I can't say there was one particular moment. Princess Julianna was a secondary character in a Silhouette Romance I wrote that came out in April of 2000 titled If the Ring Fits…. My critique partner at the time thought Julianna would make the perfect Sleeping Beauty heroine. I agreed. As I wrote her small part way back when, I kept her backstory in mind for when I would write her story. But I never had the opportunity to write another royalty-themed romance until 2010, and that story featured a different heroine. In that book, my February 2011 Harlequin Romance Expecting Royal Twins!, Princess Julianna is a secondary character once again. This time she was much clearer in my mind. I'd expanded upon what I'd come up over a decade ago and knew it was time to write about her. I'd planned on asking my editor if I could write her story next, but my editor beat me to it, wanting to know if I'd be interested participating in the Once Upon A Kiss miniseries where each book is loosely based off a fairytale. I immediately said yes and requested Sleeping Beauty for Julianna.
When did you decide that you wanted to be an author?
As soon as I read my first Harlequin Romance my senior year of high school, I thought about
writing one. My freshman year of college, I bought a book on how to write a romance novel,
but didn't do much with the book except daydream. I think I may have written a few lines of an
opening. I remember a sunset being involved!
After I graduated college, I worked as an engineer job and took classes at night in order to get
an MBA. I decided to take a summer off from school and write a romance novel. I liked writing
so much I never returned to classes in the fall. But it wasn't until seven years later, when I
quit my job to write full-time even though I hadn't sold anything, that I knew I was willing to
make sacrifices and seriously pursue a writing career. By then writing had become a passion,
something I couldn't wait to do!
What books have influenced you the most?
First and foremost, the Bible. It's the one book I read over and over again. I have a shelf full of
keeper novels, but I rarely crack them open again. Next would be the Dragonriders of Pern series by Anne McCaffrey. I couldn't get enough of those books when I was growing up. With those stories, I felt transported to a whole new world. They became an escape for me and th ough it's been decades since I read the series, remembering how I felt reading the books has helped me as a writer.
If we're talking romance novels, it would have to be the very first Harlequin Romance I read,
but I can't remember the title only the Canary Island setting! Reading that book was the first step
toward my becoming a romance writer. As far as craft books, I'd say Techniques of the Selling Writer by Dwight Swain and GMC: the Building Blocks of Fiction by Debra Dixon really helped me hone in on some trouble spots in my writing so I could sell a manuscript. My current "go to" craft book now is Save the Cat! By Blake Snyder.
If you were able to go anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
I worked for an airline for five years and used my travel benefits to see the world. I kind of
got the travel bug out of my system after that. But one place I haven't been and would love to
go is Disneyworld in Orlando. The different theme parks look so much fun and bigger than
Disneyland in Anaheim. Plus I'm from the Pacific Northwest. I imagine the weather in Orlando
to be much better than the rain and gray skies I'm used to!
What is your version of the perfect prince?
My perfect prince would be honorable, generous and a total hottie. He'd be able to balance his
duties for his countries with the needs of his family. He'd be intelligent, not at all stuffy, athletic
and speak a few foreign languages. He'd live in a gorgeous castle with lush green lawns and a
lake and love animals.
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.
About the Book!
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
Here is an excerpt from the book to wet your appetite for it~
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.
You can check out the trailer here!
Melissa will be giving away a $20 Amazon gift certificate to one commenter at the end of the tour. She will also be giving away, at each stop, a set of three trading cards from this book to one commenter. Make sure you leave a comment so you can be entered to win! Leave your email address in the comment so that you can be contacted if you win. Good Luck! :0)