Daniel de Lorne – Why Romance?

In the lead-up to Mardi Gras, we spoke with Daniel de Lorne about writing gay characters, representation, and why romance matters…

 

Advertisements

Which Witch?

by Leisl Leighton

You’ve already identified your inner wolf, but what about your inner witch? Luckily, Leisl Leigton’s new paranormal series provides enough action and adventure for both…

Witches are creatures of the elements, pulling on the power of mother nature to fuel their magic – wind, water, earth and fire. These elements come together singularly or in multiples to create the base power of the witch. In the Pack Bound series, the four heroines are: Bron, a Healer, Shelley, a Medium, Skye, an Elemental, and Eloise, an Empathic-Shifter. Which one of them do you most closely resemble?

Which Witch are you? Answer these 10 questions to find out.

What element do you feel an affinity for?

  1. Air
  2. Water
  3. Earth
  4. Fire

What animal is your spirit guide?

  1. Hawk
  2. Dolphin
  3. Wolf
  4. Dragon

What colour is your favourite?

  1. Purple
  2. Yellow
  3. Green
  4. Blue

What is your favourite stone?

  1. Amethyst
  2. Amber
  3. Emerald
  4. Sapphire

Do you prefer:

  1. Spring
  2. Autumn
  3. Winter
  4. Summer

Do you like to:

  1. Go mountain hiking
  2. Go for a swim
  3. Work in the garden
  4. All of the above

Would you say you are:

  1. Rational and analytical– you don’t like to be rushed into things
  2. Emotional and sensitive – you prefer spontaneity
  3. Practical and grounded – you like to work with your hands
  4. Daring and bold – you like to take risks

If you were at a party, would you be:

  1. Involved in debate about politics and social discussion
  2. Floating around making sure everyone is having a good time
  3. In the kitchen making sure there was enough for everyone to eat and drink
  4. Dancing on the table, in the middle of all the fun

Do you feel at home:

  1. In a school, university, place of study?
  2. Living room or place of social activity?
  3. In a garden/farm?
  4. Wherever there are people and fun activities?

If you could describe your ideal job, what would it be?

  1. Something that was intellectually stimulating
  2. Helping others heal physically or emotionally
  3. Working with your hands
  4. Teaching and inspiring others

If you answered mostly A you are: Shelley.

Congratulations! Shelley is a medium whose main element is Air. The Air element’s direction is east and its season is spring. Air governs the realm of the mind and mental activity and is the most ethereal of the elements and one of the reasons why Shelley’s main power allows her to speak to spirits and move in the veiled world of death. She longs to travel, is very intellectual and imaginative and gets a great deal of satisfaction out of discovering new information and new places.

She is always at home in places she can explore any of these loves, as are all those governed by the Air element. Meeting rooms, schools, libraries, airports, railway stations and bus terminals are all places that speak to her in ways that are unusual for others, which is probably why she was also attracted to working as a nurse in a hospital despite the spirits who have a habit of accosting her there. Despite this, she also loves being outside, especially at the top of a mountain or on a windy plain, or quite frankly, anywhere where there is a clear, open sky.

She is very rational and analytical, doesn’t rush into things and loves mental stimulation – which is why she loves studying the Pack Diaries. Sometimes she can be too judgemental and critical of herself and others and pedantic about getting things right. Her power when it manifests on the physical and psychic planes is amethyst. She is deeply loyal, and once she loves, she loves forever.

If you answered mostly B you are: Bron.

Congratulations! Bron is a Healer whose main element is Water. The Water element’s direction is west and its season is autumn. Water is the element that most affects the subconscious, emotions and dreams. It purifies, heals, offers emotional release and removes all that is stagnant which is partly what makes Bron the talented Healer she is. Her power is the warm amber-gold of true Healing in both the physical and psychic planes and she is never so happy as when she is helping someone else.

Bron is extremely social, loving always to be with people, although not always the centre of attention. She is in touch with her feminine core, is very sexually confident and has no problem with touch. In fact, she needs the touch of those she loves and cares for to feel whole.

She loves water places – seas, lakes, rivers, marshes, wells, pools and areas where the land is rain-drenched. She is spiritual, emotional, sensitive and very intuitive, which is why she can also feel and sometimes even see the dead and talk to them, although bearing their sadness is very difficult for her because she is likely to take it on herself. She is extremely spontaneous, sometimes too spontaneous – something that has got her into trouble in the past – but this is balanced out by her empathic and nurturing soul. The biggest danger to Bron is giving herself too much to those she loves and not leaving anything of herself.

If you answered mostly C you are: Eloise.

Congratulations! Eloise is an empath whose main element is Earth. Earth’s direction is north and its month is winter. Earth’s main qualities are those of shelter, the womb, rebirth and as a home of ancient oracles – and Eloise has all this in spades and more. Earth is also related to the gods and goddesses who represent sexuality and vitality, but its power is also grounding, which is one of the many reasons why she is the Nexus with the ability to create and destroy.

