Blackleith, Sutherland and the Picts

This month, The Rose Red Bride is on sale for just 99¢. This is the second book in the Jewels of Kinfairlie series and takes us north from Kinfairlie into Sutherland, the location of Erik’s home of Blackleith – and his stolen legacy. Today, let’s talk a bit about that part of Scotland.

Kyle of Durness, Sutherland, Scotland
9th century map of Scotland

Erik’s home estate of Blackleith is north of Kinfairlie, far north, in the lands allied with the Earl of Sutherland. Sutherland is the peninsula at the top of Scotland, which points toward the North Sea. (The tip of that point is Caithness.) On this 9th century map, all of Scotland north of the Firth of Forth (where Edinburgh is located) is green, indicating that this territory was held by the Picts.

There’s not a lot known about the Picts. They left amazing carved standing stones, and their presence is noted in the records of other peoples from the fifth century or so to the tenth. They are believed to have been Celtic and to have merged with the other Celtic tribes at that time, becoming part of the peoples called “Scots”. We don’t even know what they called themselves: the name Pict comes from the Latin for “painted or tattooed people”, because the Picts loved to color their skin.

The name “Sutherland” comes from the Vikings, who dominated this territory from their jarl in Orkney: it was literally the land south of the court. The Vikings held territories in what is now Scotland from about the 8th century through the 13th. They held longest to the northern and western isles. Their influence remains, though, in the names of towns and territories, and the fair coloring (blond hair and blue eyes) of many inhabitants.

In the Middle Ages, the Scottish kings gradually claimed territory north of Edinburgh and St. Andrews, extending their hold along the eastern coast and west to the Strathclyde. Even by the fifteenth century and the setting of The Rose Red Bride, points north remained wild (as did much of the highlands.) Vivienne would have been certain that she was riding off the edge of the known world when she accompanied Erik north to Blackleith.

If you’re interested in the Picts, you might like my time travel romance Once Upon a Kiss. It’s a reincarnation story and a Sleeping Beauty story, set in the Orkney Islands.

The Rose Red Bride, #2 of the Jewels of Kinfairlie series of medieval Scottish romances by Claire Delacroix

More cherished than gold are the Jewels of Kinfairlie, and only the worthiest may fight for their love…The Laird of Kinfairlie has unmarried sisters, each a gem in her own right. And he has no choice but to see them all wed in haste.

Like a heroine in an ancient tale, Vivienne waited in the highest chamber of Kinfairlie’s tower for her fated lover. In the darkness he came for her, cloaked and hooded so that she would not see his face. He loved her sweetly, thoroughly…and Vivienne knew she had met her destiny.

But in the morning light, her dream is shattered. Erik Sinclair of Blackleith is no romantic hero but a disinherited warrior who arranged her abduction to regain his own legacy. Outraged by Erik’s insistence that he needs her solely to beget a son, yet ensnared by the passion he awakens, Vivienne realizes that there is more merit in her taciturn spouse than he would admit. Erik is skeptical of her growing faith in his honor and her desire to recapture his stolen birthright…

Little does he suspect that his rare gem of a bride intends to capture his barricaded heart as well.

A Kindle Bestseller

“A beautiful, heart-wrenching, deeply emotional story. Five hearts!”—The Romance Studio

“Claire Delacroix has woven a tale that is a whirlwind of action and betrayal…What a wonderful plot! Throughout this amazing tale, Ms. Delacroix doesn’t let up for a second. There are lighthearted moments and tender love scenes that will delight historical romance lovers everywhere. Five hearts!”—

“One of the most fascinating continuing stories I have read in quite a while.”—The Romance Readers Connection

“One of Claire Delacroix’s best stories…Delacroix raises the bar in historical romance writing with the ease of a true professional.”—The NovaScotian

“Claire Delacroix is a shining star of the romance genre. Cleverly original, emotional and fast-paced, full of twists and turns, her books will sweep you right off your feet!”—Julianne Maclean, bestselling author

“Ms. Delacroix keeps the readers wildly entertained as well as enchanted all the way to the end! This reviewer has always loved Ms. Delacroix’s lush storylines, intricate details and has never been disappointed with her books. The Rose Red Bride is one book that will be read over and over again! Five hearts!”—

“What better way to begin a story than by providing the reader with a strong, determined hero out to avenge a wrong with a spirited and equally determined woman by his side? The Rose Red Bride is blend of passion, humor, fairy lore and everlasting love. A great read!”—

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The Rose Red Bride, #2 of the Jewels of Kinfairlie series of medieval Scottish romances by Claire Delacroix, is available in audio

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2020 in Review

There have been a lot of graphics in my feed on Facebook of authors sharing the books they published in 2020. It’s inspiring to see everyone’s accomplishments, so I did a graphic of my own.

Deborah Cooke and Claire Delacroix's 2020 releases

Pearl Beyond Price is a teensy bit of a cheat, as it was published in the last week of 2019. (I felt badly that “Claire” had no new releases in 2020.) I published the All’s Fair boxed set, but it was composed of previously published content, which doesn’t count for this graphic.

The Mercenary's Bride, book one of the Brides of Inverfyre series of medieval Scottish romances by Claire Delacroix, in audio

Claire also had new translations published in 2020, including The Beauty Bride in Portuguese and German, The Rose Red Bride and The Snow White Bride in Italian, and The Ballad of Rosamunde in Portuguese. I have the Spanish translation of The Crusader’s Bride but it won’t appear in stores until 2021. Claire also had a new audiobook, The Mercenary’s Bride, recorded by Tim Campbell.

