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No but a Tacksman?

1814   Golburn, Sutherland, Scottish Highlands

“Young Robbie, he’s got an eye to your daughter,” said Màiri Gunn, as she drove her hoe into the ground, “and he’s smart and a right handsome young man, so tall for his age.”

“Robbie?” Sofia Gray’s mother frowned. “They grew up together, but since she’s becomin’ a woman, I’ve kept ‘er in the bothy and away from ‘im. He’ll be no but a tacksman,” she said with disdain.

blackhouse“No but a tacksman?” Màiri stopped and leaned on the wooden handle. “A tacksman is as high as a daughter of yours is bound to go. What, do you have plans to wed her to the son of the laird or something?” She laughed.

Sofia’s mother gritted her teeth and practically growled as she attacked the ground with renewed fervor. “We’re the biggest tenant farmers on this tack. They’d be lookin’ hard t’ find a better match fer their sons, but especially young Archibald.”

Màiri stared at her and gritted her teeth for a moment. “You forget yourself, woman. How do you intend to make this come to pass?”

Sofia Somewhere Like HomeMrs. Gray drew herself up. “Why, by sendin’ Sofia up t’ the manor into service. The sons won’t be able to resist her, and she’ll be wed before the year’s out,” she said, her voice edged with triumph. “An’ the whole family’ll benefit.”

“You have rocks in your head, woman.” Màiri wouldn’t bother going into all the reasons why it would never happen. “She’d end up like poor Fenella. Just returned from the laird’s to the village, and her so far along.”

robbie somewhere like home“Sofia isn’t a slut like her.” Mrs. Gray turned up her nose. “And we’re related to the laird.”

“We’re all related to the laird.” Màiri snorted. “No doubt it wasn’t for Fenella’s lack of trying to resist. Fenella’s a lovely girl. Your Sofia is too, but she’s a lot softer than Fenella ever was—she wouldn’t survive up there.” Màiri shook her head at the audacity of the woman. Everyone knew about the laird’s eldest son. Pray young Sofia wasn’t sent up into that lion’s den.

scottish

This has been a deleted scene from Somewhere Like Home, Lizzi Tremayne’s contribution to the Bluestocking Belles’ 2018 Holiday Boxed set! Hope you enjoyed it!

somewhere like home blurb

From the Highlands to Waterloo—can love prevail over fate?

1813, Scottish Highlands

When Robert refuses to become clan tacksman after his father, he is disowned and off down the road to build a life for himself and his beloved Sofia.

Sofia’s waiting turns to despair when her mother buys safety during the clearance of their village at Sofia’s expense, leaving her at the mercy of the laird’s degenerate son.

Rob emerges from the hell of Waterloo wanting only to see Sofia again…and his father.

Follow Your Star Home is available now!

If you like Somewhere Like Home in Follow Your Star Home, be sure to join  Lizzi Tremayne’s VIP List here to be notified when Somewhere Called Home, the full novel, is released in May 2019!

The Bluestocking Belles 2018 Holiday Boxed Set

Divided sweethearts seek love and forgiveness in this collection of seasonal novellas.

Forged for lovers, the Viking star ring is said to bring lovers together, no matter how far, no matter how hard.

In eight stories covering more than a thousand years, our heroes and heroines put this legend to the test. Watch the star work its magic as prodigals return home in the season of goodwill, uncertain of their welcome.

The Bluestocking Belles are proud to present eight never before published novellas in their latest Holiday collection. As always, we will donate some of the proceeds of the box set to a cause dear to the hearts of the Bluestocking Belles, women’s education. 25% of all proceeds will be donated to the Malala Fund.

Eight original stories, more than 600 pages of diverse characters,  complex relationships, and happily ever afters.

Only $3.99 US for this massive book!  Enjoy!

FYSHThe Novellas

A Yule Love Story, by Nicole Zoltack

When Sonja stumbles upon fallen bodies littering her beach, she heals the lone survivor. After all, her late mother had been a healer.

Unbeknownst to Sonja, that survivor is none other than Anoundus. At one time, he ruled alongside his brother as co-kings of Sweden, but no longer. He has been banished.

What kind of life will he face here? What role will Sonja play? Can the two dare to find love this Yuletide?

