Above painting: Louis Jean Francois - Mars and Venus an Allegory of Peace
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Sunday, May 30, 2010

Book Review: The Man Who Loved Pride and Prejudice by Abigail Reynolds

I don't normally do reviews on books that are contemporary, but the title of this one captured me, The Man Who Loved Pride and PrejudicePride and Prejudice is one of my favorite books, and Jane Austen one of my fave authors, so when you combine a hero loving my favorite book, I had to see what it was all about.

About the book...

(Previously published in trade paperback as Pemberley by the Sea)


Marine biologist Cassie Boulton likes her coffee with cream and her literature with happy endings. Her favorite book is Pride & Prejudice, but Cassie has no patience when a modern-day Mr. Darcy appears in her lab.

Silent and aloof, Calder Westing III doesn't seem to offer anything but a famous family name. But there is more to Calder than meets the eye, and he can't get enough of Cassie Boulton. Especially after one passionate night by the sea. But Cassie keeps her distance. Behind the veneer of scientific accomplishment, wit, and warmth, she is determined to hide secrets from her past. That means avoiding men who want to get too close, especially tempting and dangerous ones like Calder.

Frustrated by Cassie's evasions, Calder tells her about his feelings the only way she'll let him: by rewriting her favorite book, with the two of them in the roles of Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet. But only Cassie can decide whether to risk her future by telling him the dangerous truth.

The Man Who Loved Pride & Prejudice is the first book of The Woods Hole Quartet, a series of interlocking novels set in the seaside village of Woods Hole.

Product ISBN: 9781402237324

Price: $6.99
Publication Date: May 2010


My Review...

The two main characters did resemble Darcy and Elizabeth as contemporary counterparts go.  Calder is wealthy, stoic, mysterious, comes from a family of snobs.  Cassie is intelligent, makes an average income, comes from a less than stellar background, and has some secrets of her own. 

The sciencey stuff in the story was not for me.  When I'm reading and learning something, history is more my bag.  That being said, I did learn about some interesting things, like bioluminescence. But if you move beyond the science, the story itself was cute.  A nice love story, with realistic characters.  The author did a good job coming up with goals, motivations and conflicts for Calder, Cassie and the secondary characters (although I did find her friend Erin's motivation for staying away from Scott to be weak).

I liked that Calder was secretly a writer, and I really enjoyed how he re-wrote Pride and Prejudice to be his and Cassie's story.

About the Author...

Abigail Reynolds is a lifelong Jane Austen enthusiast and a physician. In addition to writing, she has a part-time private practice and enjoys spending time with her family. Originally from upstate New York, she studied Russian, theater, and marine biology before deciding to attend medical school. She began writing From Lambton to Longbourn in 2001 to spend more time with her favorite characters from Pride & Prejudice. Encouragement from fellow Austen fans convinced her to continue asking ‘What if…?’, which led to four other Pemberley Variations and her modern novel, Pemberley by the Sea. She is currently at work on another Pemberley Variation and a sequel to Pemberley by the Sea. She lives in Wisconsin with her husband, two teenaged children, and a menagerie of pets.  Visit Abigail at http://pemberleyvariations.com/

Friday, May 28, 2010

Guest Author Victoria Gray: History Gone Hollywood

I am very excited today to have guest author Victoria Gray with us!  I've read her debut novel, and it is fabulous!  I was lucky to meet Victoria several years ago and last year sat with her at the Hearts Through History breakfast at RWA Nationals.  She is an up and coming author to watch with a talent for vivid writing, a knack for historical detail, and spellbinding characters.

For the most part, writers of historical romance strive for accuracy in capturing historical events and characters. Can the same be said of Hollywood?


I’d suspect that ninety-nine percent of book editors would run screaming from a plot that featured a beautiful, tempting Pocahontas and a very studly Captain John Smith…after all, history tells us that Pocahontas was about seven when Smith and his crew landed in Jamestown in 1607. The New World, starring Colin Farrell as Captain John Smith (who obviously was not cast due to a striking resemblance to the legendary colonist) highlighted the romantic attraction between Smith and a teenaged Pocahontas, portrayed by a striking young actress, Q’orianka Kilcher.

