It’s so good to be here today. Thanks for hosting this stop on my virtual book tour. I thought I’d talk to you about how I came up with the idea for my newest release from Harlequin Romance Not-So-Perfect Princess.
Back in February 2000, If the Ring Fits… was published by Silhouette Romance. In the story, I introduced two secondary characters, Crown Prince Brandt and his older sister Princess Julianna aka Jules. Brandt wasn't mature enough to be the hero of a romance novel, but I knew Julianna was ready for her own story. I tucked in a few details that I could use in her own book: a love of sailing, broken engagement and wanting to marry for love. But one thing led to another, and I never ended up writing her story.
Fast forward nearly a decade when I decided to wanted to write another royalty-themed romance. I remembered Julianna from my days at Silhouette, but now that I wrote for Harlequin Romance, I decided to come up with a new idea. After a few starts and stops, I settled on what would become my February ’11 release, Expecting Royal Twins!
In that story, I needed a secondary character, someone who could be both a friend and a sort of fairy godmother to my heroine. With my editor’s permission, I resurrected Princess Julianna. As soon as she showed up on the page, I knew I was ready to write her story. Fortunately, around the same time, my editor asked if I wanted to participate in the Once Upon a Kiss miniseries where books are loosely based upon classic fairytales. I said yes. I asked if I could use Princess Julianna in Sleeping Beauty. My editor's answer—yes!
I knew Julianna's character pretty well by now, but I wasn't quite sure about the plot. With Sleeping Beauty as the basis, I knew the story had to be about an awakening. Face it, a woman on her third arranged marriage contract when she'd rather marry for love has been sleepwalking through life and not being true to herself! I wanted to address the question of duty vs. desire. I also knew sailing needed to be a big part of the story. The question was how to do it.
I happened to be staying at my good friend and Avon historical author Elizabeth
Boyle’s house last summer. I was finishing up revisions on another manuscript, but wanted to start thinking about the next book I would write. One evening we sat a Seattle Starbucks. With Frappucinos in hand, we brainstormed. The idea of two brothers in the story came from our session, as did the island setting and the hero designing and building racing sailboats. From there, I started plotting, working on character arcs and the romance, until the story evolved into what was published in Not-So-Perfect Princess.
Dutiful Princess Julianna has a secret—she’s actually happiest makeup free, sailing with the sea breeze in her hair. Her attraction to rebel prince Alejandro is instant—but her intended is his brother, the proper but dull Enrique!
For the first time, Julianna’s irresistibly tempted. Before long, she’s spending her nights sailing with gorgeous Alejandro while the rest of the palace believes she’s sleeping. Soon she’ll have to choose—remain the perfect princess, or follow her heart and stop sleepwalking her way through life....
About the Author-
Melissa McClone writes for Harlequin Romance. Her November '10 release Christmas Magic on the Mountain (Harlequin Romance) is a RITA® Finalist in the Contemporary Series Category. She graduated from Stanford University with a degree in Mechanical Engineering, but quit her job to write romance novels. Writing happily ever afters is a lot more fun than analyzing jet engine performance. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, three children, four cats and a dog named Chaos.
I have always thought that Harlequin Romance novels were erotic but that was not the case with this novel. I read the book while on vacation in Florida lounging by the pool. I was captivated by the storyline and I finished it rather quickly. I felt that all of the characters were developed fully and Melissa was able to retell a classic story in a whole new way. The use of the kitten Boots as a means for the main characters Julianna and Alejandro to meet was perfect and their romance started to develop throughout the book.. One character that I disliked was Enrique because he was arrogant and obnoxious but he played a major part in the plot. This a great summer read and I recommend the book to all of you romance lovers out there who likes a clean romance novel
Read an Excerpt-
“We are approaching the palace,” the pilot announced over the headsets.
Goosebumps prickled Jules’s skin.
Full of curiosity at her new home, she peered out the window. A huge white stucco and orange tile roofed palace perched above the sea. The multistoried building had numerous balconies and windows. But no tower. Another good sign?
A paved road and narrower walking paths wove their way through a landscape of palm trees, flowering bushes and manicured greenery. Water shot at least twenty-five feet into the air from an ornately decorated fountain.
The Mediterranean island and palace were a world away from Aliestle and the stone castle fortress nestled high in the Alps. Living somewhere lighter and brighter would be a welcome change from the Grimm-like fairy-tale setting she called home.
“Father may have finally gotten this right,” Brandt said.
Jules nodded. “It’s pretty.”
“At least on the outside.”
She sighed. “Don’t forget, dear brother, you’re here for moral support.”
“And to make sure the honeymoon doesn’t start early,” Brandt joked.
