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Friday, October 30, 2009

Regency Women, Money & Men -- And My New Release!

There was many a woman and her children in the Regency who had to make do with little after living a grand life… actually there are women still today who deal with this but that’s a topic for a different blogsite.

When you think of widows being removed from their homes and having to survive off of what meager means were left to them or the charity of friends and family, while some far off male relative lives in the house they used to inhabit, Mr. Collins comes to mind. Do you recall Mr. Collins? Oh, the silly little man…the bane of Elizabeth’s existence…

Just because a woman was taken care of before her husband died, didn’t mean she’d be taken care of when he was gone. If a man held a title, and that title owned the property, and could only be transferred to the next legitimate male heir, and that man happened to only have daughters, when he passed on, his wife and daughters would have to vacate the premises if the male heir so deigned it—and more often than not, he would. They might be left with a meager yearly allowance from the estate, which she would have to make do with until or unless she re-married, or was able to live off of her daughters marriages.

Everything seemed to come down to living off of someone else. Unless you were lucky enough to be left a substantial inheritance which would make you wealthy in your own right, or the peerage title could be passed to a female.

In my newest release, Her Captain Surrenders, the 2nd story in my Regency Men of the Sea series, I wanted a strong willed widow. A woman who was wealthy in her own right, and didn’t have to get married for money. Juliette can survive on her own, and simply wants a lover. A man she could share things with, a companion and best friend.

She finds that in one Captain Nathaniel Cruise. When she falls in love with him, it isn’t a worry for her that he doesn’t hold a title, she is free to pursue him, free to follow her heart—and he leads her on a merry chase!


Captain Nathaniel Cruise has a job to do. But what happens when a beautiful woman tempts him to turn his eye from his duties to pursue more…pleasurable entertainments? Not only that, the woman has a wit and intelligence that rivals his own and he finds himself falling deeper and harder for her.

Lady Juliette Blackburn, knows what she wants, and she wants Captain Cruise. A rich widow in her own right, she’s decided to take her love life in her own hands. However, at every turn the man of her dreams is running away from her. She’ll have to keep up a subtle chase to discreetly reel him in.

Despite their mutual attraction something darker is pulling them together. A rogue former lover of Juliette’s is the main suspect in Nathaniel’s investigation, and now he’s threatening both their livelihoods. Together they’ll fight the villain and perhaps on the way Nathaniel and Juliette will surrender to love.

“Author Eliza Knight delivers maximum heat per page in HER CAPTAIN SURRENDERS. Confirmed bachelor Captain Nathaniel Cruise meets his match in Lady Juliette Blackburn whose aim is matrimony. Captain Cruise must uncover a traitor to the Crown while resisting Juliette’s sizzling advances. Their lives depend on his success. HER CAPTAIN SURRENDERS is a sexy romp that keeps you guessing right to the end.”

~Sarah Richmond,
author of award winning ROSE ADAGIO


“Captain Cruise.” His hostess Lady Challedon came up behind him. “May I introduce to you to a dear friend?”

Nathaniel swallowed his distaste at meeting another groom hunter, and turned to gaze into the most stunning pair of lavender eyes, made all the more brilliant by a frame of thick, curling black lashes. Lady Blackburn. For a moment he was struck dumb. They’d never been formally introduced, yet he’d seen her everywhere, the park, ballrooms, Covent Garden, and dinner parties. And she had seen him. More than once, he’d looked up to find her eyes on him but he’d been too preoccupied helping Captain Montgomery, the Earl of Stafford, to beg an introduction. He’d managed to find out her name, that she was a widow, and little else.

“My pleasure, ladies.”

He bowed. She curtsied. Nathaniel let his gaze fall to where full breasts pushed the limits of her silvery gown. His gaze lingered on her breasts a scant moment longer before traveling the length of her narrow waist and rounded hips. The curves of her figure promised to be a lush experience for any man. His body stirred to life with the thought. Perhaps he could persuade her to enjoy a night with him.

He caught his bearings and managed a polite, “Lady Blackburn, would you care to honor me with a dance?”

“I should like that very much.”
Deep golden blonde hair, with hints of coral red, bobbed atop her delicate head as she nodded. She slipped her arm into the crook of his elbow, and gazed up at him. Her touch sent a shocking hunger racing through his veins. He’d never reacted this way to a woman before.
Get ahold of yourself, Nathaniel! He felt like an adolescent rather than the two and thirty years he was.

“Captain Cruise, I seem to be running into you quite often. Are you enjoying the Season?”

He paused a moment before answering. He couldn’t tell her he would rather chew off his own arm than attend another ball. He should let her know he didn’t intend to tarry long in London. The sea called his name, begged him to return, and he planned to answer as soon as he possibly could.

“’Tis a most fascinating way to distract myself until I return to my ship.” Nathaniel glanced at the lady to gage her reaction.

The corners of her mouth curved into a smile that didn’t quite reach her eyes. She looked away, as if trying to hide her disappointment.

“What is the name of your ship, Captain?” Her voice held a note of pique. Was she a saucy lady then?

Contest.... answer this question: Which British monarch abdicated the throne in order to marry his love, an American divorcee?

Email your answer to writer@elizaknight.com for a chance to win a copy of BOTH Her Captain Returns and Her Captain Surrenders.

Cheers and Good Luck!