Before its release, the studio was said to have deleted several love scenes deemed too steamy between the nearly thirty-year old actor and the fourteen year-old actress. Besides the “ick” factor here, this romance is completely inaccurate. Many other scenes in the movie are historically wrong as well, but the romance is the most glaring example of Hollywood mauling the truth in this film.Disney’s Pocahontas isn’t quite as bad, but as a teacher who works with children who have to learn the facts about the Jamestown expedition and its key players, it’s difficult to overcome the portrayals of Pocahontas as someone who looks like Barbie’s Native American cousin and Captain John Smith as Jamestown Expedition Ken. At least, that’s a fantasy, complete with the requisite Disney talking animals, and that offers a teaching point about fiction versus non-fiction.  Visit Victoria at:  www.victoriagrayromance.com


Hollywood has always taken liberties with the truth...huge liberties, in some cases. Henry VIII is portrayed as a studly hunk in many films, not a gout-ridden, portly monarch. Of course, some would say that Henry was not always fat and was known to be rather athletic in his youth, but how on Earth did anyone decide to cast gorgeous, dark Eric Bana as the monarch in The Other Boleyn Girl ? The portrait of Henry VIII in his twenties shows a man who certainly would not have made a girl lose her head (yes, I know…such a bad pun) if he were not a monarch. Of course, The Tudors casting of Jonathan Rhys Meyers isn’t any more visually accurate, although I think he captures the moods and manipulations of Henry far more convincingly than hulky Eric Bana (yes, another bad pun), who came across to me as a rather dull-witted monarch.

I could go on and on about Hollywood’s historical inaccuracies. Bonnie and Clyde portrayed the notorious bank robbers as lovers on the run, not the cold-blooded killers they were. Braveheart depicts a kilt-clad Mel Gibson even though kilts weren’t worn in Scotland until about three hundred years after William Wallace died. More remarkably, the film depicts Wallace as the father of Edward III, who was born seven years after Wallace’s death (and I thought nine months was a long time to be pregnant). Mel was at it again with The Patriot, in which he almost single-handedly wins a battle that history recorded as a win for the British…a minor detail, I suppose, in the minds of Hollywood. Gladiator’s villain, Emperor Commodus, was certainly not a nice guy, but it’s believed his father died of disease, not at Commodus’ hand. Commodus was murdered after ruling for more than a decade…in his bathtub, not fighting in a gladiator’s ring. I suppose a guy dying in his bathtub would not have created the heroic ending the folks behind Gladiator were looking for, and as I adore Russell Crowe, I’ll forgive this particular inaccuracy.

What about movies that got it right, or at least, close to right? Are there any? Tombstone and Wyatt Earp might have played loosely with the truth and selectively omitted some of Earp’s less than favorable qualities, but both films portray the era with a feel for the times. Plus, Tombstone has Michael Biehn as Johnny Ringo...I just love the actor in that character and root for the villain, much to my husband's chagrin. Cinderella Man is more of an essay about the hardships of the Depression than a boxing movie, and Russell Crowe depicts Jim Braddock with a feel for the desperation of a man during those times trying to keep his family afloat. The Untouchables, while depicting Eliot Ness and his men as almost saintly, does capture the flavor of the times while depicting the truth…all the gun power in Chicago couldn't bring Capone down, but crooked income tax returns did. Public Enemies, which portrays John Dillinger and Melvin Purvis, flaunted some aspects of history, but the film and Johnny Depp's portrayal of Public Enemy #1 captured the era and the appeal of Dillinger to the masses. What do you think of Hollywood’s view of history? Could authors get away with the gross inaccuracies sometimes found in films?

Leave a comment for a chance to win a digital download of Victoria's new release, Destiny.

