I’m writing the June letter listening to the soothing, magical soundtrack of ‘Dispatches from Elsewhere’, my new favorite TV show ever. The show is about four complete strangers - Peter, Simone, Janice, and Fredwynn who feel like they are lacking something extraordinary in their lives…and then, are given a chance to come together and find the magic and beauty in the world. There is also *the best* real love story I have seen in ages in this show between Peter and Simone.
In a time when it’s becoming increasingly hard to find hope in this troubled world - Dispatches from Elsewhere showed me that true beauty, love, and hope can never leave us. We just have to look a little more for it.
I REALLY HOPE YOU WATCH IT WHENEVER AND WHEREVER YOU CAN!
I know I will as I write Prince Michael and Princess Daria’s epic, insanely good, totally smexy story.
That was a very unsubtle segue to the two excerpts I’d love to share with you in this letter.
A Little Something About The Royals
Writing The Royals of Stellangard is honestly the richest and most rewarding and terrifying experience of my life. I wrote book one, Soldier Prince, Alexander’s story, right after watching Meghan and Harry tie the knot in six days flat.
The Soldier Prince is INSANE action, romance, secrets, and drama. I recently overhauled the cover on this book baby and I’m sharing it first here (apart from Amazon). Do let me know how it is?
But Lena…oh, Lena’s book has been two years in the making. 19 drafts and countless deletions, I almost gave up writing this series because I could just never get Lena right!
How do you write the love story for a princess who has it all and is still damaged despite it? I think I finally answered this question in THE PRINCESS AND THE BODYGUARD.
TPATB (yes, I’m abbreviating it) is a dark, angsty, secret second chance romance between Princess Lena and Shane McRae, Alexander’s best friend from his time in the army. There’s also a dangerous assassin to make things really interesting -- because these royal love stories are not just about love, they are about duty and sacrifice and honor in a time when things have gone to hell.
Here’s a small excerpt from TAPTB that I haven’t shared ANYWHERE ELSE!
It wasn’t that hard to fool a bunch of idealistic tweenagers. Mostly because Lena looked nothing like any of her pictures anymore. The hair she’d religiously dyed a goth black was reverting back to its original color, red-gold spun with midnight black. And she wore brown contacts to hide her true eye color. Carefully applied makeup took care of the rest of her face.
Wearing the bulky protective gear ensured no one knew how slim she really was, or if she even had curves.
All in all, Izzy was as unlike Princess Helena as she could ever be.
A school of dolphins yipped excitedly at the rubber dinghy and Ito, the resident photographer, immediately whipped out his phone and started recording them.
Lena moved slightly to the left so she wasn’t part of the shot. No way would her brothers forgive her if she appeared in such incriminating footage. Even if it was for an extremely worthy cause.
“Alright guys,” Ito said as he live streamed the dolphins. “This is what is at stake here. These happy little guys.” One of the cute dolphins pushed its snout up out of the water and touched the phone, cooing.
The protestors sighed as a whole. It was unbearably cute.
“How the fuck could Unigroup think it’s okay to drive these amazing creatures to extinction? What gives them the right?” Meha cried out, gesturing wildly for Ito to swing the camera in her direction.
“Murderers,” Belladona said. “Capitalist murderers.”
They all took up the chant. Slowly and then all at once, drowning out the waves of the ocean and the cooing of the creatures they were trying to save. Mahesh handed out packets of the red paint they’d mixed up in batches.
“Fantastic idea, Isabelle,” Ito said as he filmed his comrades wearing war paint on their cheeks.
Lena tore open the packet with her teeth and the paint gushed out. She quickly shed her gloves and caught it before it went to waste. Then she dipped two fingers in the liquid, seeing the charred remains of her mother in her head. Because the vision was so real, Lena bit her lip so real blood gushed out.
Then she painted her cheeks and anointed her forehead, like she’d seen Meha and Mahesh do.
There. Now no one could mistake her for Princess Lena, the girl who’d watched her mother die. Now she was safe.
“Murderers,” she yelled. “Capitalist murderers.”
The chants continued louder and louder while the trawler stopped throwing the nets into the water. And for a long, peaceful minute Lena heard nothing but the cries of the righteous and the free dolphins.
Then a new sound cut through the chaos of the protest.
The whirring of helicopter rotor blades.
“Unigroup has caved!” Diego saved. “They’re sending someone to negotiate with us. WE WON!”
Lena shaded her eyes from the blazing sun and tried to make out the call-sign painted on the tail of the helicopter. The blood froze inside her war-painted cheeks.
“No,” she murmured soundlessly in her native tongue, Swedish. “No, it can’t be.”
