Cinderella and the Ghost
The Cursed Princes, Book Four
February 17, 2015
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A stroke of paint and a stroke of luck. Will they come together to create magic at the stroke of midnight?
When her demanding stepmother died, Ella Benoit knew just how far their fortunes had fallen, unlike her spoiled stepsisters. So she never expected the bequest from her late father. A chateau in France and the freedom to live her own life, all at once!
The chateau has seen better days, but Ella knows she can put the ruined house to rights. The life-size portrait of its first owner, Jean-Daniel Girard, seems to watch her work with approval, even pleasure. With bright blue eyes, strong features, and an athlete’s body, the viscount is a tempting sight even now, more than three hundred years after his tragic death. But the more she looks at the portrait, the more convinced Ella is that she’s met Jean-Daniel before. In another life, perhaps—or maybe, as the form who haunts the halls at night, invading Ella’s dreams…
Interview with Marina Myles
I'm pleased to welcome author Marina Myles today to answer some questions about her series The Cursed Princes and about life in general :)
I'm pleased to welcome author Marina Myles today to answer some questions about her series The Cursed Princes and about life in general :)
Tell us about your main character in Cinderella and the Ghost. Who is Ella?
Ella is a character readers can really root for because she represents the quintessential underdog. She is every woman who’s been mistreated. She is every woman who dreams of finding true love. And she’s every woman who discovers that she deserved what life has to offer all along.
Cinderella and the Ghost is book four in The Cursed Princes series. Tell us about the series. Are the installments standalone or best read in order?
The books in this series can definitely be read as standalones. However, there are two, enchanted pieces of jewelry which run through them as common threads. That’s why readers will get maximum enjoyment if they read my books in order.
What is your favorite fairy tale?
Cinderella is my favorite, hands down. I remember having it read to me as a child and getting completely immersed in Cinderella’s tortured & magical world. When she transforms for the ball, all the splendor of being a princess for a day and all the hope in the world came together for me at 6 years old!! I knew I wanted to write my own version of the classic fairy tale someday.
Which do you prefer: classic fairy tales or Disney versions?
I prefer a combination of both. In the Brothers Grimm versions, we encounter a very dark, ominous atmosphere to accompany the evil in the fairy tales. In the delightful Disney versions, we get a colorful, fun aura which viewers love as a contradiction. Good versus evil, in other words. I hope my novels embody some of this combination.
I love your covers! Do you have any input on the design?
Thank you so much! I have to say I love my covers too! I have input as far as filling out an art sheet form to specify the characters’ hair/eye color and describe the setting. Oh, and I also get to supply examples of similar covers that might work. Next, my editor comes up with the basic theme and then passes it on to Hot Damn Designs, a company that executes the covers.
If you could visit any fictional place, where would you go?
Wow – that’s a great question! I think I would go back to eighteenth-century France and visit Château de Maincy. It’s when and where my hero in CINDERELLA AND THE GHOST lived. I really enjoyed researching that time in history because I found the noblemen very sexy!
Your bio states you were a Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader—a dream of many American girls. What was it like?
Being a Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader was an amazing experience! I tried out for the squad on a whim and surprisingly, I made it! It was a blast traveling all over the country and entertaining people. When I watch “Making the Squad” (the current television show about the DCC) I know I wouldn’t make it today. I’d have to be twenty again, but you know what I mean! Being a part of the team is a much stricter experience. When I was a cheerleader, the Dallas Cowboys organization was very professional and well-run, but it wasn’t as worried about what the girls weighed. We were curvier, to say the least and I don’t think that was a bad thing.
If you could have dinner with any historical figures, who would you entertain? What would you serve? I would love to have Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (author of the Sherlock Holmes stories) and William Shakespeare over for dinner. I would pick their brains about their writing styles and their inspiration. They were geniuses!! Being British, they’d be served dark ale and fish and chips!!
What is the best piece of writing advice you’ve received? The worst?
