Above painting: Louis Jean Francois - Mars and Venus an Allegory of Peace
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Thursday, July 19, 2012

Castle of the Week: Dunrobin Castle (and a bit of Scottish setting)


This week's castle is Dunrobin Castle in the Highlands of Scotland, and happens to be the major setting for my latest release, The Highlander's Reward (the first in a series of novels, centering around the Sutherland clan). Dunrobin is located in Sutherland (the name of my hero—Laird Magnus Sutherland), on the east coast of Scotland.

The castle as it sits now was completely rebuilt in the mid 1800's by the same architect who worked on the Palace of Westminster. They did retain the 14th century tower as well as the 17th and 18th century extensions. You'll see the castle now looks very palatial and reminds me of fairy tales with its tall spires and circular towers. Originally it was a stronghold--a fortified square keep with walls that were 6-feet thick, with vaulted ceilings and thin windows. The keep is surrounded by a curtain wall and within the bailey are several outbuildings. The name Dunrobin mean’s Robin’s Hill (or fort) which is what it was built for, and possibly named after the first earl to hold the stronghold. (The earldom was created in 1235. For creative purposes, I have tweaked this date in my family saga…)

When my story begins in the late 13th century, I chose to have the castle under construction. They are rebuilding towers and soon will have a stone keep as it does appear there was most likely a wooden keep on location prior to the stone keep being built. My Sutherlands are a growing clan, recently having become powerful and wealthy, they continue their upward climb.

Dunrobin sits on a cliff top overlooking the Moray Firth which leads into the North Sea. Truly a beautiful place. Modeled after the gardens at the Palace of Versailles, Dunrobin has a magical garden of its own. Although the current garden was designed 150 years ago, I chose to have a garden in my book as well, however my garden is filled with vegetables, herbs and fruit. In fact, my heroine, Lady Arbella is keen on seeing this garden grow and adds a list of new plants.

Dunrobin Castle is an extremely popular tourist site and recently was awarded with a tourism Oscar. If you visit the castle, not only can you explore the castles and its gorgeous grounds, but there is a museum there as well with an amazing private collection. The castle also is well known for its Falconry displays.

I look forward to further explorations of the Sutherland lands and surrounding areas with subsequent books in my Stolen Bride series.

Here are some pics of the current castle (the castle on my book cover is what I imagine my setting to be) as well as some pictures to give you a feel for the setting in my novel.

Dunrobin Castle
Image of the castle before the renovations.

The gardens overlooking the sea at Dunrobin.

One of many beautiful beaches in Sutherland.
Ben Hope is a mountain in the Western lands of Sutherland (my story takes place in the eastern lands)
Scottish heather moorlands. 

ABOUT THE BOOK:

She belonged to another… But was destined to be his…

Lady Arbella de Mowbray abhors the idea of marrying an English noble occupying Scotland. When she arrives in Stirling, she is thrown into the midst of a full battle between the Scots and the English. Besieged by rebels, she is whisked from her horse by a Highland warrior who promises her safety. But when he kisses her she fears she's more in danger of losing herself.

The last thing Magnus Sutherland wants is to marry the beautiful English lass he saved. As the laird of his clan, he has a responsibility to his clan and allies. But when Arbella is attacked by one of his own men, he determines the only way to keep her safe is to make her his. A decision that promises to be extremely satisfying.

Magnus brings Arbella to his home of Dunrobin Castle in the Highlands. And that’s where the trouble begins… Their countries are at war and they should be each other’s enemy. Neither one considered their mock marriage would grow into a deeply passionate love. What’s more, they were both unhappily betrothed and those who've been scorned are out for revenge. Can their new found love keep them together or will their enemies tear them apart?

Eliza Knight has crafted a wonderfully entertaining, emotional and sensual read. I loved the sizzling romance and the exciting adventures. Magnus, the hot Highland hero, stole my heart just as he did Arbella’s.” Vonda Sinclair, Award-Winning author of Scottish romance



ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Eliza Knight is the multi-published author of sizzling historical romance and erotic romance. While not reading, writing or researching for her latest book, she chases after her three children. In her spare time (if there is such a thing…) she likes daydreaming, wine-tasting, traveling, hiking, staring at the stars, watching movies, shopping and visiting with family and friends. She lives atop a small mountain, and enjoys cold winter nights when she can curl up in front of a roaring fire with her own knight in shining armor. Visit Eliza at www.elizaknight.com or her historical blog History Undressed: www.historyundressed.com Twitter:@ElizaKnight and Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/elizaknightauthor

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