Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Interview with Claire Delacroix/Deborah Cooke The Crusader's Bride - Review

I'm so happy to welcome back my all time favorite author Deborah Cooke/Claire Delacroix. I have been enjoying her novels of all genres for years and years and she never ceases to amaze me with her new inventive, page-turners like book one in her new Historical Romance series The Crusader's Bride.
Enjoy our chat and my review!

ISBN-13: 9781927477519
Publisher: Deborah A Cooke
Release Date: 07/28/2015
Length: 350pp
Buy It: B&N/Amazon/Kobo/IndieBound


A company of knights chosen to deliver a sealed trunk from the Templar treasury in Jerusalem to safekeeping in Paris. A group of pilgrims seeking the protection of the Templars to return home as the Saracens prepare to besiege the city. A mysterious treasure that someone will even kill to possess...
When the Templar knight Gaston learns that he has inherited his father's estate in France, he accepts one last quest for the order and agrees to deliver a package to Paris on his way home. A practical man, Gaston knows he has need of a wife and an heir, so when a lovely widowed noblewoman on pilgrimage snares his gaze, he believes he can see matters solved to their mutual convenience.
But Ysmaine is more than a pilgrim enduring bad luck. She has buried two husbands in rapid succession, both of whom died on her nuptial night, and believes herself cursed. Accepting this gruff knight seems doomed to result in his demise, but Gaston is dismissive of her warnings, and Ysmaine finds herself quickly wed again-this time to a man who is not only vital, but determined to survive.
Neither of them realize that Gaston's errand is one of peril, for the package contains the treasure of the Templars-and some soul, either in their party or pursuing it, is intent upon claiming the prize at any cost. In a company of strangers with secrets, do they dare to trust each other and the love that dawns between them?

Hi Deb!! It’s so good to have you back on the blog.
Lets start our chat by telling my readers a little about the first in your Champions of Euphemia series, The Crusader’s Bride.
Hi Deb. Thanks so much for inviting me!
The Champions of Saint Euphemia is the first totally new series I’ve plotted out in about ten years, and I’m quite excited about that. It’s fun to dig into a new world and meet a new cast of characters. Additionally, I’ve wanted to write medieval romance with more history for years, and this series is firmly rooted in the reality of the twelfth century.
The Crusader’s Bride is Gaston and Ysmaine’s story. I loved Gaston from the moment he stepped onto the page. As well as being handsome :-) he’s honorable and loyal. He joined the Templars because he’s a younger son and has no hope of an inheritance, at least in his own mind. I enjoyed shaking his universe at the very opening of his book: Gaston’s robust older brother has died suddenly, leaving him heir to the family estate. This startles him and changes his circumstance completely. I like how much he admired his older brother, and how he wishes Bayard was alive instead of himself being a lord. He decides that he should plan for the future, as his brother did, and find a wife as soon as possible. Having been a Knight Templar for eighteen years, though, Gaston knows very little of women. He thinks the role of a wife is to provide sons, but hasn’t really considered how much else of his life he’ll share with his bride.
Ysmaine has been married twice already, yet is a maiden still because both of her husbands died on their wedding night. Are her sins at root? She has embarked on a pilgrimage to atone, but everything has gone wrong. She and her maid have been robbed by the men hired to defend them, and now that they’ve finally reached Jerusalem, her maid is ill. She has come to think herself cursed—until a Templar knight steps out of the shadows of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and offers to help her. Ysmaine can’t believe that her fortune has changed, while Gaston simply thinks she’ll do very well as his wife. She’s young, pretty and clearly a noblewoman. He tests her nature by offering her a coin, knowing that whatever she does with it will reveal the truth of her nature. When Ysmaine asks him to show her to an apothecary, and reveals that she will spend the coin to aid her maid, he knows she has a valiant and generous heart.
Gaston, however, has no idea how Ysmaine will turn his assumptions inside out, insisting both on pleasure abed and trust between them. I like how these two build a partnership and do so in facing adversity. By the end of the book, Gaston knows he can’t survive without Ysmaine, and that’s a wonderful thing.

