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Claire Cross Knows Sometimes True Love Is Found ONCE UPON A KISS
Once upon a time, my new husband and I traveled to Scotland to honeymoon. Fascinated by ancient monuments, we set out to visit as many as we could manage. Our ultimate goal was Callanish, a cluster of standing stones on the Hebridean island of Harris (with plenty of time to sample quaint inns nestled in the hills along the way). I never imagined that besides romance, I'd find the inspiration for several books on that journey.
Scotland is a place where the stones whisper a thousand forgotten stories. From Hadrian's Wall on the southern border, to the old abbeys open to the sky, to Edinburgh's massively fortified keep, buildings we consider ancient are built upon thousands of years of older construction, often using the same stones.
We trudged through rain and mist and sunshine to visit countless stone circles on our journey. Each one possesses an aura of its own, each offering a curious stillness within its perimeter. These are places of power. When visited in solitude on a misty morning of blues and grays and greens, it is all too easy to imagine the same scene a thousand years ago.
Before the great reclining stone of one circle, I found a bundle of herbs, considered powerful by the ancient Celts, laid before the stone as if in an offering before an altar. The wind did not confide who had left it there, and the hills all around stood empty.
In addition to the circles, there are individual standing stones, a legacy left by the Picts. They are awesome, both in the painstakingly detailed carvings and in their fundamental mystery. No one knows what they mean or why they were constructed, but the stones stand as silent, great sentinels whose import has never been lost, even as their carvings slowly erode away. Like the circles, they murmur old tales.
From these misty mornings spent hiking in Scotland, a pair of fantasy romances took shape. Once Upon a Kiss is a Sleeping Beauty story set in the rugged beauty of the Orkney Islands. The heroine is half Pictish royalty and half Viking, wholly determined to protect her birthright from a man she believes is her sworn enemy. The Last Highlander sends the Hebridean Alasdair tumbling through time, away from his family and his loyalty, right to the feet of sorceress Morgaine Le Fee. In both stories, I tried to mix the mystical aura of Scotland's ancient sites with history and humor to give you a glimpse of that trip through the hills.
I hope you enjoy the results!
Claire has written eleven medieval romances for Harlequin Historicals, most recently My Lady's Desire (April 98) as Claire Delacroix. Beginning with Once Upon A Kiss (July 98) and continuing with The Last Highlander (Oct. 98), Claire will be writing contemporary fantasy romance as Claire Cross for Jove. In addition, Claire Delacroix's medieval romances will now be published by Dell. Watch for The Princess, the first of her new Bride Quest series, coming in September 1998!
You can e-mail Claire at firstname.lastname@example.org or write to her at P.O. Box 699, Station A, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M5W 1G2.
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