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Memoirs of a Highland Lady: “the short romance which changed all things in life to me.”

In which our heroine discovers an ancient feud…

and becomes the victim of her parents’ shortcomings

The first year my brother was at College he made acquaintance with a young man a few years older than himself, the son of one of the Professors. His friend was tall, dark, handsome, very engaging in his manners, very agreeable in his conversation, and considered by all who had been employed in his education to possess abilities quite worthy of the talented race he belonged to. The Bar was to be his profession, more by way of occupation for him in the meanwhile than for any need he would ever have to practise Law for a livelihood. He was an only son. His father was rich, his mother had been an heiress, and he was the heir of an old, nearly bedrid bachelour Uncle who possessed a very large landed property on the banks of the Tweed. Was it fair, when a marriage was impossible, to let two young people as him and me pass day after day for months familiarly together.

When we all removed to Edinburgh William lost no time in introducing his friend to us; all took to him amazingly; he was my constant partner, joined us in our walks, sat with us every morning, was invited frequently as company and was several times asked to stay and partake of the family dinner. It never entered my head that his serious attentions would be disagreeable, nor my Mother’s, I really believe, that such would ever grow out of our brother and sister intimacy.

Then came Miss Baillie’s fête, and the poem in which I figured so gracefully. It was in every mouth, for it itself it was a gem, and I was so completely the genius of it, none but a lover could have mingled so much tenderness with, his admiration. On the poet’s next visit my Mother received him very coldly. At our next meeting she declined his now regular attendance. At the next party she forbade my dancing with him: after the indelicate manner in which he had brought my name before the publick in connexion with his own, it was necessary to meet so much forwardness by a reserve that would keep such presumption at a proper distance. I listened in silence, utterly amazed, and might in such perfectly submission habits of obedience had we been brought up, have submitted sorrowfully and patiently, but she went too far. She added that she was not asking much of me, for this disagreeable young man had no attaching qualities; he was neither good looking, nor well bred, nor clever, nor much considered by persons of judgment, and certainly by birth no way the equal of a Grant of Rothiemurchus.

I left the room, flew to my own little attick, what a comfort that corner all to myself was then and often afterwards to me. I laid my head upon my bed, and covering my face with my hands, vainly trying to keep back the tears… Long I staid there, half thinking, half dreaming, till a new turn took me, the turn of unmitigated anger. Were we puppets, to be moved about with strings. Where we supposed to have neither sense nor feeling. Was I so poor in heart as to be able to like today, and loathe tomorrow, so deficient in understanding as to be incapable of seeing with my eyes, hearing with my ears, judging with my own perceptions. This long familiar intimacy permitted, then suddenly broken upon false pretences. They don’t know me, thought I; alas, I did not know myself. To my mother throughout that miserable day I never articulated one syllable. My father was in London.

My first determination was to see my poet and inquire of him whether he were aware of any private enmity between our houses. Fortunately he also had determined on seeking an interview with me in order to find out what it was my mother had so suddenly taken amiss in him. Both so resolved, we made our Meeting out, and a pretty Romeo and Juliet business it ended in. There was an ancient feud, a College quarrel between our fathers which neither of them had ever made a movement to forgive. It was more guessed at from some words his mother had dropt than clearly ascertained, but so much he had too late discovered, that a more intimate connexion would be as distasteful to the one side as the other.

We were very young, we were very much in love, we were very hopeful. Life looked so far, it had been latterly so happy. We could conceive of no old resentments between our parents that would not yield to the welfare of their children. He remembered that his father’s own marriage was an elopement followed by forgiveness and a long lifetime of perfect conjugal felicity. I recollected my mother telling me of the Montague and Capulet feud between the Neshams and the Ironsides, how my grandfather had sped so ill for years in his wooing, and how my grandmother’s constancy had carried the day, and how all parties had ‘as usual’ been reconciled… These lessons had made quite as much impression as more moral ones. So, reassured by these arguments, we agreed to wait, to keep up our spirits, to give time to be true and faithful to each other, and to trust to the Chapter of accidents.

In all this there was nothing wrong, but a secret correspondence in which we indulged ourselves was a step into the wrong, certainly… One of these stray notes from him tome was intercepted by my mother, and some of the expressions employed were so starting to her that in a country like Scotland, where so little constitutes a marriage, she almost feared we had bound ourselves by ties sufficiently binding to cause considerable annoyance, to say the least of it. She therefore consulted Lord Gillies as her confidential advisor, and he had a conference with Lord Glenlee, the trusted lawyer on the other side, and then the young people were spoken to, to very little purpose.

What passed in the other house I could only guess at from after circumstances. In ours, Lord Gillies was left by my Mother in the room with me; he was always gruff, cold, short in manner, the reverse of agreeable and no favourite with me, he was ill selected for the task of inducing a young lady to give up her lover… He counseled me, by every consideration of propriety, affection, and duty, to give ‘this foolish matter up.’ Ah, Lord Gillies, thought I, did you give up Elizabeth Carnegie? did she give up you. When you dared not meet openly, what friend abetted you secretly*. I wish I had had the courage to say this, but I was so nervous at his knowing my story, so abashed at our conversation that words would not come, and I was silent. To my mother I found courage to say that I had yet heard no reasons which would move me to break the word solemnly given, the troth plighted, and could only repeat what I had said at the beginning that we were resigned to wait.

Lord Glenlee had made as little progress; he had had more of a storm to encounter, indignation having produced a flow of eloquence. Affairs therefore remained at a stand still. The fathers kept aloof—mine indeed was still in London; but the mothers agreed to meet and see what could be managed through their agency. Nothing very satisfactory. I would promise nothing, sign nothing, change nothing, without an interview with my betrothed to hear from his own lips his wishes. As if my mind had flown to meet his, he made exactly the same reply to similar importunities. No interview would be granted, so there we stopt again. A growing fancy early perceived might have been easily diverted. It was a matter of more difficulty to tear asunder two hearts too long united.

At length his mother proposed to come and see me, and to bring with her a letter from him, which I was to burn in her presence after reading, and might answer, and she would carry the answer back on the same terms. I knew her well, for she had always been kind to me and had encouraged my intimacy with her daughters; she knew nothing of my more intimate relations with her son. The letter was very lover like, very tender to me, very indignant with every one else, very undutiful and very devoted, less patient than we had agreed on being, more audacious than I dared to be. I read it in much agitation—read it, and then laid it on the fire. ‘and now before you answer it, my poor dear child,’ said this most excellent and most sensible woman, ‘listen to the very words I must say to you,’ and then in the gentlest manner, as a tender surgeon might cautiously touch a wound, rationally and truthfully, she laid all the circumstances of our unhappy case before me, and bade me judge for my self on what was fitting for me to do. She indeed altered all my high resolves, annihilated all my hopes, yet she soothed while she probed, she roused while seeming to crush and she called forth feelings of duty, of self respect, of proper self sacrifice, in the place of the mere passion that had hitherto governed me. She told me that although she had considered my education to have been in many respects faulty, the life I led frivolous and that there was much in my own unformed character to condemn, she would have taken me to heart as her daughter, for the pure, simple nature that shone through all imperfections, and for the true love I bore her son. She knew there was a noble disposition beneath the little follies, but her husband she said would never think so, never ever endure an alliance with my father’s child. They had been friends, intimate friends, in their School and College days; they quarreled, on what grounds neither of them ever had been known to give to any human being the most distant hint, but in proportion to their former affection was the inveteracy of their after dislike… My father had written to my mother that he would rather see me in the grave than the wife of that man’s son. Her husband had said to her that if that marriage took place he would never speak to his son again, never notice him, nor allow of his being noticed by the family. She told me her husband had a vindictive as well as a violent and a positive temper, and that she suspected there must be a touch of the same evil dispositions in my father, or so determined an enmity could not have existed… At their age she feared there was no cure… She said we had been cruelly used, most undesignedly; she blamed neither so far, but she had satisfied her judgment that the peculiar’ situation of the families now demanded from me this sacrifice; I must set free her son, he could not give me up honourably.… She said what she liked, for I seldom answered her; my doom was sealed; I was not going to bring misery in my train to any family, to divide it and humiliate myself, destroy perhaps the future of the man I loved, rather than give him or myself some present pain…

