Message From The Author

Author's Message

Last year, my husband and I drove in a big, north-sweeping arc from Scotland?s east coast to the western islands, where we stayed one night at a haunted drovers? inn and the next in a 100-year-old cottage that defined the word ?charm.? My husband took it dutifully upon himself to sample every local single malt whiskey and I, just as dutifully, did a comparison study of treacle puddings (a Mull farmhouse B&B rendition won, hands down).

Inveterate castle-hoppers that we are, we went to Edinburgh and Sterling, to Holyrood and Balmoral, but more memorable for me were the smaller
castles, preserved by the local ladies?
societies and church organizations, some consisting of no more than a few arches, others still housing hereditary owners.

I remember one castle in particular, only half of it remaining, roofless and mostly floorless, which stood hard by
the North Sea. I?d trudged up its steep turret stairwell, stalwartly fighting back the claustrophobia caused by the dim, shoulder-rubbing shaft. At the top the world fell away. Our tour guide pointed out over the crenellations to the sea below. She told us this story:

Long ago, a handsome but evil man wed for her dowry a bonny young bride from far away. Having no need of a wife, he hurled her down into the sea. When her loving family came to visit
the newlyweds, the wretch solemnly
told them of the tragic accident that
had befallen their daughter and sister. Overwhelmed with grief, the bride?s family returned to their home, leaving the evil husband to gloat over his
triumphant ploy?and quickly take
another wealthy bride.

After we returned to the States,
I could not forget that tale. Like the treacle pudding that had taken up permanent residence on my hips, that story stuck in my mind, refusing to be ignored.

I started playing ?what if.? What if this man were an English lord who?d been exiled to the Scottish Highlands for his societal sins? What if his bride?s family had been staunch Jacobites? What if they had three children before he betrayed her clan to the English, receiving as a reward her family?s confiscated lands? What if he then killed his wife?

As fun as it was to create such a truly fiendish villain, the story evolving in my imagination became more and more
fixed on those children. What would it be like to be that man?s child, hounded by whispers and innuendoes, suspecting your mother died by your father?s hand, cursed by the local Scots as the child of
a treacherous Englishmen? What would these children be like as adults? Who would love them and whom would they love? Could they possibly become the heroes and heroines of a romance?

Of course!

Now, I like to make things difficult for my characters. It occurred to me that the most perverse thing I could do to my English siblings was to have them become emotionally involved with the members of the clan their father had betrayed. Soon I discovered that a single book could not do justice to the romances I had in mind. So I wrote three, one for each of the Englishman?s two sons and one for his daughter.

The first book in the trilogy is MCCLAIREN'S ISLE: THE PASSIONATE ONE, the story of Ash Merrick, the nefarious Earl of Carr?s eldest son. He?s dark, driven, haunted?and passionate about one woman: his father?s innocent ward, Rhiannon Russell.

Oh yes, and as for the gloating,
triumphant villain? There was, of course,
a bit more to the story than I?m telling you?

Please visit my website at:, to read an excerpt from McClairen?s Isle: The Passionate One. To receive a full-color mini-poster of Ash Merrick, please send an SASE to P.O. Box 828, Hopkins,
MN 55343.

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