Once a Laird

Once a LairdAnne here, and today I'm interviewing Mary Jo about ONCE A LAIRD, her final book in the "Rogues Redeemed" series, which was based around five men held captive in a cellar in wartime, facing execution as spies in the morning. Of course they escaped and lived to tell some wonderful tales.  (Ramsay was using the name Chantry at that time for various sneaky reasons.)

Once a Laird is about Ramsay, who made the biggest impression on me in Once a Scoundrel, where he was instrumental in freeing three ladies from a harem in Constantinople after they'd been taken hostage by Barbary pirates. I've been waiting for his story ever since.

There have been some lovely reviews of Once a Laird."  Here's one from Booklist:

"In the latest splendidly crafted addition to her Rogues Redeemed series, Putney (Once Dishonored, 2020) brilliantly utilizes all of the key elements her readers crave—engaging characters, an expertly evoked setting, an intriguingly different story line, even a quintessential cat—and the result is another exemplary-in-every-way romance.” – Booklist

 

A 5 star review from Huntress Reviews:

"I have not read such a wonderfully descriptive story in quite a while. I was hooked on the very first page. The author describes the people so well that when Duncan passes away, I was near tears. The character of Signy may be the artist, but Mary Jo Putney paints vivid pictures with her wording. I could clearly see the landscape, cliffs, and ruins in my mind. I found it to be utterly breathtaking. Romance, duty, and some danger blend together perfectly. This tale will keep you awake long past your bedtime. I cannot express how much I enjoyed this novel."

            Detra Fitch of Huntress Reviews

Anne:  Since the death of his fiancée twelve years ago, Ramsay has traveled in far flung lands, following his passion for antiquities and working undercover for the British Embassy in the diplomatic "special operations" section — in other words as a spy/troubleshooter. But now his grandfather is dying, and the time has come for Ramsay to return home to the small Scottish island realm of Thorsay, and take up his duty as the new Laird. 

What does Ramsay find when he arrives on Thorsay?

Mary Jo: Ramsay has a lot of ambivalence.  Though Thorsay is as familiar as the palm of his own hand, he's been away for a dozen years, researching ancient ruins and writing articles and living a very different life. He'd promised to return to take up his leadership role and he's not one to turn away from his responsibilities, but he isn't sure how well he'll fit into his old life.  He rather expects to be bored. He's not. <G>

Anne:  Signy Matheson, our heroine, is the younger sister of Ramsay's late fiancée. She's twenty-seven, single and no pushover. Tell us about Signy.  

Mary Jo: Signy is another one who takes her responsibilities seriously. She'd come from Norway as a child with her widowed mother and older sister, and all three of them were teachers. After the deaths of her mother and sister, she's taken in by Duncan, the old laird, and she became his right hand woman as his health declined.  She's virtually running Thorsay when Ramsay returns, but she's had to put aside her own dreams of traveling and seriously studying art.  She'll help Ramsay settle in, but she craves the freedom to leave and see more of the world. 

(The image below is from the Hoxa Tapestry Gallery in Orkney, which features the tapestries, rugs, and paintings of the mother and daughter artists Sheila and Jo Thomson.  Their marvelous work is the inspiration for Signy's art.)

Jo Thomson art

Anne:  My Milly-dog was very pleased that there was a heroic dog, Fiona, in the story, and a horse, Thor, which she thought was a very nice change from the apparently ubiquitous cats. (Sorry, she's a bit cattist.) <g>

Mary Jo:  Silly Milly! Hasn't she ever heard that "Dogs drool while cats rule?"  <G> That DSCN0039
said, Fiona is a very fine dog.  The ubiquitous cat in this case belongs to the Laird and is a large gray tom with one eye. Naturally he's named for Odin, the one eyed chief of the Nordic gods.  He's modeled after my own much missed Grady the Grey. (Though Grady had two eyes as you can see in the picture on the right. He was a great cat!)

Anne: Now to research. Many writers have to research from books or on line — you did yours in person. Tell us about your inspiration for the Thorsay Island setting, and the archaeological finds that take place in the book.

MJP and Stenness Standing StoneMary Jo: I also do much of my research from books and online and if possible, talking to people who have had real life experience of the subject.  But a couple of times I've been so struck by a place I visited that I just had to conjure a story that fits that setting. 

The first time was visiting Portugal, which inspired Once a Soldier.  This time it was visiting Orkney.  We had great weather and a great guide, and to add to the fun I was traveling with Pat Rice and both of our husbands. (On the left is a picture of me by one of the Standing Stones of Stenness.  These monoliths were just there, right by the road!)

Orkney is the site of an amazing number of Neolithic ruins.  There were stone monuments and tombs and ancient dwellings all over the place.  Most notable is Skara Brae, the most complete Neolithic village in Northern Europe.  It was Skara Braediscovered when a storm swept away a chunk of sandy coastline, an event I shamelessly stole for my story.  I also borrowed from the real Sutton Hoo ship burial, which is in Suffolk, England.  Given Ramsay's interest in ancient artifacts, I had to give him enough to keep him interested! 

Anne: I really liked your author's note at the end of the book, too.  And if people are interested in reading more about your travels in Orkney, there are two wench posts here — one from Mary Jo and one from Pat.

Could you give us a short excerpt from Once a Laird, please?

Mary Jo: This is from the very beginning of the story:

Chapter 1

British Embassy

Constantinople

The letter was dirty and folded, not surprising considering how far it had come. Ramsay was reluctant to break the seal because he had a strong suspicion what it would say. He was right.

