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,
Claire

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,
Claire

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,
Claire

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,
Claire

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—
Claire

Reader Letter from Harmonia’s Kiss

Harmonia's Kiss by Deborah Cooke, a Dragonfire storyThe Dragonfire short story, Harmonia’s Kiss, is going to be published in a new edition in the next couple of days.

Here’s the reader letter from the new edition—and the new cover. It will be available initially from my online store, and then at the major portals in September 2015. It will be included also in Here Be Dragons: The Dragonfire Companion in both print and digital editions.

If you bought this short story in its previous edition, you don’t need to buy it again. There are no major differences in the text: it just has a new cover.


 

Dear Reader;

Harmonia’s Kiss is a short story that grew from a pair of scenes edited out of the Dragonfire novel Whisper Kiss. This is the tale of Dragon’s Tooth Warriors in their search for their lost past, and also the story in which Drake meets Veronica. I really liked the insight these scenes offered into Drake’s character in particular and developed it into a longer story. My publisher decided to release it in a digital-only edition, an option that I initially found exciting. The experience, however, proved to be a very frustrating one. Some of you could not buy the digital short, even though it should have been available throughout the world in English. I was unhappy that the short story didn’t really have a cover for the longest time—just a picture of me in my publisher’s logo—and also thought it was priced too high for a short story. Additionally, many of you read only in print, and this story was not available in that format.

All’s well that ends well, though. I’m very excited to have the opportunity to bring this Dragonfire short story to you in a new edition and to be able to offer it at a more competitive price. This edition of Harmonia’s Kiss has Drake on the cover, and it will be included in Here Be Dragons: The Dragonfire Companion in both the print and digital editions of that volume.g

You can find all of the Dragonfire books listed in order on my website.

Also, the Dragonfire cycle of paranormal romances is now complete with the publication of Firestorm Forever. This book is enormous, the biggest novel I’ve ever written, and includes three firestorms—you’ll be pleased to see that the spark of the firestorm gives Drake and Veronica the chance to build the future they both desire. You can read an excerpt from Firestorm Forever on my website.

Of course, there are more dragons in my future and in yours. My next series of paranormal romances featuring the Pyr will be called DragonFate: there’s an excerpt from the first book, Hot Blooded, at the end of Firestorm Forever but also on my website.

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—and maybe a dragon shifter hero to keep you warm at night!

All my best—
Deborah
Also writing as Claire Delacroix

Reader Letter for Firestorm Forever

Firestorm Forever, A Dragonfire Novel and paranormal romance by Deborah CookeDear Reader;

And so we come to the final book in the Dragonfire cycle of paranormal romances. Sloane’s story has been a gleam in my eye from the very inception of this series: I always knew his firestorm would be the last one of the Dragon’s Tail Wars, because it had to be the Apothecary of the Pyr who healed the earth. This book is longer than other titles in the series, as there were more details to resolve. Conveniently for me, the end of the Dragon’s Tail node of the moon is marked by three lunar eclipses in relatively quick succession, so there are three firestorms in Firestorm Forever and a slightly different structure to the book to accommodate that. Many of you have written to me to express your wish that the series continue, but all wars must come to an end.

All species, however, do not.

Dragonfire was always intended to be a finite cycle of books, with somewhere between ten and twelve titles in all (Firestorm Forever brings us to eleven books, a short story, and three novellas, as well as the spin-off YA trilogy, the Dragon Diaries) but it was never intended to be the sum of my writing about dragon shape shifter heroes. There are more dragons in my future and in yours! I had been planning to step back in time next, to witness the extermination that left Erik so distrustful of humans, the evolution of Slayers and the discovery of the Dragon’s Egg. This trilogy of paranormal historical romances called DragonKnight have been pushed back in my schedule, though—in writing Firestorm Forever, more Pyr caught my imagination and their stories jumped the queue. You’ll meet a new villain in this book, as well as learn more about Theo, the current leader of the Dragon Legion, who is the reason I’ve been distracted. There’s an excerpt at the end of this book for Hot Blooded, the first book in my upcoming contemporary paranormal series DragonFate.

There also is a companion volume to the Dragonfire series in the works: Here Be Dragons: The Dragonfire Companion will be published in November 2015. Here Be Dragons will be available in both print and digital formats, and there are digital pre-order links available at some portals already. As usual, the book is discounted for pre-orders.

In addition, my alter ego, Claire Delacroix, is beginning a new medieval romance series this summer called the Champions of Saint Euphemia. This is a four-book series following a group of knights on their return from crusade—they’ve been entrusted with a parcel to deliver to Paris but quickly discover that someone wants it badly enough to kill to possess it. They find unexpected adventure on this journey, as well as danger, love, and romance. I hope you’ll join me for their quest. I’ve tucked an excerpt into the back of this book from the first story, The Crusader’s Bride, just in case you like knights as much as you like dragon shifter heroes.

