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


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Tuesday, July 23, 2013

History Lovers Grand Tour!

Welcome to the History Lovers Grand Tour & Scavenger Hunt!

As the name implies, we’re a group of readers and authors who love both history and romance, especially when they’re combined in a delightful story. If you feel the same, you’re welcome to join us on our Facebook page and converse with us about historical romance fiction.

Below you’ll find authors of historical romances set in a wide variety of time periods. Perhaps by participating in our Grand Tour you’ll discover some new authors for your future reading pleasure. Hop around to your heart’s content, feel free to comment on the posts, hunt for answers to the authors’ questions, and perhaps you’ll be one of our 25 lucky prize winners (see contest details below)…although you’re already a winner if you find a new story to read, do you not agree?

The theme for this tour is Courting Rituals, and for my post, I’ve chosen to talk about the art of stealing a bride.

Highland Stolen Brides

For my Highland heroes, courting seems to begin unexpectedly. For Magnus in THE HIGHLANDER'S REWARD, he sweeps up his heroine in the middle of a battlefield. While physical attraction might have sparked from the start, neither were of a mind to get together. It just so happened that in order to keep her safe, Magnus determined he had to marry Arbella--a feat which took some manner of skill. In other words--his courting was a bit of a manipulation. However, Arbella found him charming, and while she agreed to marry him, she also vowed to run away. But then...he laid on the charm.

Magnus took Arbella for a ride through the Scottish Highlands atop his magnificent warhorse. They rode together, sharing body heat and sparks of desire. When he found out that she was a non-meat eating sort of lass, he went out of his way to be sure she had as many fruits and vegetables and bread as her belly could handle.

Sweetest of all, however, was that Magnus agreed not to consummate their nuptials right away. A request Arbella made in hopes of dissolving their marriage, but which soon becomes a feat unto itself. Especially when Magnus continuously flaunts his glorious physique. She wants him to kiss her. But kissing a man, making love to a man, that one does not plan to stay married to is wrong. Is it not? Maybe remaining married wouldn't be so bad after all...

And then we have Blane, Magnus' playboy younger brother. He's charged with locating Arbella's English sister Aliah and bringing her safely to the Highlands. A task he completes with flourish--and a wife. Blane tricks his love interest into thinking he's English so she'll go with him. 'Tis not until they are nearly to their place that she realizes he's a man she should be scared of--and so Aliah takes courting into her own hands, and shoots him. Ah, it was love at first blow.

Blane and Magnus' cousin Daniel has run away from his duties, and falls headlong into the charming arms of a dirty peasant. Er...wait a minute--a bit of soap and water reveals she's a noble lass through and through. Daniel helps Myra with her mission to find the Bruce, and helps unload her of an unwanted fiance. Why not trade a nightmare of a marriage for one filled with passion?

Vowing not to ever get involved with a simpering female and laughing at his male relatives for doing so, Ronan Sutherland doesn't court ladies--he beds them. Until Julianna continually challenges him in mind, body and spirit. She's kicking ass and taking names, and he wants in. What better way to court a lady then to help her chase down her enemies?

When Brandon Sinclair -- cousin to the afore mentioned heroes -- saves a beautiful temptress from a burning fire, he gets a heck of a lot more than he bargained for. The English king's mistress. But it isn't her prior position that puts a fire in his blood, but her intelligence, gentle heart, and the need to help her heal from past wounds. Brandon becomes her friend first, and then sweeps her off her feet. After all, a lady would rather be ravished by a handsome Highland warrior than a stinky old meanie.

The premise behind each book in the series is that the bride is stolen away from something--a fiance, a lover, the church, her family, etc... But why the stealing, you say? To me this ups the conflict and really makes it hard to get the characters to fall in love—but the journey is satisfying, powerful, addictive. Highlanders were sort of known for stealing their wives, whether from the English or a neighboring clan they were warring with. Women were a commodity that were used often in vendettas and to gain alliances. But of course, my series is romance, and I wanted to give everyone a happy ending. I also made sure that my heroines were able to stick up for themselves and fight back.

Now onto the prize!!!

The prize I am offering is a signed print copy of THE HIGHLANDER'S REWARD (Book One: Stolen Bride series) or an e-copy (vendor of choice), winner's choice--and this is how you qualify for a chance to win--leave a comment at this blog with your answer to the my question below. But that's not all--you can enter to win the grand prize as well, by visiting the other authors in the tour and our History Lovers Grand Tour page (see below).

Here’s my question for the scavenger hunt: What is Arbella's eating preference?