The letter was addressed to Kai Douglas Ramsay and said tersely:

Kai,

            Time to stop playing around and come home, laddie boy. Your grandfather is dying. He may be swilling ale in Valhalla by the time you get this. You know the price you promised to pay for your footloose wandering. Now the bill has come due.

            Signy Matheson

            Skellig House

            Mainland, Thorsay

            Scotland                                                              

Of course it would be Signy who was writing him. Only islanders he’d known as a boy would IMG_3434call him Kai. Signy had become his grandfather’s deputy as well as being the head schoolmistress in the islands. Ramsay smiled a little, remembering her as a knobby-kneed girl with a tongue that could flay a whale when she was in a critical mood. She was the younger sister of Gisela, his first and only love.

His smile faded. After laying the letter on his desk, he moved to the window and gazed out at the domes and minarets of Constantinople, which were visible above the walls that surrounded the British Embassy compound. He’d spent five years here, the longest time he’d lingered anywhere in his wandering years.

His official position was Under Secretary for Special Projects, a vague enough title to cover his various nefarious activities. With all the layers of history in Constantinople, he could spend a lifetime here and barely scratch the wonders of this city and this land.

It was hard to imagine a place more different from the far northern islands of his homeland. But Ramsay had always known his time here was limited. He might have stayed in Thorsay if Gisela hadn’t died suddenly of a fever when he was finishing his studies at the University of Edinburgh. The pain was so numbing that he’d been unable to bear the thought of returning to the islands.

His grandfather, the wily old devil, had known how Ramsay would feel. After giving the news of Gisela’s death, the laird had said that Ramsay could feed his wanderlust until his grandfather died or was near death. Then he must come home to assume his responsibilities as Laird of Thorsay IMG_3404

 Ramsay has seized on the proffered bargain, both because he couldn’t imagine returning to Thorsay with Gisela gone and because he’d yearned to visit distant lands and study ancient ruins. He’d had a dozen years of that freedom and had managed not to get himself killed, though it had been a near-run thing more than once.

That led him to thoughts of a certain cellar in Portugal where he’d been held captive with four other men as they drank bad brandy and waited to be executed at dawn. But the five of them had worked together to escape and made a pact to meet up again after the war if they survived. Now Napoleon was gone for good, exiled to a bleak rock in the South Atlantic to rule over the seabirds, and perhaps that reunion would be possible.

How many of the men who had been in that cellar were still among the living? They’d all been leading risky lives. When Ramsay traveled through London on his way home, he could check for letters at Hatchard’s Bookshop, which had been their chosen venue to exchange information.

Ramsay forced his wandering mind back to practical matters. Though he’d wished this day would never come, he’d been mentally preparing. It was time to make the long journey through the Mediterranean, west around the Iberian Peninsula, then north through the English Channel and North Sea to Thorsay.

The three island groups north of Scotland were due west of Norway, closer to IMG_3406Oslo than London. Orkney was visible, barely, from the northernmost coast of mainland Scotland. Thorsay lay beyond, and far-flung Shetland was most northerly. All three archipelagos were inhabited by tough, stubborn islanders whose first language was Norn, a Scandinavian dialect. Over the centuries, Gaelic-speaking Celts had also settled on the islands, and even a few English. No wonder the Thorseach, the people of his islands, were good with languages.

                                                                   * * *

Ramsay’s voyage home benefited from fair winds and was swifter than expected. The light became bluer and the winds more chill as he traveled north. By the time he reached London, Constantinople was only a distant sunburned memory.

He spent several days in London attending to business and staying at Thorsay House, which was owned by the Laird of Thorsay. The Browns, the couple who maintained the house, hadn’t heard that the old Laird was dead, so perhaps Ramsay’s grandfather was still holding on.

Thorsay House served as a way station for traveling Thorsayians. Ramsay found that he’d just missed a favorite cousin, Kendra Douglas, who had taken refuge in the house after a disastrous scandal. As a girl, she’d been a lively little thing. He’d taught her and Signy Matheson and several other younger children the basics of fencing.

He stopped at Hatchard’s and found a trove of letters from the Rogues Redeemed of the Portuguese cellar. Impressively, they all had survived the wars, and while he was in London, he managed to dine with one of the men, named Hawkins, and his intrepid wife, Lady Rory. Then he set sail again, first to Edinburgh and finally, on a small coastal trading vessel, the last stretch to Thorsay.

Ramsay spent much of this last leg of his long journey in the bow of the boat, feeling an unnerving sense of homecoming. The silvery seas and austere scattered islands seemed to be bred into his bones despite his reluctance to return.

IMG_3432When the vessel finally moored at the pier below Skellig House, Ramsay left the deckhands to unload his luggage. Personal possessions were few, but there were a fair number of the best ancient artifacts he'd found.

Impatiently he climbed the hill to the Ramsay family home. Skellig House was a low sprawling stone structure designed to stand against the fiercest winds off the North Sea. In the distance beyond, he could just see one of the circle of towering stone monoliths erected by the ancient inhabitants of these islands.

Nothing seemed to have changed in the dozen years since he’d left. His pace quickened as he wondered whether his grandfather still lived.

As he approached the entrance to the house, the door swung open and someone stepped out, his gaze turned toward Ramsay. No, not a man but a tall woman—that was clear from the way the wind shaped her gray gown around an undeniably female figure. The same wind rippled her blazing red-gold hair like a banner of war.

She brushed her wind-whipped hair from her face and said in a voice colder than an Arctic gale, “What took you so long, Kai?”

He stopped dead in his tracks and stared. In the years he’d been gone, bony little Signy Matheson had become a damned Nordic goddess!

Once a Laird Anne: Thank you. Mary Jo is giving away a copy of Once a Laird to someone who leaves a comment or answers this question: which would you rather visit — Constantinople (now called Istanbul) or the Orkney Islands in Scotland, and why?

