of Bartholomew’s story, but it really wasn’t. Whose story was it? When I saw that Radegunde had an eye for Duncan, I knew. Like so many servants, this pair know a great deal more about their knights and ladies than those nobles realize, and they also work to ensure that their lords and ladies win their happy endings. The reader letter for The Crusader’s Handfast is on my blog, so you can read a bit more about how this story evolved. It will be published as a complete book in both print and digital formats in July 2016.

Also, the Champions are being produced in audiobooks, just a little bit later than their publication in digital and print editions. The entire series is being narrated by Tim Gerard Reynolds, and he’s doing a wonderful job. As of this writing, The Crusader’s Bride is available in audio. Check my website for links and updates on that process.

As always, please follow my blog or subscribe to my monthly newsletter to keep up to date on all the news. The newsletter contains advance notice of most sales on my books, as well as chances to win audiobooks, cover reveals and updated news of releases. You can also choose which news you’d like to receive, in case you don’t read in all of the same sub-genres in which I write.

Until next time, I hope you are well and have plenty of good books to read.

All my best,

Reader Letter from The Crusader’s Handfast

The Crusader's Handfast, #5 in the Champions of Saint Euphemia series of medieval romances by Claire DelacroixDear Reader;

One of the fun things about writing the Champions of Saint Euphemia series has been following the entangled threads of the story. Each character has witnessed different elements of the adventure and knows different things, and I’ve enjoyed pulling all those perspectives together. It soon became clear, though, that there were some story elements that were missing from all of the books, and that those were likely scenes you’d want to see. What actually happens when Gaston and Ysmaine arrive at his inherited holding? What has Millard done and how is all resolved?

More importantly, whose story would include these details? Ysmaine and Gaston had already found their happily-ever-after before arriving at Gaston’s inherited estate. The option of an extended epilogue didn’t appeal to me. I had thought Bartholomew might witness events there, but he really is itching to get back to the estate he should have inherited to set all to rights. (Plus, it’s high time he met Anna.) Who would show us this side of the story?

I watch movies when I’m trying to solve plot riddles, and invariably they’re movies I’ve seen many times before. I watch and knit and my thoughts wander a bit, in search of solutions. I was watching Gosford Park, which I enjoy because the servants know so much about their employers, yet their employers for the most part are oblivious to this, when the penny dropped. Servants are secret-keepers! Who knows more about Valeroy and local gossip than Ysmaine? Her maid Radegunde, of course. In the first scene I wrote from her point of view in this new project, I learned that Radegunde was very interested in Duncan, the man-at-arms in service to Fergus.

That’s when I realized this series would have a fifth book. The Crusader’s Handfast begins in Paris, after the reliquary has been safely delivered to the Paris Temple, and features the romance of Radegunde and Duncan. Their story involves the revelation of secrets, and the resolution of hidden conflicts. I like that these two ensure the futures of their respective employers from behind the scenes, and I also like that Radegunde’s cheerfulness is so restorative for Duncan. In a way, their resilience and pragmatism makes them two of a kind, but their fates are not entirely their own. Are they star-crossed lovers? Or will the course of love run true? You’ll need to keep reading to find out.

Just to try something different, this story is being published in monthly instalments, beginning in November. The whole book will be available for purchase in both print and digital formats in July 2016. It’s available for pre-order at some portals now.

Until next time, I hope you are well and have plenty of good books to read.

All my best,

Reader Letter from The Crusader’s Heart

The Crusader's Heart by Claire Delacroix, a medieval romance and #2 in the Champions of Saint Euphemia series.Dear Reader;

With The Crusader’s Heart, the quest of our company of knights, started in The Crusader’s Bride, continues. This is Wulfe and Christina’s story, and it begins in Venice, when this pair meets. At first, they seem to be complete opposites—a knight upholding justice and a courtesan who is paid for pleasure—but it quickly becomes apparent that these two have a great deal in common. They are both alone in the world and have learned to make the most of what few opportunities come their way. They’re both pretty stubborn, but only a determined woman could change Wulfe’s thinking about anything—and only a man who will not be diverted from his course could win Christina’s reluctant heart. Neither of them is particularly optimistic, but love, as we’ll see, will change that.

