Welcome to Sugarbeat’s Books – The Home of the Romance Novel!
Today we are going to be talking to Melissa McClone. She is touring her newest book, Not-So-Perfect Princess, published by Harlequin Romance. This tour is arranged by Goddessfish Productions and is hosted by several other blogs as well as mine. The author is giving away a $20.00 Amazon Gift card to one commenter on the tour. So, be sure to leave a comment for Melissa so that you can be entered to win! To increase your chances of winning follow this Link and comment on the other blogs involved in the tour.
As I’m sure everyone knows by now, I’m completely fascinated by where the ideas or inspiration comes from for these wonderful books that authors keep producing for us to read 🙂 So that was my question to Melissa for this guest post and here is what she had to say:
Thanks for hosting this stop on my virtual book tour! You mentioned wanting to know where my ideas/inspiration comes from, if I have characters in my head who walk me through a story or if I form a story loosely around an event from my life or a friend’s life. My answer is…it depends on the story! Each book is different, but both scenarios have happened.
With my current release, Not-So-Perfect Princess, the heroine, Princess Julianna, had been living inside my head since 1997 when I wrote If the Ring Fits… It was published by Silhouette Romance back in early 2000. Julianna was a secondary character in that book. When it came time to tell her tale, she’d been with me so long it was easy to figure her out and what her character arc/growth needed to be. She knew what she wanted and wasn’t about to let me stray.
The other characters, however, weren’t as easy to nail down. Fortunately, I stayed at my good friend and Avon historical romance author Elizabeth Boyle’s house for a couple of weeks last summer. We ended up brainstorming at Starbucks (which had the most handsome barista with killer blue eyes who I’m sure thought we were hitting on him, not doing book research!) That plotting session led to there being two prince brothers in the story—one the princess should marry and one she shouldn’t. Elizabeth also allowed me to rip up her brand new magazine that had arrived at her house when I found inspiration for my hero prince in one of the ads!
With my 2011 RITA finalist book Christmas Magic on the Mountain, the plot ended up being inspired by what happened to a friend of mine. But it wasn’t conceived that way. I’d had the hero of that story in my head after writing an earlier book. Back when I was writing that first book, I’d had dinner with a few members of Portland Mountain Rescue to see how they interacted and get their feedback on Mount Hood rescue scenarios I was contemplating. I ended up keeping in touch with two of them and becoming friends. Thanks to their help (and patience answering my endless questions) I knew exactly what I wanted to have happen in the sequel—the hero would rescue and care for the injured heroine, a wild-child socialite who was estranged from her family and needing to hide out for a while. My editor had already approved the plot when one of my friends fell climbing Mount Hood. He had to be rescued by his own unit and flown off the mountain via helicopter. Thankfully, his injuries weren’t life threatening.
But his accident changed the story percolating in my brain significantly. Once I knew he’d be okay, I woke with an entirely different plot in my head. I knew my mountain rescuer needed to be the one rescued, not the heroine. She needed to be his caretaker, not the other way around. Art was imitating life, and I knew it would be a great story. I emailed my editor to get her okay on the changes. And then it was time to let my friend know. I’ll be honest, I felt a little strange telling him that his accident had changed my story. I held my breath as I waited for his response. Being the great guy he is, he simply asked what I needed to know, and as he always had done in the past, answered all my questions and then some!
Each of my books has a story of its own about how it came to be written from the plot, the character and even the setting. Each idea is as different as the stories they inspire. It’s always fun to see where something I hear, see, read or learn might take me because sometimes I never quite know how a story might turn out until I type “The End.”
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.
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.…
So if you need more convincing that this book sounds pretty interesting, here’s an excerpt:
Lying in bed, Alejandro Cierzo de Amanecer heard a noise outside his room at the beachfront villa. The stray kitten he’d found at the boatyard must want something. He opened his eyes to see sunlight streaming in through the brand-new floor-to-ceiling windows. Most likely breakfast.
The bedroom door burst wide-open. Heavy boots sounded against the recently replaced terra-cotta tile floor.
Alejandro grimaced, but didn’t move. He knew the routine.
A squad of royal guards dressed in blue and gold uniforms surrounded his bed. At least they hadn’t drawn their weapons this time.
Not that he would call another intrusion progress.
“What does he want now?” Alejandro asked.
The captain of the guard, Sergio Mendoza, looked as stoic as ever, but older with gray hair at his temples. “King Dario requests your presence at the palace, Your Highness.”
Alejandro raked his hand through his hair in frustration. “My father never requests anything.”
Sergio’s facial expression didn’t change. He’d only shown emotion once, when Alejandro had been late bringing Sergio’s youngest daughter home from a date when they were teenagers. In spite of the security detail accompanying them, Alejandro had feared for his life due to the anger in the captain’s eyes.
“The king orders you to come with us now, sir,” Sergio said.
Alejandro didn’t understand why his father wanted to see him. No one at the palace listened to what Alejandro said. He might not want to be part of the monarchy, but he wasn’t about to abandon his country.
He’d founded his business here and suggested economic innovations, including developing their tourist trade. But his ideas clashed with those of his father and brother who were more old-fashioned and traditional in their thinking.
A high-pitched squeak sounded. The scraggly black kitten with four white paws clawed his way up the sheet onto the bed. The thing had been a nuisance these past two weeks with the work at the boatyard and renovations here at the villa.
“I need to get dressed before I go anywhere,” Alejandro said.
“We’ll wait while you dress, sir.” Sergio’s words did nothing to loosen Alejandro’s tense shoulder muscles. “The king wants no delay in your arrival.”
Alejandro clenched his teeth. He wanted to tell the loyal captain to leave, but the guards would use force to get him to do what they wanted. He was tired of fighting that battle. “I need privacy.”
