Message From The Author

Author's Message

Celeste Bradley


By Stephanie Klose

Celeste bradley's Heiress Brides trilogy leaves her trademark spies behind and features three merchant-class cousins who are competing to inherit a fortune -- the first to marry a duke wins!

"Their grandfather was a self-made man," Bradley explains. Though he had money, he couldn't rise any higher socially, "but a woman could marry higher."

Each of the three Brides books is based on a different fairy tale, starting this month with Sleeping Beauty in Desperately Seeking a Duke (St. Martin's).

Phoebe, a vicar's daughter, has sublimated her passionate nature for 10 years, until she can finally get out from under her father's thumb. Even though she meets the perfect guy -- who would make her a shoo-in to land the inheritance -- she also meets a bad boy who awakens her more rebellious side.

"That's one of my favorite things in novels," Bradley says of her heroine acting against her family's demands. "Someone is trying to do what's expected of her, and she's actually unable to. She must break out and follow her heart."

While there's no actual magic in the books, the cousins do have a "fairy godfather," a dress designer.

The two remaining books are The Duke Next Door, which features the beautiful Deirdre, based on Beauty and the Beast and set to be released in April, and Duke Most Wanted, Bradley's May title based on Cinderella, with plain, bookish Sophie as its protagonist.

Bradley has been fascinated by fairy tales since studying folklore in college. "Some stories repeat in all cultures and all times," she says, noting that when reduced to their essentials, "there are only eight stories."

She finds that this demonstrates a profound truth about people, that we all love stories -- especially love stories! -- and that "we're all human and have the same dreams."

"We like a transformation," Bradley explains further, "someone who breaks free of expectations."

The author may challenge some of her readers' expectations when she admits that she has "no selectivity at all"
when it comes to choosing her own reading material.

"Sci-fi, romance, books on beekeeping ... I love to find something obscure and strange on the bargain shelves and read it."

Aside from the fun of it, this practice pays off occasionally when Bradley can use an odd detail she runs across in one of her own books. Coming across a reference to the ancient rivers in London that still run deep under the modern city, Bradley worked that factoid into The Charmer (2004, St. Martin's) as the good guys escape the bad using sewers and the Tyburn.

The author has no trouble staying busy when she's away from her writing desk or her reading chair. The one-time professional potter likes to make Regency-inspired jewelry, watch movies, collage, paint and draw -- her website features a gallery of portraits of characters from her books. She also spends a lot of time with her two teenage daughters, who she says are "so much fun," and a menagerie of animals, including a mutt and "the largest goldfish ever -- tip
to tail, it's 11 inches long!"

Writing the Heiress Brides books with the help of her Muse, who Bradley has named Edna and describes as "a sarcastic, gravel-voiced barfly who occasionally disappears for weeks at a time with her Vin Diesel-wannabe biker boyfriend," required a shift in perspective for the author.

"I had to build a new world," she says, a "lighter and sunnier" one than her spy books.

Her first act? "Lowering the body count."

She adds that she chose to write the villains "bumbling instead of sinister" and made the issues "personal instead of global."

Calling it "a real exercise in restraint," Bradley says, "It is much harder to work through a character's personal issues in detail and truly show their growth. I hope my spy books did all right there (not a lot of time to think between privy explosions!), but I'm really proud of the way my characters progress and grow in this trilogy."

For an author who believes that the main point of the romance genre is "to deliver the fantasy," writing relatable and believable characters makes the fantasy that much more accessible to readers. And that's what it's all about,
as far as she's concerned.

"These are just for fun," Bradley emphasizes. "That's my wish, that people just relax and have fun with them. No cynics allowed!"

Excerpt from The Duke Next Door

(Coming in April from St. Martin's)

On her wedding day Miss Deirdre Cantor walked gracefully down the aisle to the powerful figure awaiting her there -- her groom, the Marquis of Brookhaven.

She was scarcely aware of the vows she spoke or the ones uttered in Brookhaven's deep tones. She was here at last, standing by his side as his bride, his lady.

And soon, his lover ...

This man was her destiny. This man, though he knew it not, was meant for her.

After the vows she turned shakily to him, ready to share her feelings at last. When the gossamer veil rose she closed her eyes as he bent to kiss her.

She'd hoped for wonderful. She'd longed for astonishing.

She'd had no idea.

His warm mouth touched hers, pressing firmly, even -- dared she think it? -- possessively. A jolt traveled from her sensitive lips to deep in her belly, then radiated brilliantly outward like a stone flung into a shimmering pool.

She nearly dropped her bouquet. Oh, sweet heaven. All from a chaste kiss at the altar?

Her wedding night would be the death of her!

Their lips parted and her breath left her in
a soft sigh. Reassured at last, she opened her
eyes with a small startled laugh, expecting an answering gleam in his eyes. It wasn't possible that he'd not felt it, too --

His dark gaze was distant. He gazed at her with no more feeling than if she'd been hired to carry his shoes. Chill dismay flooded her, banishing that rush of heat. He'd felt nothing?

For the first time, Deirdre admitted a possibility she'd willfully ignored -- that she had contracted a cold, bloodless union with a man notorious for having destroyed the only other woman who'd attempted it.

She was now joined forever to the Beast of Brookhaven.


1. SPLASH Based on The Little Mermaid. Tom Hanks and Darryl Hannah are terrifically cute in this story of what happens when a mermaid washes up on Ellis Island.

2. EVER AFTER Based on Cinderella. Drew Barrymore is adorable in this version where Cinderella does the rescuing.

3. THE PRINCESS BRIDE A hysterical, dizzy interpretation of a very boring book by the same name. Watch out for ROUSes and belching fire pits!

4. LADYHAWKE A medieval tale of magic -- delicious and dreamy, with lots of comic relief provided
by a young Matthew Broderick.

5. LABYRINTH A colorful, weird tale that makes very little sense. David Bowie is amazing as the Goblin King.

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