The best piece of writing advice came from Jennifer Ashley, a superb romance author in my opinion. When she spoke at my local RWA chapter meeting, she said “Write where your passion lies. Then your talent will find a home. Whether your work ends up with a traditional New York publisher, an ebook publisher or you go Indie, your talent and passion will shine through.” Her advice goes along with the worst guidance I ever got. This was to write for the current trends. Personally, I believe that by the time you write the book, have it critiqued/edited, and then wait for it to be published, that trend will be over.
Outlines—yes or no?
I don’t do outlines, per say. However, I will create a character sheet and a diagram that maps out internal/external conflict. I also know my beginning and end of the story and then I’ll mentally fill in the middle.
Any advice for new writers dipping a toe into these shark infested waters?
Don’t be afraid or intimidated, but do your research!! Understand that writing is a craft. It must be treated as such. There all skills to be mastered such as show don’t tell, active voice vs. passive voice, avoid point of view slips, etc. Once you have these skills honed, write your first manuscript. Odds are you might not sell that first ms. but you’ll learn a great deal from it. Go on to write your second one and try to get a literary agent!
Anything you’d like you readers to know?
I’d like them to know that I love writing these books as much as I hope they enjoy reading them! It might sound cliché, but writing is something I need to do, artistically. It’s also the way I get the characters in my head to stop talking!
Where can fans find you online?
It’s been fun. Thanks for having me!
As Ella passed the drawing room, she halted. Eerie goose bumps blanketed her arms. Drawn to the room, she felt as though she’d been in it before.
She crossed the threshold under a sudden trance. Icy stabs of déjà vu assaulted her because the ornate furnishings and draperies seemed extremely familiar. Perhaps, she considered, I’ve seen the room in one of Adelaide’s real estate or decorating magazines.
Taking a few steps forward, she noticed a huge blank spot on the east wall. The area’s wallpaper not only showed a variance in color, it outlined a missing, life-sized painting or tapestry.
How odd. Why had the art work been removed? Where was it now?
An unrelenting force summoned her closer to the blank spot. Her inquisitiveness grew. If the missing object was indeed a life-sized painting, it must have taken forever to complete. She wondered about its subject. A landscape? More likely, a portrait.
Prodded to start a hunt, she went through several rooms on Château de Maincy’s main level. She searched the front parlor, the back parlor, and the music room. Her favorite was the ballroom. As she entered, a spark met her toes. Wide-eyed, she noticed that rays of sunshine cast a sparkling aura over its faded parquet floor. A glittering chandelier hung in the center of the gold-toned room and anchored the enormous space.
When the chandelier caught a beam of sunlight, Ella received another spark. She put her hand to her warm cheeks. She could almost hear strains of a quadrille—and the drone of chatter as if she were at a party.
Not a party. She rephrased the thought. A ball.
Eyes blurred, she slipped into a deeper trance. Suddenly, she was wearing a stunning costume and was stepping into waltz with a debonair nobleman sporting a mask. The nobleman pulled her tightly against him. Other guests wearing masks looked on.
It was a masquerade ball! More scenes flashed before Ella. Warm wind gusted into the room and then—
Exiting the trance, she realized that the hair on the back of her neck stood on end. Why in heaven had she experienced that?
Her father had written that Ella had been at the château before. Yet she had no conscious memory of the visit. Maybe, she thought as she rubbed her eyes, the atmosphere of this house is too seductive to resist.
Still reeling from the vision, her attention shifted to a long-case clock in the corner. Its shattered face was visible through a hinged glass panel that hung ajar. The top of the clock bore a large, vertical gash.
Ella inched closer. The open door revealed that the time-piece had been frozen at twelve o’clock. She touched the immobile hands—and in the bright light of the room, she noticed that the clock’s maker had etched his name and creation date into a groove bordering the clock’s pendulum.
Montbleu ~ 1703.
All at once, Ella remembered standing in front of the long-case clock, precisely like this. But how could that be? She must have repressed memories from her visit here as a child. Yet, she couldn’t explain the vision of herself dancing with the handsome man.
Once she confirmed that a life-sized painting wasn’t hanging in the ballroom, she made her way up the grand staircase. Inexplicably, she felt drawn to where she was going. When she reached the second floor of the house, she studied a wall of faded frescoes depicting late seventeenth century life. When something told her to go on, she padded to the third floor landing.