About the author...
Victoria Gray developed a passion for writing as soon as she could hold a pencil in her hand. Now, with her ever-present laptop computer replacing her pencil, she is passionate about writing love stories that capture the essence of hope, courage, desire, and that powerful spark of recognition that ignites when lovers discover their true soul mates. She especially enjoys writing historical romance that celebrates American heroes and stories that touch on our country's fascinating history.

When she isn't writing or reading, Victoria cherishes time spent with her husband hiking in the mountains of Virginia, basking on the beach with a great book in her hand, or exploring the historical sites of cities and towns across America.  Visit Victoria at:  www.victoriagrayromance.com

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Guest Author Shana Galen: Treason and The Making of a Duchess

Today on History Undressed, we welcome author, Shana Galen.  Earlier, I posted my review of her novel, The Making of a Duchess.

I never think I’ll have to do any research when I begin a novel. I’ve published five novels set in Regency England and written several more. One would think I know all there is to know. And that’s what I love about being an author. Every time I write a book, I learn something new.

In The Making of a Duchess, Julien Harcourt, duc de Valére, is a French émigré living in London. He fled Revolutionary France at the age of 13 with his English mother. His father was sent to the guillotine, and Julien doesn’t know what happened to his twin younger brothers. He’s made it his life’s work to find them.

Julien is lucky. His mother is English, and her family is relatively well-to-do. When they fled France, he had somewhere to go and a way to survive. Other members of the French aristocracy were not so fortunate. Those who saw trouble coming may have been able to send funds to England, where their money would be secure. But others barely escaped with their lives. They were forced to take jobs as French tutors and the like in order to survive.

If you’ve read A Tale of Two Cities, you might remember this is how Charles Darnay makes his living. You might also remember Darnay is accused of treason. My hero Julien is suspected of treason as well. He’s made several trips back to France in search of his lost brothers, and his travel to an enemy nation has raised the eyebrows of the British Foreign Office. They send a woman, Sarah, to spy on him, and here’s where the book begins.

As I was writing, I researched the British legal system. I wanted to know what punishment Julien would be facing if found guilty of treason.

It wasn’t pleasant. Traitors were tried at the Old Bailey and then hung, drawn, and quartered. Remember that scene at the end of Braveheart where Mel Gibson as William Wallace is hung, drawn, and quartered? Well, you don’t see all of it, and that’s a good thing.

Traitors were hung until almost dead, cut down, and then disemboweled (that’s the drawn part). Their bodies were then cut into four quarters and put on display. Pretty gruesome and considered somewhat barbaric by Regency times.

So that’s the punishment Julien is facing. And if Sarah finds evidence of any treachery, he stands little chance of escaping such a punishment. The British might have a highly civilized legal system, but in my research I discovered, barristers were not above paying people to lie. That’s right. Men might make a living from giving false testimony. Charles Dickens writes a very humorous scene in A Tale of Two Cities, where the false witnesses against Charles Darnay are made to look fools by Stryver and Sydney Carton.

You’ll have to read the book to see how Julien escapes this very real danger. You can check out an excerpt on my website, www.shanagalen.com.

I mentioned one of my favorite books growing up was A Tale of Two Cities. Are there any books you’ve read that inspired you? I’ll be checking in later to read your answers.

THE MAKING OF A DUCHESS by SHANA GALEN—IN STORES JUNE 2010

A very dangerous attraction…

Julien Harcourt, duc de Valère, is more than willing to marry the lovely young lady his mother has chosen. Little does he know, she’s been sent to prove him a spy and a traitor…

And an even more dangerous secret…

Sarah Smith’s mission is to find out whether the Duc’s trips to the Continent are as innocent as he claims, but the way he looks at her is far from innocent…

Their risky game of cat and mouse propels them from the ballrooms of London to the prisons of Paris, and into a fragile love that may not survive their deceptions…


About the Author

Shana Galen is the author of five Regency historicals, including the Rita-nominated Blackthorne’s Bride. Her books have been sold in Brazil, Russia, and the Netherlands and featured in the Rhapsody and Doubleday Book Clubs. A former English teacher in Houston’s inner city, Shana now writes full time. She is a happily married wife and mother of one daughter and two spoiled cats. She loves to hear from readers: visit her website at www.shanagalen.com.