On your website you’ve strongly suggested these novels be read in order.
Will you explain why?
I’ve also wanted for a while to write a series of books with overlapping chronologies, and this is it. So, we start this series in Jerusalem with The Crusader’s Bride. As well as following Ysmaine and Gaston’s story, this book tells of the party’s secret quest to deliver a treasure to the Temple in Paris. There’s a whole company traveling together, and each of them witnesses (and knows) something different. Because they don’t know each other, they’re each pretty selective about who they trust—especially when it becomes clear that someone is determined to steal the treasure for his or her own, and is prepared to kill for it. In The Crusader’s Bride, we see part of the story, the part that Gaston and Ysmaine know about.
The next book, The Crusader’s Heart, begins in Venice on that same journey, when the Templar Wulfe meets the courtesan Christina and brings her to join their party. Christina believes she recognizes the villain, and we learn about their shared history, even as Wulfe and Christina’s romance enfolds. So, there are some scenes that appear in both books, but from different points of view, and more details that become clear as we progress. If you don’t read the books in order, there will be parts that are harder to follow. It’s really one huge saga broken into parts.

I’ve just realized actually that there has to be a fifth story in the series, because there are some parts that aren’t fitting into the four planned books. The Crusader’s Handfast will be Radegunde and Duncan’s story—it will be published in monthly instalments starting in December, then will be available as a complete book next July.

Today your second in the Templar series, The Crusader’s Heart releases.
Is there something you do special to celebrate when a book releases?
Not so much. Mostly I hope there are no last minute crises and that the book goes into the world as scheduled. Then I hope that readers will enjoy it. The first posted review is always a milestone, and I keep my fingers crossed that it’s a good one.

When you start a new series like your Templars, how long does it usually take from figment of your imagination until the first book comes out?
This particular series has simmered for a long time, maybe five years. Originally, I’d thought it might make a good multi-author series, but the coordination of that would have been very challenging and not a task I really wanted to undertake. Even coordinating it when I’m writing all the parts is a challenge. My editor and I have character lists and stylesheets and notes like crazy!
It’s not typical for me to let an idea develop that long. Usually the process is more like a year of mulling, then the writing. For example, the contemporary romance series I’m working on right now is an idea I had last June while driving to the RAGT in Ohio. Simply Irresistible, the first book in that series, will be released next June, so that’s about two years from idea to publication. That’s a more typical timeline for me.

You’re re-releasing a lot of your already published historical novels in audio versions. And your narrators are wonderful.
Do you interview them yourself?
I decided to start with having my backlist recorded so I could get into a rhythm with audio and build a team. Even with that decision made, I had the hardest time getting started. There were so many questions and I didn’t know the answers. Male or female narrator? American or British accent? BBC British, London, Manchester, Leeds, or somewhere else? The options were almost overwhelming. But then I connected with Brick Shop Audio—they represented several narrators from whom I’d requested auditions—and they’ve been totally awesome. We emailed back and forth about what I liked about the various auditions and what I didn’t, and they suggested Saskia Maarleveld. She does accents very well, and also is excellent at distinguishing the voices of many characters. In the Jewels of Kinfairlie series, all eight siblings can be in a scene, and often there are few dialogue tags, which makes for a challenge for the narrator. Saskia manages it brilliantly. I just love how she has recorded that series, so she’s also doing the True Love Brides series.
For the Champions of Saint Euphemia, I wanted to use a male narrator, because I thought that would work well with the books. Brick Shop Audio suggested several narrators and sent me about half a dozen auditions. I was blown away by Tim Gerard Reynold’s audition, and made my decision before I’d even listened to all of it. I’m so looking forward to hearing his narrations of these books—it turns out that he has an active interest in the Templars and the Crusades himself, which is kind of fun.
I chose Ashley Klanac to narrate The Rogue and I adore the job she did with it. We couldn’t go forward with The Scoundrel, though, because half of it is in first person in Gawain’s point of view. I had to find a male narrator whose voice I liked. That’s solved now :-) so we have another two books to record in 2016.