A palpable hush filled the corridor ahead of her. Then a charged stream of energy rushed through the hall. Since all the curtains were drawn over the arched windows, the hallway sat in darkness and shadow. Ella should be doing so many things. Unpacking. Cleaning. Deciding which bedroom would be hers. But a sense of urgency prompted her feet to continue.
What will I find in this part of the house? Glimpses of the valiant but very dead Jean-Daniel Girard?
Gulping, she opened door after door and peeked in. She finally came to a storage space, with an additional staircase leading up to an attic. Creeping up those stairs, Ella surveyed the articles on the landing. Broken mirrors and articles of furniture draped in white sheets lay strewn about. Tangled strings of cobwebs swathed the wood paneling.
A glowing beam of sunlight angled into the room. Ella’s pulse sped. In the corner, she spotted an item covered with a black cloth. The object reclined against the far wall—and appeared to be larger than she was. Pushing the curtains open, she allowed more sunlight to bathe the space. Hands quivering, she moved back to the draped item and pulled away the black cloth.
The painting’s gilded frame was stunning. On it, Ella located a nameplate.
Jean-Daniel Girard—Viscount de Maincy
Slowly, as though her life was being altered with every centimeter, her stare ascended to the nobleman’s astonishing face. Instantly, the world fell into a compelling silence.
Jean-Daniel Girard was tall, muscular, and inarguably handsome. In fact, his good looks were so striking that Ella could barely breathe as she gazed upon them. More than that, she knew she’d seen his face somewhere before. While she racked her brain about where she’d seen it, her gaze roamed over Jean-Daniel’s sold body, penetrating aquamarine eyes, and angular features. He could be described as classically handsome. The epitome of male beauty, really. And thankfully, that classic quality helped him transcend the fanciful clothing and wig he wore.
Ella took a step in and studied him some more. True to subjects painted in that era, he wasn’t smiling. Rather, he seemed a pensive and a bit melancholy. However, she could tell from the laugh lines bracketing his generous mouth that he grinned often.
Incredibly lifelike, Jean-Daniel seemed capable of emerging from the painting right then and there. Ella’s skin tingled.
Her gaze drifted to the adorable dog sitting at the viscount’s feet. A splendid example of a hound, it possessed a gleaming brown-and-white coated, an open mouth, and a protruding tongue. Oddly, the dog seemed to be smiling.
“I can tell you loved your master,” she murmured.
Mesmerized by the man in the painting, Ella stared at his image for what felt like hours. The more she analyzed it, the more she noticed its “lost soul” quality. She crossed her arms. No, that wasn’t it. Instead, there seemed to be something underlying the viscount’s solemn face. As if he weren’t solemn at all. As if he possessed a sense of unfinished business.
To die so young…
She finally looked at the portrait’s backdrop. A vivid depiction of Château de Maincy surrounded Jean-Daniel. A cluster of servants was working in the fields adjacent to the splendid house. Wide-eyed bluebirds perched on the tree branches over his wigged head.
So that’s the way the estate looked in its heyday.
Stepping closer, she zeroed in on Jean-Daniel’s astounding eyes. They seemed to come alive—and for the briefest moment, he did as well. If only they were on a first-name basis! The thought exhilarated her.
While she and the figure locked stares, a new layer of goose bumps sprang up on Ella’s arms. She retreated. Despite the warmth of the room, a chill barraged her body.
“Jean-Daniel Girard is quite swoon-worthy, non?” whispered an unfamiliar voice.
About the Author
Marina Myles’s love of books began as soon as she read her first fairy tale. During her college days in Dallas, she received degrees in English Literature and Communications—and enjoyed the unique experience of being a Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader. Now that she lives under the sunny skies of Arizona, she hasn’t left her glamorous life behind completely. After all, she gets to divide her time between her loving family, her loyal Maltese, and worlds filled with fiery—but not easily attained—love affairs.
Visit her at www.marinamyles.com
Represented by Louise Fury of The Bent Agency