A Golden Scotland

With the release of my novel The Marriage Alliance happening on Tuesday, August 15, I think this is the time to share some historical facts of my romance novel’s setting. The Marriage Alliance is set in 1256 Scotland. This era is a time when all seemed bright for the nation. No one knew that darkness would swoop in and cast the nation in a war.

In 1249, seven-year-old Alexander’s father died. Many sons lost their parents however, this boy was not another farmer. He was the Prince of Scotland. In July, Alexander sat upon the Stone of Scone and became the King of Scots. Some historians consider this period in Scottish history as the Golden Age. There was relative peace in the nation (though it was the Middle Ages so it wasn’t exactly peaceful) and the throne was secure.

At this time, England and Scotland enjoyed a close bond because of the relationships between the nobles of both nations. Many Scottish nobles possessed estates in England including the King of Scotland. To keep this ties knotted, Alexander married the daughter of the English king, Henry III. In December 1251, Alexander traveled to York to be knighted and celebrate his marriage to Margaret.

Henry III asked Alexander to do homage. But the young king understood the politics at play and replied, “I had come to marry not to answer so difficult a question.” Thankfully, this young king had loyal nobles in his government so he was able to reach his majority without a grab for his crown. The king had plans to grab some land–some islands off the coast of Scotland.

Alexander became the leader of a nation that was smaller than the Scotland we now know. At this time, the Hebrides, Shetland, and Orkney islands fell under Norwegian rule. To fulfill his father’s dream, Alexander first tried diplomacy to win the isles yet that failed. So in October 1263, the Battle of Largs happened.

The Battle of Largs is not considered a proper battle, more a series of skirmishes that occurred on the beaches of Largs.  The King of Norway and his fleet sailed to the western coast of Scotland. The Scots were helped by a gale that crushed the Norwegian fleet. The King of Norway failed to secure the isles and soon sickened and died. After this, the Hebrides became part of Scotland.

By 1275, the Queen of Scotland Margaret and sister to Edward I of England (also known as Longshanks and the Hammer of the Scots) died. Margaret was much loved and has a religious following in the nation. Now a widow, Alexander had no reason to marry again. He had three children, an heir, spare, and a daughter who was married. Soon, death came for them all. David, the youngest son, died first then his daughter died in childbirth though her daughter (known in history as Maid of Norway) survived. Then on the 17 January 1284, his heir and namesake perished.

With all three children lost, the king had to marry again. He was still a young man so the nobles were not worried that more children would one day come.  He married Yolande, Comtesse de Montford, daughter of Robert, Comte de Dreux.

Five months after their marriage, the king was in Edinburgh to meet with his council. While he was in the royal burgh, the weather took a turn for the worst. That did not stop the king from setting out to the royal castle named Kinghorn located in Fife.

Though the storm was a northerly gale with heavy snow and led to a very dark night. He was able to sail across the Firth of Forth. The men in his party begged him to stay the night instead of continuing in his travels. He continued onward.

In the darkness, somehow the King of Scotland fell to his death. His body was found at the foot of the hill the next morn. The spot is now called the King’s Crag. He was 36 years old.

His wife was pregnant but she soon miscarried and the Maid of Norway died on the crossing to Scotland. The Wars of Independence would soon rage.  If Alexander had rested his head instead jumped into his saddle then Scottish and world history would have changed.

The Jane Austen Novel that Matters

July 18, 2017 is the bicentennial anniversary of Jane Austen’s death. I have read her books, seen the movies and read her letters. She has inspired me to write Regency and learn about the royal navy and even imagine strolling the streets of Bath. I have numerous copies of her novels.

But there is one book that twists my heart with a mere mention of its title and that is Persuasion. Jane’s last novel, which was published after her death in December 1817.

Persuasion is my favorite Jane Austen for two reasons. The first reason I love this book is its theme–a second chance at love and the second reason is the dishy, perfect hero Captain Fredrick Wentworth.

No doubt, you must have read the novel (if you are reading this, it is likely that you are a Jane Austen fan) so I will not go into the plot. With Fredrick’s return and Anne’s family’s fortunes dwindling, both Anne and Fredrick now have a chance for second love. Their love has never died after a denial and eight long years. As I read Jane’s words, I cannot stop from imagining Fredrick out at sea, heartbroken and carrying that pain. And when he returns he is now a man of fortune and gets the chance to show Anne what she denied.

We all have wanted to do that and some have had the chance to do it. And Fredrick does what many have done and acted as if he is not pained by the sight of her. Though, he is unaware that she too had been tormented by what could have been.