Her power is life and death, which is one of the reasons she is afraid to take risks and branch out and it often seems to her that her dreams are out of her reach, but everything is there inside her, she just has to trust herself to step up and take the chance. Her power when it manifests on the physical and psychic planes is spring green and when she finally opens up, she feels very connected to everything around her.

She loves to work with her hands and has a keen intellect, things that come in handy when she studied engineering, particularly her love of fixing cars. She needs to be surrounded by family because like Bron, she’s very tactile by nature and enjoys the pleasures of the senses. These were pushed aside for many years so, when these needs are finally explored, she discovers with delight that she has a very healthy libido, a fact she is more than happy to explore with the love of her life.

If you answered mostly D, you are: Skye

Congratulations! Skye is an Elemental whose main element is Fire, although she also has dominion over the other elements as well because of her Elemental status, so she can claim some of the characteristics of her friends. Fire’s direction is south and its season is summer. Her power when it manifests on the physical and psychic planes is electric blue. Motivated, creative, passionate and fast to act, Skye likes living a little dangerously. She loves a challenge and is addicted to the adrenaline rush of X-sports. She loves being outside and feeling one with her body and nature, but can push herself too hard and get hurt.

She is intuitive, understanding and imaginative which makes her a natural to work with children and one of the reasons why they love her so much, because in many ways, she is as open as they are. However, Skye is terrified of her powers and how they make her feel like she is out of control, that her natural instinct is to destroy. She allows her fear to cloud the fact that she is courageous and strong and has the power to transform everything she touches, and doesn’t immediately see that fire is not only destructive, it cleanses, purifies and creates.

Like most Fire personalities, she is charming, charismatic and passionate and lives her life to the full, relying heavily on instincts. Daring and bold in career, she is afraid to give in love until she opens to the reality of who she really is, and then she gives herself to love in the same way she gives herself to everything else – wholly and completely.


33095One pack, one coven, a destiny intertwined…

Five hundred years ago, facing extinction, a group of powerful witches united to create a pact with the Were to save witch-kind. The pact expelled an ancient evil, known only as the Darkness, that was blocking the Were from their wolves. With the Darkness destroyed, the Packs and their Covens grew strong as they thrived beside each other in their brand-new world.

But the Darkness was not destroyed.

Skye Collins has been brought up to fear her magic and shy away from witch and Were alike. But when Jason McVale, the Alpha of Pack McVale, comes in search of her, she is intrigued and tempted. Her mistrust of magic and wariness of the intensity of passion she shares with Jason threatens her control—and if she loses control, she just might turn into the weapon the Darkness intended her to become all along.

iBooksBooktopiaKoboGoogleNookAmazon AUAmazon UKAmazon US

 

 

Exclusive Excerpt: The Laird of Blackloch

33094

Revenge might be sweet, but love is far sweeter…

Sarah wasn’t sure when she first noticed the mysterious man dressed in black, watching her. Perhaps it was when Malcolm had escorted Damaris out onto the ballroom floor for a minuet.

Movement and noise surrounded her: laughter and chatter and the elegant strains of the small orchestra filled the air; the swirl of opulent silks and satins and velvets, and the flash of jewels dazzled the eye as dancing couples floated by. But lingering in the shadows on the other side of the room was a tall, dark stranger. He stood perfectly still, his attention focused solely on her. She could almost feel the weight of his gaze like a physical, intimate touch upon her—or so she imagined—and her cheeks grew hot, first with embarrassment and then silent indignation. How rude. Where were his manners?

With a lift of her chin, she turned her head away and directed her gaze back to Malcolm and his sister. But it was all for naught; her eyes kept straying to the man in black. There was something inexplicably compelling about him. Even though he was some distance away, she could tell he was handsome beneath his black half-mask. Unlike many of the other gentlemen of the party, including Malcolm, he was sans peruke. His raven black hair was clubbed at the nape, revealing the sharp cut of his square jaw above the frothy white lace of his jabot. Aside from white silk stockings and a touch of white lace at his cuffs, everything else he wore, including his cloak, was as dark as midnight.

Who was he? And why was he so interested in her? Since her father’s passing six months ago, she’d been in mourning and hadn’t been out and about that much. And considering she had only been in Scotland since Hogmanay, she wasn’t all that well acquainted with Edinburgh’s polite society yet.

She was about to ask Aunt Judith, her erstwhile guardian, if she’d noticed the stranger’s pointed interest when a young, fair-haired woman, in a scandalously low-cut gown of scarlet and gold brocade, touched his arm in a familiar fashion before murmuring something in his ear. The man’s wide, well-shaped mouth curved into a slight smile and his attention shifted to the dancers. Was he studying Malcolm now? How peculiar. Sarah’s nape prickled with unease.

