Title: The Beauty Bride, book 1 of the Jewels of Kinfairlie
Author: Claire Delacroix
Genre: Historical Romance
Story Setting: East coast of Scotland, 1421
Pages: 296 pages
Publisher: Deborah A. Cooke
Published Date: January 20, 2012
Narrator: Saskia Maarleveld
Listening Length: 12 hours,56 minutes
Publisher: Deborah A. Cooke
Audible.com Release Date: September 18, 2014
The Jewels of Kinfairlie:
The Beauty Bride, book 1
The Rose Red Bride, book 2
The Snow White Bride, book 3
The Ballad of Rosamunde, book 4, a novella
About the Story: More cherished than gold are the Jewels of Kinfairlie, and only the worthiest may fight for their love…The Laird of Kinfairlie has unmarried sisters, each a gem in her own right. And he has no choice but to see them all wed in haste.
Lady Madeline’s heart is not for sale…especially not to a notorious outlaw like Rhys FitzHenry. Yet Madeline’s hand has been sold, to none other than this battle-weary warrior with a price on his head. A more dutiful maiden might cede to the Laird’s command and meekly accept her fate, but Madeline has never been obedient. She decides to run away, though she never dreams that Rhys will pursue her.
She does not expect this taciturn man to woo her with fanciful stories, much less that each of his enthralling tales will reveal a scar upon his shielded soul. She never imagines that a man like Rhys could imperil her own heart while revealing so little of his own feelings. When Rhys’ past threatens his future, Madeline takes a leap of faith. She dares to believe him innocent—and risks her own life to pursue a passion more priceless than the rarest gem.
My Thoughts: Having sampled Claire Delacroix’s books many years ago when quite young and recently having come back to her work with the audiobook The Rogue, I understand why I remember her name and came back to enjoy more. She writes excellent stories with intriguing plots, mixed with suspense and passion in a historical setting with lovely happy ever after endings. She will keep you enchanted. She has me.
The Beauty Bride plucked my heart strings. This book was the story of the pairing of Madeleine Lammergeier and Rhys FitzHenry. It’s also about how far a man will go to save his family’s home, and what makes a man falter making honorable choices. Alexander, the brother of Madeleine, and Rhys both make decisions, both trying to save something precious to each of them.
The lone Welsh, Rhys FitzHenry (absolutely love the voice Saskia uses), with a price on his head from the king, secured the hand of the gem of Kinfairlie. In so doing he secured his inheritance claim to a Welsh estate. I didn’t see Rhys a very honorable man at this point. He could only admire this brave woman who held herself with poise and fiery anger reproaching her brother for his deed of virtually selling her to the highest bidder. He liked women with spirit and as he got to know her, his instincts had accessed her correctly.
Madeleine felt betrayed by her brother, who had become desperate to save his family’s home. Being auctioned wasn’t a prank in bad taste, although she had suffered many from Alexander. Madeleine had plans to escape her brother and her betrothed. Her escape plans go awry and Rhys saves her from certain peril. But who saves her from herself? Entertaining dialog and exciting scenes eventually bring Rhys and Madeleine to understanding one another.
Rhys was just so lovable, even being deceitful, he was lovable. He was a man used to being alone, of few words, and wanted to return to Wales with his bride with all speed. He was honorable even having deceived Madeleine. His brusqueness Madeleine did not understand or appreciate. One minute he was rude and the next he was telling her a tale that could melt all anger—and her heart. A bard he was with his tales and lovingly narrated with Saskia’s Welsh accent.
We experience the magic of the narrator, Saskia Maarleveld’s pleasant voice and easy story telling quality. Her mellow, cultured, soothing voice, characterized Madeline, showing the listener clearly the manner of woman she is. Saskia pours out Alexander’s frustration and vexation through a sarcastic and witty dialog between Alexander, Madeleine and her sisters. I think the loveliest dialog comes from Rhys FitzHenry with his Welsh accent when he speaks with Madeleine and tells his bard’s tales. I highly recommend this listen if you love historical romance audiobooks with a quality narration.
About the Author: NYT bestselling author Claire Delacroix always loved stories, both telling them and hearing them. She sold her first romance novel – THE ROMANCE OF THE ROSE – in 1992 and has published over fifty romance novels since. She writes in a variety of subgenres, including time travel romance, historical romance, medieval romance, fantasy romance and fantasy with romantic elements. She has also written under the names Claire Cross and Deborah Cooke. She makes her home with her family, a number of incomplete knitting projects and a lot of overgrown houseplants. Claire loves to travel, to cook, to ride her bike and to read.
Claire is currently writing the True Love Brides Series, which began with THE RENEGADE’S HEART. These are paranormal medieval romances set in Scotland and continue the story of the eight siblings at Kinfairlie. THE BEAUTY BRIDE, book #1 of the Jewels of Kinfairlie trilogy of medieval romances, introduces the family. THE RENEGADE’S HEART is Isabella’s story and THE HIGHLANDER’S CURSE is Annelise’s story. THE FROST MAIDEN’S KISS will be next in the series and will be Malcolm’s story.
Excerpt of an interview between author, Claire Delacroix and narrator, Saskia Maarleveld.
One of the things that amazed me in listening to the recording of The Beauty Bride was your dexterity with voices. Not only did you portray a wide variety of accents, but the characters all sound distinct from each other. I also was amazed by how many characters made an appearance in this book. Some scenes are really ensemble pieces, which must make extra demands upon you. This makes me wonder about a few things: How do you prepare for recording an audio book?