You can buy Once a Laird from Amazon or from this universal link, which will take you to the e-retailer of your preference.

 

200 thoughts on “Once a Laird”

  1. I’ve already been to Orkney, so I think Istanbul would be more interesting this time around. Although I did really like Orkney and found the sites most fascinating.
    I’m looking forward to reading the book, which I already own. So no need to consider me for a giveaway.
    Since I did like all the other books in the series, I have no doubt I will enjoy this as well.

    Reply
  2. I’ve already been to Orkney, so I think Istanbul would be more interesting this time around. Although I did really like Orkney and found the sites most fascinating.
    I’m looking forward to reading the book, which I already own. So no need to consider me for a giveaway.
    Since I did like all the other books in the series, I have no doubt I will enjoy this as well.

    Reply
  3. I’ve already been to Orkney, so I think Istanbul would be more interesting this time around. Although I did really like Orkney and found the sites most fascinating.
    I’m looking forward to reading the book, which I already own. So no need to consider me for a giveaway.
    Since I did like all the other books in the series, I have no doubt I will enjoy this as well.

    Reply
  4. I’ve already been to Orkney, so I think Istanbul would be more interesting this time around. Although I did really like Orkney and found the sites most fascinating.
    I’m looking forward to reading the book, which I already own. So no need to consider me for a giveaway.
    Since I did like all the other books in the series, I have no doubt I will enjoy this as well.

    Reply
  5. I’ve already been to Orkney, so I think Istanbul would be more interesting this time around. Although I did really like Orkney and found the sites most fascinating.
    I’m looking forward to reading the book, which I already own. So no need to consider me for a giveaway.
    Since I did like all the other books in the series, I have no doubt I will enjoy this as well.

    Reply
  6. Anne-Thanks for a lovely interview. And Mary Jo-thank you for a vibrant coda to your Rogues Redeemed series. I would add one more bit-Once A Laird is also available from indie bookstores here and there. Long may they continue to survive.

    Reply
  7. Anne-Thanks for a lovely interview. And Mary Jo-thank you for a vibrant coda to your Rogues Redeemed series. I would add one more bit-Once A Laird is also available from indie bookstores here and there. Long may they continue to survive.

    Reply
  8. Anne-Thanks for a lovely interview. And Mary Jo-thank you for a vibrant coda to your Rogues Redeemed series. I would add one more bit-Once A Laird is also available from indie bookstores here and there. Long may they continue to survive.

    Reply
  9. Anne-Thanks for a lovely interview. And Mary Jo-thank you for a vibrant coda to your Rogues Redeemed series. I would add one more bit-Once A Laird is also available from indie bookstores here and there. Long may they continue to survive.

    Reply
  10. Anne-Thanks for a lovely interview. And Mary Jo-thank you for a vibrant coda to your Rogues Redeemed series. I would add one more bit-Once A Laird is also available from indie bookstores here and there. Long may they continue to survive.

    Reply
  11. Very intriguing post, ladies!
    For me, since I’ve hung up my passport, it would have to be a visit to a library/bookstore. Theoretically, though, it would be both, since rural Scottish isles and the bustling city of Istanbul are, ahem, worlds apart. Even if expanded to all-of-Scotland vs all-of-Turkey, the histories of both are unique and equally worthy of exploration. Finding the points common to both strikes me as a good way to spend time. In my mind’s eye, I’m recalling how much the area where Troy is said to have been looks like the Highlands, though I’m sure if they were laid side by side I’d see the differences immediately. And if they could tell their tales as authors do, they would speak totally different but equally compelling accounts of human history.
    Well, I’m certainly in a philosophical mood tonight.

    Reply
  12. Very intriguing post, ladies!
    For me, since I’ve hung up my passport, it would have to be a visit to a library/bookstore. Theoretically, though, it would be both, since rural Scottish isles and the bustling city of Istanbul are, ahem, worlds apart. Even if expanded to all-of-Scotland vs all-of-Turkey, the histories of both are unique and equally worthy of exploration. Finding the points common to both strikes me as a good way to spend time. In my mind’s eye, I’m recalling how much the area where Troy is said to have been looks like the Highlands, though I’m sure if they were laid side by side I’d see the differences immediately. And if they could tell their tales as authors do, they would speak totally different but equally compelling accounts of human history.
    Well, I’m certainly in a philosophical mood tonight.

    Reply
  13. Very intriguing post, ladies!
    For me, since I’ve hung up my passport, it would have to be a visit to a library/bookstore. Theoretically, though, it would be both, since rural Scottish isles and the bustling city of Istanbul are, ahem, worlds apart. Even if expanded to all-of-Scotland vs all-of-Turkey, the histories of both are unique and equally worthy of exploration. Finding the points common to both strikes me as a good way to spend time. In my mind’s eye, I’m recalling how much the area where Troy is said to have been looks like the Highlands, though I’m sure if they were laid side by side I’d see the differences immediately. And if they could tell their tales as authors do, they would speak totally different but equally compelling accounts of human history.
    Well, I’m certainly in a philosophical mood tonight.

    Reply
  14. Very intriguing post, ladies!
    For me, since I’ve hung up my passport, it would have to be a visit to a library/bookstore. Theoretically, though, it would be both, since rural Scottish isles and the bustling city of Istanbul are, ahem, worlds apart. Even if expanded to all-of-Scotland vs all-of-Turkey, the histories of both are unique and equally worthy of exploration. Finding the points common to both strikes me as a good way to spend time. In my mind’s eye, I’m recalling how much the area where Troy is said to have been looks like the Highlands, though I’m sure if they were laid side by side I’d see the differences immediately. And if they could tell their tales as authors do, they would speak totally different but equally compelling accounts of human history.
    Well, I’m certainly in a philosophical mood tonight.

