Christmas Earworms: God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen

by Amy Rose Bennett

I love Christmas time and aside from all the festive food, decorations, and prezzies, I love me a good Christmas carol sing-along! In fact, my whole family loves whacking on anything from Bing Crosby crooning I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas to Michael Bublé’s Christmas album, or a CD featuring renditions of traditional songs by carollers.

Maybe it’s the history buff in me, but I do love the pomp of God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen. I have fond memories of belting this one out in the school choir many moons ago, so perhaps there’s an element of childhood nostalgia linked to it for me too.

Anyway, because I’m a big fan of historical research, I couldn’t resist delving into the origins of God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen. Apparently, it’s one of the oldest existing carols and harkens back to the 16th century or perhaps earlier; some accounts mention it was written and sung in Christian churches in the 15th century. The composer of the lyrics and tune is unknown. During the 16th century, bands of itinerant musicians-cum-night watchmen known as ‘waits’ may have sung it as they walked London’s streets at Christmas time. Fancy that. A singing town guard! The earliest known printed edition of the carol appeared in 1760 in a broadsheet, Three New Christmas Carols:

God rest you merry, Gentlemen,

Let nothing you dismay,

For Jesus Christ our Saviour

Was born upon this Day.

To save poor souls from Satan’s power,

Which long time had gone astray.

Which brings tidings of comfort and joy.

Charles Dickens also refers to it in A Christmas Carol, published in 1843. “… at the first sound of ‘God bless you, merry gentlemen! May nothing you dismay!’, Scrooge seized the ruler with such energy of action that the singer fled in terror, leaving the keyhole to the fog and even more congenial frost.”

I love this Bing Crosby version … Enjoy and Seasons Greetings to you all!

28512A 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 reclaiming 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…

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Men in Kilts

Our friends at Google Play are running a promotion after our own hearts – and to curb our ongoing Outlander withdrawals. For the next week, you can grab some heart-melting, kilt-scorching highlander romances at fantastic prices, including some of our favourite Escape titles.

From best-selling, award-winning author, Frances Housden:

There’s no chieftain that won’t meet his match…

“Housden has developed the characters well and weaves an absorbing story of envy, treachery, lies and second chances.” – Morag, Goodreads (The Chieftain’s Curse)

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From hot newcomer Amy Rose Bennett:


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

“The Master of Strathburn is a fast-paced story with plenty of action, suspense and intrigue.” – Vikki, Goodreads

“Ms Bennett has given us a thrilling romance with an historical background that feels authentic, a couple of chase scenes with cliff-hanger consequences, some clever plot twists, and plenty of passion.” – Jude, Goodreads

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From fan-favourite Allison Butler:

Curb your Outlander cravings with Allison Butler’s seriously sexy Scottish heroes!

“I loved seeing a bit of history come to life within these pages.” – Goodreads (The Healer)

“A must read book that is full of seduction, change and acceptance.” – RaeLatte, Goodreads (The Protector)

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Hot toddies: Amy Rose Bennett

NSFW content: please note that our ‘hot toddies’ series contains explicit language and (very) adult situations.

Here in Australia, the weather is getting colder. We’re dragging out the blankets and brewing up the cocoa, but it’s not doing the job. We need something hot.

Luckily, Escape artists have come to the rescue. They’ve provided some of the most scorching scenes from their books for us to enjoy. As the cold winds blow outside, we’ll be heating up with some ‘hot toddies’.

Winter is coming. And so our are heroes and heroines.

In The Master of Strathburn, Robert Grant and Jessie Munroe have found themselves unexpectedly betrothed. They are both on the run from Robert’s half-brother, Simon Grant, but have taken refuge at an isolated Highland inn. Although Jessie was initially determined to remain chaste until she and Robert could be wed properly in a church, she has just realized that Robert could easily be captured and arrested before that happens. And she is determined to give him a night he won’t forget…

Robert’s mouth crushed against Jessie’s in a hard, almost bruising kiss. A possessive kiss. She wants me as much as I want her. His blood sang at the heady realisation.

If he was a better man, he would not be doing this, kissing Jessie like this, pushing her shift off her shoulders then raining hot, open-mouthed kisses along her neck and collarbone, down to the deep shadow of her cleavage. But heaven help him, he wasn’t strong enough to resist her blatant invitation.

And Jessie was right—he may never have this chance again.

But he would not take her maidenhead. He would satisfy her need and his own but he would not risk getting her with child, not tonight.

Robert broke their kiss briefly to carefully ease Jessie down onto the pillows. The sight of her full breasts straining against the thin white fabric of her shift made his cock grow harder to the point of pain. But as much as he wanted to tear the garment from her body, and despite her declaration that she wanted him to make love to her, he did not want to frighten her. For all her enthusiasm, she was still an inexperienced novice. He would take his time and follow her lead.

