The Wolf & the Witch into Kindle Unlimited

The Wolf & the Witch was enrolled in Kindle Unlimited this morning through February. If you’re a KU subscriber, you can read Maximilian and Alys’ story free!


The Wolf & the Witch, book one of the Blood Brothers trilogy of medieval Scottish romances by Claire Delacroix

Denied his rightful legacy, Maximilian de Vries devised a plan to avenge himself upon his father and see his own future secured. Allied with his two half-brothers, he descends upon ancient and mysterious Kilderrick, determined to seize the keep once promised to him, regardless of the price. A woman rumored to be a witch is the sole one bold enough to defy him but Maximilian has a solution—he will take her to wife, whether she be willing or nay, and seal his claim.

But this powerful warrior has yet to match wits with Alys Armstrong, a maiden with a thirst for vengeance and a fury that might exceed his own. Alys has no intention of capitulating to the proud and powerful rogue who stole everything from her—no matter how seductive his touch might be—and she does not share his compulsion to fight fair.

Bitter enemies from the outset, Maximilian and Alys’ match is a battle of wills. When passion flares, will either of them be able to resist temptation? And when Kilderrick itself is in peril, will they join forces to save the holding they each prize—and the unexpected love they value above all else?


Five star review for The Wolf & the Witch, book one of the Blood Brothers series of medieval Scottish romances by Claire Delacroix

Here’s a blog post about my inspiration for Kilderrick.


Here’s a blog post about William II de Soulis, inspiration for Robert Armstrong.


Here’s a blog post about 14th century mercenaries
– like Maximilian, Jean le Beau and Rafael.


Here’s a blog post about King Robert II of Scotland,
the reigning monarch during this series.


Here’s a blog post about “poppy powder”.


Five star review for The Wolf & the Witch, book one of the Blood Brothers series of medieval Scottish romances by Claire Delacroix

The Wolf & the Witch is exclusive to Amazon and enrolled in Kindle Unlimited through February 2022.


Buy the ebook:

Blood Brothers Heading for KU

The Wolf & the Witch, book one of the Blood Brothers trilogy of medieval Scottish romances by Claire Delacroix

This fall, I enrolled most of my historical romances in Kindle Unlimited, since Amazon is the portal where I sell the most historical romance. The exceptions were the Brides of North Barrows series—some of those stories are in anthologies that are available at all portals, so they’re ineligible for Kindle Unlimited and Blood Brothers. The Wolf & the Witch is available at all portals and so is the pre-order for The Hunter & the Heiress. Having the other books in KU working out fairly well and it sure is a lot less work to manage.

I had a hard look at Blood Brothers this past weekend, and it is amazing how heavily skewed the numbers are toward Amazon. I’ve started to take The Wolf & the Witch down from wide publication, with the goal of enrolling it in Kindle Unlimited by the middle of November. It’s come down first from the aggregators and KOBO, since those distribution chains take the longest to change.

The Hunter & the Heiress, book two of the Blood Brothers series of medieval Scottish romances by Claire Delacroix

The Hunter & the Heiress is available for pre-order at some portals and of course, I want to honor the pre-orders that exist. I’ll try a strategy popular with historical romance authors with this book—the book will be published at those portals so the pre-orders can be fulfilled. It will available in wide distribution for a week before being moved into Kindle Unlimited and made exclusive to Amazon. This works well for other authors and may prove to be the path going forward.

The Regencies sell much better than the medievals at other portals, so I’m thinking about starting another Regency series that will be widely available.

The Wolf & the Witch in Hard Cover

Oh, my copy of this edition just arrived, and it’s so pretty that I have to show you!

The Wolf & the Witch, book one of the Blood Brothers series of medieval romances by Claire Delacroix, hardcover large print edition

Large Print Edition

The Wolf & the Witch is available in both a trade paperback edition with Maximilian on the cover (the same cover image as the ebook) but also in a hard cover edition with the cover at left.

This book is also a large print edition—here’s a peek at the inside:

The Wolf & the Witch, hardcover large print edition

It’s a big book, 564 pages, and has a separate dust jacket with the title embossed on the case:

The Wolf and the Witch medieval romance by Claire Delacroix hardcover large print edition

Wouldn’t this book look great on your keeper shelf?


Buy The Wolf & the Witch in large print hardcover edition:

The Wolf & the Witch in Audio

The Blood Brothers series of medieval romances is being narrated by Tim Campbell. The audiobooks will be released as close to the publication date of the ebooks as possible. The Wolf & the Witch is available in audio now!

The Wolf & the Witch, book one of the Blood Brothers trilogy of medieval Scottish romances by Claire Delacroix, audio edition

The Wolf & the Witch

Five Stars! Highly recommended as an excellent series starter of a place to start your love affair with Claire Delacroix books in general!”

Becca – Goodreads reviewer

Five Stars! Delacroix is a masterful storyteller who weaves together a fascinating tale of betrayal, vengeance, wit, fate and love!

Naomi – BookBub reviewer

Buy The Wolf & the Witch in audio:


Poppy Powder

In The Wolf & the Witch, Maximilian gives Alys “poppy powder” which makes her sleep. This is the powder derived from poppies, specifically from opium poppies native to Asia Minor. The Latin name for the opium poppy is Papaver Somniferum, or sleeping poppy. The medicinal powers of the opium poppy have been known since at least 3000 BC.