Paradise Regained, by Jude Knight

James Winderfield yearns to end a long journey in the arms of his loving family. But his father’s agents offer the exiled prodigal forgiveness and a place in Society — if he abandons his foreign-born wife and children to return to England.

With her husband away, Mahzad faces revolt, invasion and betrayal in the mountain kingdom they built together. A queen without her king, she will not allow their dream and their family to be destroyed.

But the greatest threats to their marriage and their lives together is the widening distance between them. To win Paradise, they must face the truths in their hearts.

Somewhere Like Home, by Lizzi Tremayne

Things are heating up in the Scottish Highlands. When Robert refuses to become clan tacksman after his father, he is disowned and heads for the city to build a new life for himself and his beloved Sofia.

Sofia’s waiting turns to despair when her mother buys safety for herself and the remainder of the family during the clearance of their village—and leaves Sofia to the lusts of the laird’s degenerate son.

Rob emerges from the hell of Waterloo wanting only to see Sofia again…and his father.

But Sofia is dead, or is she?

A Wish for All Seasons, by Rue Allyn

The last thing Caibre MacFearann wants is to return to Scotland let alone be forced to stay there. But the chance to rekindle the lost love of his youth is too tempting to resist.

Losing Caibre MacFearann’s love once hurt so much that Aisla MacKai wants nothing to do with him when a blizzard brings the man to her doorstep. Kindness and human charity require that she give him shelter, no matter that her poor heart had never mended.

From the Umbrella Chronicles: James and Annie’s Story, by Amy Quinton

His Grace, James Quill, will not be a bachelor-in-poor-standing for very much longer. For I, Lady Harriett Ross of the Infamous Umbrella, have avowed to orchestrate his betrothal to his former best friend, Miss Annie Merryweather, whether either of them wishes it.

Surprisingly, His Grace has agreed to my proposed 10-step plan.

Not-so-surprisingly, Her Soon-to-be-Grace is determined to resist the notorious prodigal son.

Will they find love and forgiveness this holiday season?

Time will tell.

Lady Harriett Ross,

Self-proclaimed Motley Meddler * Mistress of Destiny * Wielder of the Infamous Umbrella

I’m just an old woman with opinions. On everything.

The Last Post, by Caroline Warfield

Love for Rosemarie Legrand gave Harry the will to go on during the horror of trench warfare. Now, army orders trap him in a camp awaiting repatriation. A bout of the Spanish flu lays him even lower, but he is determined not to leave without her. He’ll desert if he has to.

Rosemarie waits for word on her cousin’s farm where she took refuge when war reached the outskirts of Amiens. She wrote to tell him. Has he forgotten her? When the slimmest of information arrives, she sets out to find him.

Can these two lovers reunite before it is too late?

A Fine Chance, by Elizabeth Ellen Carter

Helen Watson arranged a job for an out-of-work former soldier at her workplace, unaware that she’s the miracle Robert Fairmont needed.

Robert has returned from the Great War a new man with a new name. A job in his father’s factory is the first step toward reconciliation.

Can Helen forgive him for hiding his true or will Robert end up losing his father and his one true love?

All he needs is a fine chance.

One Last Kiss: The Knights of Berwyck, A Quest Through Time novella, by Sherry Ewing

Banished from his homeland, Thomas of Clan Kincaid lives among distant relatives, reluctantly accepting he may never return home… Until an encounter with the castle’s healer tells him of a woman travelling across time—for him.

Dare he believe the impossible?

Jade Calloway is used to being alone, and as Christmas approaches, she’s skeptical when told she’ll embark on an extraordinary journey. How could a trip to San Francisco be anything but ordinary? But when a ring magically appears, and she sees a ghostly man in her dreams…

Dare she believe in the possible?

Thrust back in time, Jade encounters Thomas—her fantasy ghost. Talk about extraordinary. But as time works against them, they must learn to trust in miracles.

Can they accept impossible love before time interferes?

Hope you love the stories!

Once again, if you like Somewhere Like Home in Follow Your Star Home, be sure to join  Lizzi Tremayne’s VIP List here to be notified when the full novel, renamed  Somewhere Called Home is released in May 2019!

