BESTSELLING AUTHOR OF WESTERN HISTORICAL ROMANCE!
Caroline Clemmons writes historical and contemporary genre fiction. Historical romances, contemporary romantic suspense, mysteries, and paranormals are among her current works. Learn more about her at www.carolineclemmons.com
Wednesday, May 22, 2013
STEPHANIE ALEXANDER AND THE CRACKED SLIPPER
Eleanor Brice unexpectedly wins the heart of Gregory Desmarais, Crown Prince of
Cartheigh, she's sure she's found her happily-ever-after. Unfortunately, Prince
Charming has a loose grip on his temper, a looser grip on his marriage vows,
and a tight grip on the bottle.
years of mistreatment, isolation and clandestine book learning hardly prepare
Eleanor for life at Eclatant Palace, where women are seen, not heard. According
to Eleanor's eavesdropping parrot, no one at court appreciates her unladylike
tendency to voice her opinion. To make matter worse, her royal fiancé spends
his last night of bachelorhood on a drunken whoring spree. Before the ink dries
on her marriage proclamation Eleanor realizes that she loves her husband's best
friend, former soldier Dorian Finley.
can't resist Dorian's honesty, or his unusual admiration for her intelligence,
and soon both are caught in a dangerous obsession. She drowns her confusion in
charitable endeavors, but the people's love can't protect her from her
feelings. When a magical crime endangers the bond between unicorns, dragons,
and the royal family, a falsely accused Eleanor must clear her own name to save
her life. The road toward vindication will force a choice between hard-won
security and an impossible love.
Cracked Slipper is a book club friendly fairytale retelling in the vein of
Gregory Maguire, with a dash of romance. Set in a pseudo-renaissance,
corset-and-petticoats enchanted kingdom, The Cracked Slipper brings a magical
twist to women's fiction.
"He tugged at his earlobe. “I can’t, Mistress, and I
would, just to get you out of this hallway, but Prince Gregory is not here.”
“Not here? What do you mean? It has to be—”
“Two in the morning.”
“Two in the morning,” she said. Something icy formed in her
chest, and it wasn’t from the cold tiles beneath her feet. “I see. Well, I’ll be
going.” She turned slowly.
“I’m sorry, Mistress.” The gruff voice followed her, but she
didn’t want to turn around and see the sympathy on his face. She started up the
steps but stopped midway.
There must be an explanation. She could not face tomorrow not
knowing. She would wait and see, and it would all be revealed. Probably just
some late-night meeting with his advisers, a problem that must solved before
the wedding. She would wait until he returned, and then go back to bed happy.
Exhaustion caught up with her and she sat on the bottom step
out of view of the guard. She wrapped her arms around her knees and in spite of
the cold she nodded off. After some time, maybe ten minutes or maybe an hour,
she heard voices. She sat up.
They were male voices, and some of them sounded familiar.
She rocked forward on her numb toes and peered around the corner again.
She recognized Dorian first, and then Brian, Raoul, and
several of Gregory’s other friends. Dorian struggled to hold someone up. Her
heart sank as she recognized Gregory’s auburn hair.
He could barely stand. His legs kept buckling underneath
him. Each time they crumpled he reached up with both arms. He grabbed Dorian’s
neck and nearly dragged them both to the floor. The other men kept up a
constant stream of harassment. She lost track of who said what, but their words
rang painfully clear.
“What’s that Gregory? Those two Talessee girls where too
much for you?”
“We should have quit after the redhead. She took care of him
“Did you see the tits on that one?”
“Old Greg was probably seeing four of them. He was so
smashed he was already falling over.”
“But his flagpole was standing up!” They all roared with
“A fine tribute to Cartheigh!”
“Tell me, Gregory, how will your sweet little maid compare
with those last two?”
Gregory’s head swung up. “See, what you boys don’t
realize…is I can have the sweet little maid and still bang as many whores as I
see fit. Benefits of the crown.”
Eleanor could barely breathe. She head Dorian’s voice for
the first time. “All right, all
right, let’s get you to bed or you’re liable to pass out on
Gregory spoke again. “And you know, boys, little Eleanor is
not quite as sweet as you may think— I’ve already had my hands on her—”
“Enough, Gregory,” Dorian said. He thrust the stuttering
prince off on Brian and Raoul. He took the keys from the guard, who gazed
resolutely at the wall.
“Tonight was just practice for tomorrow—”
Eleanor couldn’t take any more. Without any further thought
she stepped out into the hallway.
They all froze, a bunch of possums blinded by a woodsmen’s
torch. Eleanor couldn’t speak. She simply stood there, staring at Gregory
strung between Brian and Raoul like a pair of wet stockings left out to dry.
Her hands clenched at her sides in tight fists. Blood roared in her ears, but
her eyes were dry.
Dorian finally broke the silence.“Eleanor.”
Gregory cocked his head. “Sweetheart, how good to see you.”
His body jerked and he vomited. It covered his boots, and
the sentry’s. The guard never moved. The acidic scent hit Eleanor’s nose and
broke her paralysis. She fled up the steps. She heard Dorian calling after her
but she didn’t stop. She brushed past her own sentry, threw the door open with
both hands, closed it and drew the latch. She leaned against it. She had left
her candle in the hallway, but she’d built the fire well and it still burned.
She jumped at a gentle tap on the door behind her.
Dorian’s voice through the thick wood loosened the tears
that had not come downstairs. “Eleanor,” he said, “please open the door. Let me
“No, go away.”
“He’s just drunk. It’s just talk among men. He didn’t mean
any of it.”
“So where were you all? You weren’t out pitching lawn
“I don’t deny it, or defend it. But Gregory loves you. He
never meant to hurt you. ”
She leaned her head against the door. There was no way she
could open it. “I don’t know what to believe,” she said. And then, louder,
“Please go away, Dorian. Please.”
“As you wish.”
She sensed him standing on the other side, and then his
footsteps moved down the hallway."
Alexander grew up in the suburbs of Washington, DC, the oldest of three
children. Drawing, writing stories, and harassing her parents for a pony
consumed much of her childhood. After graduating from high school in 1995 she earned
a Bachelor of Arts in Communications from the College of Charleston, South
Carolina. She returned to Washington, DC, where she followed a long-time
fascination with sociopolitical structures and women’s issues to a Master of
Arts in Sociology from the American University. She spent several years as a
Policy Associate at the International Center for Research on Women, a
think-tank focused on women’s health and economic advancement.
embraced full-time motherhood after the birth of the first of her three
children in 2003. After six wonderful years buried in diapers and picture books
she returned to her childhood passion and wrote her own fairytale. Her family
put down permanent southern roots in Charleston in 2011. Stephanie is an
adjunct professor of Sociology at the College of Charleston.