Above painting: Louis Jean Francois - Mars and Venus an Allegory of Peace


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Friday, January 27, 2012

Guest Author Mia Marlowe on Writing Historical Romance

Today I'd like to welcome historical romance author, Mia Marlowe to History Undressed! Today she'll be talking with us about writing historical romance and a bit about her new release (along with Connie Mason), SINS OF THE HIGHLANDER. Leave a comment and two lucky winners will receive a print copy of Ms. Marlowe's new release! (US and Canada only)

Thanks for having me here. Part of why I write historical romance is because it allows me to feed my history addiction. I love the research portion of my job. I always find something surprising, horrifying, or delightful. Today we’re in the horrifying realm because there’s a scene in SINS OF THE HIGHLANDER where my heroine Elspeth is going to be burned as a witch. I have a personal interest in those who were falsely accused of consorting with the devil because my 13th great-grandmother, Sarah Towne Cloyce was imprisoned during the Salem Witch trials. (You can read all about it on my blog:   http://miamarlowe.com/blog/2010/10/a-witch-in-the-woodshed/ )

Unfortunately, when one was accused of witchcraft in the 16th century, there was no such thing as being held innocent till proven guilty. Confessions were often forced with torture. And the tests devised to prove innocence usually resulted in the death of the accused. For example, water was considered a pure element which would reject a wicked soul. So if a bound person was tossed into a pond and floated, they were “rejected” by the water and therefore, proved to be evil. The person who sank and drowned was deemed innocent.  Talk about a no-win scenario.

In Sins of the Highlander, Elspeth Stewart is given a public trial since she’s the daughter of a laird, but she’s found guilty all the same. In the following excerpt, Rob MacLaren has sneaked into his enemy’s stronghold in the hope that he can free her.

Sins of the Highlander excerpt:

              The atmosphere was more suitable to a fair than a burning. Enterprising merchants had set up stalls ringing the bailey to sell foodstuffs and other goods. Children scampered between the stalls, light-fingered urchins lifting a sweetmeat or two. Everyone seemed in high spirits.

               But at the far end of the bailey, Rob saw the stake, already ringed with faggots. A path had been marked with ropes, leading from the stake to the tallest tower at the opposite end of the courtyard. Elspeth would walk that way to her death. His gaze swept up the tower.

A small figure stood at an unshuttered window. A woman. Her long brown hair fluttered in the breeze like a banner. The distance was too great for him to make out her features, but he knew instantly who she was.

               “Oh, God. Elspeth,” he whispered. “Dinna jump, lass.” 

               Drummond had placed her in the tower chamber with that hope in mind, Rob was sure. He held his breath until she stepped away from the window and out of his sight. His relief was short-lived.

               What was one man, or even two, against so many?

               “I thought I could . . . I dinna see what’s to be done,” Rob said, suddenly bone-weary. They’d ridden without stopping except to rest the horses in order to make it here in time. Now he realized what Hamish had probably known all along, but was too good a friend to say.

It was all for naught. There was no help coming from any quarter. All they could do was watch Elspeth die.

But he didn’t have to let her burn. A desperate plan formed in his mind. If Rob could find a longbow and stake out a position with a clear shot, he’d have one chance to put a shaft in Elspeth’s heart before the flames reached her. Then he’d bury his boot knife in his own chest. It would be a small matter.

His heart would already be dead.

Hope you enjoyed that short excerpt. If you’d like to read more of this story, I invite you to click over to my website http://www.miamarlowe.com . While you’re there, be sure to enter my website contest. The drawing for a NEW KINDLE will be held January 30th! I love to connect with readers. You can also find me at http://facebook.com/miamarlowefanpage and http://twitter.com/Mia_Marlowe . Hope to see you in cyberspace!

A question for all of you: What is your favorite time period/setting for historical romances and why?



Never had Elspeth Stewart imagined her wedding would be interrupted by a dark-haired stranger  charging in on a black stallion, scooping her into his arms, and carrying her off across the wild Scottish highlands. Pressed against his hard chest and nestled between his trong thighs, she ought to have feared for her life. But her captor silenced all protests with a soul-searing kiss, giving Elspeth a glimpse of the pain behind his passion—a pain only she could ease.


