The Dragon & the Damsel Delayed 30 Days

I’ve moved the publication date for Rafael and Ceara’s book out one month, just to give a little breathing room. With my books coming out of Kindle Unlimited, there have been a lot of admin tasks to complete and I’m feeling the press of time. That extra month will ensure that I have time to make the book the best it can be.

If you’ve pre-ordered the book, you’ll likely receive a notification from your portal of choice. You don’t have to do anything. 🙂

The Dragon & the Damsel, book three of the Blood Brothers trilogy of medieval Scottish romances by Claire Delacroix

A mercenary convinced that each man must see to his own survival first, Rafael has learned to savor the moment and its pleasures. He is interested solely in conquest and coin, not any promise of the future—until an alluring maiden challenges him, defying him to stake a claim. Rafael cannot resist Ceara with her flame-red hair and keen wits, but their cat-and-mouse game takes a dangerous turn when Ceara is stolen by her kin. Rafael cannot stand aside when the damsel’s survival is at risk—though if she has stolen his shielded heart, she must never know of his weakness…

Ceara fled an arranged marriage, determined to wed for love or not at all. A horsewoman and huntress herself, she has encountered no man worthy of her affection—until she matches wits with Rafael, with his flashing eyes and seductive touch. She knows the handsome warrior seeks only one prize from her, but hopes to steal his heart. When she is captured and compelled to return to her betrothed, she is thrilled that Rafael lends chase. When he claims her as his own bride, Ceara dares to hope for more than a marriage of convenience.

But Rafael appears to be interested solely in conquest and passion, and their match becomes a battle of wills. Will Ceara be cast aside when her newfound spouse is offered the prize he desires above all else? Warrior and damsel, can these two wounded souls learn to surrender the truth of their hearts—before their union is shattered forever?

Coming October 20, 2022

Pre-order available at some portals:

The Year Ahead

Yesterday, there was a post on the blog of my Deborah Cooke website, about my month in the garden this past May and the decisions I made while weeding. The upshot of it all is that I’ll be focussed on historical romance for the next year, to the exclusion of other sub-genres. I’m curious to see where this takes both my stress level and my sales.

This decision is why I was able to add a new Regency romance series, The Ladies’ Essential Guide to the Art of Seduction, to my schedule, and I’m looking forward to it.

So, here’s my publication schedule as it looks right now:

The Brides of North Barrows including all four Regency romance novellas by Claire Delacroix
The Brides of North Barrows
August 2022
The Dragon and the Damsel, book three of the Blood Brothers trilogy of medieval Scottish romances by Claire Delacroix
The Dragon & the Damsel
September 2022
The Masquerade of the Marchioness, a Regency romance by Claire Delacroix
The Masquerade of the Marchioness
November 2022
The Widow's Wager, a Regency romance by Claire Delacroix
The Widow’s Wager
February 2023
The Scot and the Sorceress, book four of the Blood Brothers trilogy by Claire Delacroix
The Scot & the Sorceress
April 2023
One Knight's Desire, book three of the Rogues & Angels series of medieval romances by Claire Delacroix
One Knight’s Desire
July 2023

I know more and have my work planned through the end of 2024, but I’d rather share details once I have covers and pre-orders. There will be more stories in The Ladies’ Essential Guide to the Art of Seduction published next year, for example. That series is planned to have seven books and will finish up in early 2024.

You probably noticed that One Knight’s Desire is back on the schedule for publication next July. I’ll be continuing with the Rogues & Angels series, which also is planned to be seven books long.

I’ve also decided to take my backlist titles out of Kindle Unlimited (not Blood Brothers just yet) and republish them at the other portals. That will probably take until the end of September, but if you’re reading in KU, finish up your series now.

This is a pretty relaxed schedule for me in terms of writing, so I have a number of other histrom projects that I’m hoping to tuck into the plan. I’ll write those first, then list them for short pre-orders when they’re done.

