Quiet at the Château

When I was a kid, moms everywhere interpreted silence as a sign that trouble was brewing. As much as I’d like to be making trouble, silence here on the blog usually means that I’m working. A lot. There are a lot of things in progress behind the scenes, so I thought today I’d give you a peek.

Charmed at Christmas, one of the Christmas at Castle Keyvnor anthologies of Regency romances, including one by Claire DelacroixFirst up, I’m finishing my novella for Charmed at Christmas. Right now, my Regency romance novella is called A Duke by Any Other Name, but that might change. It features Lady Daphne Goodenham, who we met in Something Wicked This Way Comes—she’s headed to Castle Keyvnor for a double wedding at Christmas. Daphne, as you might recall, is determined to marry a duke. Her sister thinks that’s because she’s frivolous and superficial, but Daphne has a better reason than that. (And I think it’s sweet.) On the way south, they meet a duke, also en route to Cornwall. He’s eligible, at least on paper, according to Lady Octavia, the girls’ grandmother. The thing is though that Alexander, Duke of Inverfyre, is a fop. Lady Octavia is certain he’s not the kind of man to make Daphne happy, even if he is a duke. But is Alexander truly what he seems to be? From their first meeting, Daphne notices details that don’t add up and is the only one to look closer…a tendency that the duke finds very beguiling.

Daphne’s story is book #2 in the Brides of North Barrows series. It will be available exclusively in Charmed at Christmas until next March, then it will be available in its own edition.

You might have noticed that Alexander is the Duke of Inverfyre. This is the first of my stories to bring my various fictional worlds together. (See my blog post When Worlds Collide.) Inverfyre is, of course, a holding in the Scottish highlands featured in my Rogues of Ravensmuir, Jewels of Kinfairlie, True Love Brides and upcoming Brides of Inverfyre series. These are all medieval series, but Alexander and Daphne’s story is set in the Regency. In five or six hundred years, a lot can happen!

Just to entwine things a little more, Alexander’s castle is Airdfinnan, the legacy of Alasdair in The Beauty. Alexander’s sister gives him the seed of a vine that grows on Airdfinnan’s walls which is said to be linked to the laird of the estate finding his true love—you can read about that vine’s first appearance at Airdfinnan in  The Temptress. How did Airdfinnan become part of the estate of Inverfyre? That detail is yet to be revealed.

Charmed at Christmas is available for pre-order now at all portals and goes on sale September 26, along with all of the Christmas at Castle Keyvnor anthologies.

Pre-order Charmed at Christmas here:

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Christmas at Castle Keyvnor, twelve linked Regency romance novellas

A Collaboration

I think this bit of news is so much fun.

In fact, I’ve been itching to tell you about it since last summer and now – ta da! – the day has come.

DeborahCooke_SimplyIrresistibleBK1_200The other day, I told you about my upcoming series of contemporary romances, which launch with Simply Irresistible in June. Today, I’ll tell you the twist. I had an idea that the heroine in Simply Irresistible would love reading erotic romances. When challenged by the hero to take a chance, she decides to try writing erotic romances and publishing them herself. This is part of her journey, but I liked the idea of her story being inspired by her romance in Simply Irresistible. In fact, I wanted to include excerpts from her “book” in my book.

But I don’t write erotic romance. :-/

Her Dark Prince, book #1 in Ella Ardent's Tales from Euphoria series of erotic romancesEnter the collaboration. Ella Ardent is writing a new series of erotic romances which will be connected to my new series of contemporary romances. This is huge fun and is not just allowing me to include excerpts from her books in mine, but to coordinate the story lines a bit and to do some joint promotion. Our on-sale dates will match for the duration of the two series.

Ella’s series is faux-medieval, which is fun, and set in the fictional realm of Euphoria. The first book in her series is Her Dark Knight and it’s available for pre-order for June.

This is going to be fun!

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

Updated Family Trees & Bookmarks

The family trees for Kinfairlie, Inverfyre and Ravensmuir have been updated this week. Eleanor found a typo in Merlyn’s birthdate, and I knew there was another small error in the spelling of Garrett’s name.