Click on the History Lovers Grand Tour page to fill in the answer, and you may continue on from there. Enjoy!

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


As Magnus raised the light around the space, he paused on the small bed in the corner.
“’Twill be a tight fit,” he said with a chuckle.
Arbella’s lips twitched in the semblance of a smile, but truthfully she was too nervous to smile genuinely. His words only brought to mind the fact they’d been married before the eyes of God and even with his promise to keep her virtue intact, he was legally her husband and if he chose to, he could demand his husbandly rights.
He set the candle down on the table and started to disarm himself. A large pile of various weapons formed on the floor beside the table. A rather messy heap. She had to stop herself from organizing the pile into a corner where it wouldn’t be in the way.
Then he sat down and started to unlace his boots completely pulling her thoughts from anything but his actions.
“What are you doing?” she asked, her voice a little shrill. They were supposed be pretending, not truly undressing.
He glanced at her briefly before returning to his task. “Taking off my boots.”
He exhaled loudly and sat back, his eyes narrowing on her. “What’s wrong?”
“You are undressing.”
“But you promised.” She wrapped her arms around her stomach, trying to keep the soup down.
“And I intend to keep my promise. But that doesna mean I’m going to sleep in my boots with my sword strapped to my back.”
His words made sense and with the confused and annoyed expression on his face she understood she’d been overreacting.
She nodded and turned toward the bed. They would both never fit on the small mattress. Perhaps if he was a normal sized man, but Magnus was a giant. “Well I intend to sleep fully clothed.”
“Whatever suits ye, lass.”
He was so close his voice startled her. Arbella whirled around to see that he stood a foot away from her—nude.
Her eyes glued to the muscles of his chest, the light sprinkling of hair, his shoulders and she dare not look further.
“I prefer to sleep in my skin.” He walked around her and she caught a glimpse of his sculpted arse.
Her mouth fell open, breath caught. She’d never seen a man’s arse before…and never dreamed it would look so…look so…nice. Arbella snatched back her wayward hand that had reached out to touch him.
Magnus dove onto the bed, his head buried in the pillow, his arms beneath it. His face was turned away from her and she took a moment to observe his long legs, his strong back. But looking at him only made her blood burn hot. Her desire for him stronger.
She chewed her lower lip, her gaze focused on his god-like body.
“Will ye join me, lass?”
She jerked her gaze up to see his eyes on her and full of merriment.


Eliza Knight is the multi-published, award-winning, Amazon best-selling 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

History Lovers Grand Tour Authors

1.      Each author will offer a prize for a contest, the specifics of which is set up entirely by her. The contest will be open to all participants, regardless of geographic location. For logistical purposes, authors may substitute a digital prize (gift card, etc.) of equal value for another prize that might prove difficult to mail to a distant location.
2.      The Grand Prize for the Scavenger Hunt will be awarded to the participant with the most correct answers to the authors’ scavenger hunt questions.  In case of a tie, the winner will be chosen randomly.
3.      The winners will be posted on the History Lovers Grand Tour page the following week.

Scavenger Hunt
·        Click on the above links to each author’s blog. The blog tour entry can be identified by the graphic in the upper right corner of the post. If it is not the top post, look for the graphic in a prominent location on the sidebar, and click on it to find the blog tour entry.
·        Read the blog post and the author’s short answer question at the end. Locate the answer to the question, then click on the link to the History Lovers Grand Tour page and type in the answer next to the author’s name. Be sure to fill in the your name and email address!
·        You may go back to same page and read more of the author’s post (excerpt, etc.) or you may click on another author’s name on the answer sheet and repeat the process.
·        When you are finished, check to make sure the spaces for your name and email address are filled in correctly, and submit your answer sheet to the tour coordinator. If you submit an incomplete answer sheet, you may come back later and make another submission with the remaining answers when you have more time.
·        Any questions about the scavenger hunt should be directed to the tour coordinator .

Monday, July 8, 2013

Scotland Trip: Day Two -- Walking Culloden at Night

Happy Monday! I'm hear to tell you more about my trip to Scotland. If you missed the first three posts, here they are:

Day 1
Day 2 -- Part One
Day 2 -- Part Two

I left you on a bit of a cliffhanger Friday... And now I'm ready to tell you about walking Culloden Battlefield at night. We pulled into the parking lot and the last person was pulling out, leaving the lot empty. At first, we were disappointed, thinking that we'd have to wait another day. We hit the ground in Edinburgh running, and our list was so jam-packed full of things we wanted to see, we actually weren't sure when we'd be able to come back.