One Knight’s Desire

Heloise and Lothair’s story is back on my desk. We’re heading for Sayerne, to continue my Rogues & Angels series, once the Blood Brothers series is completed. This book was delayed because Heloise threw me a curve when I started to write the story – she told me that she wasn’t Heloise at all and that I had to keep her secret to ensure her safety. That mucked up my plan, since I had known the story I would be telling and had done the research. Now I have a new outline (because I have to trust Heloise to know who she is) and the book is back on my schedule.

I’ve changed the description and lowered the book price, and scheduled it for next July. The pre-orders are up! At portals other than Amazon, I was able to change the publication date and revive the old pre-order. If you ordered the book there, your order will still stand, but it will be processed on the on-sale date at the lower price.

At Amazon, I needed to create a new listing for the book. If you had pre-ordered at Amazon, that order has been cancelled. You’ll need to pre-order again.

I’m not sure where I’ll be with Kindle Unlimited a year from now but will let you know closer to the date. The book will be available in wide distribution for at least a week. It’s possible that I may take the series wide for that publication date, since it’s been a while. I’ll make those choices in the spring and let you know.

In the meantime, you may want to read the introduction to this company of knights that appears in the prologue of the series starter, One Knight Enchanted – it’s right here.

There’s a Pinterest board for this series, which is a work in progress. Each book has its own board, plus there’s a board for Tulley, one for the gifts and one each for heroes and heroines.

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

When the grim Lord de Tulley bequests his legacy to his niece and decides to arrange her marriage, the maiden in question knows that no man of sense will decline such a rich prize of a bride. Her jest, undertaken to ensure her survival and ease an old man’s loneliness, has become deadly serious. To Heloise’s dismay, Tulley chooses Lothair the Viking as his successor. Lothair is unlike the other knights in his company—just as powerful and decisive as his fellows, quiet Lothair is also perceptive. His very presence makes Heloise’s heart flutter and not just because she fears he will uncover her deepest secret. A man of honor like Lothair can only reveal the truth to Tulley and Heloise dreads the result. Can she charm her taciturn betrothed for the greater good?

A warrior and a healer, Lothair is accustomed to being caught between objectives. Still, experience has not prepared him for the temptation of Lady Heloise, the beautiful niece of his overlord. The maiden’s very presence steals his wits and renders him mute, while her barest glance fills his heart with wild yearning.

When Lothair discovers that Heloise is not the maiden she pretends to be, he is once again snared—between honor and duty, his dawning love for his new wife, and the lady’s determination to keep her secret. Can he dare to trust the woman who has stolen his heart, or is he just a willing pawn to his lady? Can Heloise trust the knight who swears to defend her forever instead of fleeing—or will her past demand its due from both of them first?

Coming July 19, 2023. Pre-order available at some portals:

The Masquerade of the Marchioness on Pre-Order

Book two of The Ladies’ Essential Guide to the Art of Seduction is listed for pre-order now. I wrote the beginning of this one before writing the cover copy and I just wanted to keep on going! Philomena and Garrett’s story is going to be so much fun.

Although The Christmas Conquest was supposed to be a novella (of 20,000 to 25,000 words), I had a hard time keeping it under 40,000 words. It just barely slid under the wire, and the bonus epilogue is another 6,000 words. For this book, I have no restriction on the word count, so it will be longer. That’s why the price went up a little bit. Remember that this series will be in wide distribution, not Kindle Unlimited. And because of that greater length, these books will be available individually in paperback editions.

Now, here’s a bit about The Masquerade of the Marchioness!

The Masquerade of the Marchioness, a Regency romance by Claire Delacroix

Philomena Wright, Marchioness of Arlingview, is universally admired for her intellect, good sense and charitable efforts on behalf of widows and orphans. She seems to have every advantage, but secretly desires that her dashing husband, the one person indifferent to her accomplishments, would notice her. The issue, clearly, is that she is too dull to hold his attention—when she is offered the opportunity, Philomena cannot resist the temptation of pursuing her husband in disguise.

Garrett Wright misses the purpose—and the peril—of his work as a spy during the war and is bored with his long-time disguise as a reckless rake. When he accepts an assignment to identify a jewel thief preying upon London society, he meets a mysterious masked beauty kindles his passion with her bold touch. Could she be the thief? Garrett becomes determined to both possess and unveil the temptress, whatever the cost.