    Reply
  15. Very intriguing post, ladies!
    For me, since I’ve hung up my passport, it would have to be a visit to a library/bookstore. Theoretically, though, it would be both, since rural Scottish isles and the bustling city of Istanbul are, ahem, worlds apart. Even if expanded to all-of-Scotland vs all-of-Turkey, the histories of both are unique and equally worthy of exploration. Finding the points common to both strikes me as a good way to spend time. In my mind’s eye, I’m recalling how much the area where Troy is said to have been looks like the Highlands, though I’m sure if they were laid side by side I’d see the differences immediately. And if they could tell their tales as authors do, they would speak totally different but equally compelling accounts of human history.
    Well, I’m certainly in a philosophical mood tonight.

    Reply
  16. Can’t wait to read this, Mary Jo! I was privileged to visit Shetland and hope to visit Orkney when things open up again.
    Congratulations on bringing East and West together with an archeological focus as well; it should be fascinating.

    Reply
  17. Can’t wait to read this, Mary Jo! I was privileged to visit Shetland and hope to visit Orkney when things open up again.
    Congratulations on bringing East and West together with an archeological focus as well; it should be fascinating.

    Reply
  18. Can’t wait to read this, Mary Jo! I was privileged to visit Shetland and hope to visit Orkney when things open up again.
    Congratulations on bringing East and West together with an archeological focus as well; it should be fascinating.

    Reply
  19. Can’t wait to read this, Mary Jo! I was privileged to visit Shetland and hope to visit Orkney when things open up again.
    Congratulations on bringing East and West together with an archeological focus as well; it should be fascinating.

    Reply
  20. Can’t wait to read this, Mary Jo! I was privileged to visit Shetland and hope to visit Orkney when things open up again.
    Congratulations on bringing East and West together with an archeological focus as well; it should be fascinating.

    Reply
  21. I would go to anywhere near Scotland. I have ancestors from Scotland and Wales. I figure if I am in the neighborhood I could visit all over the place when I got the chance.
    I thank you for this interview and introduction to the book. I love historic sites. And I believe that anyone who has been able to visit historic sites all over the Middle East as well as Europe must be an interesting hero.
    Hope everyone is well and safe and happy.

    Reply
  22. I would go to anywhere near Scotland. I have ancestors from Scotland and Wales. I figure if I am in the neighborhood I could visit all over the place when I got the chance.
    I thank you for this interview and introduction to the book. I love historic sites. And I believe that anyone who has been able to visit historic sites all over the Middle East as well as Europe must be an interesting hero.
    Hope everyone is well and safe and happy.

    Reply
  23. I would go to anywhere near Scotland. I have ancestors from Scotland and Wales. I figure if I am in the neighborhood I could visit all over the place when I got the chance.
    I thank you for this interview and introduction to the book. I love historic sites. And I believe that anyone who has been able to visit historic sites all over the Middle East as well as Europe must be an interesting hero.
    Hope everyone is well and safe and happy.

    Reply
  24. I would go to anywhere near Scotland. I have ancestors from Scotland and Wales. I figure if I am in the neighborhood I could visit all over the place when I got the chance.
    I thank you for this interview and introduction to the book. I love historic sites. And I believe that anyone who has been able to visit historic sites all over the Middle East as well as Europe must be an interesting hero.
    Hope everyone is well and safe and happy.

    Reply
  25. I would go to anywhere near Scotland. I have ancestors from Scotland and Wales. I figure if I am in the neighborhood I could visit all over the place when I got the chance.
    I thank you for this interview and introduction to the book. I love historic sites. And I believe that anyone who has been able to visit historic sites all over the Middle East as well as Europe must be an interesting hero.
    Hope everyone is well and safe and happy.

    Reply
  26. Talk about opposites! Either would be fascinating to visit. I’ll pick the Orkneys this time. I am very comfortable with rural areas where you can enjoy the countryside and the archeology without the crowds. And it is easier to meet the locals and enjoy their company.

    Reply
  27. Talk about opposites! Either would be fascinating to visit. I’ll pick the Orkneys this time. I am very comfortable with rural areas where you can enjoy the countryside and the archeology without the crowds. And it is easier to meet the locals and enjoy their company.

    Reply
  28. Talk about opposites! Either would be fascinating to visit. I’ll pick the Orkneys this time. I am very comfortable with rural areas where you can enjoy the countryside and the archeology without the crowds. And it is easier to meet the locals and enjoy their company.

    Reply
  29. Talk about opposites! Either would be fascinating to visit. I’ll pick the Orkneys this time. I am very comfortable with rural areas where you can enjoy the countryside and the archeology without the crowds. And it is easier to meet the locals and enjoy their company.

    Reply
  30. Talk about opposites! Either would be fascinating to visit. I’ll pick the Orkneys this time. I am very comfortable with rural areas where you can enjoy the countryside and the archeology without the crowds. And it is easier to meet the locals and enjoy their company.

    Reply
  31. Although Scotland is beautiful, I think I would pick Istanbul. I have always wanted to see the amazing architecture, and I love Turkish food!
    You got a great book cover, the model’s face shows a lot of character and determination. And I love the tapestry!

    Reply
  32. Although Scotland is beautiful, I think I would pick Istanbul. I have always wanted to see the amazing architecture, and I love Turkish food!
    You got a great book cover, the model’s face shows a lot of character and determination. And I love the tapestry!