Leave a comment for your chance to win a copy of her book!  (US and Canada only)  Winners will be announced in the winners cube tomorrow.

Historical Romance Review: The Making of a Duchess, by Shana Galen

Readers of historical romance are in for a treat this June!!!  I read my first book by Shana Galen, and I am hooked!  The Making of a Duchess has just about everything I love in a historical romance:  history, vivid eye popping characters and scenery, an engaging, believable, action packed plot, and sizzling chemistry.

Back cover blurb...

Julien Harcourt, the dashing duc de Valere is used to thwarting intrigue and being on the run.  Separated from his brothers 12 years ago, his frequent travels between England and France, at a time when an exiled Napoleon was known to be marshalling his tropps, leads the English authorities to suspect Julien of spying.  Instead of hunting him down, they send a beautiful young woman to find out the truth...

Sarah Smith finds herself on a dangerous mission to figure out what exactly the Duc is hiding, but the most dager Sarah discovers in Julien is his danger to her heart!  Their risky game of cat and mouse carries them from ballrooms of London to the prisons of Paris, and into a fragile love that neither dares to hope for in the light of their deceptions.

Product ISBN: 9781402238659

Price: $6.99
Publication Date: June 2010


This is the first in a trilogy: The Making of a Gentleman Fall 2010 and The Making of a Rogue Spring 2011.

My Review...

The opening scene in The Making of a Duchess, was vivid, intense and had me ensnared from the first line:  "Julien woke suddenly, his eyes wide and focused on the ceiling above his bed."  Immediately, I had questions, had to keep on reading.  And it just got more intense from there.  Galen has a great skill at hooking her reader.  With a crazy work schedule and three wee ones, I am usually a stickler for my bedtime.  But I admit that Galen's book had me up until all hours, my husband tapping me, asking me to please turn off the light.  I took her book with me everywhere, the gym, the urgent care center when my daughter broke her finger, the car... 

The heroine Sarah, is bookish, smart, and thrust into a situation wholly unknown to her.  I empathize with her immediately.  If she doesn't do as her employer says she will be homeless, jobless, and as it is she is already without family and any good friends.  And boy does the governess learn quickly how to play her part.  With a few mishaps and blunders along the way, Sarah does more than capture the information she needs to report to the Foreign Office, she captures Julien's heart.

Our hero, Julien, is what I dream of in a hero.  Dark, dreamy, lithe, mysterious.  He challenges Sarah--whom he believes is the French compte's daughter, Serafina (beautiful name!) every step of the way.  Julien has a tortured past, he harbors a lot of guilt, and he'll stop at nothing to right the wrongs done to his family and find his missing brothers.  Along the way, he'll discover that the puzzling woman thrust into his life, is a perfect match for him.

As always, I look for historical details, and I felt like Galen did a fabulous job!  From the French chateau to the English drawing room, to a ship to a French prison.  Details were vivid, scenes well constructed and I thought the French language was handled well.

I would definitely recommend this book, and I look forward to reading Galen's other titles.

About the author...

Shana Galen is the author of five Regency historicals and two light women's fiction novels.  She is a three-time Rita Award finalist (RWA's most prestigious award for published romance fiction).  Shana teaches 7th grade English, is active in RWA and lives in Houston, Texas.  For more information, visit her website, http://www.shanagalen.com/


Shana is visiting History Undressed!  Leave a comment on 5/26/10 for your chance to win one of two copies of her novel.

Monday, May 17, 2010

The Brothers of Gwynedd: A Quartet, by Edith Pargeter -- Book Club Review

I had the immense pleasure of reading Edith Pargeter's historical novel, The Brothers of Geynedd:  A Quartet.  This book of massive proporations (just under 800 pages) has been broken into four smaller parts (a quartet), and for today's review, I'm taking on Story One: Sunrise in the West.