I told her I would write what she dictated, sign Lord Glenlee’s ‘renunciation,’ promise to hold no secret communication with her son. I kept my word; she took back a short note in which… I gave him back his troth. He wrote, and I never opened his letter; he came and I would not speak, but as a cold acquaintance. What pain it was to me those who have gone through the same ordeal alone could comprehend. His angry disappointment was the worst to bear; I felt it was unjust, and yet it could not be explained away, and pacified. I caught a cold luckily, and kept my room awhile. I think I should have died if I had not been left to rest a bit.

Adam Gillies, Lord Gillies (1760-1842)

*I searched in vain for any information about Lord Gillies’ illicit marriage to Elizabeth Carnegie. Lord Gillies was a Scottish judge (and somewhat of a hypocrite, it seems).

Memoirs of a Highland Lady

‘I was born on the 7th May 1797 of a Sunday evening at No. 5 N. side of Charlotte Square, Edinburgh, in my father’s own lately built house and I am the eldest of five children he and my mother raised to maturity.’ Thus opens one of the most famous set of memoirs ever written. Since its first bowdlerised edition in 1898, they have been consistently in print. This is the first ever complete text. Written between 1845 and 1854 the memoirs were originally intended simply for Elizabeth’s family, but these vivid and inimitable records of life in the early 19th century, and above all on the great Rothiemurchus estate, full of sharp observation and wit, form an unforgettable picture of her time. The story ends with the thirty-three-year-old Elizabeth finding her own future happiness in marriage to an Irish landowner, Colonel Smith of Baltiboys. ‘A masterpiece of historical and personal recall.’ Scotsman

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Memoirs of a Highland Lady

Memoirs of a Highland Lady: Harvest Home

Harvest Home

We had three harvest homes to keep in Rothiemurchus: a very small affair indeed at the Croft; a luncheon in the parlour for us children only, and a view of the barn prepared for the dinner and dance to the servants. It was a much merrier meeting at the Dell; my father and mother and all of us, stuffed into the carriage, or on it, drove there to dinner, which was served in the best parlour, my father at the head of the table, Duncan McIntosh at the foot, and those for whom there was not room at the principal board went with at least equal glee to a side table. There was always broth, mutton boiled and roasted, fowls, muirfowl*****—three or four pair in a dish—apple pie and rice pudding, such jugs upon jugs of cream. Cheese, oatcakes and butter; thick bannocks of flour instead of wheaten bread, a bottle of port, a bottle of sherry, and after dinner, do end to the whiskey punch. In the kitchen was all the remains of the sheep, more broth, more mutton, haggis, head and feet singed, puddings black and white, a pile of oaten cakes, a kit of butter, two whole cheeses, one tub of sowans*, another of curd, whey and whiskey in plenty. The kitchen party, including any servants from house or farm that could be spared so early from the Croft, the Doune, or Inverdruie, dined when we had done, and we ladies, leaving the gentlemen to more punch, took a view of the kitchen festivities before retiring to the bed chamber of Mrs McIntosh to make the tea. When the gentlemen joined us the parlour was prepared for dancing. With what extasies we heard the first sweep of that masterly bow across the strings of my father’s Cremona. It had been my grandfather’s. A small very sweetly toned instrument lent to Mr McIntosh to be kept in order. He thought it wanting in power, his reels could not be given with spirit from it, so he enlarged the S holes. What became of this valuable instrument I know not. It had been spoiled. The first Strathspey**** was danced by my father and Mrs McIntosh; as the principal personages. The other pair to form the foursome was of less consequence. If my mother danced at all, it was later in the evening. My father’s dancing was peculiar; a very quiet body and very busy feet, they shuffled away in time quick time steps of his own composition, boasting of little variety, sometimes ending in a turn about which he imagined was the fling; as English it was altogether as if he had never left Hertfordshire. My Mother did better, she moved quietly in highland matron fashion, ‘high and disposedly’ like Queen Elizabeth and Mrs McIntosh, for however lightly the lasses footed it, Etiquette forbade the wives to do more than ‘tread the measure.’ William and Mary moved in the grave style of my Mother; Johnny without instructions danced beautifully; Jane was perfection, so light, so active, and so graceful; but of all the dancers there, none were equal to little Sandy**, the present Factor, the son of Duncan McIntosh, though no son of his wife.

Harvest Home

We were accustomed to dance with all the company, just as if they had been our equals; it was always done and without injury to either party. There was no fear of undue assumption on the one side, or low familiarity on the other; a vein of thorough good breeding ran through all the ranks, of course influencing the manners and rendering the intercourse of all most particularly agreeable. About midnight the carriage would be ordered to bring our happy party home. It was late enough before the remainder separated.

The Doune harvest home was very nearly like that at the Dell, only that the dinner was in the farm kitchen and the ball in the barn, and two fiddlers stuck up on tubs formed the orchestra. A whole sheep was killed, and near a boll*** of meal baked, and a larger company was invited, for our servants were more numerous and they had leave to bring a few relations. We always went down to the farm in the carriage drawn by some of the men, who got glasses of whiskey apiece for the labour, and we all joined in all the reels the hour or two we staid, and drank punch to every body’s health made with brown sugar, and enjoyed the fun, and felt as little annoyed by all the odours of the atmosphere as any of the humbler guests to whom the Entertainment was given.

*sowans: Oats and meal steeped in water for a week until sour, when they are strained; the jelly-like liquor is left to ferment and separate; the solid matter is sowans.

**Mr McIntosh spent the winter isolated in the forest “with no companion but Mary, of a certain age, and never well-favoured. The result was Sandy, a curious compound of his young handsome father and plain elderly mother. It was this Mary who was the cook at Inverdruie, and a very good one she was, and a decent body into the bargain, much considered by Mrs McIntosh. There was no attempt to excuse, much less to conceal her history; in fact, such occurrences were too common to be commented on… [Mrs McIntosh] had brought little Sandy home at her marriage and as much as lay in her power acted a mother’s part by him; her children even accused her of undue partiality for the poor boy who was no favourite with his father. If so, the seed was sown in good ground, for Sandy was the best son she had. It was a curious state of manners, this.