Screen Shot 2015-10-13 at 10.33.01 AMConcurrent with posting the updates, I moved all of the family trees to my online store, where they are free downloads. They’re designed to be printed on an 8.5″ x 11″ sheet of paper, if you so choose.

You can find all of the family trees in the Family Tree category at my online store.

They’re also listed on the Family Tree page here on the website.

My printable bookmarks have also been updated. You can download the color version here and the black and white one right here.

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 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

About the Excerpt

The Warrior's Prize, a medieval romance by Claire Delacroix and book #4 in the True Love Brides SeriesOn completion of probably 40 books in a row, I’ve written a teaser or an excerpt for the next book in the series or under that author brand. The excerpt always goes at the end of the book, to tempt the reader to order or buy my next release. It’s pretty standard marketing for books, especially for books in linked series (which is what I tend to write). Since I always know where the book will begin, this has never been a big deal for me. The opening is the part that’s obvious – it’s in the middle that things get interesting.

Well, lo and behold, something has changed. I wrote the excerpt for The Warrior’s Prize when I was finished The Frost Maiden’s Kiss, just as I have done forty or so times already. Something is different, though, because I realized when writing the book that this scene isn’t at the beginning of Rafael and Elizabeth’s story. Rafael pointed out to me that he would not wait six whole months to speak to Elizabeth, not with Kinfairlie so close to Ravensmuir, which I had to admit was reasonable.

Elizabeth and Rafael’s story begins when they meet, which occurs at the end of The Frost Maiden’s Kiss, because Elizabeth’s impact upon Rafael is immediate. What Rafael chooses after Alexander tells his story in the excerpt is the result of their exchanges over the intervening period. The excerpt is in the book, so I will leave it here and in the edition of The Frost Maiden’s Kiss, but it’s actually about halfway through the story.

This is interesting change structurally, because it means that The Warrior’s Prize actually begins before the end of The Frost Maiden’s Kiss in chronological terms. At the beginning of Elizabeth and Rafael’s book, you’ll relive the Big Finish of Malcolm and Catriona’s book, but through Rafael’s eyes instead of Catriona’s. I now remember that I suspected this would be the case, and this was why I chose to publish the two books back-to-back, but now you know my reasoning as well.

This also has helped me to straighten out something for my upcoming 2015 medieval series, in which the heroes of all four linked titles participate in the same first inciting incident. Hmm. I really looking forward to digging into that project now, because I can see the structure more clearly.

So, don’t be surprised when you begin to read The Warrior’s Prize and find that it doesn’t begin with the excerpt posted on my site or included in The Frost Maiden’s Kiss!

The Frost Maiden’s Kiss

The Frost Maiden's Kiss, a medieval romance and third book in the True Love Brides series by Claire DelacroixThe Frost Maiden’s Kiss, a medieval romance and book #3 in my True Love Brides Series, is available today!

The incredible thing I realized last week was that Malcolm and Catriona’s story is my 50th full length book published. Wow. I guess I’ve been doing this for a while. 🙂

Without further ado, then, here are the deets:

She enchanted him with a kiss—but winning her love would demand all he possessed.

After eight years abroad, Malcolm returns to Scotland with a fortune, a companion even more hardened than he and a determination to restore his inherited holding. But when that companion falls into peril, Malcolm seizes the chance to repay an old debt, trading his own soul for that of his doomed comrade. Knowing his days are limited and determined to leave a legacy of merit, Malcolm rebuilds Ravensmuir with all haste, though he fears he will never have an heir.

A night of violence has left Catriona with no home and no faith in the honor of men. She expects little good from a visit to her lady’s brother, Laird of Ravensmuir, a known mercenary. But the handsome laird challenges her expectations with his courtesy, his allure—and his unexpected proposal. Knowing it is her sole chance to ensure her child’s future, Catriona dares to accept Malcolm’s hand. She soon realizes that this warrior fights a battle of his own and that she holds the key to his salvation. Little does she realize her past is in hot pursuit, seeking to destroy all she holds dear—including the laird who has thawed the frost of her reluctant heart.

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You can read an excerpt on the book page, right here.