Captain Wentworth leaving Anne the love letter.

When Fredrick learns Anne still loves him, he takes his chance. And oh, the way he declares it, tears fill my eyes and my throat closes up and my bottom lip shakes.

I can listen no longer in silence. I must speak to you by such means as are within my reach. You pierce my soul. I am half agony, half hope. Tell me not that I am too late, that such precious feelings are gone for ever. I offer myself to you again with a heart even more your own than when you almost broke it eight years and a half ago. Dare not say that man forgets sooner than woman, that his love has an earlier death. I have loved none but you. Unjust I may have been, weak and resentful I have been, but never inconstant. You alone have brought me to Bath. For you alone I think and plan–Have you not seen this? Can you fail to have understood my wishes?–I had not waited even these ten days, could I have read your feelings, as I think you must have penetrated mine. I can hardly write. I am every instant hearing something which overpowers me. You sink your voice, but I can distinguish the tones of that voice, when they would be lost on others.–Too good, too excellent creature! You do us justice indeed. You do believe that there is true attachment and constancy among men. Believe it to be most fervent, most undeviating in 

F.W.

I must go, uncertain of my fate; but I shall return hither, or follow your party, as soon as possible. A word, a look will be enough to decide whether I enter your father’s house this evening, or never. 

Reading this novel, I feel the love between Fredrick and Anne as well as the longing. These emotions seep from the ink and soak into my skin and fill me. I can’t stop myself and must always hug it to my heart.

Then I can’t help but wonder–As Jane neared death, did she yearn for a second chance at love? She must have. We all do.

 

 

 

A Book By Any Other Name Still Needs A Title

A book title is as important as a child’s name. It must encapsulate the story as well as be catchy so our readers will hopefully remember it when it comes time to slap some money down for it.

When I needed to name my Scottish romance—The Marriage Alliance—I was lucky. The title came to me at once. The Marriage Alliance is about a marriage of convenience. So, my title did all that was required for a title. It hints to the reader the story and the genre. I think it’s also easy to remember too.

What do you think? Does my title work?


In My Opinion…

Many bloggers review books, some are scathing in their word choice and others are more amicable. However book reviewing is one aspect of blogging I don’t take part of. Why? I don’t know if I’m tender with people feelings and buy into that adage “if you have nothing nice to say don’t say anything at all.” I may also add a dash of everyone likes different things to that. Don’t get me wrong there are books I hate or books I dislike, some I’ve throw across the room and some I tossed aside never to pick up again unless to add to the donate pile.

But another part of reviewing books, I don’t buy into is reviews. I do read the ones I received and so far, I have received constructed criticism, which is helpful to improve my writing. I don’t like all out bashing of a work, either. (Sorry for repeating). Reviews are opinions, based on a person’s background, life experiences, tastes and other factors. As a writer who has received them, there are good and bad reviews and a life lesson I learned about them is if you cheer for the good, you have to listen to the bad ones. And both can lead you down the insane road. I hope I act like Sandra Bullock when she was nominated for an Oscar in The Blind Side and a Razzie in All About Steve. She attended both award shows, accepting them both with a smile, grace and class. That’s the way I wish to behave. I hope I do when the time comes because it will.

I’m not bashing book reviewing blogs because they can help steer the reader to a new author to enjoy and I’ve taken their advice and had fun reading experience. It’s just not my cup of tea. I guess all I saying up here on my virtual soapbox, which wasn’t my intention, keep doing what you do and works for you and I’ll do the same. The world will be a happy place.

To Be Read…Eventually

I fear that my TBR pile is growing, turning into the paper equivalent of the Blob. Some books have been on the shelf for almost three years. That doesn’t stop me from putting down cash for new ones or heading to the library for others.

I suppose I should join Books Anonymous, BA. I’m Mageela and I’m addicted to books. I become excited when I enter a bookstore or the library. So much knowledge and entertainment existing in the world that I want to soak up. There’s a quote, “Wear an old coat and buy a new book.”
That’s how I pretty much run my life 🙂

The worst is the choice that has to be made when I must decide which book to read. They are all so interesting. Each one seeming to be a shiny jewel that I chose by doing my-mother-said. Other times by the feel of the book in my hand, the sound the paper makes when I flip a page or the print or if my eyes can stare at my Nook.

The choice are difficult ones that don’t affect the world but can us, the reader. Every reader decides in their own way, how do you choose?