Philomena and Garrett’s game of cat-and-mouse enthralls them both, but when Philomena is revealed, Garrett fears his wife has another secret. Will catching the thief place his beloved wife in jeopardy? Forced to choose between honor and love, how will Garrett find a means to fulfill his duty and secure a happy future with Philomena?

Coming November 22, 2022
Pre-order available at some portals.

Miss Esmeralda Ballantyne Calls

It is February and I am cleaning my office after the completion of another book. I’m well aware of the line of shadowy characters waiting in the hall, but I’ve told them that I have to clean up and organize my thoughts before starting another story. I’ve emptied the bookshelves this time and am doing an early spring clean when a swish of silk alerts me to her arrival.

She sweeps into the office, resplendent in peridot silk and pearls, and looks around with barely concealed disdain. “I expected better,” she says, after verifying that I am the author she seeks. “I like the house but you have no butler.” This is clearly a horrifying detail to her.

“I prefer quiet,” I say, emphasizing the last word. “Miss Esmeralda Ballantyne.”

She is a vision of loveliness, with her raven-black hair and glittering green eyes. It is her confidence that I find most interesting, though really, the female characters are easy to refuse. I choose to let her remain and ignore her as well as I can. She doesn’t make it easy. She circles the room, picking up items and putting them down again, peering at my posted schedule, walking around piles of books. She pokes, like a bored child, and I’m glad my computer is off. The slim silver laptop completely evades her interest.

“The very same,” she says as she wanders. “I’m gratified that you remember me.”

“I could hardly forget you. You were a secondary character in a book I finished just months ago.”

“Secondary,” she repeats grimly and pokes at a stack of books, sending them tumbling to the floor. I hurry to pick them up, checking that the corners aren’t bashed. I’m protective of my research books, which evidently amuses her. She laughs lightly, then fans through a pad of Post-it notes with her gloved fingers.

“Why are you called Miss Ballantyne, anyway?” I ask.

“Because I have never married, of course.”

“Don’t courtesans call themselves Mrs. whether they’ve been married before or not? Like housekeepers?”

She wrinkles her nose at the implication that she might have anything in common with a housekeeper. “I have little interest in convention. I thought authors were supposed to be perceptive. Shouldn’t you know that?”

I don’t answer that and begin shelving books again instead.

She doesn’t give it up. “And I thought a lack of regard for convention was something we had in common.”

“Maybe.” It’s possible that ignoring her will persuade her to leave. She seems to be craving attention.

“No chair for a guest,” she notes finally.

“By design. I prefer solitude when working.”

“You need a housemaid. Mine would have this tidy in no time.”

My patience is thinning. Clearly she wants something and just as clearly, she’s not going to leave me alone until she makes her request and argued in its favor. I’ve already decided that whatever she wants, it’s out of the question. “Is there some reason why you’re here?”

“Of course.” She grants me a beguiling smile. “I want you to tell a story.”

“I tell stories all the time.”

“This story. My story.”

I indicate the line of characters outside the office door. The knights from Rogues & Angels are playing draughts. Raphael is watching Miss Ballantyne with avid interest while Ceara pretends not to have noticed. Wynter is checking her phone, studiously ignoring her fated mate, Arach, who hovers on the cusp of shifting to his dragon form. “You have to wait your turn.” I go to the door with an armload of books to indicate the line, gathered before I first encountered Miss Ballantyne, and hear the silk rustle. Sure enough, when I turn around she has claimed my desk chair.

“He has a secret,” she whispers, spinning in the chair. She nods toward Arach.

“He’s a dragon shifter,” I reply. “I know about that.”

“Oh, that’s not the only one,” she says, eyes sparkling. “His real secret is much more interesting.” She lifts her brows.

I turn to look but Arach is trying to get Wynter’s attention. Then I realize what’s wrong. “Where are Thom and Annika?”