    Reply
  33. Although Scotland is beautiful, I think I would pick Istanbul. I have always wanted to see the amazing architecture, and I love Turkish food!
    You got a great book cover, the model’s face shows a lot of character and determination. And I love the tapestry!

    Reply
  34. Although Scotland is beautiful, I think I would pick Istanbul. I have always wanted to see the amazing architecture, and I love Turkish food!
    You got a great book cover, the model’s face shows a lot of character and determination. And I love the tapestry!

    Reply
  35. Although Scotland is beautiful, I think I would pick Istanbul. I have always wanted to see the amazing architecture, and I love Turkish food!
    You got a great book cover, the model’s face shows a lot of character and determination. And I love the tapestry!

    Reply
  36. Tough question! Constantinople has a lot of appeal. Old Istanbul I would visit in a heartbeat. Modern politics being what they are, I would go to the Orkneys. Besides, I have long desired to breathe the air and walk the ways of my Scot ancestors.
    In any case, I am delighted by the prospect of reading Once a Laird.

    Reply
  37. Tough question! Constantinople has a lot of appeal. Old Istanbul I would visit in a heartbeat. Modern politics being what they are, I would go to the Orkneys. Besides, I have long desired to breathe the air and walk the ways of my Scot ancestors.
    In any case, I am delighted by the prospect of reading Once a Laird.

    Reply
  38. Tough question! Constantinople has a lot of appeal. Old Istanbul I would visit in a heartbeat. Modern politics being what they are, I would go to the Orkneys. Besides, I have long desired to breathe the air and walk the ways of my Scot ancestors.
    In any case, I am delighted by the prospect of reading Once a Laird.

    Reply
  39. Tough question! Constantinople has a lot of appeal. Old Istanbul I would visit in a heartbeat. Modern politics being what they are, I would go to the Orkneys. Besides, I have long desired to breathe the air and walk the ways of my Scot ancestors.
    In any case, I am delighted by the prospect of reading Once a Laird.

    Reply
  40. Tough question! Constantinople has a lot of appeal. Old Istanbul I would visit in a heartbeat. Modern politics being what they are, I would go to the Orkneys. Besides, I have long desired to breathe the air and walk the ways of my Scot ancestors.
    In any case, I am delighted by the prospect of reading Once a Laird.

    Reply
  41. I think I would prefer to visit Orkney, something about islands appeals to me more. I’ve already read (and loved) this book — and all the others in the series. I only wish the reunion at the end had gone on a little longer!

    Reply
  42. I think I would prefer to visit Orkney, something about islands appeals to me more. I’ve already read (and loved) this book — and all the others in the series. I only wish the reunion at the end had gone on a little longer!

    Reply
  43. I think I would prefer to visit Orkney, something about islands appeals to me more. I’ve already read (and loved) this book — and all the others in the series. I only wish the reunion at the end had gone on a little longer!

    Reply
  44. I think I would prefer to visit Orkney, something about islands appeals to me more. I’ve already read (and loved) this book — and all the others in the series. I only wish the reunion at the end had gone on a little longer!

    Reply
  45. I think I would prefer to visit Orkney, something about islands appeals to me more. I’ve already read (and loved) this book — and all the others in the series. I only wish the reunion at the end had gone on a little longer!

    Reply
  46. I would opt for Orkney, mainly because my husband is a Scotsman! I have never been so would be trip of a lifetime. We live on an island – Vancouver Island – so that attracts me more than a huge city even though I would enjoy the ancient buildings, I’m sure. Can’t wait to read the new book – sounds awesome!

    Reply
  47. I would opt for Orkney, mainly because my husband is a Scotsman! I have never been so would be trip of a lifetime. We live on an island – Vancouver Island – so that attracts me more than a huge city even though I would enjoy the ancient buildings, I’m sure. Can’t wait to read the new book – sounds awesome!

    Reply
  48. I would opt for Orkney, mainly because my husband is a Scotsman! I have never been so would be trip of a lifetime. We live on an island – Vancouver Island – so that attracts me more than a huge city even though I would enjoy the ancient buildings, I’m sure. Can’t wait to read the new book – sounds awesome!

    Reply
  49. I would opt for Orkney, mainly because my husband is a Scotsman! I have never been so would be trip of a lifetime. We live on an island – Vancouver Island – so that attracts me more than a huge city even though I would enjoy the ancient buildings, I’m sure. Can’t wait to read the new book – sounds awesome!

    Reply
  50. I would opt for Orkney, mainly because my husband is a Scotsman! I have never been so would be trip of a lifetime. We live on an island – Vancouver Island – so that attracts me more than a huge city even though I would enjoy the ancient buildings, I’m sure. Can’t wait to read the new book – sounds awesome!

    Reply
  51. Thank you, Anne and Mary Jo, for a wonderful interview. And an added thanks, Mary Jo, for the excerpt. Best wishes for the success of Once a Laird!
    Hmm, I’ve not been to either Scotland or Istanbul. Today I would select Scotland thinking that I might have a better chance of conversing with the people there; tomorrow, I might choose differently.

    Reply
  52. Thank you, Anne and Mary Jo, for a wonderful interview. And an added thanks, Mary Jo, for the excerpt. Best wishes for the success of Once a Laird!
    Hmm, I’ve not been to either Scotland or Istanbul. Today I would select Scotland thinking that I might have a better chance of conversing with the people there; tomorrow, I might choose differently.

    Reply
  53. Thank you, Anne and Mary Jo, for a wonderful interview. And an added thanks, Mary Jo, for the excerpt. Best wishes for the success of Once a Laird!
    Hmm, I’ve not been to either Scotland or Istanbul. Today I would select Scotland thinking that I might have a better chance of conversing with the people there; tomorrow, I might choose differently.

