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


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Thursday, November 30, 2017

Haunting Scenes from Scotland Past by Lori Ann Bailey

While doing research for Highland Redemption, I stumbled upon a piece of information that stuck with me, so much so that I felt I had to put it in my book. The cruelty of the instance became part of the motivation for my heroine, Skye, to do her part in protecting her family, even if that meant marrying someone she didn’t know.

Some of you may have heard that the “Red Wedding” from “Game of Thrones” was inspired by true events, the brutal slayings of the MacDonalds by Campbell men in the Massacre of Glencoe. 

Campbell forces had been accepted as guests and given hospitality for several days before turning on their hosts, killing thirty-eight MacDonalds in their sleep and leaving another forty women and children to die from exposure after burning their homes.

This is an example of brutality that has tarnished the reputation of the Campbells. Even to this day, there is a bar, Clachaig Inn, in the Highlands that has a sign above the door stating that it will not serve Campbells.


But this wasn’t the tale of carnage that made it into Highland Redemption because it takes place after my story, it’s just the infamous one. The massacre I speak of happened fifty years earlier and although just as gruesome, it is hard to find the truth of what happened in August of 1642.

On Rathlin Island, Ireland, Covenanter Campbell soldiers were given orders to kill the local Catholic MacDonalds because they were relatives of the Scottish MacDonalds, who were seen as enemies by clan Campbell. According to what I’ve read, women and children were forced to watch the slaying of their men, then as they retreated to safety, the Campbells showed no mercy. It is said that anywhere between one hundred and three thousand women and children were driven from cliffs of what is now known as the Hill of Screaming.

From Highland Redemption - Skye’s thoughts, just after she meets her newly betrothed:

Now, she was resigned to a marriage built on a foundation of Royalist unity and the blood of her kin, who were massacred by Covenanter soldiers at the orders of Sir Duncan Campbell of Auchinbreck. Alliances with other Royalist clans were becoming more important as tensions rose between those who were loyal to King Charles, and the men, like the Duke of Argyll, who supported the Presbyterian Covenants as the sole religion of Scotland.
Often, she awakened, covered in sweat, when her dreams took her to the horrors she’d heard tales of—hundreds of Catholic MacDonald women of Rathlin Island begging for their lives, and the piercing screams that must have spilled from their lips as the Covenanter soldiers of Argyll’s Foot pushed them over the cliffs to the rocks and surf below.
If she could save others by forming an alliance with another clan, so be it. Despite living with the Cameron clan as a child, she owed her uncle, the MacDonald laird, and their people a debt because they had taken her in and given her a new life. At least her uncle had given her a choice of men.

While spying for Clan Cameron, Brodie Cameron rescues a lass, only to realize it’s Skye—the woman who’d broken his heart. He needs to get her to her uncle as quickly as possible to keep her safe, but every minute he’s distracted from his mission brings the clans that much closer to war. And having beautiful Skye anywhere near him is dangerous, because the price on his head is higher than the one on hers.

Upon being rescued from kidnappers, Skye finds herself staring into the eyes of the man she once loved—Brodie Cameron. She’s grateful to be freed, but has no idea how she’ll resist the lad who has become a braw man. Especially because she’s promised to another, in a political marriage forged to strengthen the Royalist clans against the Covenanters who plot to turn Scotland upside down.

Amazon: http://amzn.to/2As7N16
B&N https://goo.gl/YPGTzS
Kobo https://goo.gl/9c3pWb
ibooks https://goo.gl/a6fF7w
Amazon Canada https://goo.gl/U2NAi9
Amazon UK https://goo.gl/mb9Et1

Winner of the National Readers’ Choice Award and Holt Medallion for Best First Book and Best Historical, Lori Ann Bailey writes hunky highland heroes and strong-willed independent lasses finding their perfect matches in the Highlands of 17th century Scotland. Writing about the people and places playing in her head helps her live out her dreams and delve into her love of history and romance. When not writing, Lori enjoys time with her real life hero and four kids or spending time walking or drinking wine with her friends.

Visit Lori at www.loriannbailey.com. Or, follow her on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/Lori.Ann.Bailey.author

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Pardon me... Your Codpiece is Showing!

A codpiece is a section of fabric (or metal in the case of armor) that is sewn onto a male’s hose, to conceal his unmentionables. That’s right, the codpiece came about to solve a practical issue—yes… the medieval version of “your fly is down” except worse! The men wore hose, that were single-legged and tied about the waist, leaving quite a gaping hole. In the days of tunics, this wouldn’t have been a problem as the tunic (long shirt) would have come well to the knees or lower. But then came the doublet and all the sudden, there was a major problem. So, a tailor thought, by golly I’ve got it! And created a codpiece. In the Tudor era it was often padded and boned and grew in size so much that it could carry small weapons or jewels. Men grew creative and fashion conscious, having their codpieces decorated, etc…

So while the codpiece was create to hide a male’s parts when the doublet and hose would have exposed him… it was also used for a few other reasons:

~To emphasize the gender of its wearer
~To emphasize the wearers… masculinity
~To store things like jewels, hence the term “the family jewels” when referring to a male’s appendage
~To stress the notion of male’s organ having a “will” of its own

So tell me, what do you think—are you glad they’ve gone out of fashion and men now have zippers/buttons?