Something odd was going on, she was sure of it. She would discreetly mention the stranger to Malcolm when he returned to her. Perhaps they were just old acquaintances …

iBooks, BooktopiaKoboNookGoogleAmazon AUAmazon UK, Amazon US

Feed Your Readers: Three Female Athletes – Three Hot Happy Ever After Endings


32509 (1)

*One thing I need to decide for myself … am I playing to win, or playing for keeps? *

Angelica Bryant

Football is my passion. Right now, I have a chance to make my dream of being the best midfielder in the Women’s Aussie Rules competition a reality. And soon I’ll finish my studies and succeed in a role in sports management. For now, working in my dad’s bar pays the bills. Even if he used to be a world-famous soccer legend and can’t care less about Aussie Rules.
I won’t let anything get in my way. Not even the hot-as-hot one-night stand who, oh yes, just turned out to be Jaxon Flint, one of Australia’s most successful sports agents … and he’s offered me a job. We’ve agreed we have to forget about our attraction to both stay on the track we’ve laid out for ourselves. So why does the idea of being with Jaxon make me want to take the biggest risk of my life?

Jaxon Flint

I told her my name was Jack. She told me her name was Angel. But an angel she wasn’t when I took her home for the most amazing night of my life. I  picked her up in a sports bar … but I never expected her to turn out to be the rising star of the new Women’s Aussie Rules football competition. Or a natural at handling ego-fuelled sports superstars.  I knew Angie was someone I had to hire … and a star I would be lucky to represent. Those are both good reasons to stay away from her. And after the way I failed my sister, I know I should stay away from someone so driven to excel. So why can’t I get it out of my head that I want to be everything to my Angel?

iBooksBooktopiaKoboNookGoogle, Amazon USAmazon UKAmazon AU


32510

I’m following one of my dreams … but do I dare to follow my heart? 

Cress Kennedy

One thing everyone in Grong Grong knows about me: it’s always been my dream to play Aussie Rules Football. And now the Sydney Sirens are signing me for the new Women’s Aussie Rules competition. I’m headed to Sydney. To stay with my brother’s best friend. Quin. But here’s one thing no-one in Grong Grong knows about me: how much I want Quin to see me as a woman, and take him for myself…

Quin Fitzpatrick

I knew as soon as she got a chance to play in the Women’s Aussie Rules competition that Cress would be a star. I knew it made sense for her to come and stay with me, where I could protect her, show her the ropes—Watercress from Grong Grong, the little sister I never had. I never expected Cress—gorgeous, generous Cress—to shake me out of my rut. Now how am I ever going to go back to life without her around.

iBooksBooktopiaKoboNookGoogleAmazon USAmazon UKAmazon AU


32511 (2)

Darcy

There’s nothing I wouldn’t do to play for the Brisbane Banshees in the new Women’s Aussie Rules league. I think I’ve proved that given that I’m willing to put up with the coach being my ex, Tony. He may have stomped over my heart, but I’ve moved on, and I’m focused on my team. I don’t need any men in my life—apart from Levi, of course, my roommate, and friend. And my saviour, now that I’ve corked my thigh in our first game, and need his sports massage skills to get me back on the field. What I feel when Levi touches me … is making things very complicated.

Levi

Darcy was always my best friend’s girl—Tony’s girl. Two years on and she still doesn’t know how I’ve felt all this time. There’s no way I’m leaving her in pain when I can fix her injury and get her back to playing the sport she loves. No matter how much touching her makes me want to make her mine at last. Finally, I’ve got a bit of hope—the last thing we need is Tony suddenly deciding he wants to take Darcy back after all…

iBooksBooktopiaNookKoboGoogleAmazon USAmazon UKAmazon AU

Friday Five: Elizabeth Dunk/Nicole Murphy

1502Author: Nicole Murphy/Elizabeth Dunk
First published with Escape:
As Elizabeth Dunk – 2013 (Arranged to Love)
As Nicole Murphy – 2014 (Loving the Prince)
Favourite romance trope: Forced proximity
Ideal hero: Compassionate, resourceful, understanding
Ideal heroine: Intelligent, daring, kick-arse
Latest book: The Making of Henri Higgins

What began your romance writing career? Why do you write romance?

I was working on my Dream of Asarlai trilogy (my original publication) and I was trying to write fantasy with a romance subplot and it occurred to me that I was being ridiculous – the romance was what I loved, so kick it up and write romance. I write romance because I love stories that focus on women – on their desires, needs, circumstances – and tells great stories about how they go out and make their dream life come true.

How do you write? What is your process like?

