Book Review: ‘Once Upon a Kiss’ by Claire Delacroix

Title: Once Upon a Kiss

Published: 16th November 2014

Author: Claire Delacroix pseudonym for Deborah Cooke


Twitter: @cooke_delacroix



For over a thousand years – so legend has it – the brambles have grown wild over the ruins of Dunhelm Castle. Many believed that the thorns were a sign that the castle was cursed, so no one dared to trespass, and the secrets that they protected and concealed have remained hidden – until now…

Armed with a pair of gardening shears, Baird Beauforte is determined to clear away the brambles that hinder the development of his resort, and he won’t let local superstition deter him. Dunhelm Castle is supposed to be the latest jewel in the Beauforte Resort chain, but the renovations can’t be finished if the workmen are frightened of a so-called curse. To dispel any lingering fears, Baird decides to vanquish the briars himself. What he never expects is to find a mysterious slumbering beauty…

Aurelia is like no one he has ever met before. Upon awakening, she demands to know his identity and why he is in her father’s castle! Bemused by her claim of being a king’s daughter, he is certain he has never met this “princess” before, although something about her rouses a haunting sense of familiarity. Soon, dreams plague this by-the-book businessman…dreams that feel more like memories. And Baird begins to wonder if he can claim his heart’s princess – now and forever – with a kiss…



Goes down as another off my 2018 Bookworm Bingo Challenge – A book that has a castle in it. One that has a very interesting tale attached to it. Time and fate will always bring the souls of the past back to where they began so they can truly end happily ever after in this present day look on the tale of Sleeping Beauty.

Dunhelm castle A.D. 800 is where our princess Aurelia falls into a slumber only to awaken 1200 years later with true loves kiss. Her father Hekod’s castle is under siege by the evil Bard, son or Erc. The man who killed her brother and now wishes to claim her and the castle. Aurelia wants to help her father and knows her skills are the best with a bow. But on a second shot she pricks her finger and soon feels herself being pulled away and under into a deep sleep. It seems the stories and curse she never took much faith in were true. Now she just has to wait to see how the story ends.

Baird is at the location of the new holiday development for his company. Something drew him to purchase Dunhelm castle and calls to him to stay. The renovations are under way but there is one area the builders are reluctant to go near. A place full of vines in a dark shadowed area that appears to have superstitions and curses attached to it. With a pair of shears and a lot of determination he manages to uncover a set of stairs leading down to a chamber. This is when Julian, his lawyer and friend, makes an appearance, comically complaining as he goes, just wanting them to hurry up and get back to the States. He might not want to be there but seems was needed as he finds a release to open a door to reveal a hidden crypt. One that just so happens to have a beautiful women sleeping in the centre of on a stone bed. Baird feels compelled to get closer to her and almost loses control with his need and desire to wake her up. A kiss comes to mind and when her head slowly turns towards him he knows there is no holding back. A kiss to wake and connect with a stranger, one that has some very strange ideas on what’s going on and who everyone might really be.

Waking up Aurelia doesn’t think any time has passed at all. Or if it has, well then maybe a few days or week at most to start with. The last thing she remembers is the castle being under siege and her father being in danger. When the stranger in front of her – handsome one mind you – says his name is Baird she just automatically thinks he is Bard, son of Erc. Means she has an automatic dislike to him, well tries to anyway. She never met the real Bard so has nothing to go on. Just that the castle belongs to her father so is dismayed when Baird says he owns it now. She just thinks that he must have staked a claim to it and now fears for the lives of her people. She doesn’t think she can trust Baird at all but has a strange pull towards him. Same goes with his friend Julian who, because of his lack of hair, she thinks is a monk, one that uses a lot of powerful magic. Seems neither of them really took much notice when she first spoke as they didn’t have a clue what she was saying but after hearing them speak she managed to pick up their language in no time. She was gifted with the use of tongues so can speak any language needed. You would think that the moment she gets outside and sees the changes to the castle she would know a lot of time had passed but she just keeps putting this down to magic. She just wants to find her father and figure out what happened to her home. Something Baird feels compelled to help her with.

Baird can’t believe his luck with how he feels about Aurelia from the moment she woke up. Shame he now thinks she has lost a few marbles as she thinks she is a Viking princess and that her father owns the castle. He just thinks that something bad must have happened to her or her father to make her regress into a fantasy world to protect memories she isn’t ready to remember. Little does he know that she speaks the truth and that danger could fall upon them all if they do not remember their past lives that are about the effect their present ones.

I found it a bit amusing that Aurelia thought that Julian’s power of magic was so advanced that she wrote off seeing a car, helicopter and then electricity as nothing short of magical. The part where her and Baird butt heads about her having a bath and not understanding how the taps worked made me laugh a lot. Also laughed with how Aurelia sees Baird’s interior designer Marissa. The way she sees things are from a Viking perspective so for someone to dress as Marissa does and act around Baird that she must be a mistress who has his ear. Now Marissa in general was just a right pain throughout, so annoying with most of the things she says. For some reason, maybe something to do with the past, she thinks that her and Baird and meant to be. She gets a reality shock when it becomes clear that the only woman for him is Aurelia. Well if they can all figure out what is really happening around them that is. They might have a connection building between them but neither can be sure what the other is really thinking. They need to believe in each other and the past to be able to see their future.

Superstitions hold truths and if they want to be able to close the past and finally live they need to look back and finish what they started. Seems Ursilla might have a little helping hand to do with this, or more like talking riddles with a twinkle in her eye and a tale to tell. One they all need to listen to if they want to get their happily ever after. Fun read with lots of laughs along the way and an interesting look at how the story could be told in a present day setting.

4 out of 5 stars

I received a copy of this book from the author for my honest review.

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Filed under Contemporary Romance, Historical Romance, Reading Challenges, Reading Nook Blog Posts, Romantic Comedy / Humour

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