The question people ask me most often when I tell them that I am an audiobook narrator is “do you have to read the book before you record it?”. YES! Absolutely the most important thing to do in narrator prep is to read the book before you begin work on it. I have heard nightmare stories of people beginning to record a book before they finished reading it, only to find that on page 350 that the hero actually has a French accent….you never know when new information will be given to you. So I read the book and do some light research on the author and their other books, and I will also make a character list, especially when working on a series. This helps me when I go back to the series after a break and need some reminders. I personally don’t do a lot of marking of the manuscript because I find that it distracts me from being as present in what is happening as I need to be.
How do you keep the various characters, their voices and accents straight?
I find that once I voice a character and ‘know them’ I can automatically find their voice and where it lies in my body. Seeing them in my head helps with this. I do still try to add vocal clues into my character list, especially on a series I will have to return to. Sometimes there are certain characters that are more difficult than others to keep constant. In The Beauty Bride I had stop from time to time and find Rhys’s accent, or remind myself what accent I had chosen for a secondary character. I find it nice to either have a celebrity, TV character or acquaintance who’s voice I can refer to, and also certain sentences or words that can get me straight into a particular accent or dialect if I feel confused. Once I get into the flow of the scene, whether it’s Rhys telling a story, or dialogue between two or more people, it becomes a natural conversation that I have to lead and be a part of.
Do you prefer to narrate a story with many voices and characters, or is it more fun to work with a single storyteller and few other characters?
I love stories with lots of characters. I have been lucky to work on many books that do allow me to play around and use tons of different voices and accents. It keeps things fresh and keeps me focused during those long sessions!
One of the challenges in this book (at least from my perspective) was that Rhys is Welsh and there were several phrases included in the story in Welsh. How did you prepare for that?
Oh boy, Welsh! Yes that was certainly a challenge for me as it was one of the few accents I had never done before. I listened to a bunch of YouTube videos, from Catherine Zeta Jones to Daffyd in Little Britain, and also some radio clips. I do a lot of accents in my work and the big thing I have found is that for main characters you need to be careful with how far into the accent you go. A lot of my accented books are listened to by mainly North Americans, and it can be distracting or even hard to listen to if the accent is too strong. I don’t feel like I totally perfected the Welsh accent, as it’s a hard one, but my goal was to make him understandable over a long period of time while still keeping the authenticity. Hopefully I achieved that!
(Note from Deborah – yes, I worried about this, too. Once when I was in Edinburgh, there were some Welsh guys staying at the same B&B as me. One was determined to chat me up at breakfast, and I had absolutely no clue what he was saying to me, even though I could guess. So I worried about Rhys having too strong of an accent, too.)
As a writer, I find it impossible to work on multiple projects simultaneously. I need to be lost in the world of the book to write the next part of it. Can you record multiple projects, or do you need a similar focus?
Audiobooks is my full time job, so while I have other side projects, I do record 5+ days a week. Because of this I do often work on multiple projects at a time. I actually enjoy working like that because it keeps me fresh! It helps me to switch up the worlds I spend time in and then go back feeling fresh. I can honestly say that if I was asked about any of the books I have done over the years, I could still pull up clear picture of the story and characters in my mind. I never forget the stories I work on.
Can you tell us a bit about your background?
I grew up in California, New Zealand and France. My mother is a kiwi and my father is Dutch American. They both traveled a lot and met abroad, and because of this they enjoyed moving us around. I started life with an American accent, but moved to New Zealand as a child and picked up a strong kiwi accent. When we moved to Paris I went to an American school and was still young enough for my accent to change, yet again. All this gave me a really well developed ear for accents, and I spent a lot of time with people who spoke differently than I did. I was always very into drama and eventually I went to NYU Tisch School of the Arts to study acting. I’ve lived in New York ever since and these days I spend the majority of my time working on audiobooks with the occasional animation or commercial side gig.
What drew you to audiobooks?
I listened to audiobooks a lot as a child. I am the eldest of 5 girls, and we listened in the car to keep us all quiet. Some of my favorites were Greek Myths narrated by Andrew Sachs, the old BBC version of the Beatrix Potter stories and a wonderful collection of Celtic Fairy Tales. I suppose this subconsciously gave me an appreciation and ear for the craft. I also have always loved reading and I was lucky that both parents read to me from a young age. I remember my father reading The Hobbit to me dozens of times, and I will never forget his Gollem voice. My accent work has really helped me get my foot in the door at a lot of places. I never thought that this would be something I could do as a career, and then one day I was able to audition for a New Zealand novel being produced by Recorded Books in Manhattan. I got that project and realized I wanted to try making this my career.
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If you’d like to hear a sample of The Beauty Bride as narrated by Saskia, you can listen to it now at Amazon, Audible and Apple.
About the Narrator: Saskia Maarleveld lives in New York City, working full time in the voice over world. Hailing from New Zealand and having lived in Europe for many years, Saskia’s voice can deliver an incredible variety of accents and characters. Able to switch seamlessly from general American to countless accents and dialects, Saskia brings any story and its characters to life.
She has recorded over 80 audiobooks using these skills, working with Recorded Books, Audible, Tantor, DuArt and Brickshop Audio. Familiar with various genres, from romance to mystery, fantasy/sci-fi to historical fiction, she can often be heard speaking in British, Australian, New Zealand, Scottish, Irish and French accents…among many others.