Until next time!

xx

Lizzi Tremayne

 

 

The Ungrateful Scots of the Honorable Lady S—

arrival at coast

My dear Mr. Clement,

I have become aware the Honourable Lady S— of the wilds of the Scottish Highlands has been keeping rather to the drawing rooms and balls of London lately. It seems there has been some discontent in her lands far to the north by some people who cannot see the forest for the trees.

Lady S—, in her goodness, has offered to many of her very own clan, from tacksmen through to the lowest sub-tenant, fine land and a good livelihood fishing and kelping. All they had to do was pick up their belongings and stroll to the coast, where this easy living awaited them.

But no, the more short-sighted them, they fussed and dragged their feet. Her new factor, Gellar, had to encourage them to leave. He lightened their load (so they wouldn’t have to carry their roof poles all the way to the coast) by a few small fires. I’m told it was cold at the time, so the fires should have helped them. A few of the miserable villagers refused to go and were unfortunately burned inside the dismal hovels they called their homes. A few died soon afterwards. One can but try to assist them; they must be expected to make some effort.

Surprisingly, there has been some evidence of unrest from these villagers. It is unfortunate they could not just trust in the benevolence of their clan leader, Lady S—. She means only the best for them.

There has been talk she means to replace the villagers with sheep. Sheep give a much better income per acre than the villagers and their motley cattle. Unfortunately, some of the ingrates have been heard to mutter comments like “your sheep won’t protect you when the French invade your shores,” and other things—much too crude to repeat here. Sheep which have already been placed upon lands have been stolen in large numbers—they were returned, but only after large numbers of Redcoats were dispatched. The rude people have also have been complaining about the factor’s earlier setting of controlled (well, mostly controlled) fires to clear the hills of brush and scruffy vegetation. The dry, useless greenery had to be eliminated so as to improve grass growth before the arrival of the eagerly-anticipated sheep.

With the extra money generated by the sheep, Lady S— will be much better able to assist her clansmen in their lovely new villages by the sea—when they get over their temper tantrums and learn to be grateful.

But all this will have to wait until it is again safe for the good Lady S— to return to her birthright. I, for one, cannot wait to see what these “improvements”, for that is what they certainly are, will be.

Yours respectfully,

An Admirer of Civilized Economics

Whatever can be going on?

This little bit of dirt comes your way compliments of Bluestocking Belle Lizzi Tremayne. Sofia and Robbie’s story, called Somewhere Like Home: The Novella is part of the upcoming Bluestocking Belles’ Christmas anthology! The full novel is expected six months after the release of this boxed set! Watch for it!

You’ll find Lizzi’s details beneath the Bluestocking Belles’ Welcome menu item at the top of this page or find her at the links below the Extract!

scottish

Somewhere Like Home: The Novella*

From the Highlands to Waterloo—

                    can love prevail over fate?

1813, Scottish Highlands

When Robert refuses to become clan tacksman after his father, he is disowned and off down the road to build a life for himself and his beloved Sofia.

Sofia’s waiting turns to despair when her mother buys safety during the clearance of their village at Sofia’s expense, leaving her to the lusts of the laird’s son.

Rob emerges from the hell of Waterloo wanting only to see Sofia again…and his father.

 

Extract

Sofia turned away from the window as heavy footsteps sounded down the hall. “He’s gone, sir,” came a voice from the room next door.

She clamped her jaw tight at the voice of Gellar, the laird’s new man.

Sofia tuned her ears to listen as she drew back the bed curtains and pulled down the rumpled covers, then began to dismantle the bed-makings while trying to remember their replacement order.

“Are your men ready?” The laird said.

“Ready and keen, waiting with metal bins for their hot coals.”

Coals?

Sofia tried to focus on the unfamiliar bedding while still listening. Her heart grew chillier by the word. The bed not only had a straw mattress, all she’d ever known, but a canvas sheet, topped by a feather mattress. Which to tuck the sheets under?

blackhouse

“I don’t expect trouble. There should only be one able-bodied man in the whole village—the rest are off with the cattle. We needn’t worry about Gunn—he won’t be back until tomorrow.” Sofia stopped short, along with her heart.

Gunn? Did she hear correctly?