The sky was turning pinkish grey. Within twenty minutes it would be dark.

I've always loved grave yards. I like to walk through them, look at the names, the dates, the stones. In Ireland, I put my camera in a crypt and took a picture (profusely apologizing to the dead, who happened to be my ancestors). But all of my previous trips had been during the day. Its a battlefield you say--and yes it is, but it is also a mass graveyard.


But, when in Scotland... We knew we were crazy. Prayed we'd make it through before it was pitch black. Were pretty sure our husbands would think we were insane.

We stepped out of the car.

The first sign we came across.

The second.
As soon as we stepped onto the battlefield, Andrea and I were both immediately overwhelmed with a sense of calm. We felt...protected. There was no fear. It was almost like our Highlanders were there guiding us safely through the battlefield--I know that sounds whimsical, cooky, but its true. We actually felt calmer. I'm so glad my flash is awesome on my camera... got some amazing shots.

Here is the first grave I saw. It says: "Field of the English. They were buried here."

"Well of the dead. Here the Chief of the MacGillivray Fell"

"Clans MacGillivray, MacLean, MacLachlan, Athol Highlanders"

"Clan Mackintosh"

"Mixed clans"

You can't really see it too well in the picture, but the grass had three circular, linked indentations. Just thought it was neat.

And the sun started to set as we encountered the Well of the Dead. Look at all the spots on my camera? There was no debris. I checked... Do you think they were spirits?

The plaque on the well.

"Clan Fraser"

A view of the field as the sun set -- more white dots...

A view of the well in the dark -- more white dots...

Another view of the battlefield -- which is MASSIVE. Would take hours to walk. We only spent about 45 minutes there, before we thought we'd overstayed our welcome.

A view of the marsh.

Looking toward where we'd come from -- another white globe.

A flag in the distance. See it?

The path we walked on.

Heading back toward where we'd come on the path. More globes.

It is REALLY dark. I think its time to go...

Didn't come out. Flash didn't help at this point, but it was a little cottage that had been there since the battle.
So, once it was pitch black, and there were no lights, we booked it back to our car, climbed in and took a deep breath. Holy cow... Amazing. And sad. We said a prayer for those who fought and died. And for those ghosties that didn't "get" us.

Have you ever been to the battlefield? Want to go at night? Do you think those white globes are spirits?


First book in the Stolen Bride series, now on sale in ebook, for $2.99, this month only!

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?
Amazon / Barnes and Noble

Friday, July 5, 2013

Scotland Trip--Day Two (Part 2)

Happy Friday! As promised, I'm back with the second part of our second day in Scotland :) The trip truly was an adventure. Having rented the flat for the week and a car, each day was really up to us, and we had to pack up a snack bag and head out--having an idea of where we wanted to go, and hoping that we'd get there. Since half of our second day was spent in bed, we decided to make it a day about traveling around the area, seeing what was nearby. Of course, in Inverness there is TONS. After Brodie castle, we drove through Elgin, Moray, and we kept seeing this monument above the city buildings. But we couldn't for the life of us find it! We drove in circles up and down the roads, GPS kept taking us to a general store. We even considered pulling over and hiking up over an overgrown hill/ridge. We finally pulled into this GORGEOUS country club that looked like a castle and asked some people walking inside how to get to the monument. They gave us pretty good directions. And man were we pleased that we stuck to our guns after 45 min of circling this place. It was Elgin Castle -- a motte and bailey castle built in the 12th century. According to history, it was held by the Cheyne family who supported Longshanks (want to see him in action? Check out my book, THE HIGHLANDER'S TRIUMPH!) The Scots burned it down in 1297, but the Longshanks supporters rebuilt the tower and curtain wall in stone.

The monument we'd seen was the Lady Hill Monument, erected beside the Elgin Castle ruins in the 1800's.

View of the monument from the street.

Elgin Castle sign beside the stairs.

Lady Hill monument sign beside the stairs.

Part of the stairs... Andrea and I looked at each other with brows raised in trepidation. It'd been a long day and the stairs were aplenty, lol
View of the ruins when we finished the climb. Amazing!

Crazy how the earth is consuming the stones.

Lady Hill monument.

A view of the town from atop the motte and bailey.

That castle like building in the background is the country club we stopped at for directions.

I found this view to be so... mesmerizing... A blend of medieval with modern culture. That's a Tesco in the background. I imagined that if my characters stood in this same spot, a place where battles raged, and looked over to see people shopping for food and goods, they would be thoroughly confused.

A view of the wall of the castle.

More Tesco :-) Which, by the way, we spent many days at! Topping up minutes on our cell, grabbing water, etc...