***boll: 6 bushels or 48 gallons

****the Strathspey: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rrzxO_MUVW0, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strathspey_(dance)

*****muirfowl (red grouse)

 

 

Memoirs of a Highland Lady

‘I was born on the 7th May 1797 of a Sunday evening at No. 5 N. side of Charlotte Square, Edinburgh, in my father’s own lately built house and I am the eldest of five children he and my mother raised to maturity.’ Thus opens one of the most famous set of memoirs ever written. Since its first bowdlerised edition in 1898, they have been consistently in print. This is the first ever complete text. Written between 1845 and 1854 the memoirs were originally intended simply for Elizabeth’s family, but these vivid and inimitable records of life in the early 19th century, and above all on the great Rothiemurchus estate, full of sharp observation and wit, form an unforgettable picture of her time. The story ends with the thirty-three-year-old Elizabeth finding her own future happiness in marriage to an Irish landowner, Colonel Smith of Baltiboys. ‘A masterpiece of historical and personal recall.’ Scotsman

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Memoirs of a Highland Lady

Memoirs of a Highland Lady: The Moral Training of Great Men Began in a Cabin

Willie Grant was a fine handsome boy, a favourite with every body and the darling of his poor father, who had but this bright spot to cheer his dull home horizon. All this summer Willie had come to the Doune with the parson every third Sunday; that is, they came on Saturday, and generally remained over Monday. He was older than any of us, but not too old to share all our out of doors fun, and he was full of all good, really and truly sterling. We were to love one another for ever, yet we never met again. When we returned to the highlands he was in the East India Military College, and then he sailed, and though he lived to come home, marry, and to settle in the highlands, neither Jane nor I ever saw him more. How many of these fine lads did my father and Charles Grant send out to India? Some that throve, some that only passed, some that made a name we were all proud of, and not one that ever I heard of that disgraced the homely rearing of their humbly positioned but gentle born parents. The moral training of those simple times bore its fair fruits: the history of half the great men in the last age began in a cabin.

Colquhoun Grant, Gentleman Spy

Sir Charles Forbes was the son of a small farmer in Aberdeenshire. Sir William Grant, the Master of the Rolls, was a mere peasant—his Uncles floated my father’s timber down the Spey as long as they had strength to follow the calling. General William Grant was a footboy in my Uncle Rothy’s family. Sir Colquhoun Grant, though a woodsetter’s child, was but poorly reared, in the same fashion as Mrs. Pro’s fortunate boys. Sir William Macgregor, whose history should we tell it was most romantick of all, was such another. The list could be easily lengthened did my memory serve, but these were among the most striking examples of what the good plain schooling of the dominie, the principles and the pride of the parents, produced in young ardent spirits: forming characters which, however they were acted on by the world, never forgot home feelings, although they proved this differently. The Master of the Rolls, for instance, left all his relations in obscurity. A small annuity rendered his parents merely independant of hard labour; very moderate portions just secured for his sisters decent matches in their own degree; an occasional remittance in a bad season helped an Uncle or a brother out of difficulty. I never heard of his going to see them, or bringing any of them out of their own sphere to visit him. While the General shoved on his brothers, educated his nephews and nieces, pushed the boys up, married the girls well—such of them at least as had a wish to raise themselves and almost resented the folly of Peter the Pensioner (see below), who would not part with one of his flock from the very humble home he chose to keep them in. Which plan was wisest or was either quite right? Which relations were happiest—those whose feelings were sometimes hurt, or those whose frames were sometimes over wearied and but scantily refreshed? I often pondered in my own young enquiring mind over these and similar questions…

Peter the Pensioner

We knew him always as Peter the Pensioner, on account of sixpence a day my father got him from Greenwich, in lieu of an eye he had lost in some engagement. He lived in one of a row of cottages on the Mill town moor, with a very large family of children, all of whom earned their bread by labour. We had a son in the wood work and a daughter as kitchenmaid during the time their uncle the General was paying a visit to us.

Memoirs of a Highland Lady

Elizabeth Grant of Rothiemurchus

Memoirs of a Highland Lady

Collette Cameron: Passion and Plunder

Scottish Heather Honey

I never know what random thing my latest story will have me poking around the Internet in search of. For my Highland Heather Romancing a Scot Series, I’ve mentioned the use of heather in several of the books, hence the title. In books five and six, I ventured into the healing qualities of honey. I’d heard of the skin and medicinal benefits of honey before, and I was curious if honey from heather might have unusual properties. I was delighted at what I uncovered.

By Vicky Brock from Glasgow, UK – Honey Show 2, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=35024402

As you no doubt already know, all honey provides many benefits:

  • Reduce throat irritation and cough
  • Heals wounds and burns
  • Reduce ulcers and other gastrointestinal disorders
  • Cancer and heart disease prevention
  • Anti-bacterial and anti-fungal

Made by bees brought to the Highlands in August for the express purpose of collecting nectar from heather blossoms, Scottish heather honey is touted as having “magical healing powers” and is referred to by the Scots as the “Champagne of all honeys.” Dubbed the “Rolls Royce” of honey in Britain, many claim it’s a cheaper alternative to New Zealand’s much praised Manuka honey. A recent study found heather honey to be more effective in treating topical infections than Manuka honey.

Scottish heather honey possesses an extraordinary antiseptic property, which makes it a favored natural remedy for treating cuts and wounds. I used that tidbit in book number six in the series. It has exceptional anti-bacteria fighting abilities and is known to treat MRSA as well as three other bacteria. It’s also a powerful anti-oxidant and contains high amount of minerals and proteins. An unusual feature of the dark amber honey is its texture, characterized by high thixotropy (extremely viscous). When at rest, it’s jelly-like, but when stirred or agitated, it becomes syrupy like other honeys until it settles into a gel again. It also has a high water content.

People either adore the medium-to-strong, even slightly bitter, woody taste and lingering peaty aftertaste, or dislike the flavor intently. Scottish Heather Honey is delicious in many dishes, but isn’t recommended for tea as the flavor is too strong for the brew. And yes, it’s used in the preparation of many alcoholic spirits such as mead. Those clever Scots.

Unfortunately, honey couldn’t cure my heroine’s father in Passion and Plunder, my fifth book in my Highland Heather Romancing a Scot series, but used in a salve in the sixth book, it helped heal my hero’s scars.

Are you a fan of honey? Any particular kind? Blackberry is mine. I love it in tea and with a special kind of biscuit made from my great-grandmother’s recipe. (You’ll find the recipe in my June 1 newsletter)

About Passion and Plunder (Highland Heather Romancing a Scot Series, #5)

Would you sacrifice everything for the person you love, knowing you can never be together?

A desperate Scottish lady

Lydia Farnsworth—the sole surviving heir to the Laird of Tornbury Fortress—has lost nearly everyone she loves. Now her father lies on his deathbed. And as if this isn’t dire enough, he’s invited men from the surrounding area to a warrior’s contest—the winner to claim Lydia as his bride.

A Scotsman dueling with his past

Alasdair McTavish, son of Craiglocky Keep’s war chief, is a seasoned warrior in his own right. So when he’s sent to Tornbury to train the Farnsworth soldiers, he’s more than equal to the task.

When a dangerous adversary makes a move against Lydia, a dastardly scheme comes to light, and Alasdair realizes only he can protect Lydia.

Don’t miss the 5th installment in this sweeping historical Highland romance series—get your copy of Passion and Plunder for a romantic Scottish adventure you won’t want to put down.