    Reply
  54. Thank you, Anne and Mary Jo, for a wonderful interview. And an added thanks, Mary Jo, for the excerpt. Best wishes for the success of Once a Laird!
    Hmm, I’ve not been to either Scotland or Istanbul. Today I would select Scotland thinking that I might have a better chance of conversing with the people there; tomorrow, I might choose differently.

    Reply
  55. Thank you, Anne and Mary Jo, for a wonderful interview. And an added thanks, Mary Jo, for the excerpt. Best wishes for the success of Once a Laird!
    Hmm, I’ve not been to either Scotland or Istanbul. Today I would select Scotland thinking that I might have a better chance of conversing with the people there; tomorrow, I might choose differently.

    Reply
  56. Kareni, Scotland does have the advantage of being and English speaking area. Sort of. *G* Once when we flew into Glasgow, my husband asked what language the baggage handlers were speaking. I told him it was Glaswegian, a variation that is practically unintelligible to most Americans! *G*

    Reply
  57. Kareni, Scotland does have the advantage of being and English speaking area. Sort of. *G* Once when we flew into Glasgow, my husband asked what language the baggage handlers were speaking. I told him it was Glaswegian, a variation that is practically unintelligible to most Americans! *G*

    Reply
  58. Kareni, Scotland does have the advantage of being and English speaking area. Sort of. *G* Once when we flew into Glasgow, my husband asked what language the baggage handlers were speaking. I told him it was Glaswegian, a variation that is practically unintelligible to most Americans! *G*

    Reply
  59. Kareni, Scotland does have the advantage of being and English speaking area. Sort of. *G* Once when we flew into Glasgow, my husband asked what language the baggage handlers were speaking. I told him it was Glaswegian, a variation that is practically unintelligible to most Americans! *G*

    Reply
  60. Kareni, Scotland does have the advantage of being and English speaking area. Sort of. *G* Once when we flew into Glasgow, my husband asked what language the baggage handlers were speaking. I told him it was Glaswegian, a variation that is practically unintelligible to most Americans! *G*

    Reply
  61. I would choose Orkney. It just appeals to me more right now. Probably because Orkney would be green and lovely.
    No need to enter me in the drawing, my copy arrived today. Luckily they sent me a picture when the package was delivered because they left it on my neighbors porch! I marched myself over there and retrieved it. Grin.

    Reply
  62. I would choose Orkney. It just appeals to me more right now. Probably because Orkney would be green and lovely.
    No need to enter me in the drawing, my copy arrived today. Luckily they sent me a picture when the package was delivered because they left it on my neighbors porch! I marched myself over there and retrieved it. Grin.

    Reply
  63. I would choose Orkney. It just appeals to me more right now. Probably because Orkney would be green and lovely.
    No need to enter me in the drawing, my copy arrived today. Luckily they sent me a picture when the package was delivered because they left it on my neighbors porch! I marched myself over there and retrieved it. Grin.

    Reply
  64. I would choose Orkney. It just appeals to me more right now. Probably because Orkney would be green and lovely.
    No need to enter me in the drawing, my copy arrived today. Luckily they sent me a picture when the package was delivered because they left it on my neighbors porch! I marched myself over there and retrieved it. Grin.

    Reply
  65. I would choose Orkney. It just appeals to me more right now. Probably because Orkney would be green and lovely.
    No need to enter me in the drawing, my copy arrived today. Luckily they sent me a picture when the package was delivered because they left it on my neighbors porch! I marched myself over there and retrieved it. Grin.

    Reply
  66. I have the first 5 audios and enjoyed them all so definitely adding this one. I am a little intrigued by the covers though. The cover shown hear is beautiful but the audio book (Audible UK) cover is different with the head obscured. The Amazon UK cover is different again with the head also obscured. I always look at the heroine’s face and hair so am surprised that publishers often cut it. I think most romance readers are feminine and wonder whether the dress is more attractive than the face for feminine eyes!
    I love the Scottish islands …. Skye is my favourite for the splendor of the Black Cuillin mountains. Never been to Orkney so would jump at the chance of a visit … after listening to ‘Once a Laird’!

    Reply
  67. I have the first 5 audios and enjoyed them all so definitely adding this one. I am a little intrigued by the covers though. The cover shown hear is beautiful but the audio book (Audible UK) cover is different with the head obscured. The Amazon UK cover is different again with the head also obscured. I always look at the heroine’s face and hair so am surprised that publishers often cut it. I think most romance readers are feminine and wonder whether the dress is more attractive than the face for feminine eyes!
    I love the Scottish islands …. Skye is my favourite for the splendor of the Black Cuillin mountains. Never been to Orkney so would jump at the chance of a visit … after listening to ‘Once a Laird’!

    Reply
  68. I have the first 5 audios and enjoyed them all so definitely adding this one. I am a little intrigued by the covers though. The cover shown hear is beautiful but the audio book (Audible UK) cover is different with the head obscured. The Amazon UK cover is different again with the head also obscured. I always look at the heroine’s face and hair so am surprised that publishers often cut it. I think most romance readers are feminine and wonder whether the dress is more attractive than the face for feminine eyes!
    I love the Scottish islands …. Skye is my favourite for the splendor of the Black Cuillin mountains. Never been to Orkney so would jump at the chance of a visit … after listening to ‘Once a Laird’!