This book was originally published as four separate stories in the 1970's and then compiled together.  Pargeter, who has sadly passed, was a literary phenomenon, and published numerous works.  Her life itself is admirable and fascinating.  To learn more about Pargeter, visit this link:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edith_Pargeter

Back Cover Blurb...

A Burning Desire for One Country, One Love, and One Legacy That Will Last Forever.

Llewelyn, prince of Gwynedd, dreams of a Wales united against the English, but first he must combat enemies nearer home. Llewelyn and his brothers—Owen Goch, Rhodri, and David—vie for power among themselves and with the English king, Henry III. Despite the support of his beloved wife, Eleanor, Llewelyn finds himself trapped in a situation where the only solution could be his very downfall...

Originally published in England as four individual novels, The Brothers of Gwynedd transports you to a world of chivalry, gallant heroes, and imprisoned damsels; to star-crossed lovers and glorious battle scenes; and is Edith Pargeter’s absorbing tale of tragedy, traitors, and triumph of the heart.

Available now from Sourcebooks
ISBN: 9781402237607

Price: $16.99
Publication Date: May 2010

My Review...

What an amazing novel! I embarked on a journey in story one, with the narrator Samson, a man in service to Prince Llewelyn.  Born on the same day, and with Samson's mother tied closely with Llewelyn's mother, Lady Senena, the two share a path and journey that are integrally linked. 

The story is intense.  A bitter battle between family, countries and laws of old. Llewelyn, his brothers, his father, mother, are all fighting for their rightful place on the throne of Wales. Afterall, according to ancient rules that should still apply, even though his father is illegitimate, he is the oldest son.  And bastard or not, according to the laws, he is the rightful heir, making Prince Llewelyn second in line to the thrown after his older brother Owen.  But, his father's brother, David, who is legitimate, took the reign instead, the old king not wanting a bitter dispute, and the country needing strength against the possible threat of England's invasion.

Sunrise in the West, starts out with Samson, our narrator, and Llewelyn as young boys.  And at the age of twelve, Llewelyn has to make a hard decision.  His mother has decided to enlist the aide of the English king to free his father (Lord Griffith) from prison (he's been imprisoned by his brother David, as has Owen).  But Llewelyn doesn't agree to the plot.  And he escapes unknown from her household, to return to his uncle, but one person does know.  And to prove his loyalty to Llewelyn, he promises not to tell that he saw him leave.  Llewelyn makes a promise of his own, he won't tell his uncle what his mother's plans are.

But life in thirteenth century is no cake walk, and at twelve years old, Llewelyn as well as Samson, have had to grow up fast.  Through a number of years and a series of treacherous events, (you'll have to read to find out what!) Samson and Llewelyn find themselves as men, and Prince Llewelyn finds himself as a leader among the Welsh.

The author did an amazing job with her research.  If I didn't know better, I would have thought she lived through the history herself.  No facet of the time period is left unturned.  What I really enjoyed about this story is that you get the perspective of a lower class member of society, and you also see what the life of a royal is like--and not just a royal sitting pretty on the throne, this book is full of action, adventure, fighting, triumph, failure, betrayal, trust.  There are scores of fabulous stories about nobleman, royals, and other wealthy historical figures, but not enough about the peasants and servants.  I was glad to see the aspects of their lives expounded on. 


This book is not a light read, I'll admit, but if you love a good historical, with real life vivid historical characters, action, intrigue and a wonderously painted setting, The Brothers of Gwynedd is a must read.

****

Visit these other blogs who are also participating in the book club, to read more reviews, and don't forget tonight, there will be a chat on Part One! 
 