Then came the fat bolster at the head of the bed. She tossed it into place and fluffed it while she strained to hear.

“So, after we torch the village, we just stand back and wait or leave them to it?” Gellar’s voice grated as Sofia scarcely breathed.snow clearances

“Just in case any of the tenants have the brains to remember,” the laird said, his voice dripping with sarcasm, “you need to make sure they don’t take their roof timbers. They need to burn. I want the tenants gone and they can’t carry their timbers all the way to the coast. They can build with what they find there. Of course,” he chuckled, “there isn’t any wood for miles.”

Gellar laughed, and Sofia gritted her teeth to keep from shrieking.

She finally laid the sheet over the top of the bed, hands shaking so badly she had to walk around the bed several times to straighten it while the men continued.

“The crofts I’ve set aside on the shore won’t let them grow enough food to survive without working the beds and processing the kelp. At least they’ll stay warm while they’re burning it. The market for it isn’t as good as it used to be, but it’s still worth a lot to us. arrival at coastCertainly, more than the tenants and that blasted tacksman are paying in rents here. They won’t have the faintest idea how to fish, but they’ll figure it out if it keeps them from starving. Sheep on the hills instead of my erstwhile ‘clansmen’ will make us a fortune. As my dear lady believes, it will be a better life for them as ‘crofters’—an improvement.”

“For all of us,” Gellar said with a snort. “So, we start an hour before sundown?”

“Ideal,” said the laird. “Get cracking. You’re now my new factor. Make the most of it, ‘Factor Gellar’.”

Sofia flinched at the sound of clinking glasses, then somehow got the blankets on all anyhow and draped the elaborate tapestry ceremo­niously over all. Standing back, she surveyed her handiwork, waiting for her heart to stop racing after the heavy footsteps left the way they’d come.

She found another way back to the servants’ quarters, not daring to pass the open office door.scottish

Want to read more?

You’ll find the rest of the story in Somewhere Like Home: The Novella, part of the Bluestocking Belles’ next collection, to be published in November. Come along to our Facebook Event on 8 September to find out the title of this exquisite boxed set by eight of our Belles! We’ll be telling you more about each story and revealing the cover! We’ll see you there!

Read more about Lizzi’s books

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*(and no, sorry, you can not see the cover yet!)

I only sought a lady’s maid… and now this…

Such goings-on in the manor of Lord and Lady M–!

I had it from Lady M– herself!

A faint rapping came upon the door. The soft voice of Emma, the parlour maid, followed. “My Lady?”

“Enter,” I called.

Emma entered and curtsied to me. “Pardon me, My Lady, but the young woman is here about the position. Would you like to see her in the morning room?”

“Yes, thank you. I’ll be there presently.” With a sigh, I stood from my seat at the desk and stretched, glancing around my bedroom with a wince. Dresses, chemises, ribbons seemed to have strewn themselves over every available surface. I was sorry for Hannah, my maid, but she truly was not well, and the trip away with her daughter would do her the world of good. I desperately needed a lady’s maid.

Never mind, perhaps this one will be suitable.

I straightened my bodice and patted my hair back into position. Earlier this morning, Emma had tried her best with my coiffure, but she had never been trained as a lady’s maid.

C’est la vie.

My husband Lord M—’s ancestors frowned down from their portraits at the picture I must make with my less than salubrious attire, but I was, indeed, trying to remedy that situation this morning.

Emma stood beside the closed door to the morning room, curtsied and opened it. I entered, and the portal clicked closed behind me.

The girl, dressed in a tidy shirt and skirt, stood beside the fire in the grate, her pelisse over her arm. She curtsied, then looked directly at me, which I found refreshing.

“Good morning, and you would be Rachael,” I said, as I seated myself in one of the comfortable French chairs.

“Yes, My Lady. Good morning to you. Thank you for seeing me today.”

“Mmm. You understand I seek a lady’s maid. Have you a character?”

She handed over the single sheet of paper, folded and sealed. I glanced at the seal. Sutherland, no less.

“And what was your position at Sutherland’s?”