This stone lay flat on top of one of the walls. I took it standing on it. It has words etched into it, but I couldn't see what they were.

A better view of the country club.

This is a viaduct we saw on our way to Culloden Battlefield after leaving Elgin...

After leaving Elgin, we made out way back to the flat, in hopes of finding a pub to eat dinner. On our way we stopped to take a pic of the above viaduct, and then encountered Culloden Battlefield. The sun was setting, and we thought perhaps we'd go back in the morning. There were no cars parked in the lot. Walking a famous battlefield at night, alone, would be crazy.
But, heck, when in Scotland... So, yes, we parked. And the crazy pics I have for you of that adventure will be posted next week!!!
Want a taste of Longshanks from my book, THE HIGHLANDER'S TRIUMPH?

An exclusive view...

A swift jolt awakened Mariana. A muffled cry escaped her and she flailed, eyes popping open. Her vision blurred, she made out the white of the sky and a bunch of blobs of black and brown.

A split-second later she landed hard in the dirt on her hip and elbow. The impact was shocking, and jarred her from head to toe. A metallic taste in her mouth and the sting of her cheek told her she’d bit herself. Thank God, she’d managed to twist in time so that her already injured arm wasn’t further damaged. In addition to the gash from a wayward sword, she was almost certain it was broken. Her hip and elbow were most assuredly bruised, but at least they were still whole.

A cloud of dust surrounded where she’d landed, filling her lungs. She coughed, sneezed, and willed herself to hold back her sobs. Pain throbbed in her injured arm. She feared moving, not knowing where she was. Nothing about this place looked familiar to her.

“Lady Mariana,” a cool, uninterested male voice cooed. “I see you decided to rejoin us. Tell me, how was your visit with the Scots?”

A shiver of fear curled around her spine. Shifting to kneel, she waved away the cloud of dirt, and slowly raised her eyes to see King Edward standing a few feet in front of her. The sun glinted blindingly off of his chainmail. He looked like a glowing king. A purple velvet doublet, trimmed and embroidered with gold thread gave her eyes reprieve from the striking metal. His shoulder-length silver hair was streaked with sweat. His long, chiseled features also glistened. In his arms he held a shiny helmet. She lowered her gaze to stare at the dust upon his boots.

The king looked as though he’d been out fighting. He was not afraid to venture out of his camp. Not afraid to take his sword to another man’s throat—though he preferred that his men held that man down while he completed the deed. She prayed whoever he’d been railing against had not suffered overmuch.

“Your Highness,” she managed, though her voice came out sounding strangled. “’Twas horrendous.”

Her heart lurched when she lied, though she knew it was to protect Brandon as much as herself.

“Horrendous?” King Edward drawled. He stepped closer to her. Knelt before her, and placed a cold, gloved finger on her chin, lifting her face so that she had to look him in the eye. “How so?”

His grey eyes were cruel, indifferent. The man didn’t care so much about her answer, as he did that she was here before him. He didn’t take kindly to others thieving what belonged to him, and Mariana was well aware that she was as much a pawn to him as any other man. But that didn’t matter. He considered her his property.

“Come now, don’t be shy. Tell me.” His voice, though soft, was etched with malice.

Mariana was more afraid of the king now than she’d ever been. Her stomach tightened and gooseflesh rose on her arms. If he didn’t like her answer… Thought her to be lying, there was no telling what his response would be. What cruel punishment he’d have doled out on her.

“They are barbarians,” she said through chattering teeth. She clutched at her injured arm, the limb hanging limp by her side, and thankfully the bleeding gash had staunched its flow. Moments of numbness made the pain bearable, but right then a searing agony took hold. Mariana squeezed her eyes shut, ground her teeth.

“Are you injured, my lady?” The king’s voice was solicitous, but Mariana knew better than to think he would be kind.

Slowly, she nodded, then opened her eyes, trying to see him through the mist of her tears.

The king scowled over her head, then stood. “I told you to take care of her, not bring her back to me broken.”

Mariana’s throat grew tight, and she found it hard to breathe. That tone he used… Chills of dread shook her.

“She was already injured when I found her, Your Highness.” Ross’ voice was confident. Too confident. The man wouldn’t last long with King Edward.

“And you didn’t think it necessary to tend to her wound? I don’t like my property to be damaged.”

Mariana put her weight on her uninjured arm and tried to stand. The king, most likely sensing her struggle from the corner of his eye, actually held out a hand to her. She gripped it, the leather of his gloves soft and cold. As he brought her to her feet, she tried to keep in mind that though he was a cruel man, he’d once been kind to her. Took her in, clothed her, fed her. The price had been steep—her dignity, her body—but still, she was alive.

