We caught up with Catherine Tinley whose new book, A Laird for the Governess, is set in a remote Scottish island during the Regency period. Catherine, what inspired you to choose this setting?
I often enjoy writing fish-out-of-water stories and, as historical readers will know, the Highlands and Islands of Scotland are a world away from the ballrooms of Regency London. As writers, we often throw our heroines into challenging situations and this book is no different. Lydia is well-educated but poor, and has been working in London as a governess since her parents died. When she loses her job her only realistic offer is this post in Scotland, and so she travels all the way to Benbecula, an island in the Western Isles, off the coast of mainland Scotland. It could hardly be much further from everything and everyone she knew. And of course the Laird isn’t convinced that a ‘soft Englishwoman’ is the right person to tutor his young daughter, so sparks will fly!
I’ve always enjoyed Highlander romance as well as Regencies, and this was my opportunity to combine the two. Alasdair is very different to the Regency gentlemen Lydia has encountered before, but it takes her some time to really understand him.
The island landscape and culture was also a draw. As an Irishwoman, I do feel an affinity with Scotland, and particularly with the Islands and Highlands. The landscape is stunning in all weathers – heather-draped hills and machair wildflowers under a big, big sky. Our native languages, Irish and Scottish Gaelic, are linked so I’ve been learning some Gaelic on a language app. It’s been wonderful discovering all of the similarities in the two languages.
Music was another factor. I believe all Celtic music has the same soul, and I’ve discovered some amazing Scottish artists in recent years. I’ve shared my inspirational playlist on YouTube – lots of Capercaillie, Runrig, and Skippinnish as well as music by Irish artists. While I love pure traditional music, I do love how trad and folk has been fused with rock and pop over the years.
Island communities are often tight-knit and supportive, and Benbecula is no different. Lydia’s story is not just a journey to love, it’s a journey to belonging. It was a joy to write, and I do hope readers enjoy it.
A Laird for the Governess is the first in my Lairds of the Isles trilogy, set between Benbecula and London. In book two, a couple of islanders – brother and sister – travel to London and make a splash in London society, while in book three the action returns to the islands, with a reluctant Laird learning the value of a different way of life and finding love along the way. I’ve already started writing book two, so I’m making good use of that playlist!
A Laird for the Governess by Catherine Tinley
Lydia Farnham must travel to a remote Scottish island to work for widower Alasdair MacDonald, who doesn’t trust her or her unconventional teaching methods! Yet as his daughter flourishes, so too does the intense connection between Lydia and Alasdair. Only she should know better than to fall for the handsome laird when it could leave her without a job, or a home…