“If it pleases you, My Lady, I was a parlour maid there, but me mum trained me to be a lady’s maid since I was young.” She dropped her eyes to her wool-lined pelisse and the fingers of one hand crushed her carefully pleated skirt as she stood waiting for my next question.

“And you do not wish to continue as a parlour maid?”

She swallowed hard and looked back at me. “No, if it pleases you. I wish to better myself, to honour the memory of my mother.”

“You’re well-spoken. Your mother’s doing?”

She nodded. “Yes, My Lady.”

“And why do you wish to leave the employ of the Sutherlands?”

She took a deep breath and tightened her jaw. She finally answered. “Do you wish to hear the acceptable answer to that question or the truth?”

I smiled at her. The girl had gumption. “I appreciate being given the choice,” I said, with a wry grin. “The truth, please. Always.”

“It’s to be the truth, then.” She tightened her jaw for a moment. “I’d aspired to the position of lady’s maid there, but one young Master Sutherland… he was a bit free with his hands on more than one occasion, and… well, luckily, I was blessed to be holding a hot warming pan in mine, and… no one was injured, but the noise was tremendous.” Her lips twitched, but she kept a straight face. “Several other servants rushed to the room. I escaped and stayed as far away as possible from the young master. Fortunately, or unfortunately,” the girl looked down at me with a grimace, “on the same day, a young girl from the estate, Sofia, came into service as a tweenie.” She looked at me again, her brow wrinkled.

“Go on, please,” I said.

“Not only has her whole family been sent out to the coast in the Clearances, but Sofia was waiting for her young Robert, the son of the old Tacksman, and the love of her life, to return from his military service, but, well, things have gone badly for the young miss. Very badly. I know it is just a matter of time before…. well, before she is dismissed… and then his attentions could return to me. I’m a good girl and don’t want to go that way, if it pleases you, My Lady.”

I frowned at the character in my hands, as yet unopened.

Was there any point opening it?

 

Author’s note:

For those of you who have read the first book in The Long Trails series, A Long Trail Rolling, this is the first of Scotty’s stories. As you may remember, Scotty is the trading post proprietor in A Long Trail Rolling, my award winning debut novel. Scotty’s real name is Robert, not Scotty, but you’ll have to read the as-yet unwritten books to find out the reasons he changed his name!

I invite you to wait to hear the rest of Scotty and Sophia’s story in the boxed set by the Bluestocking Belles, coming later this year!

Meanwhile, check out my other books on my website!

Thanks so much for coming by today!

xx

Lizzi Tremayne

 

About Lizzi

Lizzi is one of the newest Bluestocking Belles!

Lizzi grew up riding wild in the Santa Cruz Mountain redwoods, became an equine veterinarian at UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine and practiced in the Gold and Pony Express Country of California before emigrating to New Zealand.

Busy raising two boys, farming, and running her own equine veterinary practice, she never thought she’d sit down long enough to write more than an article. A serious injury, however, changed all that, and planted her in one place long enough to jump-start her new career as an author!

With Lizzi’s debut historical romance, A Long Trail Rolling, she was: Finalist 2013 RWNZ Great Beginnings; Winner 2014 RWNZ Pacific Hearts Award for the best unpublished full manuscript; Winner 2015 RWNZ Koru Award for Best First Novel and third in the 2015 RWNZ Koru Long Novel section; and Finalist, 2015 Best Indie Book Award. Her newest novels and novellas, all released in 2017, are currently entered in more contests, and she’s working on her next novel!

When she’s not writing, she’s swinging a rapier or shooting a bow in medieval garb, riding or driving a carriage, playing in the garden on her hobby farm, singing, cooking, practicing as an equine veterinarian or teaching high school science. She is multiply published and awarded in special interest magazines and veterinary periodicals.

Lizzi is new to the Belles, but she’s loving the friendships she’s already developing with the rest of the ladies. She adores how they’re so progressive, organized, and fun. Best of all, they are all willing to put themselves out there, together, to achieve more, create more, than would be possible going it alone.

Lizzi loves to connect with her readers!

You can learn more about Lizzi and her books here or on these social media sites:

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A Flower of Scotland in Flight

The Forfar Inn

Forfar, Angus, Scotland

Roslyn Grant pulled her cloak tighter around her as she watched the coach pull away from the inn, her thin shoulders shivering in the cold air. What to do now? The coach fare to Forfar had cost every last penny of her small savings, and what had it gained her but a mere forty miles from her villainous stepbrother?

