No, the blog title isn’t a typo. I really am here to talk about two books. And I’m so excited for the opportunity.
Sure, my publisher arranged this blog tour to promote my latest Scottish medieval romance, A Highlander’s Temptation (GCP, Oct. 2009) and I’ve really been enjoying the whirlwind. It’s fun to revisit a book I finished last year and once again spend time with characters I love.
So when I learned that Grand Central Publishing is offering a special $1.99 e-book edition of my first book, Devil In A Kilt to coincide with the release of A Highlander’s Temptation (GCP, Oct. 2009) I thought it would be fun to share a bit of back history about two of the most significant characters in both books.
Although the books stand alone, there’s a strong tie binding them. Arabella MacKenzie, heroine of A Highlander’s Temptation (GCP, Oct. 2009) is the eldest daughter of Duncan MacKenzie, hero of Devil In A Kilt. I’ll follow the ladies first rule and begin with Arabella.
I really love this heroine. She was born at Yuletide in the epilogue of my third book, Bride of the Beast, which told the tale of Sir Marmaduke, a secondary character from DEVIL IN A KILT. Arabella was named after her father’s late sister who’d been Sir Marmaduke’s first wife.
You can catch glimpses of Arabella in later books. She has especially strong roles in Bride For A Knight and Seducing A Scottish Bride.
So I’d been looking forward to writing her story for a long time.
And when she finally stepped onto the page, ready to be a heroine, we both embarked on quite an adventure.
Because Arabella is practical-minded, a good and obedient daughter, and also doesn’t believe (overly much) in magic, I knew I’d have to shake up her world to get her to step out of her comfort-zone and seize the passion she deserved.
Secretly, of course, she’s always yearned for that passion.
And as a sympathetic author-in-charge, I was very willing to help her along. I did, after all, chart an exciting journey through the Hebrides for her. And – don’t let her fool you - she went gladly, eagerly boarding the merchant cog that was to take her into her hero’s arms.
But a writer can never make things too easy.
So what I didn’t tell her was that the hero of A Highlander’s Temptation (GCP, Oct. 2009), Darroc MacConacher, lived for only one thing. He burned to wreak vengeance on the powerful MacKenzies who’d brought ruin to his clan. Chased from their lands, the MacConachaers now live on a remote Hebridean isle. It is here, in this windswept and lonely place, where Darroc plots the revenge he hopes will restore his family’s name and honor.
When a shipwreck lands Arabella in his arms, he can’t help but admire her strength and bravery. Much to his annoyance, he also finds himself attracted to her. But she’s the daughter of his greatest foe and, as such, the ideal means to bring down his enemies.
I, of course, knew that these two were the best-suited-for-each-other pair I could have thrown together. And I’m genuinely sorry for any distress I caused them in the months I needed to finish their book and send them off into their own happy ever after.
Now that the deadline is met and A Highlander’s Temptation (GCP, Oct. 2009) releasing, I like to think they’ve forgiven me.
I also hope Duncan MacKenzie, hero of Devil In A Kilt has come around. As you can imagine, he wasn’t very pleased when I chose Darroc as Arabella’s hero. Looking back, he also wasn’t happy when I decided Arabella’s mother, Linnet MacDonnell, should be his bride.
He stormed about and raged quite a bit. He’s good at that sort of thing, being quite the Alpha hero. Speaking of which, I did promise to tell you about him. So here you go….
It happened like this: Duncan came to me out of the Highland mist. I was walking around outside one of Scotland’s most romantic castles, Eilean Donan near Skye, when he just ‘appeared.’
It was a cold, gray day full of swirling, chill mist. The castle looked much as in this photo that I took on a November visit several years ago. Duncan was magnificent, every inch the wild Highland chieftain. Fierce and proud, he strode towards me, sword glinting at his side, and his dog, Mauger, at his heels.
The look on his face told me he meant business.
And he did.
He wasn’t happy with his life and he wanted me to fix it. He’d decided I could do so by writing his story. It didn’t seem to bother him that I was a very happy flight attendant at the time and had no aspirations to write books.
He wanted me and, obviously, he got his way.
As soon as I capitulated, he vanished into the mist. What remained was a desire to do what he wanted. Thank goodness, he left me with his life story. I knew it all, then and there. I knew his name was Duncan MacKenzie and that he was chief to his clan in the early 1300s. I also knew he was known as the Black Stag of Kintail.
He was a man much-loved by his friends and greatly feared by his enemies.
Everyone respected him.
And in Kintail, his word was law.
But he carried a terrible ache inside him. It was such a fierce sorrow that those who knew him well even suspected that his grief had caused his heart to freeze. Duncan knew better. He did have a heart. And he wanted me, as a writer, to help him get it back because everything he tried on his own only made things worse.
In Devil In A Kilt, Arabella’s mother, Linnet MacDonnell, is the one who finally turns Duncan’s life around. She makes him happy again and herself in the by-going. Like Arabella and Darroc, Duncan and Linnet were perfect for each other.
I was happy to bring them together.
And I owe them so much because when Duncan appeared to me that day at Eilean Donan, he didn’t just persuade me to write a story. Because of him, I started down an entirely different career path.
Writing can be a roller-coaster sort of career and I do miss flying. Sometimes. But the good in this business far outweighs the bad and I feel very blessed to be doing something I love so much.
For the curious, what happened that long-ago day at Eilean Donan was the birth of a gift book. The rare and precious stories that just pop into a writer’s mind, out of nowhere. Such stories are always fully fleshed out and so real that, as happened to me, you almost see the hero or heroine right there before you.
I called Duncan’s story Enchanted because that’s how I’d felt that day at Eilean Donan. The book sold, obviously, and with its catchy new title, Devil In A Kilt, even went on to win RT’s Best First Historical Romance Award. It’s been years, but the book remains a favorite with many of my readers.
So I’m super excited that Grand Central Publishing is making it possible for readers to get an e-edition of DEVIL IN A KILT at the great price of $1.99. I also know that Duncan is pleased, too. After all, having his e-book release with Arabella’s A Highlander’s Temptation (GCP, Oct. 2009) is a fine way for him to keep an eye on his girl.
Though when all is said and done, I know he’ll approve of Darroc and even (if grudgingly) make peace with the MacConachers.
If anyone is wondering, I still see Duncan at Eilean Donan. I visit the castle whenever I’m in Scotland and always make a late night walk around the grounds. When I do, I can almost see Duncan and his good friend, Sir Marmaduke, up on the battlements, looking down at me.
They smile, nod, and vanish.
I like that.
Question: Have you ever been somewhere special and met a ‘Duncan’ of your own?
Learn more about Devil In A Kilt, A Highlander’s Temptation (GCP, Oct. 2009), and all the books between at my website: www.welfonder.com
To enter, please tell answer Sue-Ellen's question above.
Please include your email address, so that I can contact you if you win. No email address and answer, no entry. The contest is limited to US and Canada only. No P.O. boxes. The contest ends at noon on October 31, 2009.
Thanks so much to Sue-Ellen, Anna and Hatchette Book Group for this opportunity!