Please join me in welcoming Mia Marlowe to Debbie's Book Bag today. Mia is here to tell us a little bit about her inspiration behind her latest book with Connie Mason, Sins of the Highlander. The publisher is sponsoring a giveaway for two copies of Mia's book, see details at the end of the post.
Debbie asked what inspired me to write about the Highlands. The simple answer would be ‘When is a man in a kilt not inspiration enough?’
But actually, the real answer goes back to the heart of my partnership with Connie Mason. If you’ve read any of this romance legend’s backlist, you know she regularly takes her readers outside the usual settings. My previous works have been set in Victorian/Regency England. When Connie suggested we set our debut collaboration in Scotland during the reign of Mary, Queen of Scots, I knew I had some serious researching to do.
But that’s part of writing historicals that I dearly love. So I dived into the world of the Highlands, where cattle reiving was a respectable occupation and blood feuds were a way of life. I always study the legends that spring up in a time and place because they reveal so much about how the people thought about themselves and their world.
One of the legends I discovered while researching SINS OF THE HIGHLANDER was the each uisge, or the water horse. Scotland is dotted with deep lochs and in addition to the Loch Ness Monster, almost every body of water is a potential home for an each uisge (pronounced sort of like “eck whiskey”). A Water Horse is a crafty beastie. He may look perfectly harmless on dry land. In fact, he’s probably the most beautiful horse you’ve ever seen. Unless it’s a sunny day (a highland rarity) you likely wouldn’t notice his glassy greenish color. But canny highlanders know it’s very unwise to try to capture and ride a strange horse munching long grass near a loch. Once a person mounts a water horse, he’s unable to dismount and the beast will bolt into the loch and drown his rider.
If the Water Horse is looking for a wife, he’ll appear on land as an extremely handsome man. But don’t be fooled. That waterweed in his hair is the dead giveaway and no highland lassie wants to become the each uisge’s bride. He’s a terrible husband.
In SINS OF THE HIGHLANDER, ‘Mad Rob’ MacLaren admits that he can’t throw stones at the water horse. He believes he too was a terrible husband. And when he confesses as much to his captive, Elspeth Stewart, a girl blessed with the Sight, she surprises him completely. Here’s a snippet from a scene on Loch Earn as they flee from Elspeth’s father and bridegroom.
Elspeth wiped the last of the salty tears from his cheeks. Then she kissed him again. On the lips this time, firm and sweet. Like a blessing. Like a benediction.
“Ye are no’ to blame for Fiona’s death,” she said with conviction.
Rob didn’t have the heart to contradict her, but he didn’t believe it for a moment. “After all that, I’m sure ye believe me a madman now.”
“‘Tis no’ madness to weep for someone ye loved.” She shook her head. “If ye had no tears, I’d think ye less a man. Never because of them.”
“Ye’re a strange lass, Elspeth Stewart.”
“And ye’re a silver-tongued demon.” She laughed, obviously trying to lighten his mood. “Dinna think to turn my head with such compliments.”
Rob smiled at her, confused, but strangely comforted. He still grieved for Fiona, but the serrated edge of unexpressed mourning and guilt that threatened to send him spiraling into insanity was gone.
Elspeth returned his smile. He shook his head in wonderment. He’d stolen her from the altar, taken her prisoner, and tormented her body with a wicked lover’s touch. And here she was giving him comfort. If he lived to be a hundred, he’d never understand what went on in a woman’s head.
Then while he was watching her, her eyes glazed over and she stared sightlessly over his shoulder.
She gave no sign that she’d heard him.
He let go of the tiller and grasped both her shoulders, but she continued to stare unblinking. He gave her a little shake. She looked at his face then, but he sensed no recognition in her eyes.
“The each uisge comes, reaching up from the depths to snag his bride,” she said in a voice devoid of all expression. “And a bolt from the dark finds its mark.”
Then he was nearly knocked off his feet, thrown forward as the boat stopped dead in the water.
Thanks again for having me here today, Debbie. I’d like to invite your readers to pop over to my website http://www.miamarlowe.com to enter my website contest. The Grand Prize is a new KINDLE!
And I’m happy to share that Sourcebooks is offering two chances to win SINS OF THE HIGHLANDER to lucky commenters today (USA & Canada only). All you have to do is answer this question:
Is there a legend you’d like to see incorporated into a historical romance?
SINS OF THE HIGHLANDER BY CONNIE MASON & MIA MARLOWE – IN STORES JANUARY 2012
Never had Elspeth Stewart imagined her wedding would be interrupted by a dark-haired stranger charging in on a black stallion, scooping her into his arms, and carrying her off across the wild Scottish highlands. Pressed against his hard chest and nestled between his trong thighs, she ought to have feared for her life. But her captor silenced all protests with a soul-searing kiss, giving Elspeth a glimpse of the pain behind his passion—a pain only she could ease.
“Mad Rob” MacLaren thought stealing his rival’s bride-to-be was the prefect revenge. But Rob never reckoned that this beautiful, innocent lass would awaken the part of him he thought dead and buried with his wife. Against all reason, he longed to introduce the luscious Elspeth to the pleasures of the flesh, to make her his, and only his, forever.
With two clans against them burning for battle, they must find a way to join together—body, breath and soul. Or both will be made to pay for the Sins of the Highlander.
The publisher is sponsoring a giveaway for two copies of Sins of the Highlander by Connie Mason with Mia Marlowe.
~ You must be a GFC follower or E-mail subscriber to participate.
~ US and Canadian Addresses only (publisher request).
~ The deadline to enter this giveaway is Midnight EST January 24th.
1. Please answer Mia's questions from her guest post above. The question is in bold print.
2. Please fill out the FORM.