May 17 Reviews


The Burton Review   http://www.theburtonreview.com/
The Bibliophilic Book Blog  http://www.bibliophilicbookblog.com/
Rundpinne http://www.rundpinne.com/
A Reader's Respite http://readersrespite.blogspot.com/
History Undressed http://www.historyundressed.blogspot.com/
Linda Banche Blog http://lindabanche.blogspot.com/
A Hoyden's Look at Literature http://caramellunacy.blogspot.com/
Royal Reviews http://theroyalreviews.blogspot.com/

May 18 Reviews

Between the Pages http://www.betweenthelinesandmore.blogspot.com/
The Broken Teepee http://www.brokenteepee.blogspot.com/
Books and Coffee http://bookswithcoffee.wordpress.com/
Book Girl of Mur-y-Castell http://books-forlife.blogspot.com/
Tanzanite's Shelf and Stuff http://shelfandstuff.blogspot.com/
Passages to the Past http://www.passagestothepast.com/
The Book Faery http://tbfreviews.net/
A Girl Walks Into a Bookstore http://agirlwalksintoabookstore.blogspot.com/
Martha's Bookshelf http://marthasbookshelf.blogspot.com/

May 19 Reviews

Beth Fish http://bfishreads.blogspot.com/
Deb's Book Bag http://debsbookbag.blogspot.com/
Book Tumbling http://booktumbling.com/
A Work in Progress http://danitorres.typepad.com/workinprogress/
Stiletto Storytime http://www.stilettostorytime.wordpress.com/
Queen of Happy Endings http://alainereading.blogspot.com/

May 20 Reviews

The Literate Housewife http://literatehousewife.com/
Reading Adventures http://readingadventures.blogspot.com/
Books Like Breathing http://bibliophile23.wordpress.com/
Kailana's Written World http://myreadingbooks.blogspot.com/
Confessions of a Muse in the Fog http://muse-in-the-fog.blogspot.com/
Wendy's Minding Spot http://mindingspot.blogspot.com/
Mrs. Q Book Addict http://web.me.com/quirion
The Life and Lies of a Flying Inanimate Object http://www.haleymathiot.blogspot.com/
Starting Fresh http://startingfresh-gaby317.blogspot.com/

May 21 Reviews

Loving Heart Mommy http://www.lovingheartmommy.com/
Peeking Between the Pages http://peekingbetweenthepages.blogspot.com/
Celtic Lady's Ramblings http://celticladysreviews.blogspot.com/
Bookfoolery http://bookfoolery.blogspot.com/
One Literature Nut http://mjmbecky.blogspot.com/
The Book Tree http://thebooktree.blogspot.com/
My Reading Room http://myreadingroom-crystal.blogspot.com/

May 23 Reviews

Carla Nayland's Blog http://www.carlanayland.org/index.shtml

May 24th - Chat for Story One: Passages to the Past
Hosted by Amy
7:00pm - 9:00pm EST
 
 
Don't forget to check back next month for the book club reviews and chat of Book Two!
 
Schedule:
 
Story Two: The Dragon at Noonday
Reviews - June 21-25
Chat - June 28 on The Literate Housewife
 
Story Three:  The Hounds of Sunset
Reviews - July 19-23
Chat - July 26 on The Burton Review
 
Story Four: Afterglow and Nightfall
Review - August 23-27
Chat - August 30 on I Read

Friday, May 7, 2010

Guest Author, Blythe Gifford - Behind the Plaid: Scotland and the Tartan

I am very exctied to have guest author, Blythe Gifford back with History Undressed.  She previously visited us, with her extremely intriguing article, Cross Dressing in the Middle Ages.  Today, she is gifting us with another tantalizing bit of history, Behind the Plaid:  Scotland and the Tartan.

HIS BORDER BRIDE, a May release from the Harlequin Historical line, is my first book set north of the border in Scotland. When my editor and I were first discussing the cover, she asked “Do you mind if we put plaid on the cover?”

Mind? I want to attract readers who love Scotland. Why should I object to signaling that to the reader?

Well, the answer, as my editor knew, is that I tend to be a stickler for historical accuracy. And in the 14th century Scottish Borders, tartan plaids are an anachronism.

