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Welcome to History Undressed, guest author Kris Kennedy! I'm thrilled to have been part of an anthology with Kris that just released yesterday: Captured by the Celtic Warrior! Today, she's written a fun post on the history behind the dagger that features in our book! Enjoy!
Hi, I’m Kris Kennedy, and I’ve
got a little ‘Behind the Research Scenes’ glimpse for you, from THE KING'S
OUTLAW, in the Captured by a Celtic Warrior anthology that I’m doing with fab
authors Eliza, Vonda Sinclair, and Jennifer Haymore!
The story is set in 1193, deep in
the era of crusading knights and questionable chivalry, and despite all my
research on this time period already, while researching THE KING’S OUTLAW, I
learned still more!
One of the coolest things I got
to research was the history of the Hashashin, the real, original Assassins.
This were a Nizari sect of Islam
that formed in 11th century, lead by the "Old Man of the Mountain."
They were a military order, but conducted high-level espionage and political
murders through one class of their order, the "fida'i." These were
young men, highly trained in many arts and skills, from combat to linguistics
to espionage techniques.
Although they often conducted
extremely public murders of high-ranking figures, to terrifying effect, they
primarily worked covertly, in secret and quiet. They would assimilate into the
towns and social worlds around their targets, sometimes for months on end.
They were immensely fond of using
daggers, sometimes poisoned, both as a weapon and as a threat. They were
legendary for sneaking into the tents of political opponents at night and
leaving a dagger and a note lying on the pillow or the floor, right beside the
body of leader they'd stood beside, undetected, in the dark.
One of many stories of their
exploits: In 1092, upon his coronation, the new sultan of the Seljuk empire rebuffed
a Hashashin ambassador. Bad idea. He woke up one morning soon after with a
dagger stuck in the ground beside his bed. He didn't say anything about it--who
wants to announce a weakness like that??--but a little while later, a messenger
from the Assassins arrived, saying, "Did I not wish the sultan well that
the dagger which was struck in the hard ground would have been planted on your
Gotcha. For the next several
decades there was a ceasefire between the Nizaris and the Seljuk.
Saladin, the Crusaders best
opponent, was repeatedly targeted by the Assassins, and finally came to terms.
Many, many Crusading leaders did as well. In fact, almost a hundred years
later, Prince Edward—later to become King Edward I of England, the ’Hammer of
the Scots’—was wounded by a poisoned Assassin's dagger in 1271 while he was
reason all this entered my research lens during the writing of THE KING’S
OUTLAW for the CAPTURED BY A CELTIC WARRIOR anthology is because there’s a
jeweled dagger that runs though all four of our stories. Since my story
was appearing first, I knew I wanted to set up a compelling, exciting ‘tale for
it. But I also had to keep the storyline
relatively tight—no sprawling 400 pg epics here! And of course, it had to be über-sexy. All
within a ‘captured’ theme.
So, there I was, looking for a
crusade-era story that did—or could—involve a dagger.And I found the Assassins.
In fact, not only did I find the
Assassins, but I found them involved in the very public murder of
about-to-be-crowned king of Jerusalem, Conrad of Montferrat, in 1192.And more not onlys…when captured, the
surviving Assassin claimed that Richard the Lionheart, King of England, had hired them to murder Conrad. The perfect
Sometimes research can feel
external, like a layer atop the story, but I like it best when it shapes and
informs the story, when it’s so integral to the unfolding events that you
couldn’t transplant it to any other time period.
I didn't get to use my research on
the Assassins as I would have liked, so I might have more crusades-related
stories in my future!
Kris writes sexy, adventure-laden
romances set in England and Ireland, during the ages when chivalry and knights
reigned supreme. With hard alpha heroes, strong heroines, and loads of
adventure, her books have won multiple awards, including DECEPTION, which received Romantic Times' Book Reviewers K.I.S.S. Hero
Award, for the best historical hero of the year, and THE IRISH WARRIOR, which won the Romance Writers of America's®
Golden Heart Award.
Welcome back to History Undressed our regular third Tuesday blogger, Tara Kingston! In honor of President's Day and Valentine's Day, Tara has written a fascinating post for us today. Enjoy!
