It was love at first sight (how appropriate for a romantic novelist!). One tour of Scotland’s Highlands and Islands and I knew I wanted to live there. It took two years to commit to the decision to move to the edge of a sea loch on the West Coast of Scotland but a further two years on I can truthfully say that it has been everything I expected. This land is rugged, remote, even magical. It is a land of mountains and lochs, of legends and ancient stories, a land with a very turbulent history. And I find it so inspiring!
Highland history is all around you here, in the rocks, the language and culture. You can almost taste it. I have been itching to write something set here since I arrived and Forbidden to the Highland Laird is my first book, but it certainly won’t be my last!
My story begins a few years after the failed Jacobite Rising in 1719. It was the time of the Enlightenment, the Age of Reason, but in the remote Highlands, the people are still governed mainly by clan loyalty. Logan Rathmore, the new laird of Ardvarrick, has been educated in the south and his new ideas clash with those of his neighbours.
Ailsa is the harpist at Contullach and she has been brought up in the ancient beliefs and culture of the Highlands. Although she and Logan are drawn to one another, it is not only their beliefs that are at odds, but their families, too, have long been enemies.
For someone who is more accustomed to writing Regency romance set in England, Forbidden to the Highland Laird was a big change for me. First of all, there was such a lot to learn! I discovered that it was not unusual for the sons of Scottish gentlemen and Highland lairds to be sent to school in Edinburgh or in England, to take the Grand Tour and visit London. They were not uneducated savages, as they are sometimes portrayed, even by southern contemporaries. Logan had been absent from the Highlands for ten years, and through his eyes we see some of the differences. He himself has to learn to appreciate the Highland culture and way of life, and Ailsa helps him with that.
Having grown up on a diet of swashbuckling stories, both in books and those wonderful old Hollywood movies, I just love adding adventure to my stories, and the wild nature of the Highlands inspired me to add plenty of action! Scottish history is full of tales of feuding clans and kidnapped wives or daughters, which is great for a novelist and I was able to add plenty of derring-do to Logan and Ailsa’s romance. I only hope my readers will enjoy their story as much as I do!