“Kin I help ye wit’ yer bag, miss?”

A boy about twelve in a torn jacket and brown wool cap pointed at the small valise at her feet.

Roslyn blinked and bent down to pick it up herself. “Thank you, but no, I can manage it myself.” No doubt he was wanting to earn a coin or two, not knowing that her pockets were as bare as his. In any case, the bag was light enough, as she’d had time only to stuff inside a spare gown, stockings and undergarments, and her nightrail.

The boy stared at her curiously and she realized she must appear a strange sight, standing immobile in the middle of an inn yard with a cold wind whirling about her.

“I’d best go inside,” she said hesitantly.

“There’s a first-rate fire goin’ in the public room,” he offered.

She nodded. “Yes, of course.” The worst they could do was throw her out again. So she took brave steps to the door and made her way inside.

Two men sitting at the bar eyed her with interest, but she walked past them with practiced ease toward the fireplace, where she put down her bag and stretched her hands out toward the fire.

“Kin I git ye somethin’, miss?” A weary-looking woman carrying a jug approached her.

She yearned for a cup of tea, but without coin to pay for it, she shook her head. “No, thank you.”

The door opened again, letting in a gust of icy air and about a half-dozen rough-looking men, cursing and behaving raucously. Roslyn ignored them, leaning closer to the fire, but the harassed serving maid could not.

“Liz-zie! Git yerself over ‘n wait on the new folk! I ain’t payin’ ye to stand there ‘n flap yer tongue!”

Lizzie reddened. “Ye don’t pay me to do the work o’ two,” she said under her breath. “When I see that Ellen girl agin, I’ll give her a piece ‘o my mind, ‘n that’s a fact.”

Roslyn perked up. “Are you short of staff then? I-I might be able to help.”

Lizzie looked her up and down. “Needin’ some o’ the ready, are ye?”

Roslyn nodded. “I-I’m looking for a position, yes.”

“Ye sure ye kin handle rough folk like these ‘uns?” She waved her hand toward the newcomers.

Roslyn set her shoulders back, untied her cloak, and hung it across a chair before making long confident steps toward the table of hooligans.

“Can I get ye some ale, gentlemen? Or is it food yer wantin’ We’ve some fine stew this evenin’,” she said with a look at Lizzie, who appeared to be stifling laughter.

“That so?” said one man, taller and bigger than the rest. “Ole Jack’s stew’s never bin called ‘fine’ afore. Jack git a new cook?”

“He did,” she fibbed. “Me. I cooked up the stew tonight.”

The innkeeper, ‘Ole Jack,’ stared at her incredulously from the kitchen door.

“In that case,” said the big red-headed fellow, “we’ll each have a bowl o’ the pretty gel’s stew. Won’t we, mates?”

They all roared their agreement, and Roslyn hustled toward the kitchen, shrugging sheepishly at the innkeeper. “Yer hired,” he said. “Fer tonight. Wot’s yer name?”

“Ros-er-Rachel,” she lied, using the alias she’d invented previously, in an attempt to cover her tracks.

“Rachel,” he said with a conspiratorial wink. “Git in the kitchen ‘n serve up the stew. Mebbe fancy it up a little. Lizzie! Git ’em some ale!”

Roslyn tied an apron around her waist and went to work on the stew, first siphoning the fat from the top and then adding in some finely chopped onion and thickening it with a little flour. The men, when they tasted it, declared it was the best stew they’d ever had. Roslyn brushed off their improper advances with such practiced good humor that their ringleader declared his intention to return the next night to wear down her resolve.

“Ye say ye need a job?” inquired the innkeeper. “Ye kin have Ellen’s. A lazier lass I never saw. Comes in late more ‘n half the time ‘n sometimes not atall.”

“I wouldn’t want to take Ellen’s position,” Roslyn said. “But I don’t mind helping out for a day or two, until I can find something permanent. In return for food and a place to sleep,” she added.

It would be too easy for Teryn to find her at the Forfar Inn, whatever name she used. Her most pressing need, however, was food and lodging. Once that was satisfied, she could work on devising a longer-term solution.