Henry VIII painted by Hans Holbein & and Henry VIII's armor

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Elizabethan Spies and Scottish Mercenary Maidens by Madeline Martin

I think spy stuff is super cool. I’ve always enjoyed reading about the amazing gadgets they had in history, like the pigeon who wore a camera on its chest, or the gun hidden in an umbrella. As time went on, spy gadgets become more and more creative, and the act of spying thus becomes more exciting.

I especially love looking up the spyware even later in history, when technology couldn’t be nearly so specific and more manpower and ingenuity was required. Which led me to discovering about Queen Elizabeth and her secret spy network.

This was headed by Walsingham who had fled England during the time of Queen Mary’s rule to escape persecution for being Protestant. Cuz who likes to die, right? Once Elizabeth took the throne, he came back and quickly found himself at her side to help ensure she stayed in power. While he was traveling, he realized there was information to be had, and set up a spy network all over Europe to ensure they had eyes and ears everywhere.

Here’s the thing though – being a spy was incredibly boring. It seems like an exciting thing to be asked to essentially be part of Elizabeth’s secret service, and many took it with grandiose plans of fame and fortune. However, it was a dangerous job with little pay that required way more waiting than it did activity. Also, they didn’t have spy gadgets, which is totally a bummer.

They did however, have the original 007. John Dee was a mathematician and astrologer who was so good at what he did that when violent storms vanquished enemies or new stars sparkled in the sky, people said he was the one responsible. He actually even was consulted by Elizabeth to choose which day her coronation would be performed based off his astrology. And here’s how he was the legit first 007 – when he signed letters to Elizabeth, he signed them with two zeros to indicate eyes and a 7 looming over the top of those eyes because 7 was a number offering protection and good luck. He was kind of an odd duck who said angels talked to him and told him to have sex with his best friend’s wife. It didn’t go over well and eventually he died destitute with only his daughter looking after him. Still – the original 007!

While many threats were uncovered, through information gleaned from overheard conversations as well as many, many decoded messages (milk/juice written in disappearing ink, coded messages, etc). The greatest threat of all though came from Mary Queen of Scots. When she came onto English soil the Catholics redoubled their efforts to get her on the throne by any means necessary. Walsingham knew this and gave her the rope to hang herself.

He encouraged her jailor to get to know her and become a trusted friend she could pass messages to and from through. He did exactly that and Walsingham, of course, read every one of them before resealing them and passing them along…until the exact one finally showed. It was hidden in a beer barrel and held enough evidence where he could convince Elizabeth to allow her cousin to be executed. What’s more, after Mary’s execution, Walsingham had anything that had her blood on it be burned to prevent any relics from being created.
Decoded letter from Mary Queen of Scots to Babbington. Letter was decoded by Thomas Phillips.

While the life of an Elizabethan spy was not quite so exciting, their efforts were highly effective and the controversial queen who chose not to marry and had a Catholic relative with a viable throw in for the throne living near her did not succumb to any plots – she died of natural causes at a ripe old age.

My spies in the Mercenary Maidens have a little more excitement going on for them. I used many of the artifacts and stories found in history as well as putting a historical twist on more modern techniques to create a fun action-based plot with some seriously kick butt women. I hope everyone enjoys reading them as much as I enjoyed writing them. J

Kaid MacLeod couldn’t protect his clan from an unimaginable slaughter that killed his father and many of his people. He knows retaliation will only bring more death to his people, but if he does nothing, the massacres will continue. His clan is growing angry and all seems lost…until Kaid discovers his nemesis’s betrothed will be traveling through Scotland. Abducting her will give him the leverage he desperately needs to end the slaughter and bring peace to his clan.

Delilah Canterbury is not the highborn daughter of a noble, nor is she by any means wealthy, she’s merely pretending to be a Scottish laird’s betrothed as a means of bringing justice to the man rumored to seek vengeance. Beautifully dressed and ready to succeed on her first mission alone, Delilah is more than she seems…she’s a trap.

Matters get complicated as the truth behind their intentions come to light, especially when a sizzling attraction blossoms between them. With so many lives on the line, and loyalties pledged, will Kaid be able to save his people? And can their love survive the lies and ultimate betrayal? 

Praise for Highland Ruse:
“Fans of swashbuckling, high-drama adventure and romance are sure to revel in the second entry in the Mercenary Maidens series. With an empowered heroine and tormented hero, a high degree of sensuality and a fast-moving plot, readers are sure to be satisfied from beginning to end. The added mystery and contemporary theme of addiction enhance the story so it truly resonates with readers.” – RT Reviews

Buy Links:
Amazon: http://hyperurl.co/hramz
Nook: http://hyperurl.co/hrnk
iBooks: http://hyperurl.co/Hrib
Kobo: http://hyperurl.co/Hrkobo
Google Play: http://hyperurl.co/hrgp
Print: http://hyperurl.co/hrprint
BN Paperback: http://hyperurl.co/hrbnpb

Madeline Martin is a USA TODAY Bestselling author of Scottish set historical romance with tons of page-turning action and tough heroines. She lives in Jacksonville, Florida with her two daughters (AKA OldestMinion and YoungestMinion) and Mr. Awesome. 

She loves animals in sweaters, cat videos, wine and Nutella. Check out her FB page on any given Friday to see what great new book she's giving away by one of her fellow authors.

Madeline’s Links:
Author website: www.MadelineMartin.com
Author Facebook page:
Author Twitter: @MadelineMMartin
Author Amazon Profile page: http://www.amazon.com/Madeline-Martin/e/B00R8OGFN2/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1 
*Email questions should be sent to: MadelineMartin@Ymail.com