Presidents in Love…
by Tara Kingston
The study of America’s history is often told with
facts and dates and names of places, with little attention paid to the people
behind the events. When we speak of American Presidents, the focus is often on
politics and accomplishments and scandals. But what about the bold, brilliant
women who captured their hearts and stayed by their side throughout the years
in the White House and beyond? What about…Presidents in love…
~ Richard and Pat Nixon
Long before Richard Nixon was dubbed “Tricky Dick”
for his political strategies, it turns out he was a hopeless romantic. When he
met a young teacher named Thelma “Pat” Ryan, it seemed a case of love at first
sight. He courted the woman he called his “Irish gypsy” for two years before
they married, following a proposal during which he’d placed an engagement ring
in a basket filled with flowers.
~ Harry and Bess Truman
Harry Truman courted his childhood crush Bess Wallace
for years after they first met in Sunday School when Harry was six and Bess was
five. During World War I, Bess carried his photo in her pocket while he went
off to war. Harry and his “Dear Bessie” married in 1919. During their
courtship, and the years afterward, they exchanged more than a thousand
letters. In his youth, the man known as “Give ’em Hell, Harry” wrote this to
the woman who would become his wife, “I suppose that I am too crazy about you
anyway. Every time I see you I get more so if it’s possible…”
~John and Abigail Adams
John and Abigail Smith Adams corresponded for decades
during their courtship and throughout the long separations they experienced after
their marriage in 1764. In one missive, he refers to Abigail as “Miss
Adorable”, while Abigail refers to John as her “dearest friend”. More than a
thousand letters from their correspondence survive. Their love letters were
commemorated in the 2001 Love series of United States postage stamps.
~Ronald and Nancy Reagan
Nancy Reagan’s collected love letters from the
President in I Love You, Ronnie
depict a love story that endured for decades. Reagan wrote poetry for his wife
and sent adoring notes through their marriage, even while traveling on Air
Force One, saying in 1983, “I more than love you…” Who was to guess that the
man dubbed “The Great Communicator” was also such a romantic.
~ Lyndon and Claudia “Lady Bird” Johnson
Lyndon Johnson was known as a savvy politician, but I
suspect few saw his romantic side. During their whirlwind 1934 courtship, more
than 90 letters were exchanged that provide a look at the love between Johnson
and Lady Bird. In one missive dated October 23, 1934, Johnson wrote, “This
morning, I am ambitious, proud, energetic and very madly in love with you.” Is
it any wonder Lady Bird married Lyndon on November 17, 1934, a little more than
two months after they first met on September 5, 1934?
~George H.W. Bush and Barbara Bush
On their forty-ninth anniversary, George wrote to
Barbara, “You give me joy that few men know. I’ve climbed perhaps the highest
mountain in the world, but even that cannot hold a candle to being Barbara’s
husband.” With a love like that, is it any wonder that the Bushes, the longest
married couple in presidential history, celebrated their seventy-first
anniversary on January 6.
~ Jimmy and Rosalyn Carter
The Carters have employed an acronym to express their
love since the 1940s, ILYTG – I Love You The Goodest. Jimmy even had a compact
engraved with the letters. The Carters have been married for sixty-nine years.
The biographies of our nation’s leaders are filled with
wonderful love stories. These are only a few that touched my heart. Presidents
from George Washington through Barack Obama have created their own stories.
Check out the resources listed at this end of this post for more heart-warming
presidential love stories.
Award-winning author Tara
Kingston writes historical romance laced with intrigue, danger, and adventures
of the heart. A Southern belle-out-of-water in a quaint Pennsylvania town, she
lives her own love story with her real-life hero in a cozy Victorian. The
mother of two sons, Tara's a former librarian whose love of books is evident in
her popping-at-the-seams bookcases. It goes without saying that Tara's husband
is thankful for the invention of digital books, thereby eliminating the need
for yet another set of shelves. When she's not writing, reading, or burning
dinner, Tara enjoys cycling, hiking, and cheering on her favorite football
world where a man’s loyalty doesn’t depend on the color of a uniform, danger,
intrigue, and passion are facts of life for the men and women of Tara’s Secrets & Spies series, historical
romances set against the backdrop of the Civil War.
Pirates are known for their pillaging, plundering and rioting. But when chasing down ships under sail, pirates preferred tactical strategy over a bloodbath. What? That’s not the way they do it in Hollywood. Ah, but it’s true. Despite how pirates loved a good fight, most times they’d rather rumble in bar brawls than in a sea battle. The risk of losing limb or life was too high.