As if she’d ever had that opportunity present itself. She glared at him. “Be quiet.”
“Sore spot, huh?”
He had no idea. Engaged three times, and she’d never come close to anything other than kisses. Besides making out with Christian while a teenager, she’d been kissed once as an adult. Prince Niko’s kiss while sailing had been pleasant enough, but nothing like the passion she’d overheard other women discussing. Perhaps with Prince Enrique…
The helicopter landed on a helipad. The engine stopped. The rotor’s rotation slowed. Her hand trembled, making her work harder to unbuckle her harness. Finally she undid the latch. As they exited, a uniformed staff member placed their luggage onto a wheeled cart.
“Welcome to La Isla de la Aurora, Your Royal Highness Crown Prince Brandt and Your Royal Highness Princess Julianna.” An older man in a gray suit bowed. “I am Ortiz. Prince Enrique sends his regrets for not meeting you himself, but he is attending to important state business at the moment.”
“We understand.” Brandt smiled. He might not be the typical statesman, but no one could fault his friendliness. “State business comes first.”
Jules looked around at the potted plants and flowering vines. A floral scent lingered in the air. Paradise? Perhaps.
“Thank you, sir.” Ortiz sounded grateful. “I am in charge of the palace and at your service. Whatever you need, I’ll see that you have it.”
Jules glanced at Brandt, whose grin resembled the Cheshire cat’s. She would have to make sure he didn’t take advantage of the generous offer of hospitality.
“The palace grounds are lovely, Ortiz,” she said. “Very inviting with so many colorful flowers and plants.”
“I am happy you like it, ma’am.” His smile took years off his tanned, lined face. “Please allow me to show you and your party inside.”
Klaus nodded. Her bodyguard, in his fifties with a crew cut and a gun hidden under his tailored suit jacket, had protected her for as long as she could remember.
“Lead the way, Ortiz,” she said.
As they walked from the helipad to the front door, Ortiz gave her a brief history lesson about the palace. She had no idea the royal family had ruled the island for so long. No doubt the continuous line of succession had impressed her father who would want to ensure a long reign for his grandchildren and the heirs that followed.
“Prince Enrique has done so much for the island,” Ortiz said. “A finer successor to King Dario cannot be found, ma’am.”
If only Jules knew whether the compliments were truthful or propaganda. She knew little about her future husband besides his name. “I’m looking forward to meeting Prince Enrique.”
Ortiz beamed. “He said the same thing about you at lunchtime, ma’am.”
A third good sign? Jules hoped so.
When they reached the palace entry, two arched wooden doors parted as if by magic. Once the heavy doors were fully open, she saw two uniformed attendants standing behind and holding them.
Jules stared at the entrance with a mix of anticipation and apprehension. If all went well—and she hoped it did—this palace would be her new home. She would live with her husband and raise her children here. She fought the urge to cross her fingers.
With a deep breath, she stepped inside. The others followed. A thirty-foot ceiling gave the large marble tiled foyer an open and airy feel. Stunning paintings, a mix of modern and classical works, hung on the walls. A marble statue of a woman sitting in the middle captured Jules’s attention. “What an amazing sculpture.”
“That is Eos, one of the Greek’s second generation Titan gods,” Ortiz explained. “We are more partial to the Latin name, Aurora. Whichever name you prefer, she’ll always be the Goddess of the Dawn.”
“Beautiful,” Brandt agreed. “Eos had a strong desire for handsome young men. If she looked anything like this statue, I’m sure she had no trouble finding willing lovers.”
“Close the front doors,” a male voice shouted. “Now.”
The attendants pushed the heavy doors. Grunts sounded. Muscles strained.
“Hurry,” the voice urged.
The people behind Jules rushed farther into the foyer so the doors could be shut. The momentum pushed her forward.
A shirtless man wearing shorts ran toward the doors. Something black darted across the floor.
Yvette screamed. “A rat, Your Highnesses.”
“There are no rats in the palace,” Ortiz shouted.
The ball of black fur darted between Jules’s legs. Startled, she stumbled face-first.
“Catch her,” Klaus yelled.
Too late. The marble floor seemed to rise up to meet Jules though she was the one falling.
She stopped abruptly. Not against the floor.
Strong arms embraced Jules. Her face pressed against a hard, bare chest. Her cheek rested against warm skin. Dark hair tickled her nose. The sound of a heartbeat filled her ears. He smelled so good. No fancy colognes. Only soap and water and salty ocean air.
She wanted another sniff.
Ortiz shrieked. “Your Highnesses. Are either of you hurt?”
Highnesses? The man must be a prince. Her father had only spoken of the crown prince. No other brothers had been mentioned. Oh, if this were Enrique…