Sergio ordered the soldiers out of the room, but he remained standing by the bed. “I’ll wait on the other side of the door, sir. Guards are stationed beneath each window.”
Alejandro rolled his eyes. His father still saw him as a rebellious teenager. “I’m thirty years old, not seventeen.”
Sergio didn’t say anything. No doubt the captain remembered some of Alejandro’s earlier…escapades.
“Tell me where you think I would run to, Captain?” Alejandro lay in bed covered with a sheet. “My business is here. I own properties. My father’s lackeys follow me wherever I go.”
“They are your security detail, sir,” Sergio said. “You must be protected. You’re the second in line for the throne.”
“Don’t remind me,” Alejandro muttered.
“Many would give everything to be in your position.”
Not if they knew what went with being the “spare” entailed. No one cared what he thought. Even when he tried to help the island, no one supported him. He’d had to do everything on his own. Alejandro hated being a prince. He’d been educated in the United States. He didn’t want to participate in an outdated form of government where too much power rested with one individual. But he wanted to see his country prosper.
“Guard the door if you must.” Alejandro gave the kitten a pat. “I won’t make your job any more difficult for you than it is.”
As soon as Sergio left, Alejandro slid out of bed and showered. His father hadn’t requested formal dress so khaki shorts, a navy T-shirt and a pair of boat shoes would do.
Twenty minutes later, Alejandro entered the palace’s reception room. His older brother rose from the damask-covered settee.
Enrique looked like a younger version of their father with his short hairstyle, tailored designer suit, starched dress shirt, silk tie and polished leather shoes. It was too bad his brother acted like their father, also.
“This had better be important, Enrique,” Alejandro said.
“It is.” His brother’s lips curved into a smug smile. “I’m getting married.”
About time. Enrique’s wedding would be the first step toward Alejandro’s freedom from the monarchy. The birth of a nephew or niece to take his place as second in line for the throne would be the next big step. “Congratulations, bro. I hope it’s a short engagement. Don’t waste any time getting your bride pregnant.”
Enrique smirked. “That’s the plan.”
“Why wait until the wedding? Start now.”
He laughed. “King Alaric would demand my head if I did that. He’s old-fashioned about certain things. Especially his daughter’s virginity.”
“Alaric.” Alejandro had heard the name. It took a second to realize where. “You’re marrying a princess from Aliestle?”
“Not a princess. The princess.” Enrique sounded excited. No wonder. Aliestle was a small kingdom in the Alps. With an abundance of natural resources, the country’s treasury was vast, a hundred times that of La Isla de la Aurora. “King Alaric has four sons and one daughter.”
“Father must be pleased.”
“He’s giddy over the amount of Julianna’s dowry and the economic advantages aligning with Aliestle will bring us. Fortunately for me, the princess is as beautiful as she is rich. A bit of an ice princess from what I hear, but I’ll warm her up.”
“If you need lessons—”
“I may not have your reputation with the ladies, but I shall manage fine on my own.”
“I hope the two of you are happy together.” Alejandro meant the words. A happy union would mean more heirs. The further Alejandro dropped in the line of succession, the better. He couldn’t wait to be able to focus his attention on building his business and attracting more investors to turn the island’s sluggish economy around.
“You are to be the best man.”
A statement of fact or a request? “Mingling with aristocracy is hazardous to my health.”
“You will move home until the wedding.”
A demand. Anger flared. “Enrique—”
“The royal family will show a united front during the engagement period. Your days will be free unless official events are scheduled. You’ll be expected to attend all dinners and evening functions. You must also be present when the princess and her party arrive today.”
Alejandro cursed. “You sound exactly like him.”
“They are father’s words, not mine.” Rare compassion filled Enrique’s eyes. “But I would like you to be my best man. You’re my favorite brother.”
“I’m your only brother.”
Enrique laughed. “All the more reason for you to stand at my side. Father will compensate you for any inconvenience.”
Alejandro’s entire life was a damn inconvenience. Besides, he would never be able to get the one thing he wanted from his father. “I don’t want his money.”
“You never have, but when Father offers you payment, take it. You can put the money into your boats, buy another villa, donate it to charity or give it away on the streets,” Enrique advised. “You’ve earned this, Alejandro. Don’t let pride get in the way again.”
He wasn’t about to go there. “All I want is to be left alone.”
“As soon as Julianna and I have children, you will no longer be needed around here. If you do your part to ensure the wedding occurs, Father has promised to let you live your own life.”
Finally. “Did you ask for this or did father offer?”
“It was a combination, but be assured of father keeping his word.”
“When am I to move back?”
Alejandro cursed again. He had a boatyard to run, investment properties to oversee and the Med Cup to prepare for. Not to mention the kitten who expected to be fed. “I have a life. Responsibilities.”
“You have responsibilities here. Ones you ignore while you play with your boats,” Enrique chided.
Seething, Alejandro tried to keep his tone even. “I’m not playing. I’m working. If you’d see the upcoming Med Cup race as an opportunity to promote—”
“If you want to build the island’s reputation, then support this royal wedding. It’ll do much more for the economy than your expensive ideas to improve the island’s nightlife, build flashy resorts and attract the sailing crowd with a little regatta.”
“The Med Cup is a big deal. It’ll—”
“Whatever.” Enrique brushed Alejandro aside as if he were a bothersome gnat. Like father, like son. “Do what you must to be here after lunch or father will send you away on a diplomatic mission.”
The words were like a punch to Alejandro’s solar plexus. Not unexpected given the way his father and brother operated sometimes. The threat would be carried out, too. That meant Alejandro had to do as told to secure his future. His freedom. “I’ll be back before your princess arrives.”
But he would be doing a few things his way.
Once the black sheep, always the black sheep.
And let’s face it, Alejandro didn’t mind the title at all.