He wanted her to enjoy this as much he was going to.

* * *

Jessie’s heart burst into a wild unbridled gallop as Robert eased himself onto the bed to lie beside her. Her heart-stoppingly handsome, considerate fiancé was going to make love to her. She could barely believe it.

She could hardly wait.

‘Jessie, you must tell me if you want me to stop,’ Robert murmured, his voice rough with emotion. ‘I won’t do anything you don’t want me to do,’

She nodded, too breathless to speak. But she seriously doubted that she’d want him to stop. Anything.

‘You are so, so beautiful, mo chridhe.’ My heart. Robert’s passion darkened gaze slid from her face to her breasts. ‘Everywhere.’

He thinks I’m beautiful. Jessie’s heart thrummed with unexpected delight. ‘So are you,’ she whispered and placed a hand against Robert’s bare chest. She swore she could feel his heart pounding beneath the hard plane of muscle, an echo of her own heart-beat.

Unable to resist exploring him a little more, she ran her fingers through the fine dusting of dark hair along his pectorals, smiling when his nipples contacted.

Robert shuddered and on a broken groan, buried his face in her hair. Pushing the tangle of curls away from her neck, he inhaled deeply before pressing a hot kiss in the hollow just below her ear. Encouraging his exploration, she arched her neck, marvelling at the delicious, tickling sensations his clever mouth provoked as he nibbled and licked his way down her throat until he reached the edge of her shift.

Then he paused. He raised his head and his gaze locked with hers. ‘Let me see you, Jessie,’ he whispered.

She didn’t hesitate. With trembling fingers, she clumsily loosened the ribbons at her neckline, all the time watching Robert’s expression. His eyes were dark, heavy-lidded with desire and when her shift gaped open to reveal her breasts, he swallowed.

‘I was right. Beautiful,’ he murmured reverently, trailing a fingertip down one breast to one tightly furled, aching nipple. She closed her eyes and whimpered, arching towards his hand. The hot restless ache in her was too much. She needed more.

And, thank the Lord, Robert obliged. He lowered his head and when his lips closed around the exposed bud, she cried out in agonised pleasure. Hot, dark desire swirled through her as he mercilessly suckled and teased her breasts with his tongue and fingers. She writhed beneath him, tangling her hands in his hair, unsure if she could take much more of this exquisite torture, not when the throb in her loins was growing with each passing minute.

At length, he raised his head and smiled at her, a wicked, entirely self-satisfied smile. Through her thin shift, he stroked gently across her ribs and down to her belly, making her quake.

‘Please don’t stop,’ she breathed. She was unsure what he would exactly do next, but she hoped he would focus his attention on that part of her where her unsatisfied need throbbed the most.

‘I won’t.’ He dipped his head and kissed her on the mouth again, tenderly this time as he gently lifted the hem of her shift. One of his hands stroked slowly up the inside of one thigh and then the other. She instinctively parted her legs, straining toward his feather-light touch. When his fingers slid up and down, between her most secret folds, warm and slippery with moisture, she gasped with the unexpected pure pleasure of it. She was wanton. Wild. She didn’t care, not when Robert could make her feel this way.

But it wasn’t the end, far from it. With unerring accuracy, the pad of one of Robert’s fingers found the focus of her pulsating desire. She jolted and gasped but his teasing, circling caresses didn’t falter in rhythm. As he expertly built the intensity of the exquisite sensations inside her to fever pitch, she panted and moaned in utter abandonment, unsure how much more she could take. She seemed to be spiralling higher and higher toward some hitherto unknown heavenly world where agony and pleasure coalesced.

And then her reality exploded into ecstasy. She cried out again and again with the shattering power of her release, her womb clenching in orgasm for the very first time. By degrees, she floated back to earth and became aware of Robert kissing her neck, her jaw, her cheek, her eyelids. She felt replete and awed all at the same time.

She opened her eyes and smiled hazily at Robert. ‘Thank you,’ she murmured. ‘I had no idea … that was … what you did was amazing … I canna describe it any other way.’ She reached out and placed a hand on Robert’s chest, not wanting to lose contact with his hot skin. ‘Is it like that for you too?’

‘It can be,’ he murmured before kissing her hair and drawing her close into his arms. Jessie felt his erection pushing hard up against her belly.

Robert had satisfied her, yet his need was still great. Jessie couldn’t let him suffer so.

‘Mmm, I think it is yer turn now,’ she said, then kissed his neck where his pulse beat a strong and steady tattoo. But despite what they had just shared, and as much as she wanted to please him, she suddenly felt uncertain about what she should do next. She ran one of her hands down his chest to the taut plane of his stomach, pausing at the waistband of his breeches.