It actually is a little different depending upon whether I am writing contemporary romance or the science fiction/fantasy romances. For the contemporary romances, I do a lot of planning. I work out the beats of the story, the conflict (both external and internal) for heroine and hero and the inciting incidents and happily ever after, and then write. With the science fiction/fantasy romances, I work out the general rationale of the story, make sure I have the character development spot on and get a view of the end point and then I just write and see what will happen. This means that my contemporary romances don’t require anywhere near the re-writing that the science fiction/fantasy ones do. I think it’s because the world of the contemporary romances needs to remain real, whereas I can indulge flights of fancy with the other genres.

What was the best writing advice you ever received?

I did a course with fantasy master Jack Dann. We all had to put in a piece of writing and then it was critiqued, not only by Jack but by the rest of the class. Mine was the last one critiqued and it was pretty much clawed to pieces (and quite rightfully – it was early in my writing career and I had a lot to learn). One of the things Jack talked about was the importance of detail and not just that you have lots of it – but that you choose the RIGHT detail. The classic example is James Bond. His drink – a martini, shaken not stirred. The fact he drinks a martini versus say a beer already says a lot about his character – suave, debonair, not your normal guy in a pub. But then the fact that he likes it shaken (which is TOTALLY the wrong way to make a martini) says even more – that he doesn’t care what people think, that he wants things a certain way and he won’t accept anything else. All those instant messages about his character, just from the choice of what he chooses to drink. That is what great detail in a story does.

As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/familiar? Do you have one already?

I’ve always been very taken with eagles. When I was a young girl, my imaginary friend was a yellow canary called ‘Tweetie’. Yes, well, it took me a while to become original. Anyway, Tweetie ended up with a husband, who was a wedge tailed eagle (that’s original!). As I walked to school Tweetie would sit on my shoulder and her husband would soar above us, keeping us safe. Then they had kids – canary eaglets. Yes, even as a child, I was a romance writer. But that aspect of soaring high, free of bonds, able to see all, has always appealed to me.

Freddy and Pinky Elizabeth Dunk (2) (1)

I don’t have a pet eagle, but my husband and I have two beautiful budgies – Freddy and Pinkie. They are very funny and adorable, but they are not affectionate like budgies are supposed to be, which causes us no end of angst. But sitting at my desk, like I am now, I can hear them out in the dining room singing and it’s so peaceful and lovely. Plus, unlike a cat or dog, they don’t interrupt my writing time!

Freddy and Pinky Elizabeth Dunk (1) (1)

Out of all your protagonists, who do you relate to the most?

In terms of published protagonists, it would be Cassandra, the heroine of Loving the Prince. Cassandra is kind-of wish fulfillment – she’s the me I wish I could be. I first developed Cassandra as a character more than 30 years ago and she is still inspiring me. To be stronger, to be a risk taker, to be prepared to give it all. Otherwise, there’s a character in my next release who has been pulled right out of my psyche in terms of who she is, what she wants and her relationship with her family. Look out for Gwendolen.


30774 (1)He thought it was all a game…until he grew accustomed to her face.

Henri Higgins is bored by everything – his life, his work, even the models he regularly sees socially (and privately). So when a close friend suggests a high-stakes, friendly competition, a ‘fame’ game, Ree leaps at the opportunity for a little shake-up in his daily routine. The rules are simple: the competitors are to take the first person that they meet at a certain time and make them as famous as possible within two weeks.

But Ree doesn’t expect Elizabeta.

Elizabeta Flores del Fuego has a plan. An office manager by day, she moonlights at a number of creative Canberra businesses by night to learn all she can about the fashion industry and put her in the best place possible to help launch her beloved daughter, Angelina’s design career. Cleaning the office of Higgins Publishing is just one of those jobs, but when Henri Higgins offers her a week’s worth of work and a paycheque large enough to get Angelina Designs on its feet, it’s an offer she can’t refuse.

But Elizabeta doesn’t expect Ree, and neither expect the lessons in love they’re both about to learn.

Love in Verse – a Valentine’s Day post

by Kate

Happy Valentine’s Day!

As a special blog, I thought that I would share my favourite love poem, and invite you to do the same. There’s no denying the joy of love expressed in a novel or a short story, but there’s a special magic to love expressed in poetry. Here’s mine. Share yours?

The Cinnamon Peeler
Michael Ondaatje

 

If I were a cinnamon peeler
I would ride your bed
and leave the yellow bark dust
on your pillow.

Your breasts and shoulders would reek
you could never walk through markets
without the profession of my fingers
floating over you. The blind would
stumble certain of whom they approached
though you might bathe
under rain gutters, monsoon.

Here on the upper thigh
at this smooth pasture
neighbor to your hair
or the crease
that cuts your back. This ankle.
You will be known among strangers
as the cinnamon peeler’s wife.