    Reply
  69. I have the first 5 audios and enjoyed them all so definitely adding this one. I am a little intrigued by the covers though. The cover shown hear is beautiful but the audio book (Audible UK) cover is different with the head obscured. The Amazon UK cover is different again with the head also obscured. I always look at the heroine’s face and hair so am surprised that publishers often cut it. I think most romance readers are feminine and wonder whether the dress is more attractive than the face for feminine eyes!
    I love the Scottish islands …. Skye is my favourite for the splendor of the Black Cuillin mountains. Never been to Orkney so would jump at the chance of a visit … after listening to ‘Once a Laird’!

    Reply
  70. I have the first 5 audios and enjoyed them all so definitely adding this one. I am a little intrigued by the covers though. The cover shown hear is beautiful but the audio book (Audible UK) cover is different with the head obscured. The Amazon UK cover is different again with the head also obscured. I always look at the heroine’s face and hair so am surprised that publishers often cut it. I think most romance readers are feminine and wonder whether the dress is more attractive than the face for feminine eyes!
    I love the Scottish islands …. Skye is my favourite for the splendor of the Black Cuillin mountains. Never been to Orkney so would jump at the chance of a visit … after listening to ‘Once a Laird’!

    Reply
  71. Good luck with the book Mary Jo.
    Definitely the Orkney Islands for me. I’m not a traveler at all so don’t get to see many places. However I love Celtic history and being from Ireland have an affinity with Scotland. I was in Scotland once, many years ago and would love to go back. Would love to visit the Highlands and the many Islands that surround the country.

    Reply
  72. Good luck with the book Mary Jo.
    Definitely the Orkney Islands for me. I’m not a traveler at all so don’t get to see many places. However I love Celtic history and being from Ireland have an affinity with Scotland. I was in Scotland once, many years ago and would love to go back. Would love to visit the Highlands and the many Islands that surround the country.

    Reply
  73. Good luck with the book Mary Jo.
    Definitely the Orkney Islands for me. I’m not a traveler at all so don’t get to see many places. However I love Celtic history and being from Ireland have an affinity with Scotland. I was in Scotland once, many years ago and would love to go back. Would love to visit the Highlands and the many Islands that surround the country.

    Reply
  74. Good luck with the book Mary Jo.
    Definitely the Orkney Islands for me. I’m not a traveler at all so don’t get to see many places. However I love Celtic history and being from Ireland have an affinity with Scotland. I was in Scotland once, many years ago and would love to go back. Would love to visit the Highlands and the many Islands that surround the country.

    Reply
  75. Good luck with the book Mary Jo.
    Definitely the Orkney Islands for me. I’m not a traveler at all so don’t get to see many places. However I love Celtic history and being from Ireland have an affinity with Scotland. I was in Scotland once, many years ago and would love to go back. Would love to visit the Highlands and the many Islands that surround the country.

    Reply
  76. Vicki L, those delivery images are really useful! Not only have I had to retrieve items from my neighbor’s front steps, but the delivery people are amazingly creative about finding spots around my house that are NOT the front steps–places I’d never think to check with seeing a picture.

    Reply
  77. Vicki L, those delivery images are really useful! Not only have I had to retrieve items from my neighbor’s front steps, but the delivery people are amazingly creative about finding spots around my house that are NOT the front steps–places I’d never think to check with seeing a picture.

    Reply
  78. Vicki L, those delivery images are really useful! Not only have I had to retrieve items from my neighbor’s front steps, but the delivery people are amazingly creative about finding spots around my house that are NOT the front steps–places I’d never think to check with seeing a picture.

    Reply
  79. Vicki L, those delivery images are really useful! Not only have I had to retrieve items from my neighbor’s front steps, but the delivery people are amazingly creative about finding spots around my house that are NOT the front steps–places I’d never think to check with seeing a picture.

    Reply
  80. Vicki L, those delivery images are really useful! Not only have I had to retrieve items from my neighbor’s front steps, but the delivery people are amazingly creative about finding spots around my house that are NOT the front steps–places I’d never think to check with seeing a picture.

    Reply
  81. Quantum, Skye is certainly spectacular! A long ago visit to a blackhouse on Harris and Lewis later inspired a suspenseful scene in my book Shattered Rainbows.
    As to the covers–audiobooks and foreign editions are subrights sales, so they do their own art–often something really quick and cheap. As for cutting off heads–one theory is that readers often have different images of the characters in their minds, and looked at a cover image that doesn’t match can be distracting.
    Also, good models are hard to find, especially male models. Chopping off heads removes the problem. *G*

    Reply
  82. Quantum, Skye is certainly spectacular! A long ago visit to a blackhouse on Harris and Lewis later inspired a suspenseful scene in my book Shattered Rainbows.
    As to the covers–audiobooks and foreign editions are subrights sales, so they do their own art–often something really quick and cheap. As for cutting off heads–one theory is that readers often have different images of the characters in their minds, and looked at a cover image that doesn’t match can be distracting.
    Also, good models are hard to find, especially male models. Chopping off heads removes the problem. *G*

    Reply
  83. Quantum, Skye is certainly spectacular! A long ago visit to a blackhouse on Harris and Lewis later inspired a suspenseful scene in my book Shattered Rainbows.
    As to the covers–audiobooks and foreign editions are subrights sales, so they do their own art–often something really quick and cheap. As for cutting off heads–one theory is that readers often have different images of the characters in their minds, and looked at a cover image that doesn’t match can be distracting.
    Also, good models are hard to find, especially male models. Chopping off heads removes the problem. *G*

    Reply
  84. Quantum, Skye is certainly spectacular! A long ago visit to a blackhouse on Harris and Lewis later inspired a suspenseful scene in my book Shattered Rainbows.
    As to the covers–audiobooks and foreign editions are subrights sales, so they do their own art–often something really quick and cheap. As for cutting off heads–one theory is that readers often have different images of the characters in their minds, and looked at a cover image that doesn’t match can be distracting.
    Also, good models are hard to find, especially male models. Chopping off heads removes the problem. *G*