She bit her lip, wondering how to proceed. She had seen how Robert had stroked himself. Tentatively, she placed her palm against the large, swollen length of him. Would he let her see him, touch him, pleasure him there? She flexed her fingers experimentally, and Robert sucked in a harsh breath, pushing against her.

She smiled to herself. Perhaps he would.

‘I havena ever done this before,’ she said softly, meeting his intent, dark-as-midnight gaze. ‘You might need to show me the way.’

Robert chuckled gently. ‘I think you’ve found the right place,’ he said, then kissed her lightly. ‘Are you sure you’re ready for this though? I can wait … if you are unsure about continuing.’

Jessie’s cheeks grew hot but she didn’t look away. ‘Yes, I’m sure. I want you to feel the way I felt.’ She pushed herself up, took a deep breath and began unbuttoning the front of his breeches, exposing the mysterious swelling. At such close quarters, the sight of his fully erect member jutting up from the thatch of dark curls at his groin, quite took her breath away. He was powerfully, rampantly beautiful.

And tonight he was all hers.



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

My book setting: Scotland

by Amy Rose Bennett

Even though I’m new to the Escape team of authors, when I heard there was the opportunity to participate in a new blog series to showcase the settings of our books, I immediately jumped at the chance.

My first Escape title, due out in May, is a Scottish historical romance! The Master of Strathburn is essentially a tale about Robert Grant, a wanted Jacobite. After surviving the Battle of Culloden, he escapes to France and then the Caribbean. However, after a decade of living in exile, he desperately wants to return to Scotland and reconcile with his estranged father, the Earl of Strathburn. The only problem is, there is still a price on his head. Of course, when he returns to Lochrose Castle, his long-lost Highland home, the adventures and the romance begin…

River Spey 1 copyI’ve long been enamoured with all things Scottish, including the history surrounding the Jacobite Rebellions. I’m sure many of you have read or watched Outlander which focuses on the second and perhaps better-known rebellion, the ’45, when Bonnie Prince Charlie, the Young Pretender, made a play not just for the Scottish throne, but for the throne of England. The rebellion culminated in the Battle of Culloden on April 16, 1746. The Jacobite army was resoundingly defeated by British forces in a bloody battle that lasted little over an hour.

I’ve been fortunate enough to visit Scotland twice to do some ‘on the ground’ research prior to writing The Master of Strathburn. Indeed, my very supportive family has been dragged to many of the locations that feature in the story.

Culloden Memorial CairnThe Battle of Culloden took place at Drumossie Moor, not far from Inverness in the northwest of Scotland. When I visited, it was actually only a few days after the anniversary of the battle and families who’d lost relatives had laid wreaths against the memorial cairn. The moor is actually classified as a war grave and there are small headstones marking the places where particular clansmen fell. It is estimated that 1500 to 2000 Jacobite soldiers were killed or wounded during the brief battle whereas the British army sustained only 50 casualties. Needless to say, visiting Culloden was a very moving experience.

The Earldom of Strathburn is an entirely fictitious hereditary title I invented for my story; however there were Clan Grant lands in and around the stunning Strathspey region of the Highlands, where I set a good deal of my book. Our family actually stayed at a gorgeous B&B just outside of Grantown-on-Spey, the area I imagined Robert’s family seat, Lochrose Castle, was located. The Cairngorm Mountain range where I placed the earl’s hunting lodge—and where Robert Grant and the feisty heroine of my story, Jessie Munroe, have their ‘first meet’—was quite close to the B&B. Even in April, when I visited, there was still snow on the mountains and snow flurries in and around Inverness, to the northwest (about 56km away).

Drumochter Pass

Drumochter Pass

Robert and Jessie eventually leave Lochrose Castle and its environs and head south to Edinburgh. We drove through the Drumochter Pass, one of the main routes into and out of the Highlands even in the 1700s. Again the mountains were snow-covered!

Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh Castle

I love Edinburgh, especially the Royal Mile in the Old Town. The Mile stretches from the brooding bulk of Edinburgh Castle right down to the elegant Palace of Holyroodhouse and its extensive park. Some other places of interest in Edinburgh that feature in The Master of Strathburn are St Giles Cathedral, the old Tolbooth (a gaol which no longer stands, but was adjacent to the Cathedral), and the Whitehorse Inn toward the bottom of the Mile along the stretch known as the Canongate. I think what I loved most about the Old Town was the amazing history around every corner. There are so many fascinating stories associated with the royal residences and the many wynds and closes that lead off the Mile. Edinburgh—indeed the whole of Scotland—certainly fired my writer’s imagination!

I really hope readers get a sense of the stunning Highlands and the other places I described in The Master of Strathburn as they follow Robert and Jessie on their tumultuous journey to a well-earned HEA. If they do, I will be most happy!


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