 We met Wulfe and Christina in Gaston and Ysmaine’s book, but their situations seemed simple in The Crusader’s Heart, and we didn’t see their thoughts behind their reactions in that story. It’s been wonderful for me to explore their characters, convictions, and history more thoroughly.

I always enjoy characters who tell stories, especially if their choices illuminate something of their own truth: Christina certainly does that with her tales of the saints’ lives. There is a small discrepancy to acknowledge here, though. The closest written source I could find for Christina’s stories is Jacobus de Voragine’s The Golden Legend, a medieval bestseller but one that was not compiled until the thirteenth century. Jacobus was born around 1230 and died in 1298, which means his volume was not available to Christina in 1187. Jacobus wrote down stories that were well known, however, so I’m assuming that Christina heard the same or similar oral versions of these tales. I’ve also taken a small liberty with the assignment of saints days in the calendar—although the story of the Seven Sleepers was well known in the west (recounted in the sixth century by Gregory of Tours and included in the History of the Lombards by Paul the Deacon in the eighth century), it is not clear that these saints were assigned a feast day before the Roman Martyrology was compiled in 1582. I think they’re worth an exception, though, especially as their assigned feast day falls within the chronology of the story. This is a story that originated in the Muslim world: it is known as ‘the companions of the cave’ and is recounted in the Qu’ran. The story of the men escaping religious persecution and sleeping for centuries was adopted by Christians, as well as one very popular during the Crusades. You can see that there are few differences between Leila’s and Christina’s versions. I like how this exemplifies the exchanges and influences between the two cultures in this era, and also that it makes a nice metaphor for Christina and Wulfe’s new beginnings. The relics of the Seven Sleepers were moved to Marseille during the Crusades and became part of the treasury of the Abbey of Saint Victor.

With The Crusader’s Heart, the story of the knights’ journey becomes more dimensional, as we see scenes and situations from the perspective of other characters. This continues in book #3, The Crusader’s Kiss, as Bartholomew returns home to avenge his family and regain his rightful legacy. It won’t be a simple task, and he’ll need the help of a most unexpected ally. Meanwhile, Fergus will continue his journey north to Scotland, a tale to be recounted in book #4, The Crusader’s Vow. What will happen to the Templar treasure? You’ll have to read on to find out!

I’m enjoying the challenge of writing this series and hope you are enjoying it as well. I’ve created Pinterest boards for these books, primarily for my own inspiration, although you might also enjoy checking them out—there’s one for the series overall, then individual boards for each book. You can find my Pinterest page right here.

Look for Bartholomew’s book, The Crusader’s Kiss, in January 2016, and Fergus’s book, The Crusader’s Vow, in April 2016. Both books are available for pre-order at some portals. All four books are being produced in audio, as well. Please check my website to listen to the audition by Tim Gerard Reynolds and for news of those releases.

Until next time, I hope you are well and have plenty of good books to read.

All my best,

Reader Letter from The Crusader’s Bride

The Crusader's Bride, a medieval romance by Claire DelacroixDear Reader;

Welcome to a new medieval adventure! Beginning a new series is always exciting for me, and this one is particularly so. I love the medieval era and particularly the twelfth century, so it’s been wonderful to revisit this period. I’ve also been thinking for a while about a linked series following a company of knights on a quest, with each knight finding not just adventure but true love along the way. This series begins in Jerusalem, where our knights are given the task of delivering a precious relic to Paris. We journey with them to Venice and then to Paris, the supposed end of their mission. While this is the end of Gaston’s part in the mission, it’s not the end of the story for the other knights. One knight, Wulfe, will continue in pursuit of the villain, to see justice done. Another knight, Fergus, will secretly take custody of the treasure to see it secured near his home in Scotland.

These stories also intersect and overlap, a structure that intrigues me. For example, Gaston meets and marries Ysmaine in Jerusalem, at the beginning of the quest and the beginning of book #1, The Crusader’s Bride. We also meet Christina in this first book, shortly after Wulfe meets her, but we don’t witness the adventure that compels them to become reluctant allies. That night is the beginning of The Crusader’s Heart, book #2 in the series. Similarly, neither Gaston nor Ysmaine know what the squires are arguing about, much less why Bartholomew settles the dispute, but we’ll learn more about that in a subsequent story. I’m quite enjoying the challenge of showing discussions and incidents from different points of view and hope you enjoy it, too. By the end of The Crusader’s Vow, book #4, all of your questions should be answered!

