Greetings friends and readers. Lady Aisla MacKai is among the most fascinating men and women of fiction that The Tattler has been privileged to meet in recent memory. The basic facts concerning the lady are these: She claims to be more than twenty years old, but refuses to be more specific. I got quite the tongue lashing from her when I pressed her on the matter. She was born, and lived her entire life at Dungarob Keep, the ancestral home of the MacKai clan and the Barons who led them. She is black-haired, fair-skinned, gray-eyed, and (as Caibre MacFearann her fiancé told me), as fair a lass as ever graced the highlands. I must agree that his charming and challenging young woman is a most pleasant sight to behold. With that introduction, let us commence Lady Aisla MacKai’s interview.

TT: “I understand you recently became engaged.”

AM: “Aye.”

TT: “Could you tell us about your fiancé and how your engagement came about?”

: “Well Caibre MacFearann is the most exasperatin’ mon a female could ever meet. He’s handsome as the devil and knows it. I dinna wish t’ become engaged at all, especially to Caibre given our mutual past. But you might say my hand was forced.”

TT: “You mean he compromised you?” (I asked this with some trepidation. The Tattler has a reputation for discretion, but also for truth. I want our readers to know exactly what circumstances forced Lady Aisla’s hand to marriage.)

AM: “Nothing of the kind, sir. What sort of woman do you think I am?”

TT: “My humble apologies, Lady Aisla, I believe you to be a most honorable woman, but you must admit that a statement such as ‘my hand was forced,’ leads most minds to the inevitable conclusion that you were compromised. To clear the air for our friends and readers, please explain what you meant.”

AM: “Well, y’ see. Several years ago, my brother, Baron Steafan MacKai embarked on a journey to the east indies in order to gain funds badly needed to repair Dungarob Keep and the barony’s holdings. He’d recently wed and sent his wife back to Dungarob in his stead. However, one thing led to another and she decided to return to her family in Boston. That left me in charge of keep and clan. I did my best to hold things together, even after my brother went missing at sea. His wife, a woman unknowledgeable of British law, petitioned Queen Victoria to have Steafan declared legally dead. That Bostonian wished to marry another mon. With my brother dead and no legal heirs, the barony would revert to the crown.”

TT: “But doesn’t Scottish law recognize women as legitimate heirs?”

AM:” That’s the short way of putting it. But Scotland’s law does’na pertain. Centuries ago one of our ancestors pledged fealty to the English crown in order to protect the keep and the clan. Since then, Dungarob has been subject directly to English law.”

TT: “You have my sympathy. That must be a difficult circumstance for a true Scot to handle.”

AM: “It is, sir, It is indeed.”

TT: “What did you do?”

AM: “What could I do? I wrote to Queen Victoria, and begged her as a woman who understood love of country and the great loss of a beloved man. Albeit she lost a husband, and I only a brother. Nonetheless the loss of any loved one is great.”

TT: (By now I’m sitting on the edge of my chair wondering how all of this forced Lady Aisla to affiance herself to Caibre MacFearann—a second son by the way of an infamous family. But the MacFearann legend is a story for another day.) “Did Her Majesty reply to your letter?”

AM: “That she did, in her own hand. She had all sympathy for my loss, but would not overturn the law for any reason. She would allow Dungarob Keep to stay within the MacKai family however, if within six months I wed a mon willing to take the MacKai name and title. Evidently there is legal precedent for that.”

TT: “I understand now. A title must have been a great inducement to a second son, especially when accompanied by your lovely self.” (Lady Aisla sits opposite me blushing whether from my poor attempt at a compliment or anger over the implication that a title is needed before a man would wed her, I cannot tell.).

AM: “I would be furious at your implication—intended or not—did a title hold any interest for Caibre.”

TT: “You mean he doesn’t care about the title?”

AM: “He says he does’na. As proof he reminded me that he left Scotland years ago to escape the burdens of nobility and his family reputation. He’s been ranching in Wyoming. Making a fortune he claims. He only returned to Scotland when his father passed away.”

TT: “So you discovered he’d returned and wrote to him for help?”

AM: “. I was at my wit’s end when an early November blizzard brought him to my door along with my missing brother.”

TT: “ I don’t understand. If your brother isn’t truly dead why must you wed MacFearann?”

AM: “Because the legal wheels of Britain turn very slowly. It might take years for my brother’s petition to be legally resurrected and reinstated as Baron MacKai could be granted. We had only six months to satisfy the queen’s requirements. It was marry Caibre MacFearann, who happened to be handy and willing, or lose everything.”

TT: “It does indeed seem that you and your brother were in desperate case. Mr. MacFearann is willing to give up the title once your brother’s petition is approved?”

AM: “Aye.”

TT: “And after that will you return with him to Wyoming?” (Lady Aisla looks everywhere about the room, even to the extent of studying her nails to avoid my gaze.)

AM: “He has’na asked me.”

TT: “Surely as his wife . . .?”

AM: “Caibre MacFearann is a difficult mon and beyond understanding.”

TT: (She rises and with hands fisted stares defiance at me.)

AM: “I’ve said entirely too much. In fact, I should never have agreed to this interview. Good day, sir.”

TT: She grabs her reticule and departs before I can soothe any ruffled feathers. I’ll be honest, I’m not quite certain what I did to set her off so. If any of you readers would like to help me understand, please address a comment to Mr. S. Clemens, care of The TeaTime Tattler.

*A note for our readers. Shortly after The Bluestocking Belles announced the future release of Follow Your Star Home, a storm of protest erupted from those who protested that the book was too scandalous to read. Supporters of the Belles, responded in strength and numbers. The Tattler, in fairness, published all communications received on the subject. The book has now been released to great reviews. So you could very well judge for yourself. Below is some information about Follow Your Star Home, A Wish for All Seasons (Mrs. Allyn’s contribution to the collection) about Mrs. Allyn herself, and The Bluestocking Belles. As always our readers’ comments are welcome and appreciated.

About Follow Your Star Home: 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 half the world and a thousand years, our heroes and heroines put the legend to the test. Watch the star work its magic, as prodigals return home in the season of good will, uncertain of their welcome. 25% of proceeds benefit the Malala Fund.

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About A Wish for All Seasons: 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.

About Mrs. Rue Allyn: Rue Allyn is the award-winning author of heart melting historical and contemporary romances. A USN veteran with a Ph.D. in medieval literature, Rue has retired south of the US border where she basks in the glow of sunny days and heated inspiration. She continues to enjoy professional relationships in the Romance Writers of America, The Maumee Valley Romance Authors Inc. and the (in)famous Bluestocking Belles.

About The Bluestocking Belles:

The Belles are ten very different writers united by a love of history and a history of writing about love. From sweet to steamy, from light-hearted fun to dark tortured tales full of angst, from London ballrooms to country cottages to the sultan’s seraglio, one or more of us will have a tale to suit your tastes and mood.

We love doing joint projects. This year’s boxed set is Follow Your Star Home, Eight original stories, more than 600 pages of diverse characters, complex relationships, and happily ever afters. 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. If you’d like to learn more about us try searching these links.

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