 

Passion and Plunder releases May 24, but you can pre-order it now.

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Giveaway Link

Excerpt

Mustering her courage, she reluctantly raised her focus from the soft, worn leather encompassing his ridiculously broad chest.

“Dinna look so woebegone, lass.”

“What are we to do?” She stared up at him, refusing to permit her surge of tears to fall. “Da wouldn’t have forced either of my brothers to marry before assuming the lairdship. This stipulation reveals his lack of faith in me. In my gender.”

“Nae, he wouldn’t, but I think he believes he be protectin’ ye.” A throaty quality deepened his voice as he drew her into his arms. One large hand framing a shoulder and the other cupping her waist, he pressed her near.

God help her, his strong, comforting embrace felt splendid, like a long overdue homecoming. So secure and safe.

And a bit terrifying too.

She wanted to wrap her hands around his large frame, bury her head in his shoulder, and stay snuggled there for hours.

Perchance days.

Forever.

Desire blazed in his eyes as he tilted her chin upward at the same moment he dipped his lower. Her woman’s intuition recognized the passion bubbling beneath his composed demeanor.

About the Author

A bestselling, award-winning author, Collette Cameron pens Scottish and Regency historicals featuring rogues, rapscallions, rakes, and the intelligent, intrepid damsels who reform them.

Blessed with three spectacular children, fantastic fans, and a compulsive, over-active, and witty Muse who won’t stop whispering new romantic romps in her ear, she still lives in Oregon with dachshunds, though she dreams of living in Scotland part-time.

Admitting to a quirky sense of humor, Collette enjoys inspiring quotes, adores castles and anything cobalt blue, and is a self-confessed Cadbury chocoholic. You’ll always find dogs, birds, occasionally naughty humor, and a dash of inspiration in her sweet-to-spicy timeless romances.

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Amy Rose Bennett: Master of Strathburn (Giveaway)

MasterOfStrathburnFINAL copy 2

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—he isn’t fortunate enough to have been granted a pardon through the Act of Indemnity in 1747. Not only that, his dissolute half-brother Simon and avaricious step-mother would have him arrested by the British in the blink of an eye to prevent him from reclaiming his birthright. Of course, when Robert returns to Lochrose Castle, his long-lost Highland home, the adventures and the romance begin…

Scotland and its rich history has always fascinated me. The idea for writing a novel set around the time of the second Jacobite Rebellion, the Forty-five, came to me when I was sixteen, after I’d read a short story about Flora MacDonald, the brave young woman who helped Bonnie Prince Charlie—the Pretender to the Scottish throne and indeed, the throne of England—escape the Highlands after the rebellion failed. Of course, I’ve done a lot more research into the period since then. After reading about Culloden—the last battle of the rebellion in which the Jacobite army was resoundingly defeated—I knew I particularly wanted to write about a Jacobite hero who was present at the battle and his struggles dealing with the aftermath following the failed uprising. And hence Robert Grant’s story came to life in my mind.

Culloden Memorial Cairn copy

The Battle of Culloden took place at Drumossie Moor, not far from Inverness in the north-west of Scotland on April 16, 1746. I was fortunate enough to visit the site several years ago; 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 fifty casualties. Needless to say, visiting Culloden was a very moving experience.

About Master of Strathburn

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 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 realizes 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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In the following excerpt, Robert has just escaped the Battle of Culloden by the skin of his teeth. Or has he?

Excerpt

April 16, 1746

Lochrose Castle, Strathspey, Scotland

‘You’ve got a bloody nerve, Robert.’

‘Aye, I do.’ Robert Grant—the soon-to-be disinherited Master of Strathburn and Viscount Lochrose—squinted through the dark spots clustering his field of vision, trying in vain to focus on his sneering half-brother Simon. The bayonet wound across his shoulder-blade throbbed with such thought-stealing intensity, it was all he could do to stay seated upon his trembling, sweating horse. There was no way he would be able to dismount unassisted. He’d end up with his face firmly planted in the gravel of the forecourt. ‘But for the love of God, Simon …’ he continued, his voice no more than a hoarse rasp. ‘Just help me down. I’m wounded for Christ’s sake …’

He barely recalled the moment the English soldier’s blade had sliced across his back. The horror of everything else that had taken place only hours before on Drumossie Moor flooded his mind. Made the nausea rise in his gullet anew.

Simon snorted. ‘You must’ve had a blow to the head then, or else you would’ve remembered that Father forbade you to come back.’ He glanced past Robert, down the gravel drive toward Lochrose’s gates. ‘You’ve killed them all, haven’t you? It was a rout, just like Father said it would be, wasn’t it?’ His grey gaze, flint-hard with accusation and long-held resentment, returned to Robert. ‘He will never forgive you for this.’

No doubt. Twenty-six Clan Grant men dead. And I was the arrogant young cock who led them all out like lambs to the slaughter.

Robert swallowed down both the bile and bitter self-acrimony burning his throat. ‘I know,’ he croaked. ‘But please … I just need to hide until I can move on … tomorrow.’

Even though he had flagrantly disobeyed their father and had led out the clan at Culloden, Robert prayed that he would be shown a modicum of compassion. That the earl would at least grant his eldest son sanctuary for a single night before he fled Scotland to spend a life in exile in some far-flung place. Robert didn’t want to put his family at risk for harbouring a fugitive, but he just couldn’t go on any farther.

Simon smiled, the sentiment not quite reaching his eyes. ‘Of course, dear brother. I shall have a room prepared for you.’ He gripped Robert’s forearm with one hand at the same time he slapped the blood-soaked plaid sticking to his shoulder.

Bastard. Agonising, white-hot pain instantly knifed through Robert. Even as black oblivion at last rose up to claim him, he didn’t fail to notice that Simon was still smiling.

Giveaway: For a chance to win a Kindle copy of my Regency noir style romance set in Scotland, just tell me what it is you love about Highland romances.

About the Author

AuthorPic copyAmy Rose Bennett has always wanted to be a writer for as long as she can remember. An avid reader with a particular love for historical romance, it seemed only natural to write stories in her favorite genre. She has a passion for creating emotion-packed—and sometimes a little racy—stories set in the Georgian and Regency periods. Of course, her strong-willed heroines and rakish heroes always find their happily ever after.

Amy is happily married to her own Alpha male hero, has two beautiful daughters, and a rather loopy Rhodesian Ridgeback. She has been a speech pathologist for many years but is currently devoting her time to her one other true calling—writing romance.

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Callie Hutton: The Highlander’s Accidental Bride (Giveaway)

Dearest Mother,

This is a difficult letter to write since I have done something very foolish. Please do not think from my actions that I in any way disavowed your upbringing or teachings. I was merely not in a frame of mind at the time to consider my words.

First, it saddens me to inform you that the driver and footman you hired to accompany me and my maid on the journey to visit Sybil was killed in a carriage crash. The carriage was also destroyed in the accident.

Alice and I are unhurt, however. We met two lovely gentlemen on the road, professors at the University of Scotland, who assisted us to reach the nearest inn. Mother, you will never guess, but one of the professors is cousin to Lady Margaret’s husband, Laird Duncan McKinnon! I was quite relieved to discover that since Professor McKinnon offered—well actually I asked—his company for the remainder of the journey to Sybil’s home.

