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

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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:

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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

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Feed Your Reader: Scots and Second Chances

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From best-selling author Frances Housden comes a brand new historical romance about a Spanish señorita and a strapping Scottish hero…


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Love at first sight is all very well, but sometimes it takes a second chance

Feed Your Reader: Men in Kilts and Witches in Sydney

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From best-selling author Allison Butler comes a brand-new Scottish historical: A charming rogue, a woman with responsibilities, a highland romance you won’t forget…


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The final bewitching story in a trilogy about sexy witches and second chances…

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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!


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

Feed Your Reader: first March releases

Released March 5…

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One last Chieftain meets his match in the final book in Frances Housden’s best-selling, award-winning series…


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Good fences make good neighbours, but in Dulili, it seems like barriers might instead be breaking down…

Book 2 in the new Dollar for a Dream rural romance series

Move to the country for $1 a week… 

Dulili is suffering a people drought. Over the years more people have moved away than have arrived to stay in this old New South Wales farming town, and now only a handful of young families and elderly residents are left. The locals put a plan into action to entice newcomers: offering the town’s empty houses to newcomers from anywhere in Australia.  Who could resist renting a beautiful homestead for a dollar a week?

A Heart Stuck on Hope

Honey Hill House

The Healing Season

Feed Your Reader! December 8 Releases

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The Scottish Highlands meet The Bachelorette in this new historical romance from Allison Butler…


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For a man called Chris Kringle, Christmas is the most magical time of the year.  But this year, there’s something about a certain elf that’s grabbed his attention in the best of ways. 


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She would trust him with her life. But can either of them trust their hearts?


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Bremy St James is back in a brand new adventure, mixing chaos, humour, sex, and superheroes in this fresh, funny, flirty series. It’s the superhero romance you didn’t know you needed…


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He knew everything he wanted…until she showed him everything he never knew he needed


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A story about starting fresh, letting go, and risking it all for love…

December Recipes – Never Fail Chocolate Truffles

by Allison Butler

For anyone who knows me, it will come as no surprise to hear me say I’m not the world’s best or most inspired cook, but I do love to eat. So when I first saw the idea for the Escape Artists to put together an article for favourite family recipes throughout December, my first thought was ‘Not going there’. Then I remembered a recipe I stole from my sister years ago; a recipe even I managed to successfully whip up and impress my husband and our two daughters, and I’ve used this recipe many times since. Here’s my (sister’s) simple but yummy recipe for Never-Fail Chocolate Truffles.

Ingredients

  • 1 Cup of Plain Chocolate Biscuits (Eg: Chocolate Ripple or similar) = approx 8 biscuits
  • ½ Cup coconut
  • 1 Tablespoon Cocoa
  • ½ Cup Sweetened Condensed Milk
  • ½ Cup Extra Coconut

Method

Place biscuits in a plastic bag and crush using a rolling pin. For those of you with a food processor, it might be faster and easier to use it for this.

In medium sized bowl mix crushed biscuits, coconut, cocoa and condensed milk until it forms a sticky lump of a mess.

Roll sticky lump of a mess into 2cm balls – wait until you see your hands – and roll them into the extra coconut.

Refrigerate.

Eat (the best part) Enjoy.

And remember, if I can make these delicious chocolate treats, anyone can.

Happy Holidays!

Allison Butler xx


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The Scottish Highlands meet The Bachelorette in this new historical romance from Allison Butler…