I had originally planned for these stories to be linked novellas, but Gaston and Ysmaine insisted that their story be a full length book. So it is and so will the others be. These books will be published at three month intervals, so you can expect Wulfe’s book in October 2015, Bartholomew’s in January 2016 and Fergus’ in April 2016. The additional books are available for pre-order at some portals now.

And finally, a confession: I’ve taken some poetic license with this series, with two details in particular. Saint Euphemia was a virgin and a martyr who died in AD 303 in Chalcedon. Her relics were subsequently scattered. It was rumored that the Templars possessed the precious relic of her head, and there are accounts in the trials of the Templars (from later centuries) of them worshiping a head. Although there is no absolute evidence that this head was that of Euphemia—and that relic has not been located—I decided to make it so. Also, the tunnel in Acre does exist and was discovered only recently. It is believed to have been built by the Templars and to date from the years after Acre was reclaimed from the Saracens. I decided, for the sake of Gaston and Ysmaine, that it might have been under construction before the city was lost.

In other news, my historical romances are being produced in audio editions. Right now, all of the Jewels of Kinfairlie series is available in audio, as well as The Rogue. The True Love Brides are in production and all four titles should be available in audio by the end of 2015. Then we’ll go back and finish the Rogues of Ravensmuir. As well as going back, the audio editions are going forward: The Champions of Saint Euphemia is starting in audio production too, with the goal of having each book available in audio just a few months after the initial release.

Until next time, I hope you are well and have plenty of good books to read.

All my best,

Reader Letter from An Elegy for Melusine

An Elegy for Melusine: A Medieval Fairy Tale by Claire DelacroixAn Elegy for Melusine is a fantasy novella with romantic elements that I wrote for an anthology several years ago. It’s currently available in Beguiled, the collection of my own shorter works, in both print and digital editions. In a few days, it will be available on its own in a digital edition: read on to find out why.

An Elegy for Melusine will be available from my online store next week to be downloaded immediately, and up for pre-order on the various portals for September 15 delivery.


Dear Reader;

An Elegy for Melusine is my retelling of a medieval fairy tale. This story features Melusine, who is cursed to become half-snake, or half-dragon, for one day out of each week. The curse upon her will be broken if she can find true love with a mortal man. She decides to keep her curse secret from the man she marries, hoping to preserve Raymond’s love for her by protecting him from her truth. Her plan doesn’t work, although you’ll need to read the story to discover the details. Even though it doesn’t end well, there are many wonderful elements in this story and it’s a favorite fairy tale of mine.

I’ve always wanted to give Melusine her happy ending—and find her the man worthy of her love—but the first order of business in doing that is introducing her to my readers. The story of Melusine is more commonly known in French than in English, partly because Melusine and her story are associated with the Lusignan family in France—Melusine is said to be one of their forebears. The story has similarities to the fairy tales we know but doesn’t have the happily-ever-after we expect. I believe that’s because it is a kind of a warning about the perils of fairies and mortals falling in love.

It might be a warning against more than that. The story was first written down in French by Coudrette in the late fourteenth century, although the more famous version is the slightly later one recorded by Jean d’Arras. Scholars believe that the story was recounted orally much earlier than this, partly because both of these versions are in verse. It could have been a story told merely for entertainment. It could have been indicative of a change in belief, because in the middle ages, fairies became associated with the devil. Or, in a medieval Europe that was more mobile and mingled than it had been previously, the story simply could have been a warning against marrying outside of one’s own “kind”.

Of course, in our time, we are more readily convinced that partnerships between different “kinds” can be successful. That belief is behind the popularity of paranormal romances in our time, which do have happy endings. So, Melusine has waited centuries, but now she will get her HEA: she’s a continuing character in my upcoming DragonFate series and I promise you that she will meet her match. Raymond also has a role in this series, as the ghost who haunts her. I’ve included an excerpt from Hot Blooded, the first book in the new series, at the end of this digital book.

If you want to keep up to date on my current releases, please subscribe to my monthly newsletter.

Until next time, I hope you have plenty of books to read!

All my best—