It was while traveling with the professor that my situation… changed. It appears somehow in the confusion of trying to obtain a room at an inn that was quite full, I inadvertently… Well, I accidentally…

I wish there was another way to say this. But, I unintentionally…

Mother – I am married.

Love,

Sarah

A bit of history on ‘irregular marriages’ from Wikipedia:

Under early modern Scots law, there were three forms of “irregular marriage” which can be summarized as the agreement of the couple to be married and some form of witnessing or evidence of such. An irregular marriage could result from mutual agreement, by a public promise followed by consummation, or by cohabitation and repute. All but the last of these were abolished by the Marriage (Scotland) Act 1939, from 1 January 1940. Prior to this act, any citizen was able to witness a public promise… A marriage by “cohabitation with repute” as it was known in Scots Law could still be formed; popularly described as “by habit and repute”, with repute being the crucial element to be proved. In 2006, Scotland was the last European jurisdiction to abolish this old style common-law marriage or “marriage by cohabitation with repute”, by the passing of the Family Law (Scotland) Act 2006. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marriage_in_Scotland.

If you lived in the Regency period, what would you hate the most? What would you like the most? One commenter will win a $5 Amazon gift card, along with an ebook copy of the USA Today best-selling book The Elusive Wife. That book is the first in the Marriage Mart Mayhem series. If the winner has already read it, they can select any other book in the series.

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About The Highlander’s Accidental Marriage

On the way to visit her twin sister in the Highlands, Lady Sarah Lacey makes a huge mistake which has the ability to change her life’s plans… Now what does she do?

Lady Sarah Lacey is on her way to the Highlands to visit her twin sister, Lady Sybil MacBride, when she meets with an accident. Stranded on the road, she encounters Professor Braeden McKinnon, traveling to his home near Sarah’s destination. She cajoles him into escorting her and her maid.

As they take to the road together, Braeden finds the fiery Lady Sarah a handful of trouble. But nothing prepares him for the words she utters in front of witnesses that binds them together in matrimony. Waiting for word that he has been selected to work on an archaeological dig in Rome, he had no intention of taking a wife for a long time. Now that she has accidentally married them, however, perhaps it would not be such a bad thing, after all.

Except Sarah has no intention of being anyone’s wife. She has other plans…

http://calliehutton.com/the-highlanders-accidental-marriage-marriage-mart-mayhem-book-6/

Excerpt

She smiled at him. “Yes. I am ready.” Without another word, she sashayed over to his horse and stood next to it, her eyebrows raised. “Well. Are we leaving?”

Professor McKinnon had to shut his mouth, which hung open. He stomped over and, grasping her waist, flung her onto the horse’s back. She immediately began to slide to the other side, the weight of the wet clothes pulling her over. He reached out and grabbed her, tugging her the other way. Her arms flailing, she slid toward him and fell off, landing on him, sending both of them into the mud.

She lay sprawled on top of his muscular body, not more than an inch from his surprised expression. Mud splattered his spectacles as well as the rest of his face. Unable to help herself, she burst out laughing. He glowered at her and then his muscles relaxed, a slight smile teasing his lips which turned into a grin. “I’d love to lie here with ye on top of me, lass, but I dinna think we’ll get very far if ye do. ’Tis not fond of an audience, I am.”

About the Author

Cropped copyUSA Today best selling author of The Elusive Wife, Callie Hutton writes both Western Historical and Regency romance, with “historic elements and sensory details” (The Romance Reviews). Callie lives in Oklahoma with several rescue dogs, her daughter, son, daughter-in-law, twin grandbabies (thankfully all not in the same house), and her top cheerleader husband of thirty-nine years. Callie loves to hear from readers, and would welcome you as a friend on Facebook. You can contact her through her website: www.calliehutton.com.

If you would like to keep informed on sales, contests and new releases, sign up for her newsletter.

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2016 releases

Stephen’s Bride, April

Wild Western Women Boxed Set, Volume 3, April

The Earl’s Return, Marriage Mart Mayhem #7, August

Wild Western Women Christmas Boxed Set, October

The Christmas Wager, Marriage Mart Mayhem novella, November

The Matchmaker Series, Book One, December

 

Collette Cameron: Heartbreak and Honor

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Scottish Gypsies

Highland Travelers or Black Tinkers

By Collette Cameron

The term gypsy is a misnomer derived from Egyptian, much like the label Indian for Native Americans, and Romany Gypsies are quite different than the Highland Scottish Travellers or Black tinkers as they were known.

Though both groups, as well as at least a half a dozen other nomadic tribes, traveled throughout Scotland, the Roma’s origins trace back to India, whereas the Black Tinkers (in Gaelic-The Ceárdannan or the craftsmen) are mostly a genetic indigenous Scots.

That meant I had to rethink Tasara Faas, my heroine in Heartbreak and Honor.

I’d written a story with a part Roma heroine before, The Viscount’s Vow, but the Highland gypsies were vastly different. Everything from her dress, customs, and speech had to be researched because she’s far more like a Scotswoman than a Romany.

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Some Scottish Highland Traveler families do claim Roma heritage, and their Scottish–Gaelic cant contains Romany or Anglo-Romany words. In fact, some groups call themselves Nackin which is thought to be of Hindi origin.

No surprise there since the various tribes date back at least five hundred years in Scotland. However, the prevalence of the Roma influence is seen more in the Lowland travellers rather than the Highlands.

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The Black Tinkers language is secret and has never been recorded in writing, according to one source. Many hold typical Scottish surnames such as Stewart, Macmillan, MacDonald, and Cameron. They possess a strong belief in the importance of family and purity taboos, much like the Roma travellers.

And much like the European Roma, the Highland Travelers were (are) a maligned segment of population. Stereotyped as thieves, con men, and fortune tellers, stories were broadly circulated that gypsies would kidnap children. In an odd twist, gypsies’ feared abduction themselves. Many disappeared and were thought victims used in medical schools for dissection. Rumors abounded of illegitimate children of the gentry or haute ton, being sold or given to the gypsies as well.

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Highland Travelers were so despised, that during the 17th century, Scottish law ordered them to “quit the realm” or hang. Scottish Travelers toted their goods in carts and pitched bowed tents while the Roma typically lived in vardos, a type of caravan wagon. Some sources also claim the Highland Scottish Travelers used caravans as well.

Today, usage of the terms gypsy or even tinker is considered derogatory.

Though a Scottish Regency Romance, Heartbreak and Honor uses the abduction and persecution elements of the Scottish gypsies to help spread their unique, and often unfortunate, tale.

What unusual elements do you enjoy reading about in a historical romance?

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About Heartbreak and Honor

Highland Heather Romancing a Scot Series, Book 3

Abducted by a band of renegade Scots, Highland gypsy Tasara Faas doesn’t hesitate to blacken her rescuer’s eye when the charming duke attempts to steal a kiss. Afterward, she learns she’s the long-lost heiress Alexandra Atterberry and is expected to take her place among the elite society she’s always disdained.

Lucan, the Duke of Harcourt, promised his gravely ill mother he’d procure a wife by Christmastide, but intrigued by the feisty lass he saved in Scotland, he finds the haut ton ladies lacking. Spying Alexa at a London ball, he impulsively decides to make the knife-wielding gypsy his bride despite her aversion to him and her determination to return to the Highlands.

