I've always been fascinated by royalty - must be my European side. I have fond memories from my years in Germany when I was glued to the television while royal after dashing royal got married. What I found especially intriguing even those days - long before I started writing romance novels - was a union between a prince or princess and a 'common' person just like you and me.
Ever since I became a romance novelist, this idea was lurking in the background that I need to make this modern-day magic come alive. It's such an interesting premise, of both parties coming from almost different world and having so much to learn, to meet in the middle and believe in their love.
Several months ago, a post on Facebook really caught my attention and gave me the final push to start on the Royal Romance series. It was about women of color who had married royals / aristocrats from around the world: http://www.blackenterprise.com/lifestyle/royal-report-6-regal-black-women-from-around-the-world/
I found other posts on the internet too, such as this one: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2338458/Pictured-Bride-set-Britains-black-marchioness-marriage-aristocratic-father-law-snubbed-row-erotic-paintings.html
As I love writing multicultural romance novels, the idea sparked something inside me. Marie, the heroine of The Prince’s Special Bride might not be “black” in the literal sense, but her background and skin color are among the many issues that make her love story more interesting and complicated.
Here are two short excerpts from the book where the topic crops up:
Marie used the maid’s absence to get dressed, picking the only other dress she owned. It was a white summer dress reaching her knees, decorated with huge blue and yellow flowers, the skirt flowing loosely while the waist was accentuated by a narrow white belt. As it was a sleeveless dress, she combined it with a white bolero and prayed it would be acceptable. Somehow, being the only woman in trousers was too awkward. She didn’t care that the whiteness of the dress brought out her light brown skin, though. Taming her curls in a ponytail with a white ribbon, she slipped into matching white sandals, aware that her outfit would still be one of the most colorful in the palace as everyone else seemed to favor pastels, unicolor or well-matched ensembles without bright patterns.
She spent the next hour happily touring the palace in Susan’s wake, making quite a few heads turn despite the politeness everyone seemed to breathe like oxygen. A few women tittered and whispered in a pretty unladylike manner, several men stopped to stare at her from the corner of their eyes. Holding her head up high, Marie pretended not to notice, although it nettled her that most probably none of the fair-skinned guests were attracting so much attention.
* * *
She stood her ground, liking it how his tall, finely muscled frame blocked out the sun.
He was looking intently at her, as if expecting an answer. Well, why not be honest?
“The palace is truly magnificent, and I’m honored to be its guest, but I have to say I feel more at home in the garden.”
“I can see that.” His gaze roved over her, taking in her discarded sandals and the curls she knew must have escaped her ponytail.
“It’s an exceptionally fine garden,” she added, feeling the odd need to justify her being here.
Christian nodded once. “So it is. And you are free to come and go in it as you wish, even if you should disrupt the work by doing so.”
Was there any reproach in his tone? Marie squinted, but his next remark sent her defenses up.
“But perhaps you should wear a hat the next time?”
She raised her chin defiantly. “Why, so I don’t get even blacker and ‘disrupt’ the goings on of the palace?”
He looked taken aback. “I didn’t mean it like that, Ma…Miss Kemei. There is nothing wrong with your skin color at all.”
The intensity of his gaze and the rough edge to his voice slid through her like a knife through melted butter. She shouldn’t like it so much that he approved of her complexion…if it was even the truth and not mere flattering or trying not to lose his face. Had he almost called her by her first name, out in the open? The incident from last night made her skin flush more than the warmth around her had.
Stepping back a little so that she was bathed in sunlight again, he added in a mild, careful voice, “The Taragonian sun can be quite harsh. Most women here wear a hat if they’re out and about.”
Marie resisted the urge to shield her eyes from the glare and prove him right. “I am not most women,” she said evenly.