Highland Shirts and Romances

RavensWish_-_Cover_-_R16 (4) I’m delighted to announce that another of my early historical romances, The Raven’s Wish, is newly available in ebook format, with a gorgeous new cover and some author edits (I can’t resist cleaning up some of my newbie prose!). "Powerful, magical and delightful–a memorable romance that will keep readers on the edge of their seats." – Romantic Times

Ravenswish This book, of all of them, is special to me–it's the first of my Scottish historical romances. While researching and writing this novel, I discovered how much I love Scotland and Scottish history …and after many historical romances and two mainstream Scottish historicals so far, I’m still in love with Scotland.

A legend from my own Scottish heritage, Clan Fraser, first inspired me to try my hand at Scottish historical fiction. I learned that after the Battle of the Shirts in 1544 (Blar na Léine in Gaelic, literally the Field of Shirts)–when the Frasers met the MacDonalds in a Highland clash that nearly wiped out both clans–a legend arose about the renewal of Clan Fraser.

Battlefield1redoSM-my pic On a hot, sunny day in July, 1544, a brewing dispute between Frasers and MacDonalds boiled over on a golden reedy meadow at the head of Loch Lochy in the Highlands (west of Loch Ness in the chain of lochs – see my photo of the site at right). The dispute concerned who should be the new chief of Clan Donald. The direct heir was a young MacDonald who had fostered with his Fraser mother’s people, and so he had Fraser loyalty behind him. Another candidate had staunch MacDonald backing.

And besides, the young heir had insulted his MacDonald kin by refusing to eat chicken. 

Yes, chicken—a food considered too ordinary (along with fish) to offer a Highland chief. So the “hen-chief” and "Gallda" or stranger, as the MacDonalds called him, was sent packing to the Frasers, who gathered in huge numbers in his defense—meeting an even larger group of MacDonalds on the loch meadow, each ready to defend their favorite’s claim.

Plaid and sporran The day had the sort of sweltering heat that comes rarely to the Highlands, and the men each broke a stick and scratched a mark or initials into it before engaging, by Gaelic custom. As the skirmish escalated, the men shed their heavy woolen plaids in the heat—by the 16th century, wrapped, belted plaids were commonly worn by Highland men—and they fought in their shirts and then without them. With hack-and-slash combat and heavy bladed weapons, the men struggled fiercely on the banks of the loch. They must have looked more like wild, furious Celts than men of the 16th century.   Highlander by david wilkie

Finally the field was littered with bodies and scattered with plaids and shirts–so the battle is remembered as Blar na Léine, or Field of Shirts. Of over a thousand men, only five or six Frasers and eight or ten MacDonalds retrieved their notched sticks that day.

A clan legend arose from the tragedy. Fraser tradition holds that 80 Fraser women widowed that day were all pregnant. Within months, 80 sons were born, bringing hope to a depleted clan, whose plant badge was the yew tree—which sprouts new branches from within the old trunk.

It is recorded that 18 years later, the Fraser chief, Hugh, was a handsome 17 year old who charmed 20-year-old Mary, Queen of Scots (and was considered for her husband). Hugh had 79 cousins of the same age who formed his “tail” or escort.

So I wondered: what if one other Fraser had been born that year—a girl? And out of that question came The Raven's Wish.

Elspeth Fraser, a cousin of Hugh and the others born after Blar na Leine, has been raised with wild Highland lads, and she's resilient, nimble, bold—and a gifted Highland seer. When Queen Mary sends one of her lawyers, Duncan Macrae, to the Highlands to settle a dispute between wild young Frasers and some rowdy MacDonalds, Elspeth senses danger for the handsome lawyer and tries to warn him away. But Duncan does not believe in visions, and ignores the wild, beautiful girl's warning…and besides, he has a private score to settle now that he is back in the Highlands…

If you'd like to know more about Blar na Leine, please click here to read my historical article on the battle written for Clan Fraser Society UK.

And if you, too, have a weakness for Scottish historical romance—tell us why! Comment below and you’ll be entered in a random drawing to win a copy of The Raven’s Wish in e-book format!

Thanks, hope you enjoy my second-ever historical – and first Scottish romance, now available in ebook format on Kindle, Nook, and most other venues! (Special thanks to Nina Paules of ePublishingWorks! for creating another beautiful ebook – and for making the ebook giveaway possible!)

SusanBTR

P.S. FYI, the price has just been lowered for the ebook of The Black Thorne's Rose!