The first two books shown here, Pearl Beyond Price and Just One Fake Date, were revisions and rewrites. I’ve learned that these take me longer than just writing a new book, so won’t be rushing to do any more of them. (Even though I have more Claire Delacroix books from Harlequin Historicals, they all need that kind of revision. I’m going to leave them alone for the time being.)

Stolen Brides, a boxed set of four medieval romances by Claire Delacroix

Another project that consumed a lot of time was repackaging books. I repackaged The Champions of St. Euphemia series, as well as Flatiron Five Fitness and Flatiron Five Tattoo. I’ll take a break from that job in 2021, too!

The obvious question is: What’s coming in 2021?

When I was traditionally published, the schedule was made a year in advance of publication and books were delivered, formatted, etc., about six months before publication. I’m trying to get back to that place without leaving too many gaps in my schedule. It’ll take me a couple of years, but I’m making progress. The big challenge with publishing is that I like to alternate between sub-genres and worlds. I think it’s necessary to my creative process, so that means that the publication of series will stretch out over time.

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

So far in 2021, I have two historical romances scheduled for publication, The Wolf & the Witch and One Knight’s Desire. I have two books scheduled for audiobook production: The Wolf & the Witch and The Runaway Bride. Both will be recorded by Tim Campbell. I already have a number of translations scheduled for delivery and publication in 2021: The Rose Red Bride in German, The Rose Red Bride and The Snow White Bride in Portuguese, The Ballad of Rosamunde and The Renegade’s Heart in Italian, and The Crusader’s Bride in German, too. The rest of the Champions of St. Euphemia series will be translated into Spanish, too. (As mentioned above, The Crusader’s Bride in Spanish is being published now.) Many of these translation teams will continue the series with the next book after they deliver the one currently in the works. Claire has a new boxed set coming in February, Stolen Brides, and will have a second boxed set published some time during the summer.

One Knight's Desire, book three of the Rogues & Angels series of medieval romances by Claire Delacroix

For my contemporary romances, Just One Silver Fox is scheduled already for 2021. I plan to publish Annika and Thom’s story—which is becoming longer than I’d initially expected, no surprise to any of you in that!—but won’t set a publication date for that until it’s done. I have another secret Flatiron Five project in the works, but it’s too soon to talk about that. 🙂 Of course, there’s the F5F spin-off series in Harte’s Harbor, too, but I’d like to be able to schedule the first three on a fairly rapid release, with the books being done. Ha. I’m thinking that series will likely be a 2022 launch.

For my paranormal romances, there’s nothing officially booked at this time. I’m hoping to publish the next DragonFate novel, possibly next summer, and am working on the next Incendium story, Wyvern’s Wizard. (The issue with Wyvern’s Wizard is that I suspect four princesses are going to weigh in and entangle their storylines with Peri’s, so it’s not a case of getting one book written—it’s a case of getting four books written.) I’m still having various characters weigh in about their story needing to be told next. Once The Wolf & the Witch is done, I’ll make a decision and dive in.

In the meantime, there are promotions to schedule and all the rest of the jobs that come with indie-publishing. I’m hoping to have a very productive 2021, and this is my plan at the moment. I have the spreadsheets to show for it!

The Mercenary’s Bride is 99 cents!

The Mercenary’s Bride, book one of the Brides of Inverfyre series of medieval Scottish romances, is on sale this month for just 99 cents! Don’t forget that there’s a new audio edition of Quentin and Mhairi’s story, narrated by the fabulous Tim Campbell.

The Mercenary's Bride, #1 of the Brides of Inverfyre series of medieval Scottish romances

Robbed of his possessions, wounded and left for dead, Quentin de Montgomerie has lost everything except his love for Mhairi, the daughter of the Hawk of Inverfyre—and he knows who is to blame for his fate. He vows to return to Inverfyre and take his vengeance from the Hawk, but arrives to discover that the fierce maiden in possession of his heart has blossomed into a beauty, and that her kiss has the power to give him hope for the future again. Can Quentin prove himself to the Hawk and win Mhairi—or will she spurn him for being less than once he was?

Buy The Mercenary’s Bride ebook:

Buy The Mercenary’s Bride in mass market:

The Mercenary's Bride, book one of the Brides of Inverfyre series of medieval Scottish romances by Claire Delacroix, in audio

The Mercenary’s Bride
Narrated by Tim Campbell

It’s Christmas when a lost warrior returns to Inverfyre’s gates. Can Quentin prove himself to the Hawk and win Mhairi’s heart and hand—or will she spurn him for being less than once he was?

Apple’s Holiday Romance Promotion

Apple holiday romance promotion including The Mercenary's Bride by Claire Delacroix, December 1 to 30, 2020

Apple has a feature and sale this month on Holiday Romances, which includes The Mercenary’s Bride. The promotion runs from December 1 to December 30. The Mercenary’s Bride is discounted to just 99 cents for the promotion.

Don’t forget that Quentin and Mhairi’s story is also available in audio now, narrated by the fabulous Tim Campbell.

Here’s the landing page in the Apple bookstore.

The Mercenary’s Bride in Audio

The audiobook of The Mercenary’s Bride moved out to the portals very quickly! Here are the links for you:


The Mercenary's Bride, book one of the Brides of Inverfyre series of medieval Scottish romances by Claire Delacroix, in audio

The Mercenary’s Bride
Narrated by Tim Campbell