The Sumerians called it the “joy” plant, and described how to harvest “poppy tears”, a method that is still used today. To harvest the opium, the seed pod is left to ripen after the plant blooms. After about 10 days, the pod is cut so that the milk oozes from it. That sap is left to dry, then the residue is collected and dried even more. The seed pod is distinctively round.

An opium poppy and seed pod

The ancient Greeks used poppy powder as a sedative, and also combined it with poison hemlock for suicide or euthanasia. It may have had ritual use in Egyptian society as a drug of healing power. The Greek gods Nix, Thanatos and Hypnos were depicted with poppies in Greek art. It was known to be a powerful and effective sedative and traded widely, as we can see by its inclusion in pharmacopiae and herbals from China to Europe. Around 2000 years ago, it was included in the Chinese pharmacopia, the Pen Tsao. It is included in the references to healing and medicine by Galen of Pergamon (a Greek physician who died c. 210 AD) and Pedanius Dioscorides (a Greek physician c. 40 – c. 90 AD.). This is an excerpt from Galen’s Alphabet, translated by Nicholas Everett, following a description of the harvesting process.


“The best opium has an extremely pungent fragrance, is slightly reddish in colour, very quickly dissolves and turns white when in contact with moisture, and when ignited emits a flame that burns for a little while and which when extinguished replenishes its fragrance to the same level of pungency as when fresh…Pure opium can be mixed into eye-salves for drying up teary eyes, or can be smeared on around areas that need cooling. It alleviates earaches, reduces all types of fatigue in the body, and for the same reason we find it also induces sleep.”

Pharmacy from Antiquity to the Middle Ages:The Alphabet of Galen, Nicholas Everett, University of Toronto Press, 2012, 2014, page 297

Even though the alkaloids are derived from the sap of the seed pod, there are no active alkaloids in the seeds once they develop.

The powers of the opium poppy were also referenced by the Persian physicians “Rhazes” (845-930 AD) and “Avicenna” (980 – 1037 AD), and the Andalusian surgeon “Abulcasis” (936–1013 AD). Galen shows that it was known in the Roman Empire, but the author of The Old English Herbarium, an Anglo-Saxon herbal from about 1000 AD, appears to be unfamiliar with the differences between the white poppy that grows in England and the opium poppy – although these two plants share some traits, there is virtually no opium in the English poppy, papaver album.

We can take a little tangent here and talk about the transmission of ancient texts like pharmacopiae and herbals. The Roman Empire was divided into the eastern and the western empire by Constantine (Roman emperor 306 – 337), who named the capital of the eastern empire after himself, Constantinople, later Istanbul, was a large and busy city and a trade hub for centuries. The eastern (or Byzantine) empire also held Ravenna, a city in northern Italy. In 390, Rome was sacks by Goths, and in subsequent centuries, the raids by Vandals, Visigoths, Vikings and others saw many literary sources destroyed in Europe and libraries burned. There were copies of all those books in Constantinople, where they were translated into Arabic by Muslim scholars and studied. When the Umayyad caliphate conquered much of what is now northern Africa and the south of Spain CA. 700 AD, those books made their way to Andalusia. Under the Umayyads, Christians, Jews and Zoroastrians (known as dhimmis) were permitted to practice their religion but paid a higher tax. In this culture, those texts were translated from Islam to Latin, often by Jewish scholars, and made their way back into Europe from Spain to be rediscovered. In addition, eastern sources previously unknown in Europe were translated and transmitted. Avicenna’s Canon of Medicine was translated from Arabic into Latin in 1175, for example, and his work became known in Europe after that. This contributed to what medieval scholars call the Twelve Century Renaissance, a period of increased literacy and learning in Europe.

It also coincides with the crusades. Crusaders brought opium back to Europe from the 11th to 13th centuries and it became an imported (and important, because of its efficacy) ingredient for European herbalists who could afford to acquire it. The first stories of opium addiction date from the 14th century, although it was known to be an addictive substance before that.

The active ingredients in herbs and plants vary in their power, based on the plant’s growing conditions, the weather and the means of harvest and refinement. Dosage can be a bit of a guess, and relies heavily upon the herbalist’s experience and knowledge of the plant’s source. Morphine was the first plant alkaloid ever isolated, from opium in 1803, which meant that dosages could be measured with precision for the first time. Heroin, which is synthesized from morphine (and was called diamorphine), wasn’t developed until 1893. In 1895, it was marketed as a cough suppressant. Both of these developments meant that opium-derived alkaloids and synthesized versions of them became much more readily available and that addiction became more prevalent.

Pink poppy

Opium poppies can be grown as an ornamental garden plant. They’re perennials in many climate zones and have spectacular flowers. (Other varieties of poppies are self-seeding annuals and have very little alkaloid in them.) Here’s a lovely pink cultivar at right.

Even the varieties of papaver somniferum available at your local garden center may have been bred to be devoid of latex and alkaloids. These are sometimes called Breadseed Poppies, when the intention is that you harvest the seeds for your bagels. In some places, it is illegal to cultivate them so check before you plant.

As for Maximilian’s use of poppy powder, it makes sense to me that the leader of a free company of mercenaries – who regularly engaged in battle and were therefore injured – would be well aware of a sedative and painkiller, and familiar with its use. He also would have had the opportunity to acquire it on his travels – in major cities – and the funds to acquire it. Alys, having been taught by a healer, might well have been taught about it but never have seen any of it herself – until Maximilian’s arrival. It would have been far less refined and less potent, but they still refer to Eudaline’s expertise in its administration.