Until next time, I hope you have lots of good books to read.

All my best,
Deborah

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Reader Letter from The Warrior’s Prize

The Warrior's Prize, a medieval romance by Claire Delacroix and book #4 in the True Love Brides SeriesDear Reader;

And so we come to Elizabeth’s story, the final book in my True Love Brides series and probably the one most requested from readers. This book is a little bit different from previous linked books I’ve written: although the majority of events in this book occur after those in The Frost Maiden’s Kiss, there is some overlap. Elizabeth and Rafael’s story begins when they meet, which is right before the climax of Malcolm and Catriona’s story. I wanted the book to stand alone, though, so you’ll see some of those scenes presented again here, but done a little differently. I had a wonderful time writing Elizabeth’s story—and helping Rafael to challenge her expectations—and I hope you enjoy reading it.

This brings us to the end of The True Love Brides series, which carried on the stories of the eight siblings at Kinfairlie first introduced in The Jewels of Kinfairlie trilogy. We have, however, only had the stories of seven of the brothers and sisters, a fact which many of you have noticed. It’s no spoiler to let you know that Ross is left without a partner or a true love at the end of Elizabeth’s story. We haven’t heard much from him in recent books. He has been at Inverfyre, completing his training in the service of his uncle, the Hawk of Inverfyre. If you take a peek at the family tree for Ravensmuir and Inverfyre on my website or download it from my online store, you’ll see a little bit more of what the Hawk and Aileen have been up to since the telling of their story in The Warrior. Married in 1409 (the same year as Elizabeth’s birth) they hosted a family gathering at Midsummer after their vows were exchanged. This gathering was where we first met Roland, Catherine and their eight children from Kinfairlie. Roland and the Hawk were cousins and milk-brothers (which meant they shared a wet nurse) so the Hawk’s five children with Aileen are second cousins of the family at Kinfairlie we’ve come to know so well. We’re talking a little break from the family now, to give Ross and the other children at Inverfyre a few years to grow up, then I will launch another medieval series set in the Highlands and Inverfyre. Ross won’t be the only one to have his story told in that series!

In the meantime, I wanted to return to my medieval roots, so to speak, and write a series of linked romances set during the Crusades. My first published book, The Romance of the Rose, was set in the 13th century, in France and the Latin Kingdoms, as the heroine went on a pilgrimage and the hero served with the Templars. My upcoming series, The Champions of Saint Euphemia, is set during the twelfth century, when the Latin Kingdoms were diminished by the Muslim leader Saladin. This series of medieval romances follows three knights and a squire, as they leave the Holy Land to return home to Europe, having accepted an errand from the Templars. Gaston, the hero of the first book, believed he would be a Templar for the duration of his life: he’s served fifteen years with the order when he learns that his older brother has died, making him unexpectedly heir to their family holding. He accepts a request to deliver a package to Paris for the order, believing that doing so is a trifle he can readily fulfill on the way home. Another Templar knight, Wulfgar, is ordered to accompany Gaston to defend the party en route, which was the mission of the Knights Templar. A third knight, Fergus, has completed his term of service and is returning home to Scotland to wed, as previously arranged. Gaston’s squire accompanies him, as does the lady Gaston hastily weds before his departure. The small party soon learns that Gaston has been entrusted with a treasure beyond price, and that someone—in their party or in pursuit—will stop at nothing to possess it. Each of these four stories is a medieval romance in itself and features one of the men in the company, but the mission undertaken by the knights evolves over the course of the linked books. Again, there are overlapping story elements, with some key scenes told in several points of view, but the chronology of the adventure begins in Gaston’s book and ends with the last book in the series. I’m really enjoying the challenge of writing these stories, and I hope you join me on this quest. There is an excerpt from Gaston’s book, The Crusader’s Bride, at the back of this one. The Crusader’s Bride will be available in May 2015 and there are pre-order links available now at some portals.

I am also working through the Ravensmuir and Kinfairlie books to create audio editions, with the plan of ultimately having audio available for the entire series. It’s a time-consuming process, but quite an interesting one. Right now, The Rogue and The Beauty Bride are available in audio, with The Rose Red Bride in production and The Snow White Bride and The Ballad of Rosamunde to follow. Please check my website for more details if you like audio books.

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

All my best,
Claire

Reader Letter from The Frost Maiden’s Kiss

The Frost Maiden's Kiss, a medieval romance and third book in the True Love Brides series by Claire DelacroixDear Reader;

Welcome back to Ravensmuir!