The adversary responsible for Alexa’s disappearance as a toddler still covets her fortune and joins forces with Harcourt’s arch nemesis. Amidst a series of suspicious misfortunes, Lucan endeavors to win Alexa’s love and expose the conspirators but only succeeds in reaffirming Alexa’s belief that she is inadequate to become his duchess.

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Excerpt

“Duke? What’s a ruddy English duke doing sneaking into a Scottish keep’s chamber?” Tasara flinched. She hadn’t meant to speak aloud.

“Why, rescuing you, of course.”

Did he wink? Cocky fellow, wasn’t he? But then, he was a duke. The attitude came with the title, no doubt present from birth. Probably had his noble bum and snotty nose wiped with the finest linen or silk. Astonishing that he deemed to exert himself enough to muster a sweat. Didn’t nobility have servants do everything for them?

Muted voices and calls echoed from somewhere in the keep.

Attempting to recognize a voice, she tilted her head.

The horrific shrieks and roars of minutes ago had ceased, although an occasional shrill cry yet rang through the stone passageways, raising the hair along her nape.

“Ye be here to rescue us?” Holding Lala’s pudgy hand, György knelt on the bed, his ebony eyes wary and no doubt sprinkled with a dab of excitement too.

In the muted light, Tasara couldn’t be certain. Lads dreamt about adventures of this sort.

“I am, indeed, young sir.” His grace smiled, his teeth gleaming in the half-light. “Whom do I have the pleasure of addressing?”

György shook his sister’s grip loose.

She jammed her thumb in her mouth and toyed with the curls tumbling atop her left shoulder. She stared at the duke, her gaze wide and distrusting.

After scooting from the bed, György gave a handsome bow. “György Faas, Yer Highness, and these be me sisters, Tasara and Lala.”

“It’s Your Grace, György, not Your Highness.”

I think.

Tasara’s attention swung between the duke and her brother. Harcourt probably had been treated like royalty his entire life.

“Grace? Are ye sure, Tasara?” György pulled a silly face and snickered. “That be a lass’s name.”

The duke chuckled again, the rich timbre resonating from his chest. “So it is. Most embarrassing, I’ll admit, but I’m afraid someone started the ridiculous tradition far too long ago for me to change things now. I’m just grateful they didn’t select Chastity or Prudence.”

Aye, me too, Your Chastity.” György clutched his belly in glee and laughed harder. “Dinnae ye have a given name?”

“Indeed, I do. Several as matter of fact. I’m named Rochester after my father, though I prefer to be addressed as Harcourt or Lucan, which is part of my middle name, Lucan-Ashford.”

His agreeableness irked Tasara. No doubt he could charm the fur from a fox and have the creature thanking him for the honor of losing its hide.

About the Author

Collette Cameron copyBestselling, award-winning Historical Romance Author, Collette Cameron, pens Scottish and Regency Romances featuring rogues, rapscallions, rakes, and the intrepid damsels who reform them. Mother to three and self-proclaimed Cadbury chocoholic, she’s crazy about dachshunds, cobalt blue, and makes her home in Oregon with her husband and five mini-dachshunds. You’ll always find animals, quirky—sometimes naughty—humor, and a dash of inspiration in her novels. To learn more about Collette and her books, visit collettecameron.com

Her award-winning Castle Brides Series, Highland Heather Romancing a Scot Series, and Conundrums of the Misses Culpeppers Series, as well as her other books, are all available on Amazon and other major retailers.

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Alicia Quigley: The Highlander’s Yuletide Love

We all enjoy our family Christmas traditions at this time of year, and for many of us that includes putting our feet up with a nice romance novel in between decorating trees, wrapping presents, baking cookies, and all of the other Christmas fun. When the setting is the Regency period, we need to have a look at how people celebrated the season at the time. Last year I published The Yuletide Countess, and this year’s Christmas release is a sequel, The Highlander’s Yuletide Love. Both take place in Scotland in the late Regency period.

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Early 19th century Christmas customs in England differed quite a bit from ours, and those in Scotland still more. For example, the Christmas tree only became common in the Victorian era, although their presence in the German-influenced royal court was documented in the 1700’s. In Scotland, there was an even bigger difference. In much of Scotland, Protestant believers viewed Christmas as a holiday that was far too Catholic, and it was seldom celebrated.

Before the Reformation occurred in 1560, Scotland celebrated Christmas as a religious holiday, in much the say way as other European countries. However, the Church of Scotland associated it with Catholicism and frowned on it. In 1640, the Scottish Parliament actually made what were referred to as “Yule vacations” illegal. Even though this was repealed in 1686, the Grinch pretty much stole Christmas in Scotland for the better part of the next 400 years! It only became a public holiday in 1958.

However, all was not cold and dark in Scotland during Yule season. Hogmanay, or New Years, had a long history of celebration including gift giving to family and friends and any number of other local superstitions and traditions. One of the best known is First Footing, or the arrival of the first guest on New Year’s Day.

A tall dark man (much like the hero in The Highlander’s Yuletide Love) bearing gifts as the “first foot” was supposed to be a sign of good luck. Gifts were also given to friends and family members on Hogmanay. Various regions of Scotland also had specific traditions. In The Highlander’s Yuletide Love, the hero hails from the Trossachs, a region near Loch Lomond. Traditionally, the men of this area would march in torchlight procession to the top of the Lomond Hills as midnight approached.

The English custom of Boxing Day, in which gifts were given to servants, tradesmen, etc. on the day after Christmas, also had an analog in Scotland. On the day after New Years day, known in the 19th century as Handsel Day one would give gifts or money to those who had waited on or worked for you during the year. The word “handsel” originates from an Old Saxon word that means, “to deliver into the hand”. During the 19th century, both of these holidays were celebrated on the first weekday after Christmas or Hogmanay, rather than always on the day after as is the present custom.

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Excerpt 

It was the fashionable hour of the promenade, and all around them the cream of London society swirled, the ladies glowing in their finest walking dresses, strolling arm in arm or riding in elegant carriages, while the men tooled their phaetons or rode well-bred horses. They circled one another, now and then stopping to converse, all eager to learn of the latest scandal or fashion.

Isobel tucked her arm through Sophy’s. “I think we shall outshine all the other ladies here this afternoon,” she teased.

Sophy took in Isobel’s elegant appearance in her plumed bonnet and emerald green pelisse worn over a pale yellow muslin gown. “You look fine indeed, but Miss Durand has been acclaimed the beauty of this Season, and I fear we cannot challenge her,” she laughed.

Isobel made a wry face. “That simpering nitwit? I’ve never understood what Society sees in her. Let us enjoy our drive all the same.”

Their carriage moved some ways down the path, the ladies nodding here and there to an acquaintance, and even stopping once or twice to talk briefly. Suddenly Isobel gave a little start.

“There is Colonel Stirling!” she said. “How very surprising. I haven’t seen him for an age. Francis will be delighted to know that he is in Town.”

As it would be bad ton to display her very real pleasure at seeing a friend, she waved rather languidly at a tall gentleman some distance down the path from them. He clearly saw and recognized the occupant of the barouche, and, nodding at the gentleman he was conversing with, made his way towards Isobel’s carriage.

