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

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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

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)

“I love when true history is blended in with the authors fictional romance, to me a history junkie that’s my favorite combination in my reads! Truly a beautiful tale that reader won’t forget.” – Barbee, Goodreads (The Chieftain’s Daughter)

Buy now!


From hot newcomer Amy Rose Bennett:

28512

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

Buy now!


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)

Buy Now!

 

November is Naughty *and* Nice!

New releases!

22819From the author of the internationally best-selling The House on Burra Burra Lane comes a Christmas story — country style.

Contemporary/Holiday/Rural romance, heat level: sensual


22578From the talented and versatile Ros Baxter comes the first full-length novel in her sexy, engaging, groundbreaking SF Romance series.

When everything else is gone, all you have is hope.

SF Romance, heat level: steamy


22586From the internationally best-selling, award-winning Chieftain series comes a Romeo and Juliet style Christmas novella with a Scottish twist. A bad boy highlander is about to meet his match…

Historical Romance: Scottish/Holiday romance, heat level: steamy


22579From bestselling author Fiona Palmer comes the second in a young adult / new adult crossover series about sexy spies, a super secret agency and the work they do to save the world.

New Adult/Action & Adventure romance, heat level: sensual


22580They’ve been colleagues, allies and best friends forever, but he wants more — and he’s not above using the magic of the Christmas season to get it.

Contemporary/Holiday romance, heat level: sweet


are you caught up on the Sydney Housewives? Meet Lana – available this week.

22584Meet the Housewives of Sydney. They are wealthy, elegant, poised, and constantly in the public eye. But what goes on behind closed doors, in the private homes and parties where the cameras and paparazzi aren’t welcome? Delve into the most personal details of their relationships, their friendships and their lives. The only question is: can you handle the heat?

Happy Reading!

Do You Believe in Fate? – Frances Housden

I have to confess to regularly reading my horoscope. My husband laughs, ‘How can it be true for everyone in the world born in the same month?’ I don’t care. I do believe in fate—that there is something guiding us but we have the option to follow the advice or not. Right now my horoscope says the next 12 months will be the best period for my career in decades. Who wouldn’t want to believe that, but it’s what we do about it that counts.

Going back to fate, Euan the hero of THE CHIEFTAIN’S CURSE came to me in a dream. He was yelling, ‘Will this bluidy curse never end?’ Now tell me, what red-blooded author wouldn’t want to find out more?

Discovering Euan took me on a journey into my past, into the history of Scotland, my homeland. It was exciting using a lot of what I learned at my grandfather’s knee, but more than that, many places and characters simply popped into my head, especially Nhaimeth the dwarf—a favourite with readers—and this, long before A Game of Thrones reached our screens. I gave a detailed description of the clan castle in my book and discovered it really existed—fate or latent memories from my childhood? I don’t care, why should I? Everything worked to drive the plot of the very first book in my ‘Chieftain’ series.

This is where I accept that we need to give fate a hand. I went to a clairvoyant shortly after I finished ‘Chieftain’. She told me I had a book that would do really well and since the publishers weren’t liable to coming knocking on my door, I left it to my agent to find one who loved the book as much as I did. Years past, editors did love the book, but didn’t know where to place it—yes it’s a wonderful romance but I like to think it is more. I have to admit the wait was disheartening. Then at the annual Harlequin dinner in 2012, I was sitting near Haylee Nash who told us all about Escape Publishing, Harlequin Australia’s new digital imprint. I asked if I could email a book to her and, when she agreed, I sent it off that very night as well as a lot of good vibes.

The rest as they say is history—Scottish History. Without any reviews THE CHIEFTAIN’S CURSE hit #3 overall on iBooks, stayed #1 in Historical Romance for weeks and was an Amazon bestseller, which led to a print edition being published by Harlequin MIRA Australia. Two weeks ago Chieftain was a finalist in Romance Writers of America’s RITA awards and two days ago, it won RWNZ’s Koru Award. How’s that for fate?

I don’t remember the speech I gave, though I’m told it was good. I do know I thanked Kate Cuthbert and Harlequin Australia for having the guts to publish Chieftain, enough said.


8883Nominated for the 2014 RITA Award for Best Historical Romance
Winner RWNZ inaugural Koru Award for Outstanding Long Romance

Euan McArthur is a chieftain in need of an heir.

While still a young a warrior, Euan incites the fury of a witch. She retaliates with a curse that no wife will ever bear him an heir. As he buries his third wife and yet another bonnie stillborn son, Euan can no longer cast her words aside.

Morag Farquhar is a woman in need of sanctuary.Pronounced barren by a midwife, Morag is of little value to her family, but a Godsend to Euan, a lover he can’t kill by getting with child.

Years ago, chance drew them together, and tangled their lives in ways they could never have imagined. This time their destiny lies in their own hands, but it will take courage and strong hearts to see it through to the end.

Available Now!


22037From the bestselling, RITA nominated author Frances Housden comes the gripping, sensual, suspenseful follow-up to The Chieftain’s Curse…

Gavyn Farquhar’s marriage is forged with a double-edged blade. Along with the Comlyn clan’s lands, a reward from the King, he is blessed with an unwilling bride, Kathryn Comlyn, and an ancient fort with few defences that desperately needs to be fortified before it can act as a sufficient buffer between Scotland and the Norsemen on its northern borders.

Gavyn needs wealth to meet his king’s demands, and he knows of only one way to get it — with his sword. Leaving his prickly bride behind in the hands of trusted advisors, he makes his way to the battlegrounds of France and the money that can be made there.

Two years married and Kathryn is still a virgin. A resentful virgin, certain that, like her father before her, she is perfectly capable of leading the Comlyn clan. In her usurper husband’s absence, she meets the clan’s needs, advising and ruling as well as any man.

But she is an intelligent woman, and she knows the only respect and power she will ever hold will be through her husband. And to wield it, she needs to make him love her. An easy task to set, but impossible to complete, when said husband has been gone for two years, and there is no word of his return. But Kathryn is undeterred. After all, a faint heart never won a Chieftain.

Frances’ next Chieftain book, Chieftain by Command is available for pre-order now, and releases September 1.