I could hardly glance at you
before marriage
never touch you
— your keen nosed mother, your rough brothers.
I buried my hands
in saffron, disguised them
over smoking tar,
helped the honey gatherers…

When we swam once
I touched you in water
and our bodies remained free,
you could hold me and be blind of smell.
You climbed the bank and said

this is how you touch other women
the grasscutter’s wife, the lime burner’s daughter.
And you searched your arms
for the missing perfume.
and knew
what good is it
to be the lime burner’s daughter
left with no trace
as if not spoken to in an act of love
as if wounded without the pleasure of scar.

You touched
your belly to my hands
in the dry air and said
I am the cinnamon
peeler’s wife. Smell me.

Who is your Inner Wolf?

by Leisl Leighton

If you were a Were-Shifter, would you be an Alpha, a Trickster or a Lone Wolf?

Do you like to:

  1. Make decisions on behalf of others

  2. Make decisions just for yourself

  3. None of the above

When you run, how do you like to do it?

  1. At the head of the pack

  2. By yourself

  3. Whenever the mood takes you

When you go out with friends do you like it to be:

  1. A large group

  2. A small group

  3. Don’t care as long as it’s fun

Of these sports, what one do you like to do?

  1. Anything as long as you can be captain

  2. Swimming laps by yourself

  3. Playing volley ball on the beach

What’s your favourite colour?

  1. Brilliant blue
  2. Spring green
  3. Amethyst

What’s your favourite holiday?

  1. Halloween
  2. Easter
  3. Christmas

If you were an animal, what would you be?

  1. Lion – king of the jungle
  2. Tiger – solitary predator
  3. Dog – family is king

What phrase best describes you?

  1. You love to be in charge and can handle a crisis
  2. You love the quiet and being by yourself
  3. You are the life of the party and don’t like being alone

Do you prefer to:

  1. Stay at home with family and friends
  2. Travel to exotic places and meet new people
  3. Both of the above

In regards to work, do you:

  1. Own your own business/are the manager or boss
  2. Work with your hands/are the creative type
  3. Work in entertainment/events, anything where you can help people have fun

If you answered ‘a’ to most questions, you’re an Alpha. Strong and resilient, you live for family and to protect those you love. You are loyal and kind, but firm and are good in a crisis. A serious soul, you always have your head firmly on your shoulders and would rather have a serious conversation and a good meal with an excellent glass of wine with friends and family than be out playing the town. Once you love, you love forever.

If you answered ‘b’ to most questions, you are a Lone Wolf. You too are strong and resilient and live for family, but unlike an Alpha, you prefer to go it alone. You don’t tend to ask for help and aren’t big on sharing emotions, except with your one true love. You can be quite artistic, and enjoy working with your hands. You need to travel and experience new things and are very creative. You don’t expect to love or be loved, but once you find love, you will never give it back.

If you answered ‘c’ to most questions, you are the Trickster. Like the Alpha and Lone Wolf, you are resilient and strong and incredibly loving and loyal to family and friends – you’d die for them if necessary – but you rarely sit still long enough for people to figure this out about you. You love to party because you get joy out of others having a better time than you. You hate to see others sad, lost or alone, and do everything you can to change this for them. You never give up on anyone – stubborn is the core of who you are. When you love, you give your all and there is no going back, ever.


33095One pack, one coven, a destiny intertwined…

Five hundred years ago, facing extinction, a group of powerful witches united to create a pact with the Were to save witch-kind. The pact expelled an ancient evil, known only as the Darkness, that was blocking the Were from their wolves. With the Darkness destroyed, the Packs and their Covens grew strong as they thrived beside each other in their brand-new world.

But the Darkness was not destroyed.

Skye Collins has been brought up to fear her magic and shy away from witch and Were alike. But when Jason McVale, the Alpha of Pack McVale, comes in search of her, she is intrigued and tempted. Her mistrust of magic and wariness of the intensity of passion she shares with Jason threatens her control—and if she loses control, she just might turn into the weapon the Darkness intended her to become all along.

iBooksBooktopiaKoboGoogleNookAmazon AUAmazon UKAmazon US

Friday Five: Amy Rose Bennett

2707Name: Amy Rose Bennett
First published with Escape: May 2016, The Master of Strathburn
Favourite romance trope: Forced proximity
Ideal hero (in three words): Honourable, considerate, intelligent
Ideal heroine (in three words): Smart, compassionate, strong-willed
Latest book: The Laird of Blackloch

What began your romance writing career? Why do you write romance?

I’ve been writing stories since childhood so becoming a published author has always been an ambition of mine. I fell in love with Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre when I was nine years old and from that time onwards, I always knew I wanted to write historical romance. However, it wasn’t until I was in my thirties that I actually began to write a romance novel. It took me eight years to get around to finishing that book—The Master of Strathburn—so to have it published with Escape was a dream come true. I guess I write romance because I have this need to create stories that are my own versions of Jane Eyre. Stories that are full of heart-felt emotion and high stakes. Stories that will make readers cry, laugh, and fall in love too. I particularly love the challenge of creating an emotional roller-coaster of a journey. In a nutshell, I suppose I just love writing about the most wondrous thing in the world, love!