Roslyn Grant is fleeing the stepbrother who stole her inheritance and sold her to a brothel. Without money and facing the perilous Scottish winter weather, she has only her wits to keep her safe.

In search of one of the Flowers of Scotland, Quinn Murray finds her at his estranged uncle’s home, employed as a housekeeper. Slaying her dragons for her might not be enough, however. Can there be a happy ending for this earl’s heir and a long-lost descendent of Robert the Bruce?

This story will be coming out in the spring with the rest of the stories in the Flowers of Scotland series.

About The Flowers of Scotland series

Only The Marriage Maker can pull flowers from the ashes…

Few men are legends in their own time, great fame more often coming years, even centuries later, and by the pens of scribes who rely on long-told tales rather than fact. Even so, now and again, larger-than-life heroes appear, the sheer force of their personalities raising them above all others. These are the fabled ones, flesh and blood men whose lights blaze so bright they eclipse all who’ve gone before them, as well as those who follow.

In the early years of the thirteen century, when medieval Scotland was entrenched in the treachery and chaos of the Wars of Independence, one such man emerged from the tall shadow of the great William Wallace. This man went on to lead Scotland in a fierce fight for freedom that culminated with his 1306 crowning as King of Scots and then, in 1314, with his stunning victory against Edward II of England at the Battle of Bannockburn.

This man was Robert the Bruce, Scotland’s greatest hero king. Even after his triumph at Bannockburn, he railed against England for another fourteen years, finally securing full Scottish independence in 1328, one year before his death.

Extraordinarily beloved by his men, Robert Bruce was also known for his good looks and charm. Yes, he loved the ladies, and they flocked to him. Such adoration from beautiful women is hard for any man to ignore, especially a warrior king always on the move, long away from hearth and home. The Bruce was married twice and is known to have especially loved his second wife. Yet, medieval wars were brutal and it proved too great a temptation to decline the feminine comfort offered him at every turn.

In short, he succumbed. The hero king who came to be known as the Flower of Scotland for his chivalry, sired many bastards and, great-hearted as he was, he ensured that each one lacked for nothing.

But time rolls on, and after but a few centuries, glory-seekers claimed descent from Scotland’s most revered king. Fortunes turned, and some of his true descendants fell from favor. Eventually, no one remembered that their blood carried the richness of such a great and heroic man.

Of course, no one forgot Robert Bruce. His fame burns as brightly as ever. Some historians are obsessed with him, delving deep into history to uncover every nuance of his life and deeds, including the amorous tales.

When one such historian discovers four young women whose lineages trace directly to the Bruce, this man is deeply troubled. The Flowers of Scotland, as he views these Bruce descendants, should not suffer lives of hardship and obscurity as these women do.

Sir Stirling James

Something must be done and he knows just the man to help them; Sir Stirling James, The Marriage Maker. Sir James is a regular at the Inverness pub run by the hobby historian, an establishment named The Melrose for the final resting place of Robert the Bruce’s heart; Melrose Abbey.

Sir James, a true patriot, and history buff himself, agrees that the four young women deserve triumphs of their own. He knows just the four men worthy of them—men who, like the Bruce, possess charm, rank and standing. These heroes can sweep the lassies off their feet and into a world of happiness and love they never dreamed possible.

About the Author

Susana Ellis has always had stories in her head waiting to come out, especially when she learned to read and her imagination began to soar.

A former teacher, Susana lives in Toledo, Ohio in the summer and Florida in the winter. She is a member of the Central Florida Romance Writers and the Beau Monde chapters of RWA, Maumee Valley Romance Inc., and the (in)famous Bluestocking Belles.

Website: http://www.SusanaEllis.com

Blog: https://susanaellisauthor.wordpress.com

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The Witch’s Claims

Mr. Clemens, our editor doesn’t know what to make of this woman who claims to be a witch, but she insists every word  of this tale is true.

Some people think the “Ring of Belief” is a myth, but as one of the witches attached to the ring I can tell you they’re wrong. The magic is unpredictable, but real, and I shudder every time I think about what I’ve seen over the centuries. It’s my task to help the men of the Clan MacKay find love. Now you might ask, “How hard could that be?”