Once the pirates spotted a potential prize, they shadowed the quarry, following them for hours, and sometimes even days. They did this to determine several things—wh
at country the ship sailed under, where the ship was headed, how fast she sailed, and if the vessel was well-armed. How did they determine all this? By beingbadass pirates, naturally. The seas they hunted were their business. They weren’t just experienced sailors. They were knowledgeable of the trade routes, the going rate for goods, island politics, and they had rats, er, informants staked in every port. But that’s not all.
Armed with this intelligence, the pirate crew voted on whether they wanted to take a ship or let her pass. Yes, they voted. Was the ship a better bucket than the one they sailed? Did she carry supplies and provisions the pirates needed? Perhaps she carried something, or someone, of value. Maybe even treasure! Should the pirate crew decide a ship was a worthy prize, they still didn’t attack. Engaging in battle was the last thing they wanted. What good was a prize if she was damaged, or worse, sinking? And no one wanted to die, right? Pirates relied on the elements of speed, surprise, and gotchas!
First, they might show their colors, meaning hoisting their jolly roger. If that didn’t get the knees a-knockin’, they’d fire a single warning shot across the ship’s bow. You’d think that would be enough.Unfortunately,there were many stubborn fools. A pity to them. Pirates would then resort tovapouringtechniques meant to terrorize victims into surrendering. Fierce shouts and fearsome threats, lively battle music, and brandishing weaponswere usuallyquiteeffective. Giving up the goods spared lives. But those who resisted, well, they were shown no quarter.
If you were encountered by a pirate ship, when would you surrender? Or would you fight until the death?
Today, I'm sharing with you an excerpt of Moira and Rory's first kiss in this tale, from my new release, Highlander Undone! Good thing its winter, because you just might need to step outside to cool off...
“My love life is none of
your concern,” Moira seethed.
“Ye love him?”
She groaned, remembering
the one annoying trait of his that he took everything so literally. “That is
also none of your business.”
Rory stepped forward, one
muscular leg in front of the other, the rising sun hidden behind his incredible
height and the air between them being sucked away before she could breathe.
“What if I make it my
business?” His voice had grown deeper, more gravelly, the way it had right
before he used to drag her toward his hard body and kiss her until she couldn’t
stand up straight.
Moira stepped away, trying
to catch her breath. She had to think, had to remember why she’d stalked out
here in the first place instead of calling the cops, but there he was, the heat
of his body flush to hers, his fingers sliding behind her neck, and his mouth
descending. She could do barely more than tilt her head back, part her lips,
watch as he closed the distance between them and finally he was kissing her.
Every inch of her screamed in revelry, in merriment for what she’d dreamt about
the past three years.
The scent of him, spicy and
male; the taste of him earthy and sensual. His tongue slicked over hers. She
couldn’t help but touch him, press her hands to his chest, breathe him in deep.
He groaned, deepening the kiss, and Moira answered with a sound at the back of
her throat that was a half-moan, half-whimper.
He pressed her back against
the door, his body enveloping her in warmth and seduction. His arousal, thick
and hard, pressed to the crux of her thighs.
And that was when she
remembered she wanted to get away from him, that he’d up and disappeared after
making her believe he’d loved her for over three hundred and sixty-five days. Moira
pressed her hands to his chest and pushed.
“Stop,” she gasped.
dragged his mouth from hers, but didn’t let go; he touched his forehead to
hers. “Anything for ye, love.” His voice was husky, his dark eyes hooded,
desire seeping through his stunning dark gaze.
The USA Today Bestselling Highland Bound series continues in Book Five -- Highlander Undone.
Continue Ewan and Shona's tale... And find out what happened to Rory!
With Logan and Emma away from the castle, Shona and Ewan are left in charge. The passion of their honeymoon is interrupted by an unexpected visitor seeking revenge on Rory MacLeod, who leaves them in desperate need to find the missing man. Unbeknownst to them, Rory has been transported to the future, where he is reunited with his long lost love, Moira, twin sister to Shona. Their attraction to each other still burns bright. As fate would have it, the four of them end up on a journey through the Highlands in an attempt to clear Rory's name, and solve the mystery behind Moira and Shona's birth. Passion. Love. Adventure. Danger. And a little bit of humor.