Let me explain.

Scotland is two different countries. To most readers, “Scotland,” means the highlands. Clans and warriors. Highland hunks. My book is set in the Lowlands, so 90% of what most people know (or think they know) does not apply to my story. A Lowlander, I’ve been informed, wouldn’t be caught dead in a plaid.

But even if I had set it in the Highlands, the beautiful tartan pattern would have been out of place in my century.

There is one reference to “plaide” in the 14th century. (Believe me. I found it!) But a plaide, which means ‘blanket’ in Gaelic, was technically the cloth made into a blanket or worn over the shoulder. To quote Wikipedia: “Tartan as we know it today, is not thought to have existed in Scotland before the 16th century.” And not until the 1700’s, hundreds of years after my story, were plaids and families tightly linked. Earlier than that, weavers of a certain areas in the Highlands used consistent patterns that became associated with the area, but a Highlander might have worn many different patterns together, not one that belonged to his or her family.

Plaid fabric became a Scottish badge of honor when it was outlawed by the Dress Act of 1746. This was England’s attempt to reign in the clans by trying to obliterate their Gaelic culture. The law was finally repealed in 1782.

Ironically, though, it was an English king and a Scottish novelist who cemented the place of tartan in the Scottish pantheon. King George IV visited Edinburgh in 1822, the first reigning monarch to enter Scotland in 171 years. Sir Walter Scott, novelist and founder of the Celtic Society of Edinburgh, helped create the festivities. He urged his fellow countrymen to come "all plaided and plumed in their tartan array,” wrote Magnus Magnusson in Scotland, the Story of a Nation. The final effect, Magnusson goes on to write, was not universally admired. One contemporary writer called it "Sir Walter's Celtified Pagentry."

But the result was the invention of the Scottish tartan industry and clan tartans. In a book called Vestiarium Scoticum, published in 1842, brothers John Sobieski and Charles Allen Hay (who styled themselves as Stuarts) claimed to set out patterns found in an ancient manuscript they never produced. Other pseudo-history followed. When Queen Victoria and Prince Albert bought Balmoral Castle in the Highlands in 1848, they created their own Scots plaids, including the Balmoral, which is still used as a royal tartan today. Legend overwhelmed history. The tartan had developed a life of its own.

But I had modeled the kin of my 14th century heroine on a Border family that eventually became the Kerrs. Wanting to be cooperative while clinging to some sense of accuracy, I sent to my editor a picture of the Kerr tartan, thinking it would be ideal.

Nope. Even that idea was nixed. Why? Because, I learned, those lovely clan tartans are copyrighted and cannot be used without permission and, presumably royalties.

Somehow, I’m not sure the ancient weavers in the Highlands would have understood.

Would love to hear your comments on tartans. Love ‘em, hate ‘em, know what your families is? A copy of HIS BORDER BRIDE (complete with anachronistic, inaccurate plaid!) to a lucky commenter.

BLYTHE GIFFORD is the author of five medieval romances from Harlequin Historical. She specializes in characters born on the wrong side of the royal blanket. With HIS BORDER BRIDE, she crosses the border and sets a story in Scotland for the first time, where the rules of chivalry don’t always apply. Here’s a brief description:
Royal Rogue: He is the bastard son of an English prince and a Scotswoman. A rebel without a country, he has darkness in his soul.

Innocent Lady: Daughter of a Scottish border lord, she can recite the laws of chivalry, and knows this man has broken every one. But she’s gripped by desire for him—could he be the one to unleash the dangerous urges she’s hidden until now?

Her 2009 release, IN THE MASTER’S BED, has just finaled in the Readers Crown contest. Blythe loves to have visitors at www.blythegifford.com or www.facebook.com/BlytheGifford.

Cover Art used by arrangement with Harlequin Enterprises Limited. All rights reserved. ®and T are trademarks of Harlequin Enterprises Limited and/or its affiliated companies, used under license. Copyright 2010 ■ Author photo by Jennifer Girard