How do you write? What is your process like?

I write full-time and in the last year, I’ve become really disciplined. I’ve started to set myself a time frame of two to three months to complete my single title length novels and I try very hard to achieve my daily word count goal. To make sure I don’t get stuck during the first draft phase, I plot out the novel from start to finish before I begin to write—not in huge detail but I like to know the major turning points and ‘the end’. And I really get to know my characters. As I write historical romance, I also spend a fair amount of time researching the era and the setting before I begin the story … although I have been known to get lost in research rabbit holes during the writing process too!

What do you do when you’re stuck with a scene?

I often handwrite the scene out. Or I jot down the dialogue and then flesh out the rest of the scene later. If all that fails, I step away, do something mundane (like wash the dishes), and then a way forward usually pops into my head. My wonderful husband is a great sounding board for ideas too; he’s particularly adept at helping me get the male point-of-view right.

Where is your favourite place to write? (Pictures please!)

Friday 5-Amys Office

This will probably sound really dreadful, but my favourite place to write is in my lounge room, on the couch. I’ve never had a dedicated office space. And I can pretty much write anywhere—coffee shops, on planes, on long car trips, in bed. As long as I have my trusty laptop with me, I’m good to go.

Besides writing, what is something else that you’re really good at?

Cooking! I love baking and creating challenging savoury dishes. I have a ton of cookbooks and read them for pleasure. And if we throw a dinner party, I’m in heaven. My very sweet (and totally biased) husband tells me I’m his blonde Nigella, lol.

 


33094Revenge might be sweet, but love is far sweeter…

Following the Battle of Culloden, Alexander MacIvor returns to his ancestral home, Blackloch Castle, only to find the Earl of Tay, chief of the rival Clan Campbell, has laid waste to everything he holds dear. In the face of such devastation, Alex seems doomed to live the life of a fugitive Jacobite…until a stroke of good luck allows him to escape the Highlands and begin again.

Years later, styling himself as a wealthy Englishman, Alexander reclaims his forfeited estate, becoming the new Laird of Blackloch. But it’s not nearly enough to quell his thirst for vengeance. Hell-bent on destroying Lord Tay, he single-mindedly sets about driving his nemesis to bankruptcy. When he learns the earl intends to marry the very beautiful English heiress, Miss Sarah Lambert, thus escaping penury, he devises a devious plan: kidnap Miss Lambert and ransom her to hasten Tay’s ruin.

When Sarah Lambert learns Lord Tay is not the man she thought he was during a masquerade ball in Edinburgh, she is devastated. Reeling from her discovery, things go from bad to worse when a mysterious yet charming guest by the name of Alexander Black turns out to be a true devil in disguise. Abducted and whisked way into the wild Highlands by Black, Sarah is imprisoned in a remote, island-bound tower. Refusing to be a pawn in Black’s diabolical plan for revenge, she determines that somehow, some way, she will regain her freedom. If only she could unlock Black’s secrets…

Living in such close quarters, Alexander quickly discovers the spirited Sarah is more than a match for him, and even the best laid plans can go awry when passion flares and the spark of love threatens to revive his long-dead heart. When the shadows of the past begin to gather, will Alexander and Sarah find their way forward…or will the threatening darkness destroy them both?

iBooks, BooktopiaKoboNookGoogleAmazon AUAmazon UK, Amazon US

Exclusive Excerpt: Pack Bound

33095

One pack, one coven, a destiny intertwined…

The microwave pinged and Skye jumped.

Stupid. Jumping at microwaves!

This is what happened when you had the kind of overbearing grandmother who sent people to follow you around on your holiday. Paranoia.

Slamming her hand against the button, she barely waited for the door to swing open before grabbing the bowl. Soup spilled over her thumb.

Fudge a fudgy-duck!’ She put the dripping soup bowl down on the bench and sucked at her burned thumb. ‘Ffffffruitloops, that’s hot.’

Wow, impressive. She not only skis like a pro, but she knows how to swear in the most inventive way I’ve ever heard. Tell me you can dance the samba and I think I might just want to marry you.’

The prickles on her neck bloomed into hot fire at the sound of a voice she would never forget. ‘You!’ she said, spinning around.

Me.’ His lips twitched.

Her gaze collided with those incredible eyes and her heart took a flying leap up her throat, cutting off her breath.

Breathe. Don’t act like a teenager with a crush. He’s just a man.

But what a man!

Luckily, her lungs responded to the demand for oxygen, because her brain was still missing in action.

