The new Highland Alliances series by Terri Brisbin, Jenni Fletcher and Madeline Martin has all the elements that historical readers love: marriages of (in)convenience, Highlanders, kilts, mountains and islands and the sea, sexy and bold heroes, and smart and brave heroines. And, of course, romance!
We’re DELIGHTED to be joined by the three fabulous authors who tell us about their writing journey and what readers can expect.
Terri – Last year, our editor invited Jenni Fletcher, Madeline Martin and me to work on a Highlander historical romance project. We already knew each other so we jumped at the chance to work together. Since the idea was for a series of three connected stories and we’re on two continents in two different time zones, we met up in chatrooms a couple of times to share ideas, info and plot. Since the Highland clans were known for their long-standing feuds, that seemed the best place to start. After a brilliant suggestion from Jenni who had just watched a historical programme on Scotland’s history, we worked out a possible location (the western coast of Scotland) and time period, investigated the area’s real clans and their history, and even discussed the number of castles in the area and how we could use them. Soooo many castles!
Our stories began forming and we focused on a clan feud that had ended with one clan being exiled by the king and now attempting to return to claim ancestral lands. Which led us to the realisation that our clan could not stand against these old enemies alone, so they needed alliances and agreements and. . . marriages!
My hero, Ross MacMillan, is made chieftain when his uncle is killed in the first attack and he must do whatever is necessary to save his clan. Unfortunately for him, he discovers that means he must marry the daughter of a ruthless chieftain, a woman he cannot trust because she brings so many secrets into their marriage. Did I mention that Ross’s younger brother AND sister are eligible and available for marriage? Neither sibling is happy about that which made it more fun to write!
While writing we stayed in touch and kept a spreadsheet of all our characters, details about setting and timing of events. Then we read each other’s stories when we were ready to share them. It was fun for me to work with Jenni and Madeline – to collaborate on all the aspects of the series as we went along.
Jenni – This was such a bizarre and fun and occasionally hair-tearing experience. I’m so glad we had a chatroom because otherwise I don’t think we could have managed. All we knew when we first ‘met’ was that our books needed a Highlander theme, a Medieval setting and some kind of over-arching plot so we had a huge amount of creative freedom. We ended up settling on a group of (conveniently) unmarried siblings, Ross, Fergus and Elspeth MacMillan, forced to make marriage alliances to protect their home.
But it was my heroine, Coira, who first felt real to me. She’d jilted Fergus the night before their wedding six years before this story starts, although not for the reasons he thought, and as a widow is now faced with marrying him again! I could see her really clearly – long black hair and eyes the colour of thistles, standing on her crumbling castle ramparts dreading the arrival of her new (old) intended. I got so into her backstory that I almost forgot about the bigger plot (until my editor reminded me!) but in the end it paved the way for a dramatic showdown involving Madeline’s heroine. We hope you end up falling in love with all the MacMillans as much as we did!
Madeline – I had so much fun plotting out this series with Jenni and Terri! Especially when we kept adding more castles into our stories. It’s a good thing Scotland has so many because we needed a lot! Initially we talked about the idea of the son of the Campbells being a possible hero and I do love a good enemies to lovers tale, so I jumped at that story. But I couldn’t give him some demure lass, especially when I realised he’d likely have to kidnap her to even get her to talk to him.
In The Highlander’s Stolen Bride, Elspeth is unhappy about being forced into a marriage to man she doesn’t love. She’s even more incensed when their family’s nemesis kidnaps her to use as ransom in the ongoing war. But not is all as it appears… I loved writing this story, especially with Terri and Jenni who are such wonderful authors and so easy to work with!
The Highlander’s Substitute Wife by Terri Brisbin
Ross MacMillan lifts his bride’s veil…and discovers it’s not the woman he’d agreed to marry, but her beautiful younger sister, Ilysa MacDonnell! The new MacMillan chieftain must accept Ilysa as his wife, for retaining his clan’s lands depends on her father’s support. But why is she there – are her aims to help him or her father? Drawing out Ilysa’s secrets will kindle an alliance more powerful—and passionate!—than Ross ever imagined….
Read the first story, The Highlander’s Substitute Wife by Terri Brisbin now.