I was very excited to have the chance to finally return to that fictional estate myself, as there was plenty of work to be done there. The ravens were gone, the keep itself had collapsed, the black horses bred at Ravensmuir had been moved to Kinfairlie because the new laird, Malcolm, had decided to go abroad and seek his fortune as a mercenary—and this despite his brother’s disapproval. Malcolm’s homecoming would be a renaissance for Ravensmuir, in my mind, and he required special woman to help him recover from all he had experienced. I was sure I knew the perfect one. My favorite characters are the ones who have their own opinions about how their story should be told. Catriona proved to be one of those characters—while I believed that I’d known her story and the balance she would bring to Malcolm’s life, Catriona showed me that I had it all wrong. As is so often the case—and is the reason I love opinionated characters so much—her version of events is much more interesting than the one I had planned. In fact, I think this pragmatic and wounded woman is a much better partner for Malcolm than the Catriona I had originally envisioned. I hope you enjoy reading their story as much as I enjoyed writing it.

The next and final medieval romance in the True Love Brides series will be Elizabeth’s book, which is called The Warrior’s Prize. You’ll catch a glimpse of Elizabeth’s story at the end of this book, and there’s an excerpt from The Warrior’s Prize as well. That book will be a December 2014 release and is available for pre-order at some portals now. You can find the links on my website, http://www.delacroix.net.

The family trees for Kinfairlie and my other linked historical romances have also been updated on my website, up to the end of The Warrior’s Prize, and made more pretty by Kim Killion. You’ll find them under the Claire Delacroix tab, all on a page called Family Trees. There’s also a bookmark designed by Kim, which lists all of my books. You’ll find that under About Deborah on the Complete Book List page. These are all PDF files that you can download and print on an 8.5” by 11” sheet of paper.

There is one more exciting piece of news about Kinfairlie and Ravensmuir as I write this: there are audio editions in production for both The Rogue and The Beauty Bride. The Rogue is the first book in the Rogues of Ravensmuir trilogy of medieval romances and was my first visit to Ravensmuir. The Beauty Bride is the first book in my Jewels of Kinfairlie trilogy, which is the beginning of the linked stories about these eight siblings seeking their happily-ever-afters. These are the first of my books to have audio editions, so I’m looking forward to having them available to you all.

Finally, some of you have probably noticed that of the eight siblings at Kinfairlie, Ross will be the only one whose story won’t be told by the completion of the True Love Brides series. In The Beauty Bride, Ross went to Inverfyre, as you might recall, to train under the Hawk of Inverfyre, along with his cousins and that man’s sons. (The Hawk’s story is told in The Warrior.) My plan is for Ross’s story to be part of another series, yet to come—we’ll move up into the Highlands and Inverfyre for that linked series and see some of those cousins married off, as well. First though, we’re going to take a little break from Kinfairlie in 2015 and follow a band of knights as they journey home from crusade. Look for more news about that series coming soon to my website and blog.

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

All my best,
Claire

 

Reader Letter from Beguiled

Beguiled, a collection of short stories and novellas by Claire Delacroix and Deborah Cooke

Dear Reader,

I don’t write a great many short stories, although in assembling this collection, I have to wonder why that is. A shorter work is an opportunity—if not an invitation—to try something different in terms of style or to play with an unusual idea. Short stories are fun to write for that reason, and in addition, offer different structural challenges than books. I love to read short stories: they can be tantalizing in themselves, and also can provide a telling introduction to an author’s work.

The works included here were all written as the result of an invitation for me to participate in an anthology with other authors. In the past, invitations have been the only reason I wrote short—though that might change! I was glad to be invited to participate in all of those volumes, but is often the nature of short stories to remain available to readers for only a limited time. So, I’m very pleased now to have the opportunity to pull these works into a collection of my own and make them available to you again.

In addition, putting the stories together makes their similarities to each other more clear. Most of these works have a medieval setting, and all of them include both romance and fantasy elements. Each of them features a strong heroine who makes a choice, a choice that might end up costing everything she holds dear. Historians called the ability to influence one’s own situation “agency” and it’s an idea that I like to explore in all of my work. In the medieval era, women had more agency than many people believe, and we, too, have agency in our era, although maybe it’s less than many people believe. What we choose and why fascinates me. For the women in these stories, the opportunity to choose is more important than the result: I don’t know that even Melusine would regret her decision, though the end result is not what she had hoped to gain.

I’ve included an introductory note before each story, telling you a bit of how it came to be and its history. I’ve also included an excerpt from my medieval romance, The Rogue, because in reviewing these shorter stories, it’s clear that Alix and Melusine led me directly to Ysabella. Finally, there’s an excerpt from my upcoming medieval romance, The Frost Maiden’s Kiss. This is the third book in my True Love Brides series, and features the return of Malcolm to Ravensmuir from his time as a hired mercenary in Europe. He’s earned a fortune, but believes it has cost him his soul (and possibly his sanity) until he meets Catriona, a woman who shows him how to rediscover goodness. Catriona, however, has dangerous secrets of her own, ones that can threaten everything they build together. Malcolm and Catriona’s book will be published in August 2014.

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

All my best—

Deborah
also writing as Claire