by Christy English
I took a similar approach to researching Highlander, but I also added another fun element to the process. I read a ton of Highland fiction to see what has already been done, and done so well, by so many. There are many reasons why we romance readers love a hot Scot, and delving into other people’s imaginative worlds showed me how my Highlanders are similar, and how they are different from everybody else’s.
To begin with, my romances are comedies, so even though Mary Elizabeth Waters makes it her business to practice her knife throwing by using a cut out of the Butcher of Culloden as a target, I do not belabor the hardships experienced in the Highlands in the wake of the breaking of the clans. My books are pure fun and frolic, so even though my characters are well aware of all that went on, and still carry that knowledge in their pride in their family and in their homeland, Alex, Robbie and Mary spend most of their time in my books falling in love and having a good time.
But a lot of fiction takes a more serious look at the realities of Highland life, and I enjoyed reading them. Some of the novels I read to delve into the fictional portrayal of the Highland experience were the first three books in the brilliant Outlander series. My favorite is Voyager, the third novel, in which Clare leaves her cushy home in the modern world and her position as a medical doctor and travels back through time to find her true love again. I adore that novel, for in it we see not only what Clare’s life was like without Jamie, we see what his life was like, hiding and imprisoned in turn, after the horrors of Bonnie Prince Charlie’s war.
Another wonderful source for fictional Highlanders are any novels by Susanna Kearlsey. I adore her books, and they almost always touch on the Risings in Scottish history, in which the Jacobean kings try again and again to force the Hanoverians from the throne of England. We know that they fail, but Ms. Kearsley has a way of bringing the past to life in her beautiful prose that makes us hope and wish that they might succeed.
I love the novels written by Grace Burrowes that touch on life in Victorian Scotland. They are all wonderful, and show with her careful research and keen eye for detail the long-felt aftereffects of Scotland’s ruined economy over a century after the Rising of ’45.
So how much research have I done on Highlanders and the Highlands? I have done a bit here and there, and incorporated that knowledge into the background of my novels. But for the most part, I have created a fantasy land in which the Waters family holds together, and manages to survive and even thrive after the devastation of the ’45. They trade in timber and furs, ship luxury good to Nova Scotia and the Northern United States. This wealth allows them to keep five ships in their fleet, and allows the youngest members of the family a life of leisure, in which they can visit London, and find that true love awaits, even among their ancient enemies.
Thank you for hosting me for this post, and for getting me to think once again about the background that makes every book breathe and helps the characters in it come to life.
Christy's Newest Historical Romance: How to Train Your Highlander
A foolproof plan to avoid marriage:
1. Always carry at least three blades.
2. Ride circles around any man.
3. Never get caught in a handsome duke’s arms.
Wild Highlander Mary Elizabeth Waters is living on borrowed time. She’s managed to dodge the marriage banns up to now, but even Englishmen can only be put off for so long…and there’s one in particular who has her in his sights.
Harold Percy, Duke of Northumberland, is enchanted by the beautiful hellion who outrides every man on his estate and dances Scottish reels while the ton looks on in horror. The more he sees Mary, the more he knows he has to have her, tradition and good sense be damned. But what’s a powerful man to do when the Highland spitfire of his dreams has no desire to be tamed...
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