Painted on the side of the descending helicopter wasn’t a traditional call-sign, but a sigil. A very familiar sigil in purple and gold. That of a lion holding an olive branch and the words Fjore djharvet kommer frid under it.
Before fear comes valor.
It was her family motto, engraved on the crest of Castle Stellan and pounded into the brains and hearts of every single Heinrickson born till kingdom come.
Her family had come for her.
The helicopter kicked up all the dust and sand and almost threatened to blow the tents away, from the four hundred and ninety-three protestors gathered in a large circle around it on the shoreline.
Lena watched in numb shock as four figures – she couldn’t make out if they were male or female from this far out – jumped down from the helicopter. She watched on, aware of her new friends murmuring excitedly among themselves, as the figures commandeered the spare dinghy and made for the water.
“They don’t look like corporate execs,” Meha, who still had the binoculars, said in a puzzled voice. “Even though they’re all wearing black suits.”
“It’s the glasses,” Lena murmured. “Executives don’t wear glasses in the middle of the day.”
Ito shot her a puzzled look even as he filmed the oncoming dinghy. Lena wanted to tell him to stop. That the men coming toward the boat were going to confiscate his equipment the minute they stepped foot onboard. But she didn’t have the heart to.
She wanted to cling on to Izzy for a second more.
The other dinghy came closer and the dolphins cooed while the trawler blasted useless warnings.
Lena pushed to the front of the seven. “Dammit. I just wanted one day,” she murmured to herself.
“What?” Mahesh asked, bewildered. “What are you talking about?”
Lena gave him a small, sad smile. “I’m so sorry, you guys. Please forgive me if you can.”
The dinghy came to a stop, bumping against theirs. They all held onto each other, hands tightly clasped to keep their balance.
Lena swallowed hot shaming tears when she saw Milo Goran, Commander of Stellan’s armed forces, such as they were. Her godfather. He looked haggard, as if he’d aged decades in the space of a few days.
He was going to be so disappointed in her. They all would be.
The other two men standing next to Milo were two of her own security team – Ira Blackthorne and Logan Kierney. Ira was a new recruit, apparently ex-Secret Service, but Logan was a fellow countryman first before he swore to guard her and her family with his life and blood.
Before his twin brother had betrayed their family honor and left him as messed up as Lena was.
Then her glance alighted on the fourth member of her welcome party.
And her jaw dropped open, an ungainly, unprincess-like gesture. Because the fourth man, the one manning the steering of the dinghy was the last man on earth she’d ever expected to see again.
You don’t want me. You don’t know me, Princess.
He was dressed in a suit much like Uncle Milo, Logan and Ira. He didn’t wear the black shades that the other three men wore but his bearing was military-straight…no, killer-straight.
He had a beard on the wrong side of scruffy and his hair waved in curls in the stinging air.
Lena battled against the feeling threatening to swamp her. A dizzying combination of regret, shame, and what she refused to identify as longing.
“You’re back,” she said.
“You’re here,” Shane McRae said.
I hope you enjoyed this long sneak-peek into Shane and Lena’s story. I confess, when I finally got around to telling their story, it was more beautiful, loving, and dangerous than anything I’d hoped for. I sincerely hope you guys enjoy TPATB when it comes out!
And now, as promised, here’s the other excerpt. This one is just the first few lines from Michael’s story. These lines are unvarnished, pure draft. But god, how this man makes my heart ache already.
There are some things that turn a boy, a prince, into a man. Writing your own will was one of them.
Crown Prince Wilhelm Johann Dagmar Michael Heinrickson’s eighteenth birthday present from his father and ruler of the principality of Stellangard had been a full hour of legal prep with a member of the Heinrickson legal team going over the terms of the will he was expected to prepare. Michael had done so, as he did everything his father asked of him.
He’d written a will for his express wishes to be carried out in the event of his death.
It had been a devastating experience. As were all of the experiences slowly and surely calcifying him into the future ruler of the peaceful little country nestled in the Swiss Alps. A position he’d been born into and one in which he had no choice at all.
He was the first-born son of Prince Wilhelm and Princess Margaret. He would rule. He would do everything in his power to better serve the people of his country and the Crown of Stellangard. He would do so in life…and in death.
As Michael reviewed the latest update to his last will and testament, his eyes blurred. Whether from fatigue or emotion he didn’t know. All he knew was…numbness.
In a way, telling Michael’s story is a super easy task - he is already loveable. But, then when you add in a country on the brink of civil war and a wife who is Sheldon Cooper-levels smart and it becomes a most interesting adventure.
I hope I’m able to do justice to this trilogy and this family, who are as close to me as any friend I call my own!
I’ll write in again soon regarding June’s release and more cover reveals and lots of fun Writer Gal stuff.
Till then, be brave, be awesome, be you.