Here. Let me help.’ Without asking, he took her arm and led her out of the kitchen to a bench, made her sit and then headed back to the kitchen, returning with her soup, toast, a spoon and a glass of water a moment later.

Thanks.’ Skye spun the spoon between her fingers as he sat on the bench seat opposite. It clanked against the side of the bowl, the sound kick-starting her brain enough for her to ask, ‘What are you doing here?’

iBooksBooktopiaKoboGoogleNookAmazon AUAmazon UKAmazon US

 

The Highlander didn’t wear plaid – a brief history of the kilt

by Amy Rose Bennett

The kilt is regarded as a quintessential part of traditional Highland dress and is synonymous with Scottish patriotism and clanship. And nothing really says ‘Scottish historical romance’ as clearly as a handsome Highlander sporting a kilt on the cover! Yet the Jacobite heroes in my stories The Master of Strathburn and my upcoming release The Laird of Blackloch, rarely wear kilts or anything made of tartan.

Why not?

The reason is rooted in the tumultuous history of eighteenth century Scotland, the period in which my two Highland Rogue Series novels are set. During that era, there were two major rebellions against British rule: the first Jacobite Uprising occurred in 1715 and the second, in 1745. But before we visit that period of history and why Highlanders—and my two Jacobite heroes—could no longer where plaid following the Forty-Five, let’s explore the earlier backstory of the kilt.

The evolution of the kilt is quite fascinating. Although there is still some debate about when Highlanders first began to wear the kilt or ‘plaid’ it may have been as long ago as the tenth century. Early plaids were thought to consist of a long woollen cloak, perhaps six yards by two, and were reminiscent of a Roman toga. These garments were fashioned from plain wool or simple tartans containing only two or three natural shades such as white, brown, green, and black. The dyes would have been extracted from parts of plants and trees such as roots, berries, bark, flowers, and leaves. Some historians maintain that fabrics with distinctive setts—checked patterns—only came into widespread use during the late seventeenth and eighteenth centuries and tended to be associated with regional areas or districts rather than particular clans. Indeed, many of the brightly coloured clan tartans we’re familiar with today were actually designed during Queen Victoria’s reign in the nineteenth century.

Some believe the war attire of medieval Highland clan warriors a la Braveheart wasn’t actually the plaid or kilt, but rather a long, pleated or quilted tunic of linen, leather, or canvas which came down below the knees—the leine croich. It was often paired with a hide jerkin or, in some instances, chain mail to protect the neck and shoulders, and topped off with a conical metal helmet. There’s some evidence this garb was worn until the end of the sixteenth century; it can still be seen on tombstones of Highland soldiers in places such as Argyllshire and the Isles of Scotland.

The forerunner of today’s kilt, the belted plaid—fhéilidh breacan or fhéilidh mor in Scots Gaelic—began to appear during the sixteenth century, but didn’t become popular everyday wear for Highlanders until the seventeenth century. It consisted of several yards of thick woollen fabric gathered up into pleats around the waist and was secured by a wide leather belt. It was worn over a long, knee length undershirt and donned in a rather complicated fashion; the wearer placed his belt on the ground, laid the plaid over it, then folded one end into pleats. After lying on top, he then fastened the belt around his waist with the pleated section becoming the kilt. The upper part of the plaid could be arranged in various ways; often it was drawn up over the back and draped over the shoulder, and then fastened in place with a pin or brooch. The Highlander’s sword arm was usually left free. The extra fabric could also be drawn up over the head and shoulders like a cloak to provide protection from the elements in inclement weather. And apparently at night, the plaid was used as a blanket. A very useful garment indeed!

At some point during the late seventeenth or early eighteenth century, a shorter kilt called the philabeg or ‘small kilt’ emerged, although the belted plaid was also still worn. Sewn in pleats and belt loops became a feature. Although it’s still a topic of dispute amongst some historians, around the same time it also appears that Highland clans, families, and military regiments began the practice of using certain tartan patterns or ‘setts’ as a means of identification. After the Restoration of 1660, a permanent force of Highlanders loyal to King Charles II—the ruler of Great Britain and Ireland—was established to ‘keep watch upon the braes’. Known as the Highland Independent Companies, individual regiments began to wear plaid with particular setts—a tartan uniform.

Following the first Jacobite Uprising in 1715 in which the exiled ‘Old Pretender’, James Francis Edward Stuart, attempted to claim the throne of England, Ireland, and Scotland, the British government raised the famous Black Watch regiments to police the Highlands. Commanded by clan leaders loyal to the Crown, these troops were to be ‘employed in disarming the Highlanders, preventing depredations, bringing criminals to justice, and hindering rebels and attainted persons from inhabiting that part of the kingdom’. The members wore a distinctive darkly hued tartan of green, blue, and black which became known as the Black Watch tartan. It’s still in use today.

