Being Australian, I was particularly fascinated several years ago when an Australian woman, Mary, married a Danish Prince. Now she's Princess Mary of Denmark, leading the sort of life that gets featured in glossy magazines here and, I assume, all over the world.
There's something about the pomp and ceremony of a royal wedding, the glittter and excitement and, above all, the Cinderella factor when an 'ordinary' girl marries a royal, that is absolutely fasincating. There's the dress to ponder over, the pageantry, the guest list of celebrities, the chance to spot any young, handsome, unattached minor royals waiting for their own Cinderella (I know there aren't many but who cares about long odds?).
Imagine my pleasure when I discovered the release of PROTECTED BY THE PRINCE slots in nicely to the approaching royal wedding in the UK. Thank you Kate and William! I couldn't have timed this better. It would be nice to think I had an inkling that wedding bells would be in the air when I planned this story, but it's just serendipity.
Serendipity had a lot to do with this book, with so many wonderful experiences feeding into my research. There was a marvellous day spent with fellow Presents author Abby Green in Dublin, which included a visit to the old library at Trinity College. That place is amazing, and the visit helped me create my heroine, Tamsin, a book curator and expert in old languages. There was a visit to see crown jewels on a day when it wasn't crowded (yes, really!) and the staff were particularly helpful. A visit to a fabulous gothic cathedral full of stunning stained glass just as the clouds cleared and washed the interior with the most gorgeous light. Christmas night markets in Austria and Germany alive with the smells of mouth watering food and the sounds of music and laughter. There were castles perched on high mountains and a fabulous night spent in a tower room looking down on the Rhine. There was even a sleigh ride on the clearest day imaginable, after fresh, deep snow had fallen and the alps looked unbelievable. Well, yes, our sleigh ride wasn't like Tamsin and Alaric's - there were several of us in the sleigh and I wasn't being whisked off to an isolated mountain lodge for royal seduction. But the tinkle of the bells (they really do tinkle) and the swish of the sleigh and the sparkle of the snow were completely magic.
However, it was Tamsin and Alaric who made this royal romance such fun to write. He is handsome, debonair, charming and troubled, weighed down by the ghosts of his past. She's hard-working, almost reclusive and determined to concentrate only on her work of preserving old documents, rather than let herself fall for another charming man who can't be trusted. She's not glamorous. She wears dowdy grey and brown, she hasn't a high heel to her name and she shuns male attention. Fortunately Alaric can see beyond the surface and is intrigued by what he finds. As for Alaric - sigh. Well, let me just say I had a wonderful time with him. Here he is as seen through Tamsin's eyes at their first meeting:
He could have been Prince Charming, standing there in his elaborate hussar’s uniform, her discarded shoe in one large, capable hand. A bigger, tougher Prince Charming than she remembered from her childhood reading. His dark eyebrows slashed across a tanned face that wasn’t so much handsome as magnetic, charismatic, potently sexy. Like Prince Charming’s far more experienced and infinitely more dangerous older brother.
I was thrilled when PROTECTED BY THE PRINCE received a 4.5 star review from Romantic Times: With genuine chemistry and vulnerable characters this modern-day fairy tale delights from start to finish. I hope you enjoy it too, along with the other Presents and Presents Extras this month. For more about the book, visit my website. To celebrate the fact this is my first post on the fabulous new Harlequin Presents Blog I've decided to give away a backlist title to one person chosen at random from those who leave a comment. Just tell us one time serendipity or coincidence gave you or someone you know a lovely surprise.