“Oh! One of the ferrets escaped. Inconvenient, really.” She widens her eyes as if innocent of any involvement but I know better. “I would welcome a cup of tea.”

I return to the middle of my office, ignoring this comment, and put down the books. “Where are Aidan and Merry?”

“Something wrong at the warehouse, I understand.” She picks up a book on medieval castle construction, winces and tosses it aside. I snatch it up and replace it in the proper pile. Her elegantly booted foot is swinging and she continues to spin in the chair, my chair.

“How did you get past the vampire?”

“Sebastian? What an alluring name.” She shivers with delight and smiles.

I know she has a tendre for Sebastian Montgomery but it seems rude to remind her. On the other hand, she is intruding.

“He’s boring everyone to tears with the tale of his days and nights in Constantinople. My memories are much more interesting.”

“You’ve been to Constantinople?”

“Lived there with my father. Venice, as well.”

I blink at this unexpected—and interesting—confession.

She yawns, perhaps aware that she’s caught my interest. “It was easy to slip past that part of the line. He would say his audience was dazzled, but I believe they were asleep. I do know something about performances.” She laughs lightly. “One of the dragon shifters said that’s the trouble with immortals—they think everyone has all the time in the world.”

I look toward the door again, tempted. “Sebastian is finally telling his story?”

“Dark and dreary past, lots of blood and violence. A quest and a vendetta from the part I heard, and, of course”—she yawns—”a love to defy the ages. What can you expect from a vampire? I myself prefer some banter, a little sizzle of attraction, even a marriage of inconvenience.”

“I’m not tempted by your story. I have a schedule.”

Her hand vanishes into her purse and she removes a small framed portrait. I like miniatures and am drawn closer against my will. It’s a painting of a well-dressed Regency couple, standing formally together. The woman is fair, her spectacles making it difficult to discern how pretty she is. She holds a book, as if she would hide behind it, and seems to be reserved. The gentleman is very handsome, perhaps more so in the flesh, and there is something—maybe his half-smile, maybe the slight angle to his hat—that makes me think him confident and even raffish. They seem to be an unlikely couple.

“They look respectable,” I say, knowing that my guest expects more speculation than that. I’m already wondering why they’re a couple. Neither look like the partner the other would choose. Is this the marriage of inconvenience?

“Oh, they are. That’s just the trouble. A respectable couple need an heir, but little progress is being made in that arena.” Esmeralda drops her voice conspiratorially. “I’m going to…intervene. it will be both gratifying and amusing.”

I stare at her. “I can’t see how seducing him is going to ensure they conceive an heir.”

She laughs at me. “Oh, you misunderstand. I’m going to tutor her.”

“Isn’t that improper?” My gaze trails to the miniature again. It seems unlikely that anyone, even Esmeralda, could turn this woman into a temptress. It would be fun to see his reaction, though.

Esmeralda coughs delicately. “That’s precisely why the suggestion appeals. You must write the story. I insist.” She settles into my chair, her expression resolute. “I will not leave this…hovel until you agree.”

Before I can argue this plan, I become aware then of a brooding presence behind me and turn to find another character has jumped the queue. He’s a tall and imposing gentleman in period dress and he’s glaring at Esmeralda, exuding disapproval. His hair is as dark as midnight and a bit too long; his eyes are dark and burn like banked fires. He leans upon his elegant cane as if he needs it and he exudes a power that can’t be denied. He’s dark and dangerous and…fascinating. Esmeralda is doing her best to ignore him, riffling through the pens and office supplies on my desk, and obviously failing.

That is interesting. I look between them, well aware that my presence isn’t necessary.

“Who’s that?” I ask her and to my surprise, Esmeralda flushes a little.

“What difference? He has no right to dictate my choices.” Her voice has risen a little, and I know he does have some ability to challenge her, whoever he is. “Will you do it or not?”

I look back at the man filling the doorway and know my decision is made. He flicks the barest of glances at me, then locks his attention upon Esmeralda again. The air crackles between them and I’m officially intrigued. I won’t take on this project for Esmeralda, but he is definitely worth my knowing better.

More on this new project tomorrow…