That was the hardest part. Hate him she did, but regretfully, for he’d never beaten her or punished her. He never had to.

Once on her feet, she swayed, feeling light-headed. She held her injured arm close to her, afraid if she let go, whatever bone had been broken would shatter further.

King Edward snapped his fingers. “Will someone take Lady Mariana to a private chamber and see her properly tended?”
READ MORE! Amazon / Barnes and Noble

Have you read the first book in the Stolen Bride series? In celebration of its 1 yr anniversary, THE HIGHLANDER'S REWARD ebook is on sale for $2.99! Amazon / Barnes and Noble

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Happy 4th of July!

From all of us at History Undressed, we wish you a Happy 4th of July!!!

Some fireworks for you... (this video is from YouTube, but we did see them in person for the 4th about 4 years ago--Ah-mazing!)

And for a bit of history... If you have more time, here is about a 46 minutes worth of history!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Scotland Trip -- Day Two (Part 1)

Its been a long time since I posted about my first day in Scotland this past March... and I do apologize! Moving and deadlines took away from my "fun" time! I've missed History Undressed, and now that we're all moved in and mostly unpacked, I couldn't wait to get back and share with you the rest of my trip to Scotland! In case you missed it, or just want a refresher, I posted about my first day here.

After sleeping half the day away, we woke up to this... The view from our little cottage window in Inverness. Amazing! Picturesque!

Another view...

More lovely landscape. Just below those mountains is water.

I love nature and the of it in simplicity. I took a lot of pictures of trees, landscapes, etc... because they help me to get the details right in books, but also provide me with a feel for the land, so when I'm writing, I can actually picture myself there. Plus, I just think its beautiful. Below are some pictures of woods near Kilvarock Castle, which we couldn't find!! We drove up and down the road and I think it must have been gated off. In early March a lot of the castles were closed. But it was still a win for me. We pulled over so I could take some shots of the woods.

Looks dark and mysterious. I could totally imagine one of my  Highlanders suddenly appearing from within the depths of shadows, or perhaps one of my heroines slipping unseen behind a tree trunk.

Love the lychen and moss on trees, so rustic and beautiful.

Brambles over a small hump in the ground that led into the woods.

Look at that! Isn't it just gorgeous and majestic?

Our car parked beside the woods :)

I stepped into the woods to get a better look around.

Me in the woods!
After our trip to the woods, we wend to Brodie Castle -- we weren't able to go in because they were closed for the season, but we were allowed to walk the grounds--gorgeous!!!

Sign out front :)

A look at the castle from the main drive.

A pictish stone just outside the castle.

View of the castle. Isn't it beautiful? 

An arrow slit window. I could imagine a warrior standing behind the wall, his bow notched and ready to fire.

This is me beside a tree in the gardens. I couldn't get over how huge it was!

A closer look at the top of the castle. I love all the stone work, see the little  fleur-de-lis at the top of each window?

Loved this! And so many one-liners came to mind...

A view from the side of the castle.

More stone work. It always amazes me how well castles and buildings were built, and  that they still stand strong hundreds of years later.

A building behind the castle. It wasn't labeled, so we imagined at one time it could have been a stables or servants quarters.

A  pretty windmill on top of  the castle -- it was situated on a tiny stone tower.
I hope you enjoyed this post on part of my second day in Scotland! I'll be posting the second part of day two on Friday!


Like Scottish romance? Check out my latest release: THE HIGHLANDER'S TRIUMPH

He was a warrior fighting for Scottish freedom... She was his enemy’s mistress.

Laird Brandon Sinclair has given his life to the Scottish cause. Swearing fealty to Robert the Bruce, he will stop at nothing to see oppression end.

Lady Mariana wants nothing more than to break free of the tyrannical hold the English king has on her. When he sends her to Scotland with a message for the rebels, instead of obeying his orders, she finds herself submitting to her desires. After one sizzling, life-altering night, Brandon and Mariana must part ways. But Mariana has no intention of betraying her heart again.

And Brandon is determined to get her back. Stealing Longshank’s secrets felt like victory, but taking his woman will be this Highlander’s ultimate triumph.

Amazon / Barnes and Noble

This is the fifth book in the Stolen Bride series. If you haven't already, check out the other books in the series!

Book One: The Highlander's Reward
Book Two: The Highlander's Conquest
Book Three: The Highlander's Lady
Book Four: The Highlander's Warrior Bride