    Reply
  85. Quantum, Skye is certainly spectacular! A long ago visit to a blackhouse on Harris and Lewis later inspired a suspenseful scene in my book Shattered Rainbows.
    As to the covers–audiobooks and foreign editions are subrights sales, so they do their own art–often something really quick and cheap. As for cutting off heads–one theory is that readers often have different images of the characters in their minds, and looked at a cover image that doesn’t match can be distracting.
    Also, good models are hard to find, especially male models. Chopping off heads removes the problem. *G*

    Reply
  86. I visited the Orkney Islands in May 2019 and absolutely fell in love with the island and its people. It was interesting how many who live there feel a kinship to Denmark rather than England. My daughter and I were amazed how standing stones and circles were everywhere! I would go back in a heartbeat! Thank you for the post!

    Reply
  87. I visited the Orkney Islands in May 2019 and absolutely fell in love with the island and its people. It was interesting how many who live there feel a kinship to Denmark rather than England. My daughter and I were amazed how standing stones and circles were everywhere! I would go back in a heartbeat! Thank you for the post!

    Reply
  88. I visited the Orkney Islands in May 2019 and absolutely fell in love with the island and its people. It was interesting how many who live there feel a kinship to Denmark rather than England. My daughter and I were amazed how standing stones and circles were everywhere! I would go back in a heartbeat! Thank you for the post!

    Reply
  89. I visited the Orkney Islands in May 2019 and absolutely fell in love with the island and its people. It was interesting how many who live there feel a kinship to Denmark rather than England. My daughter and I were amazed how standing stones and circles were everywhere! I would go back in a heartbeat! Thank you for the post!

    Reply
  90. I visited the Orkney Islands in May 2019 and absolutely fell in love with the island and its people. It was interesting how many who live there feel a kinship to Denmark rather than England. My daughter and I were amazed how standing stones and circles were everywhere! I would go back in a heartbeat! Thank you for the post!

    Reply
  91. Anne and Mary Jo,
    Great interview! If I were to travel, it would be to the Scottish Isles, but as I am enjoying being stuck on my own isle, here on Kauai, I will just keep traveling through books. Love both of you and your books- keep up the fascinating travels!
    Ruta Jordans

    Reply
  92. Anne and Mary Jo,
    Great interview! If I were to travel, it would be to the Scottish Isles, but as I am enjoying being stuck on my own isle, here on Kauai, I will just keep traveling through books. Love both of you and your books- keep up the fascinating travels!
    Ruta Jordans

    Reply
  93. Anne and Mary Jo,
    Great interview! If I were to travel, it would be to the Scottish Isles, but as I am enjoying being stuck on my own isle, here on Kauai, I will just keep traveling through books. Love both of you and your books- keep up the fascinating travels!
    Ruta Jordans

    Reply
  94. Anne and Mary Jo,
    Great interview! If I were to travel, it would be to the Scottish Isles, but as I am enjoying being stuck on my own isle, here on Kauai, I will just keep traveling through books. Love both of you and your books- keep up the fascinating travels!
    Ruta Jordans

    Reply
  95. Anne and Mary Jo,
    Great interview! If I were to travel, it would be to the Scottish Isles, but as I am enjoying being stuck on my own isle, here on Kauai, I will just keep traveling through books. Love both of you and your books- keep up the fascinating travels!
    Ruta Jordans

    Reply
  96. LilMissMolly, the northern islands are definitely more Norse than Celtic or Anglo Saxon, which is part of what makes them so interesting. And as you said, there were ancient monuments EVERYWHERE! I’d love to go back, too.

    Reply
  97. LilMissMolly, the northern islands are definitely more Norse than Celtic or Anglo Saxon, which is part of what makes them so interesting. And as you said, there were ancient monuments EVERYWHERE! I’d love to go back, too.

    Reply
  98. LilMissMolly, the northern islands are definitely more Norse than Celtic or Anglo Saxon, which is part of what makes them so interesting. And as you said, there were ancient monuments EVERYWHERE! I’d love to go back, too.

    Reply
  99. LilMissMolly, the northern islands are definitely more Norse than Celtic or Anglo Saxon, which is part of what makes them so interesting. And as you said, there were ancient monuments EVERYWHERE! I’d love to go back, too.

    Reply
  100. LilMissMolly, the northern islands are definitely more Norse than Celtic or Anglo Saxon, which is part of what makes them so interesting. And as you said, there were ancient monuments EVERYWHERE! I’d love to go back, too.

    Reply
  101. Kathryn, it’s really nice be able to talk to the people around us, though both our guides in Orkney and Shetland said that the standard English they used with us was not the same as what they spoke at home. They’re both such interesting places!

    Reply
  102. Kathryn, it’s really nice be able to talk to the people around us, though both our guides in Orkney and Shetland said that the standard English they used with us was not the same as what they spoke at home. They’re both such interesting places!

    Reply
  103. Kathryn, it’s really nice be able to talk to the people around us, though both our guides in Orkney and Shetland said that the standard English they used with us was not the same as what they spoke at home. They’re both such interesting places!

    Reply
  104. Kathryn, it’s really nice be able to talk to the people around us, though both our guides in Orkney and Shetland said that the standard English they used with us was not the same as what they spoke at home. They’re both such interesting places!

    Reply
  105. Kathryn, it’s really nice be able to talk to the people around us, though both our guides in Orkney and Shetland said that the standard English they used with us was not the same as what they spoke at home. They’re both such interesting places!

    Reply

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