As he drew nearer, Sophy noted the breadth of his shoulders, his narrow waist, and the powerful thighs under his fawn-colored pantaloons. His gait had the ease of an athlete, and she perceived as he reached the barouche that he was very handsome; a strong jaw, straight nose, golden brown eyes, and cropped black hair were set off by the elegant tailoring of his black coat, his perfectly arranged neckcloth, and gold-tasseled Hessians which he appeared to have been born in, so closely did they fit about the ankle.

Despite his attractiveness, Sophy also perceived an aura of arrogance surrounding him, as though he held himself aloof from his fellows, but it was countered by an air of confident masculinity that was extremely appealing. As he sauntered towards them, she was confused by the conflicting impressions that flooded her. She tried to imagine painting such a man; one whose surface was so alluring, yet who also possessed an inner chilliness, and found her mind awash in ways of translating such conflicting impressions into images. As a result, when Colonel Stirling arrived beside the barouche and Isobel introduced him, she found herself in a state of confusion.

“Lady Sophia Learmouth, may I present Colonel Stirling? He is a dear friend of Exencour’s,” she heard Isobel say.

The Colonel bowed elegantly. “It’s a pleasure to make your acquaintance, Lady Sophia. I believe I have encountered your father upon occasion.”

Sophy did her best to bring her thoughts back to the moment. “Oh thank you, Colonel Stirling. I’m delighted to be sure.”

She flushed slightly at her nonsensical response, and saw with a twinge of annoyance that Colonel Stirling, whose face had shown a touch of curiosity, now assumed a look of bland politeness. He had clearly dismissed her as a foolish girl beneath his notice, and the thought stung.

Isobel stepped in, drawing the colonel’s attention. “Have you been long in London? I hadn’t heard from Exencour that you were here, and I feel certain he would have mentioned it if he had encountered you. He speaks often of you, you know.”

A smile glimmered on the colonel’s lips. “No, Lady Exencour, I have missed much of the Season, and I seldom venture to London of late. After the death of my older brother this past year, I decided it would be best to spend some time in Scotland with my father, learning more about the estate. I shall have to sell out, I suppose, if I am to be the next laird.”

“My condolences, Colonel Stirling. You must feel the loss of your brother deeply,” Sophy said gently.

Ranulf switched his gaze from Isobel to her companion, and looked at Sophy closely for the first time. Her charming bonnet made of chip, trimmed with a garland of pink silk roses and matching silk gauze ribbons framed an expressive face, with large blue eyes fringed by dark lashes and a mouth that was full, yet surprisingly firm. Dark curls peeked out from under her hat, emphasizing the slim column of her neck. He raised his eyebrows.

“Why would you think I must necessarily miss my brother, Lady Sophia?” he asked, his voice faintly mocking. “My chief memories are of him teasing me mercilessly when we were boys, and as I embarked on a military career over a dozen years ago, I’ve seen little of him since.”

A spark of annoyance lit Sophy’s eyes. “I was being polite, and attempting to sympathize, Colonel Stirling, as you doubtless know. But I can tell you that I have a brother as well, and, as much as I wish to throttle him from time to time, if he were to suddenly disappear from my life, I would be heartbroken,” she replied, a touch of acid in her voice.

The smile grew broader, and Sophy blinked as the colonel’s handsome face grew even more attractive. “Well said, Lady Sophia. I do indeed miss my brother a great deal, if only because his death makes me take on the responsibilities of the family lands.”

Isobel glanced from Sophy to the colonel, her eyes alight with curiosity. “Colonel Stirling’s father is the Laird of Spaethness,” she said.

Sophy received the information with apparent disinterest. “Are you from the Highlands, then?”

“Yes, Spaethness is in Argyll, hidden away in the Grampians,” he replied. “We are wild Highlanders through and through.”

“No wild man out of the glens has his coats made by Weston, as yours clearly is, or wears boots with a shine such as yours,” said Sophy dryly.

A touch of amusement crept into his sleepy eyes. “I see I shall have to take my tales of kelpies and banshees elsewhere then.”

Sophy gave a gurgle of laughter despite her annoyance. “I may be a lowlander, but you must definitely find a more gullible female to impose upon than me.” She turned toward him and their eyes met and, though she relished the opportunity to give this confident gentleman a bit of a set down, she realized she had not managed to chase away the pull of his personal magnetism.

After a moment he looked away and gave her a careless reply. The conversation turned to the doings of the Season, and particularly of the Exencours’ and Colonel Stirling’s mutual acquaintance, while Sophy listened in silence. After a few minutes Isobel held her hand out to the colonel with a cheerful smile.

“We must not keep you any longer,” she said. “But do call upon us at Strancaster House. Francis will be very pleased to see you again.”

“I am always happy to see Lord Exencour, and his charming wife as well,” said the colonel. He turned to Sophy, and nodded. “It was a pleasure to meet you, Lady Sophia.”

Sophy inclined her head coldly, not failing to note that this caused the colonel’s lips to twitch slightly. She watched, annoyed, as he bowed politely while the barouche pulled away.

About the Author

AQ Twitter Avi copyAlicia Quigley is a lifelong lover of romance novels, who fell in love with Jane Austen in grade school, and Georgette Heyer in junior high.  She made up games with playing cards using the face cards for Heyer characters, and sewed regency gowns (walking dresses, riding habits and bonnets that even Lydia Bennett wouldn’t have touched) for her Barbie.  In spite of her terrible science and engineering addiction, she remains a devotee of the romance, and enjoys turning her hand to their production as well as their consumption.

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Sherry Ewing: A Knight To Call My Own

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About A Knight To Call My Own

When your heart is broken, is love still worth the risk?

Lynet of Clan MacLaren knows how it feels to love someone and not have that love returned. After waiting for six long years, she has given up hope of Ian’s return. Her brother-in-law, the Devil’s Dragon of Berwyck, is tired of waiting for her to choose a husband and has decided a competition for the right to wed Lynet is just the thing his willful charge needs to force her hand.

Ian MacGillivray has returned to Berwyck Castle in search of a bride and who better than the young girl who cared for him all those years ago. But Lynet is anything but an easy conquest and he will need more than charm to win her hand in marriage.

From the English borders to the Highlands of Scotland, the chase is on for who will claim the fair Lynet. The price paid will indeed be high to ensure her safety and even higher to win her love.

Don’t miss out on Sherry’s other novels: If My Heart Could See You, a medieval romance and the beginning of her series; For All of Ever: The Knights of Berwyck, A Quest Through Time Novel (a medieval time travel romance) and Only For You, its sequel.

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Excerpt

About the Author

sherrySherry Ewing picked up her first historical romance when she was a teenager and has been hooked ever since. A bestselling author, she writes historical & time travel romances to awaken the soul one heart at a time. Always wanting to write a novel but busy raising her children, she finally took the plunge in 2008 and wrote her first Regency. She is a member of Romance Writers of America, The Beau Monde & The Bluestocking Belles. Sherry is currently working on her next novel and when not writing, she can be found in the San Francisco area at her day job as an Information Technology Specialist. You can learn more about Sherry and her published work at www.SherryEwing.com.

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Collette Cameron: Virtue and Valor

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One Lump or Two?

by Collette Cameron

Often, when reading historicals (Over four decades now! Gads!) I’ll read something and not think twice about it.