Would you believe that men in some eras are far from lovable? At least during the Regency Era the gentlemen have a veneer of civility. Some of the Scots in the Georgian Era were impossible. Why, I had to bring a woman from the future to find a match for Caden MacKay. And, she brought her dog. (Alright, to be fair, I gave Scruffy a choice and he wanted to come with her.)

WitchWell, Caden wanted nothing to do with my choice. Part of that may have been my fault. I miscalculated in bringing back a Sutherland, but to Ariel’s credit she didn’t back down. The two of them didn’t always understand one another. You don’t believe me? We can go back in time and I’ll let you listen in. Oh, that’s right, you wouldn’t know what just happened. Ariel saved Caden’s life and they shared their first kiss. Now, be very quiet:

Caden turned to his cousin. “We’ll search the windows above. By now the coward has fled, but we may yet find something to unmask our would-be assassin. Then we’ll attend to your urgent matter.”

He drew Ariel aside far enough that Ian couldn’t hear them. His expression screamed, I’d rather fight a dozen well-armed warriors than be in debt to a Sutherland. “Thank you for . . .” He simply stared at her.

“Saving your life?” She waited. Nothing. “Kissing you?” She raised her eyebrows. “Just trying to fill in the blank here.”

He blanched, but then heat filled his eyes. “Aye.”

“Well, one of us had to take the bull by the horns.” Okay, best not to dwell on that image. “I mean, I was curious. I wanted to kiss you. No big deal. It was just a kiss.”

“Aye.”

“Will you stop agreeing with me.”

His smile was genuine and she felt it to the tips of her toes. Good heavens, the man had charisma.

“I’ve nae had a woman who wanted me to disagree with her.”

“Well, I’m not like most women.” That was true enough. She’d never done the ‘let’s talk about boys, clothes and makeup thing’ with a group of girls. Somehow, she’d never fit in.

He smiled down at her. “Aye.”

“There you go, agreeing again.”

“Perhaps it’s because you make yourself so agreeable.”

She couldn’t contain the laughter that burst from her lips. “Really?” The word came out between gasps. “Oh, I wish you could have been there to tell my teachers. Not that they’d believe you. They thought I questioned everything.”

“Then they didnae ken you.” His brows drew together. “I believe the stone was meant for me, but just in case, I want you to take care.

Her laughter died. “Why would anyone want to kill me?”

Have you offended anyone aside from Ranald, the Countess or Robertson since I met you?”

“I don’t-So, I speak my mind. Is there a law against that in this century?”

“No. And I prefer plain speaking, but I’m nae most men.”

“No, you’re not.”

Do you see what I mean? Caden MacKay was one of my more challenging cases, although his twin, Gavin, may just be my worst assignment yet.

witchAbout the Book

Caden Mackay would never bed a Sutherland, let alonemarry one. Bloody hell, what had possessed his twin brother to propose to one of the she-devils? And what is Caden to do with the Sutherland beauty who appears, as if by magic, in his library? The defiant intruder is the enemy, but she is unlike any woman Caden’s ever known, and her tantalizing curves and wide green eyes could tempt a monk. He must devise a way to stop the wedding. But can he stop the desire that makes him long to make Ariel Sutherland his own?

Ariel’s life had never gone the way she’d hoped, but ending up in eighteenth century Scotland was a stretch, even for her. If not for her dog, Scruffy, she might have thought she’d walked into a romantic daydream. Especially since the object of her desire appears to be entirely too virile. But can she find her way back to her time, before her too-handsome Highlander makes her believe that love can conquer in any century?

Buy it here

About the Author

Dawn Ireland has  written several award-winning novels set in England, Scotland and Ireland. She prefers the Georgian era, because that time period fascinates her with its rules and intrigue. Her characters often defy society by refusing to follow expectations. After all, what woman in her right mind would want to wear panniers?

Then again, she might write romance in order to do the research. Can you think of another profession that encourages you to sit in the audience at Harlequin’s Male Model search, and take notes, or just sigh?

Dawn lives in a Victorian home in Upstate New York with her husband.

http://www.dawn-ireland.com/startpagina.html

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