Deb a few years ago you chose to totally go the self publish route.
If you had to do it again would you make the same choice, why or why not?
The only thing I’d do differently, Deb, is publish more new content more quickly! I wish I’d done audio sooner too. I was very caught up in formatting, packaging and republishing my backlist titles from 2011, as well as amalgamating my various websites into a single site. Then I finished all the series that had been started in traditional publishing but abandoned before their completion. The Champions of Saint Euphemia is the first wholly new project I’ve started in ten years. On the one hand, I learned a lot by doing that, and I think my readers appreciated having the end of all the respective stories. On the other, the market was much hotter and less competitive in 2013. Too bad I couldn’t have waved a wand in 2012 and had it all done! LOL! I do love indie publishing, though, and am very excited about 2016.

Your fabulous Dragonfire series is completed but you’re not through with dragons.
Tell us about your new DragonFate series launching in 2016.
DragonFate is another series featuring the dragon shifters called the Pyr, but it also stars an ongoing heroine who is a dragon shifter, too. The Pyr believe that there can only be one female dragon shifter at a time, the Wyvern, and they’re right. Mel hasn’t been a dragon shifter from birth—she was cursed by the Queen of the Fae to become one, until she finds true love with a mortal man. She doesn’t shift by choice, but unwilling does so once a week, which is pretty inconvenient. Also, she has a past—she loved a mortal man named Raymond, who betrayed her. He regrets his choice, and his ghost haunts her. (Also inconvenient.) Mel no longer believes in true love but she’s caught in the clutches of the Fae queen, with no hope of escape—until she meets a hot dragon shifter who sees through her tough facade, and can see Raymond. Will she take the chance and fall in love again? If Theo is determined to win her heart, will she be able to resist?
Mel’s story grew out of a medieval fairy tale called Melusine, which doesn’t end well. I’ve always thought that Melusine deserved a happy ending, so DragonFate is my ending to her story. Mel and Theo’s story will be the overarching romance, and there will be other Pyr firestorms and romances on the way. I’m looking forward to challenging the assumptions of the Pyr with this series. The first book will be called Hot Blooded and there’s an excerpt on my site.

Will we see any of our old Pyr friends in this new series?
I’m quite sure there will be cameos. :-)

Deb you like writing with a touch of fantasy even in your historical novels, in fact I’m listening right now to The Renegade’s Heart which is full of the fae. Yet some of your historical novels like your current Templar series is fae-less.
Do you know right away in the creative process whether or not your novel(s) will contain fantasy?
Yes. Some ideas lend themselves to it and others not so much. All my dragon series, of course, have paranormal elements (or paranormal heroes!) but my contemporary romances tend not to. With historicals, the paranormal elements are usually much lighter, but the True Love Brides series was specifically about the portals to the realm of the Fae that existed at Ravensmuir and Kinfairlie. I enjoyed including more of that kind of world building in that series, but the portals are closed now :-) and there will be less paranormal in my medievals going forward.

You and your husband, Mr. Math, live in an old home that keeps you eternally at the home improvement store.
Have you had to tear down any walls lately?
No! LOL! We did a lot of work inside in 2015, and are still recovering from the upheaval of that. We plan each year what the big job will be, and this year were in complete agreement that it should be outside. This was a landscaping year.

Deb I would call you a Renaissance woman, you’ve not only got your own career and own every piece of it yet you enjoy, knitting, gardening, canning and other domestic activities.
Is making time for all the things you enjoy imperative or do you find that you sometimes have to choose one over another?
Actually, they’re all creative activities in themselves, Deb, and doing them ensures that my well of ideas is always stocked. I love to knit when I’m writing, for example, because the repetitive motion seems to coax the kinks out of my plots. One of the challenges of being indie is that there are so many additional tasks to be done: I could literally sit at my desk all day and do publishing or marketing jobs. My current goal is to write first, then do that “other stuff” for only a certain number of hours per day. It promotes a better balance, and keeps me healthier.

Thanks so much for taking the time out of your extremely busy schedule to chat with me.
Thank you for inviting me, Deb!

Are you heading south to the States anytime soon for a signing/author event or are you staying in Canada for the time being?
Right now, I have only events scheduled in Canada—two signings in November and a reader event in May—but there are some other 2016 events under discussion. Please check my blog for news!

