History buffs as well as romance readers will love today's guest post!
Years ago, after I saw the movie, I was hooked on Scotland. Naturally, my new interest led me to the library to learn more of Scottish history. It was then I learned about the time when Scotland had a king—Alexander III—before war waged.
Alexander III of Scotland was born in 1241 to Marie de Coucy and Alexander II. When he was seven years old, his father died and he was crowned at Scone in July 1249. His minority was dominated by the struggle ofrival factions yet Alexander was a boy of great will. In 1251, Alexander married Margaret of England, the daughter of Henry III of England and sister to Edward who would come to be known in history as the Hammer of the Scots.
Because of the marriage, Henry saw an opportunity to demand homage from the young king. But Alexander showed his shrewdness and only gave homage for his English lands that he inherited from his father.
In 1262, Alexander reached his majority. Now the young king sought to fulfill his father’s wish and get ownership of the Isles off Scotland’s coast. During the middle ages, the Western Isles also known as the Outer Hebrides were under the rule of Norway. King Haakon of Norway sent a large force that landed on the Isle of Arran and began negotiations with the Scottish king. Alexander though stretched them out until autumn when storms raged off the isles. The Norwegian navy was destroyed by these storms and Haakon sailed away to the Orkneys, where he died in December.
Alexander now had the chance to grab the isles and with the Treaty of Perth, Scotland now owed the Western Isles and the Isle of Man only the Shetlands and Orkneys remained under Norway’s control.
During this time, Alexander and Margaret produced three children, Margaret, Alexander—the heir—and David. His daughter went on to marry Erik II of Norway and produced a daughter also named Margaret and known as the Maid of Norway. Alexander married but no children were produced. Only David never married. But by 1284 all his children were dead along with his wife Margaret.
In 1285, Alexander married Yolande de Dreux. Months after his marriage, the king was in Edinburgh meeting with his advisors. Alexander decided to ride through the night to be with his wife. His advisors begged him not to ride through the night because of bad weather. He did nevertheless and some time through the journey, he died. He was found with a broken neck. It is assumed that his horse lost his footing.
His wife, pregnant, either miscarried or the child was stillborn and the crown now rested on the head of the child, the Maid of Norway, who died on her journey to Scotland to take the throne. These deaths left the Scottish throne empty. And many factions including Edward I of England to wage war for it.
And I found a place that has captured my imagination that lives in my Highlander romance novels.
Book Blurb of Claiming the Highlander
First came marriage...will love come next?
As children, stoic Caelan MacKenzie married feisty Brenna Grant for a parcel of land and an Earldom. Then the child bride and groom went their separation ways.
Years later, Caelan is the feared Viking Highlander, a great warrior. His father lies on his death bed and now Caelan must return home to take his place as the Chief of Clan MacKenzie. Time has come for him to face his past and the secret he has carried. Some believe him unworthy to lead.
All but his wife—Brenna knows the true man that he is from the letters they had been exchanging since childhood. Now at Castle MacKenzie anticipates her husband's return. Brenna must use her influence to protect the Grant clan or have her life destroy. And that she refuses to happen.
From the Scottish Highland shores to the rugged glens, the alpha male and his brave heroine must battle against outside forces to save their wedded life even as they succumb to their sensual desire.
Can they save all they hold dear including their growing love? Or will they be defeated and betrayed?
Claiming the Highlander Excerpt
Brenna shut her chamber door. The smoke from the wall torches filled the turret stairs and stung her eyes. She waved away the cloud as she descended from the top floor. That chamber had been her own since she was seven, when the laird and lairdess first fostered her. Brenna loved the space, since Caelan once rested his head there. Being in the chamber was the closest she came to sharing a bed with her husband.
Learning her role as the future Lairdess of Clan MacKenzie, her life consisted of watching, waiting and being a help or a hindrance. Lately, she had been a help. Only that mattered to Brenna, especially after she intruded upon the Lairdess weeping in the garden. That was her place of refuge. Brenna had moved forward and then stepped back, leaving her to her sadness. What did one say when death hovered near? The truth was, Brenna wished she could make the laird survive. Brenna took pride in her healing skills and knowledge of herbs, but in this instance, those skills were meaningless, so she strived to lessen the Lairdess’ burden. This day, the duties had been split between her and Rowen.
Rowen would see to the household, the meals, the cleaning of it, and other duties. Whereas Brenna was to assist the clan and handle any issues the clan-folk faced this day. Today, she would take her place as the Lairdess of Clan MacKenzie. Last night, she hadn’t gotten much sleep. Though, she had been trained in her duties, that knowledge did nothing to stop her from fretting. If only Caelan were here with her…with him beside her the day would be easier. He should return home soon. Perhaps this day or the next.
She reached the last step and halted. The smoke must have conjured images. Caelan stood at the end of the corridor. She blinked, believing the vision would vanish into nothingness. The arched doorway framed his muscular form, which was draped in plaid. His head hung down. His long locks draped around his face and blocked him from her view. Light flickered over his Viking blond hair. She blinked a few times, waiting for him to notice her standing here. She must have moved because his head flew up.
He faced her. A smile spread across her face and her cheeks hurt from it. She wanted to throw herself in his arms. Instead, she buried the urge. She even squeezed out a couple of tears.
Her feet skipped over the floor as she raced to him. She threw her arms around him and squeezed him tightly. She lacked the strength to hold him as she wished. Caelan was all hard muscle. He smelled of the outdoors—greenery, and of the fresh wind that whirled about him and caught in the weave of his plaid, along with a manly scent that was his own. She stroked her cheek against his plaid. The scratchy wool scraped her skin. An itchy tingle spread through her cheek.
She ran her hands over his thick arms. He had come for her. She linked her fingers with his. She leaned her head to the side to look at the shut chamber door. Last night had been a difficult one. The healers and servants had been going in and out through the night. Their muffled voices floated to her chamber along with the groans of pains coming from the laird—aye, the laird would be leaving this earth soon. Her smile dimmed along with the heady delight within her. “You have finally returned.”
Caelan arched a brow, revealing his blue eyes. She loved his pure, blue hue that shined bright with shards of white, unlike her plain, brown ones. He pulled his hand away. She tucked her empty hand within the pleats of her dress. This was not the reunion she had imagined since she learned he was returning home. Caelan was supposed to grab her in his arms and swing her about. After holding her close for a drawn-out moment, he was supposed to slide her down his body, and then kiss her. After he ravished her mouth, he was to stare deep into her eyes.
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