In this instance, I’m talking about lumps of sugar, you know, as in, Do you want one lump or two in your tea?

For years, I mistakenly assumed it was the British way of referring to sugar cubes, which weren’t patented until 1843 by Jakub Krystof Rad who operated a sugar refinery. According to history, his wife sliced her finger cutting a lump of sugar and complained that sugar should come in a convenient size for a teacup. Being a dutiful husband, he created the nifty little units we take for granted today.

220px-Cukrová_homole_001 copyThe English, however, had to wait until 1875 for the luxury of sugar cubes on their tea trays.

Until the late nineteenth century, sugar was purchased in whitish cone-shaped loaves or pieces hacked from a loaf with a chisel and hammer (Hard stuff-those loaves!).

After a lengthy refining process, the sugar was poured into cone-shaped molds with a small hole in the bottom to let the dark syrup drain out. To whiten the sugar, a solution of dissolved loaf sugar or white clay was repeatedly applied to the large end of the loaf, and as the liquid drained through the sugar, it purged any remaining molasses or dark coloring.

Once tapped from the molds, the sugar was wrapped in blue paper to enhance the whiteness.

The largest loaves (called bastards) were lower grade sugar, and as you can imagine, the smaller loaves were extremely expensive.

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After purchasing whatever quality of sugar the mistress of the household could afford, how did she fill her sugar basin? She couldn’t very well pass around the entire loaf and ask her guest so take a lick! I did read sometimes larger chunks were simply dunked in the tea because they wouldn’t fit into the cup.

Those were dried and used again. I’m truly hoping not by different guests.

The elite ladies of the ton, weren’t about to get their dainty fingers sticky, no indeed. Plucking a lump or two from a china sugar basin with tongs was much preferred.

But, how to get those neat little lumps?

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First, a section of sugar had to be hammered from the loaf, and then nippers—an iron plyer-like tool—were used to lop of a hunk.

That in itself was no easy chore.

The larger cones weighed thirty pounds and measured fourteen inches tall with a three foot base. The higher quality cones used for tea typically weighed between one and three pounds with only a six-inch base and were much more manageable.

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Still, no convenient granulated sugar or cubes for those Regency biscuits or tea!

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Some nippers came on stands so the user could put their weight into nipping off a piece of sugar. Naturally, tidy, uniform lumps were preferred for serving guests, and that chore generally fell to the mistress of the house or a highly trusted servant.

Sugar, like tea, was expensive and both were often kept in locked chests or caddies to which the mistress kept the keys. Some sugar chests had compartments for powdered and granulated sugar.

Just how did the cook come by powdered and granulated sugar? The lumps were pounded or grated to create granulated sugar and a mortar and pestle was used to make powdered sugar.

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Now, don’t you have even more appreciation for those elaborate confections nibbled by callers as they whispered about the latest on dit over a steaming cup of sugar-sweetened tea?

In my new release, Virtue and Valor (Highland Heather Romancing a Scot, Book 2), Isobel enjoys a morning cup of tea.

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About Virtue and Valor (Highland Heather Romancing a Scot Series, Book 2)

Bartholomew Yancy never expected to inherit an English earldom and had no intention of marrying. Now, the Earl of Ramsbury and last in his line, he’s obligated to resign his position as England’s War Secretary, find a wife, and produce an heir. Only one woman holds the least appeal: Isobel Ferguson, an exquisite Scotswoman. Brought to Scotland to mediate between feuding clans, he doggedly woos her.

Disillusioned with men pursuing her for her attractiveness, rather than her unusual intellect, Isobel has all but abandoned any hope of finding a husband in the Highlands. Not only does she believe Yancy no different than her other suitors, he’s a notorious rake. She’s been told he’s practically betrothed. Therefore, his interest in her cannot possibly be honorable, and so she shuns his attentions.

When Isobel is mistakenly abducted by a band of rogue Scots, Yancy risks his life to rescues her. To salvage her compromised reputation, her brother and father insist she marry him. Yancy readily agrees, but Isobel—knowing full well she’s fated for spinsterhood by refusing his offer— won’t be coerced into marriage.

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Excerpt

Pouring a cup of tea, Isobel inhaled the heady scent. She added two lumps of sugar and a dash of milk before stirring the contents.

perf5.000x8.000.inddShe adored the smell of hot tea. The scent reminded her of her childhood. Every morning, Mother had gathered the children around her for a cuddle and enjoyed a cup with them.

Lifting the hand-painted teacup to her lips, Isobel eyed the disgruntled maid stomping about the bedchamber, casting her astringent glances every now and again.

“Suppose this means ye be plannin’ on wallowin’ about in the muck too.” Maura did exaggerate so.

Isobel pointedly focused her attention on the ceiling to keep from rolling her eyes.

“I do not wallow, as you know full well.” She wiggled her free hand at the maid. “My hands and nails shan’t even get dirty.”

“Ladies do not collect rocks and dead things turned to rocks.” Maura harrumphed and trundled her way to the rumpled bed. She shuddered dramatically. “It be unnatural, I tell ye. Creatures turned to stone. They be cursed. The same as Lot’s wife in the Good Book.”

“She was turned into a pillar of salt, not stone.” Isobel suppressed a chuckle and spread jam over a roll.

Humph. Stone. Salt. It makes no matter to me.”

Maura patted the purple and white coverlet into place then adjusted a couple of pillows to her satisfaction. “A curse is a curse—like those Callanish sinners turned to stone for their heathen activities on the Sabbath.”

“Maura, that’s Superstitious drivel. The Callanish Circle was used to track lunar activity.”

Clearly baffled, Maura pursed her lips and squinted at Isobel. “Loony activity?”

Lunar. The path of the moon.” Isobel smiled, pointing with a forefinger and drawing an arc in the air.

“The sinner’s-to-stone business is nonsense. Simply a silly legend spread by the early Kirk of Scotland to discourage rites they didn’t approve of.”

About the Author

Collette Cameron copyBestselling, award-winning author, Collette Cameron, has a Bachelor of Science in Liberal Studies and a Master’s in Teaching. Author of the Castle Brides Series, Highland Heather Romancing a Scot Series, and Conundrums of the Misses Culpepper Series, Collette writes Regency and Scottish historicals and makes her home in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and five mini-dachshunds. Mother to three and a self-proclaimed Cadbury Chocolate chocoholic, Collette loves a good joke, inspirational quotes, flowers, trivia, and all things shabby chic or cobalt blue. You’ll always find dogs, birds, quirky—sometimes naughty—humor, and a dash of inspiration in her novels.

Her motto for life? You can’t have too much chocolate, too many hugs, too many flowers, or too many books. She’s thinking about adding shoes to that list.

Connect with Collette:

Website • Blue Rose Romance Blog • Twitter • Facebook • Newsletter

Resources:

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/18/magazine/who-made-that-sugar-cube.html?_r=0

http://www.oldandinteresting.com/sugar-nippers.aspx

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sugarloaf

https://regencyredingote.wordpress.com/2008/11/14/take-your-lumps-sweet-ones/

http://etiquipedia.blogspot.com/2014/04/regency-era-etiquette-and-when-sugar.html

Images courtesy of Wikimedia Commons