“Mad Rob” MacLaren thought stealing his rival’s bride-to-be was the prefect revenge. But Rob never reckoned that this beautiful, innocent lass would awaken the part of him he thought dead and buried with his wife. Against all reason, he longed to introduce the luscious Elspeth to the pleasures of the flesh, to make her his, and only his, forever.

With two clans against them burning for battle, they must find a way to join together—body, breath and soul. Or both will be made to pay for the Sins of the Highlander.


Connie Mason is a New York Times bestselling author of more than 50 novels. She was named Storyteller of the Year in 1990 and received a Career Achievement Award from RT Book Reviews in 1994. She currently lives in Florida. Mia Marlowe is a highly acclaimed new voice in romance whose debut novel released in Spring 2011 from Kensington. She lives in Boston, MA. Together, they are working on a new Regency romance series for Sourcebooks Casablanca, the first of which will be in stores in early 2013. For more information, please visit  http://www.conniemason.com/, http://miamarlowe.com/ and follow Mia on Twitter @Mia_Marlowe.


Unknown said...

What a wonderful topic. Thanks for your research and your insights. Such an exciting time in history. Visited the witch museum in Cornwall this past year. Good that you're shedding light on such a shamefully ignorant and socially dangerous time. Thanks for your blog!

Hot Ash Romance Novels said...

I missed that scene. You must have spared me, knowing I'd have been on the edge of my seat about to fall on your floor. LOL

Awesome book, folks! (From the lucky critique partner.)

Cheryl Brooks said...

A scene like that is sure to keep your readers turning pages! Congrats on the new release!

Glittergirl said...

Wow, I'll have to read the book to see how they get their HEA after that scene. I love historicals in the medieval time period. But anything historical set in England or Scotland makes me happy. Is this a stand alone book?
glittergirl54 at ymail dot com

Jody said...

Wonderful read, enjoyed it very much. What is so interesting about the whole issue of witches is that in the Highlands and the Gael culture witches were not seen as a bad thing or evil and that they had a place in the Otherworld of the land. But dare i say when you add religion, especially the new religion of the reformation that was vermenting in Scotland of the period of James VI you get a very perverted image. The one site that I found really helpful to understand the scope of Witchcraft in the 16th and 17th century Scotland is the witchcraft survery done by the Universtiy of Edinburgh http://www.shc.ed.ac.uk/Research/witches/

Unknown said...

Very interesting that your ancestor was imprisoned during the Salem witch trials. I'm going to have to read more about that on your blog.

Congrats on the new release. I love historicals, especially ones set in Scotland. Thanks for the chance to win!


MiaMarlowe said...

Leigh--Wish I could have been a mouse in your pocket in Cornwall. I'm a museum junkie!

MiaMarlowe said...

Ash--Guess I slipped a few things past you, but not very many. ;-)

MiaMarlowe said...

Thanks, Cheryl. That's my goal!

MiaMarlowe said...

glittergirl--Yes, Sins of the Highlander is a stand alone.

MiaMarlowe said...

Jody--You're absolutely right. The status of a "wise woman" was very different throughout history. In the 16th century there was a great deal of tension in the Christian world between Catholics and Protestants. Sometimes it boiled over to other folks as well, but most of the people accused of witchcraft were not what we'd recognize as a witch today. Often, they had a rich property someone else wanted and an accusation of witchcraft was a good way to move them off it.

MiaMarlowe said...

Thanks, Jena. This was my first foray into Scotland and I have to say, I loved it. I do plan to return for another Scottish story for a December 2013 book!

Renee said...

I love medieval and victorian. Different I know but I have no idea why. Both are eras I am drawn to for some reason. I really want to read this book!

Krystal Shannan said...

Loved the excerpt! Love to read that genre and have already added your book to my TBR pile!

BJ Scott said...

great excerpt. Sounds like a fantastic book. Good luck and wishing you many sales

Eliza Knight said...

Thanks so much for visiting with us Mia!

The random winners of Mia's book are...

Glittergirl & Leigh Morgan