My Review
Delacroix is back, better than ever with an all-new historical romance series featuring Templar Knights who find true love.
Set in the late 12th century her story comes alive thanks to her expressive narrative including some real history mixed with her fantastic fiction. Her backdrops are breathtaking and dangerous as her troupe travels from the Middle East to Europe. Her couple, Ysmaine and Gaston are honorable, believable and both refreshingly innocent. Heading her chapters on genuine Church feast days and her accurate accounting of the historical facts give it that extra dose of authenticity. I can’t wait to see where she takes me on her next Templar tale.
Twice widowed on her wedding night, Ysmaine de Valeroy came to Jerusalem on a pilgrimage to dispel whatever husband curse she’d been put under. When she meets a handsome knight who vows to wed her, she has to wonder if he’s an answer to her prayers or the devil come to take his due.
Upon his brother’s death, Gaston de Chamount, knight of the Templar finds himself the new Baron of his family’s French estate. He must choose a bride before returning to his ancestral home, and seeing a beautiful pilgrim praying to the virgin his choice is made.
Before they can depart war erupts between Christians and infidels. With the fall of the city imminent, the chief Templar entrusts Gaston and other loyal travelers with one last sacred quest to Paris.

Other Books in the Series

Available Now!

Connect with Deb/Claire - Website - Facebook-Deb- Facebook-Claire

MEET DEB/CLAIRE:New York Times bestselling author Claire Delacroix sold her first book in 1992, an historical romance called THE ROMANCE OF THE ROSE. Since then, she has published over forty romance novels and novellas, and has also been published under the names Claire Cross and Deborah Cooke. She has an honours degree in history, with a focus on medieval studies. She is an avid reader of medieval vernacular literature, fairy tales and fantasy novels. 
For books written under the pseudonym, Claire Cross, see:
For books written under Claire's own name, Deborah Cooke, please see:

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  1. Thanks for suggesting this interview, Deb, and for posting it today when Wulfe and Christina's book releases. :-)

    And thank you, especially, for the wonderful review. :-)

    1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    2. I have read the first of the series and it is wonderful. Great interview and reviews!

  2. I love that this takes place in the 12th century, how fun and I bet fascinating! Wonderful review and interview!!

    1. It was fascinating Ali especially because Deborah/Claire takes such care with her research. Thanks for the comment!

  3. Marvellous interview ladies really enjoyed it . Wishing Deborah Al the best with the release, sounds wonderful heroes again

  4. Loved the interview! I am a big fan of Ms. Cooke's books. Looking forward to the next book! Wonderful review!

    1. Hi Seelk thanks for the comment and its nice to meet another fan!

  5. I learn so much more about the background of a book and the author through interviews. I enjoyed this one. I still haven't read her books, but I am eager, too.

  6. Oh I love when old characters make cameos. There's something so fun about that :D

    1. Yeah Anna and Deb is famous for it. I really think you'd like her historical romance

  7. I'm so naive in thinking that writing a book doesn't take too long to write as there are books penned by authors that just comes out *snap snap*.

    1. Yeah I know what you mean Braine especially when there are authors we read who pop them out 3 or 4 in a year!

  8. Another great interview. Must be nice to have a fav author you've followed for years with a new book out. Love how she knits to help her iron out plot kinks. It's a relaxing thing to do - knitting!
    I have one of her books in my audio queue to read as I haven't yet tried her writing so looking forward to it. This series sounds good as well - one day!

    1. Oh Kathryn you'll really like the audible version, Deb's narrators do brilliant jobs bring feel of the era and the characters to life'

  9. This looks good, I am currently listening to book 2 in her The True Love Brides series. I really enjoy her books on audio.

    1. OOh Kim anxious to see how you like it. I just downloaded it yesterday as I'm currently listening to Donna Augustine's Karma on audible.

  10. OMG I haven't read anything by Cooke in a long time but I used to love her dragons! Man, I need to get back to her books.

    1. Oh wow yeah Sarah you're missing out Girlfriend get back on that Destrier! :)