Thursday, July 14, 2011

Goddess Fish Book Tour Guest Post: Melissa McClone w/Giveaway

Today Melissa McClone is stopping by A Chick Who Reads. She is an author for Harlequin Romance. I'm very excited to welcome her to the blog to talk about why readers love royal characters!

Hi! I'm Melissa McClone. Thanks for having me today! My new release Not-So-Perfect Princess is a royalty-themed romance. It's my second royalty book in a row (I had also had one out in February 2011), and there's a good reason for that—I love royal characters!


Ever since I started reading romance novels, I've been drawn to books with princesses and princes as heroes and heroines. I write category romance and fortunately I can usually find a royal romance in one of the lines published each month. Based on the feedback I get on my royalty themed books, I know I'm not the only reader who loves these storylines.
Why do readers love royal characters? I can't speak for everyone, but I can give you my take both as a romance reader and author.

Many little girls love princesses. I did, as do my two daughters. They watch the Disney and Barbie movies over and over again. They read fairytales. Their dress-up boxes contain frilly pink gowns, tiaras and scepters. And they have their own personal prince (aka daddy) to slay dragons and make sure they feel like the fairest in the land.


We live in a world where women take care of themselves now. As those little girls grow up, they don't need to be rescued. They can rescue themselves. Yet no matter how strong or capable we are, there's still something about a knight in shining armor (or Armani!) who makes our hearts (and the little princess inside of us) sigh. A man who is there to help us, support us, love us (and in my case, get rid of any ants or spiders who may have invaded the house!)

I remember when a real-life prince attended graduate school at the university I attended as an undergraduate. More than a few princess fantasies floated around the Stanford campus. I know I had a few royal romance stories dancing through my head as well as "cute meets." Alas, I never once saw him.

Royalty invokes images of wealth. Crown jewels, exquisite gowns and elaborate palaces and castles. The life of a royal is so foreign to most of us. Reading about royalty not only gives us a peek into that different world, but also allows us to escape into a fantasy world. One we can only dream about or follow in the magazines or on television.
Did you watch Kate and Wills' royal wedding? Were you captivated by all the formalities? The idea of a royal marrying a commoner? Pippa's maid of honor dress and what she and Harry might be saying to each other?

I could answer yes to all those questions. I'm guessing I'm not alone. Which is why I hope to write many more royal romances. The next one I have in mind features my heroine Princess Julianna's younger brother, Crown Prince Brandt. But he still has some growing up to do. Though if he met the right woman…

Book Blurb: While the Princess was sleeping…





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.…
 
Book 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…

Author Info: Melissa McClone writes for Harlequin Romance. Her November '10 release Christmas Magic on the Mountain 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. She can be found on the web @ http://www.melissamcclone.com


18 comments:

Melissa McClone said...

I appreciate you hosting this stop, Andrea. Looking forward to the visit!

tammy ramey said...

great excerpt!i can't wait to read the rest of the book to see what happens next.
trvlagnt1t@yahoo.com

Vonnie Alto said...

I love your Princess titles. I would buy your books based solely on that alone. Yes, I like royalty books including historical romance. Who doesn't like a good fairytale Prince and Princess story!

Na said...

Hi Melissa,
There is definitely an appeal with royalty. When I was growing up Disney princes and princesses ruled my world. Also those from other fairy tales. They lived in a world in a world of possibility and there was always a happy ending. To me they were untouchable and I was in awe of them. With a "real-life" prince or princess I get to re-live that fantasy again and see them in a new light as "real" people. Like us they fall in love, and sometimes face heartbreak too I can relate to them :)

Cambonified(at)yahoo(dot)com

Jackie S. said...

Melissa, am enjoying your tour! Yes, I definitely like "royalty" books....was out shopping this morning and looked for your book..no luck, but I will keep searching.
jackie.smith[at]dishmail[dot]net

Melissa McClone said...

Hi! Thanks for stopping by everyone. My old iBook has been causing me heartaches so this morning I paid a visit to the Apple Store to buy a new one. I can't pick it up until tomorrow which means I'm using my iPhone at the moment. Will try to find a computer somewhere so I can respond better.

Melissa

Dru said...

I love the notion of royalty because we dream of being princess and a few will be..and that's what dreams are made of.

The Mistress of the Dark said...

It was nice having you for the day Melissa! I'll be reading the book on my new Nook Color over the weekend!

Chelsea B. said...

Thanks for sharing that great excerpt!! I am soooo looking forward to reading this book!

justforswag(AT)yahoo(DOT)com

Melissa McClone said...

I'm a Mac person having to use a PC. Heaven help me!

Tammy - so glad you liked the excerpt!

Vonnie - thanks! I wish I could take credit for the titles, but these two were the editorial staff at Mills & Boon.

Na - thanks for such a thoughtful post. Very true!

Jackie S. - thanks for looking for the book! It should be out by now, but my mom was having trouble finding it, too. A friend let me know two days ago it was finally in the local Safeway which is late!

Dru - exactly!!!!!!

Melissa McClone said...

Mistress of the Dark - thanks so much! I hope you like the story.

Chelsea B. - Thanks! So happy you liked the excerpt.

Melissa

Amy W. said...

Your book was at Fred Meyer, 19th & Stevens in Tacoma last night. John already ordered it from Amazon for me. I decided on the paper version rather than the Kindle download. I hesitate to take my Kindle down to the beach because of the sand.

Melissa McClone said...

Amy - thanks so much for the Tacoma sighting. I hope this means it's finally getting on shelves! Enjoy your beach read. My husband takes his kindle everywhere, except the beach! He didn't even want to take his cellphone when they went in NY!

Melissa McClone said...

As soon as I get my computer, I'll post the winner of the Romance Trading Cards. Trying to figure out this PC is driving me crazy! Thanks!

marybelle said...

I have just discovered "Christmas Magic on the Mountain" - I have put this on my wish list.

marypres(AT)gmail(DOT)com

Sarita said...

I loved the pomp and circumstance of the royal wedding. Just so dreamy...

Melissa McClone said...

Marybelle - thanks. I hope you like it!

Sarita - pomp and circumstance is the perfect description!!

Melissa McClone said...

Marybelle is the winner of the Romance Trading Cards. Thanks everyone for commenting!

Melissa

 
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