And now at last we come to the period The Master of Strathburn and The Laird of Blackloch are set in—the second Jacobite Rebellion of 1745! Many Jacobite rebels—just like my Highlander heroes—wore tartan kilts as an informal uniform during the uprising. Bonnie Prince Charlie, the Young Pretender—so named because he was the son of the Old Pretender —attempted to wrest the British throne from George II.

492px-William_Mosman_-_Prince_Charles_Edward_Stuart_1720_-_1788._Eldest_son_of_Prince_James_Francis_Edward_Stuart_-_Google_Art_Project

However his bid failed when the Jacobite army was roundly defeated at the fateful Battle of Culloden on the 16th April 1746. Immediately following the Rebellion, the Dress Act was imposed by the British government; the wearing of plaid or tartan in any form was banned in an effort to suppress Highland culture and Scottish nationalism, in effect, to crush the spirit of the Highlanders who’d rebelled. Only the Black Watch was exempted. The penalties for breaching the ban were severe—six months imprisonment for a first offense and for the second, transportation to the colonies for seven years. The Dress Act was in place for thirty-six years and wasn’t lifted until 1782. Other punitive measures that were introduced to pacify the rebellious clans included proscribing the Gaelic language and the ownership and use of firearms.

The_Battle_of_Culloden

So now you know why my heroes, Robert Grant and Alexander MacIvor don’t wear plaid. But then, I also think braw Highlanders look quite fine in form-fitting buckskin breeches and boots. And because I write historical romance, a cravat, cambric shirt, waistcoat, and jacket are,of course, entirely optional.

References:

  • Way of Plean, George and Squire Romilly (1995). Clans and Tartans. Glasgow: HarperCollins Publishers
  • MacLeod, John (1997). Highlanders: A History of the Gaels. London: Hodder and Stoughton

33094

Revenge might be sweet, but love is far sweeter…

Following the Battle of Culloden, Alexander MacIvor returns to his ancestral home, Blackloch Castle, only to find the Earl of Tay, chief of the rival Clan Campbell, has laid waste to everything he holds dear. In the face of such devastation, Alex seems doomed to live the life of a fugitive Jacobite…until a stroke of good luck allows him to escape the Highlands and begin again.

Years later, styling himself as a wealthy Englishman, Alexander reclaims his forfeited estate, becoming the new Laird of Blackloch. But it’s not nearly enough to quell his thirst for vengeance. Hell-bent on destroying Lord Tay, he single-mindedly sets about driving his nemesis to bankruptcy. When he learns the earl intends to marry the very beautiful English heiress, Miss Sarah Lambert, thus escaping penury, he devises a devious plan: kidnap Miss Lambert and ransom her to hasten Tay’s ruin.

When Sarah Lambert learns Lord Tay is not the man she thought he was during a masquerade ball in Edinburgh, she is devastated. Reeling from her discovery, things go from bad to worse when a mysterious yet charming guest by the name of Alexander Black turns out to be a true devil in disguise. Abducted and whisked way into the wild Highlands by Black, Sarah is imprisoned in a remote, island-bound tower. Refusing to be a pawn in Black’s diabolical plan for revenge, she determines that somehow, some way, she will regain her freedom. If only she could unlock Black’s secrets…

Living in such close quarters, Alexander quickly discovers the spirited Sarah is more than a match for him, and even the best laid plans can go awry when passion flares and the spark of love threatens to revive his long-dead heart. When the shadows of the past begin to gather, will Alexander and Sarah find their way forward…or will the threatening darkness destroy them both?

The Laird of Blackloch is available for pre-order now!

iBooks, Booktopia, Kobo, Nook, Google, Amazon AU, Amazon UK, Amazon US


28512 (1)

A sweeping, sexy Highland romance about a wanted Jacobite with a wounded soul, and a spirited Scottish lass on the run.

Robert Grant has returned home to Lochrose Castle in the Highlands to reconcile with his long-estranged father, the Earl of Strathburn. But there is a price on Robert’s head, and his avaricious younger half-brother, Simon, doesn’t want him reclaim

ing his birthright. And it’s not only Simon and the redcoats that threaten to destroy Robert’s plans after a flame-haired complication of the feminine kind enters the scene…

Jessie Munroe is forced to flee Lochrose Castle after the dissolute Simon Grant tries to coerce her into becoming his mistress. After a fateful encounter with a mysterious and handsome hunter, Robert, in a remote Highland glen, she throws her lot in with the stranger—even though she suspects he is a fugitive. She soon realises that this man is dangerous in an entirely different way to Simon…

Despite their searing attraction, Robert and Jessie struggle to trust each other as they both seek a place to call home. The stakes are high and only one thing is certain: Simon Grant is in pursuit of them both…

The Master of Strathburn is available now!

iBooks, Booktopia, Nook, Kobo, Google, Amazon AU, Amazon UK, Amazon US