Upcoming Workshops

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Saturday, October 24, 2009

Researching your characters

I prefer researching and writing about the U.S. in the 1800's. Specifically the western U.S. However, I find myself time and again having to research farther back and overseas to fully develop my characters.

A character's roots tells a lot about that character and I find that by going back on the family tree I can develop my characters and make them more real. My problem is even though I'm researching for my book set in the west in the 1800's I have to delve into 1700's Europe sometimes.

I remember my Social Studies classes and learning all about the "boiling pot" that makes up America. I know the only true American is the Native America who has been on this continent the longest though I've also read they came from another continent as well, long, long ago. My heritage is a "Heinz 57". My mother's side being predominately German and my Dad's side Dutch, Irish, English. So even to find my ancestral background I have to travel abroad.

Which brings me to- I have a book case full of western reference books and few on European history and find myself either going online or traipsing to the library to find the research materials need when I work to "discover" family history on a character. Anyone wanting to comment and leave me some good reference books I'd appreciate it.

For my latest release, Miner in Petticoats, the heroine took some research. I wanted her Scots, but while researching for her background I found that many of the Scots at the time she would have been a girl were exiled to Ireland due to clan wars. So I put her in Ireland and she married an Irish man who was killed during the uprisings between the Irish and the English.

While none of the story takes place in Ireland, I still had to research the living conditions and the upheaval going on there to be able to give my character back story that made her who she is in this book.

Shouldering the burdens of his family and the mining community, Ethan Halsey devotes himself to providing for his brothers’ growing families.

However, Aileen Miller, a widow, also looking out for her family’s interests, refuses to part with the land he needs. As they battle- one to push his dream to reality and the other to prove no man will hurt her again- their lives become enmeshed and their hearts collide.

How far have you gone to build your character in your mind as well as your reader's?


Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Other Medieval Queen

When we think of a medieval queen, the woman who often comes to mind is the queen around whom I developed my debut novel Widow's Peak, Eleanor of Aquitaine. Yet, there is another queen who was at least equally as powerful in medieval times. Isabella of France was responsible for many changes in the history of England.

Isabella was born a princess of France sometime in 1295. While still an infant, she was promised in marriage by her father to Prince Edward of England with the intent to resolve some of the many conflicts over land holdings between the French Nobility and the Norman English Rulers. However, the English king, Edward I, attempted to break the engagement several times and the marriage only proceeded after he died, in 1307.

The new king, Edward II, was tall, athletic, and wildly popular when he and Isabella were married in January, 1308. She was twelve years old and considered a great beauty, but her time at the French court more than prepared her for the machinations of the English court.

Although they produced four children, Edward was notorious for lavishing sexual attention on a succession of male favourites, all of whom Isabella considered a threat to her son and thus to her own standing. The timing of her turn against her husband seems to be tied to his preference for his favorite, Hugh le Despenser. During her pregnancy with her fourth child, she begged her husband to exile Despenser from the kingdom. Edward agreed, but later that year reneged and called his favorite back to England. Apparently, that was the last straw as far as Isabella was concerned. It is rumored that sometime during the next few years she took as her lover Roger Mortimer, 1st Earl of March. Though Mortimer was married and had twelve children, the affair was soon openly acknowledged.

It’s commonly accepted that Edward II was an ineffectual ruler. When Isabella's brother, King Charles IV of France seized Edward's French possessions in 1325, she returned to France as a delegate charged with negotiating a treaty. However, she became a focal point for the many nobles opposed to Edward's reign. In alliance with her lover, Roger Mortimer, Isabella gathered an army to oppose Edward. Enraged by such treachery, Edward demanded that Isabella return to England, but her brother refused to expel her, saying she came to France of her own free will and could remain as long as she desired. As it turned out, her stay was not long enough for Edward II.

With the support of both the King of France and the King of Holland, Isabella and Mortimer landed in Suffolk in 1326 with a fleet of eight man of war ships and an army of mercenaries. Edward II offered a reward for their deaths and the king was rumored to have carried a knife in his hose saved just to kill his wife if he got the chance. Isabella responded by offering twice as much money for the head of Hugh Despenser, who was still Edward’s favorite.

The invasion by was successful and Edward's few allies deserted him without a battle. The Despensers were killed, and Edward II was captured and forced to abdicate in favor of his eldest son, Edward III of England. Since the young king was only fourteen when he was crowned in 1327, Isabella and Mortimer ruled as regents in his place. As instigator of her own husband's removal from the throne, Isabella contributed greatly to the decline in England of the power of the monarch and thus the rise of democracy.

According to legend, Isabella and Mortimer plotted to murder the deposed king by sending the famous order, Eduardum occidere nolite timere bonum est, which, depending on where the comma was inserted, could mean either "Do not be afraid to kill Edward; it is good" or "Do not kill Edward; it is good to fear". There is little evidence of who decided to have Edward assassinated, and none whatsoever that the infamous note was ever sent.

When Edward III turned 18, he and a few trusted companions staged a coup and both Isabella and Mortimer were taken prisoner. Mortimer was executed for treason, but Isabella was spared she was allowed to retire to Castle Rising in Norfolk. She did not, as legend would have it, go insane, but enjoyed a comfortable retirement and made many visits to her son's court, doting on her grandchildren, and later taking the habit of the Poor Clares before her death in 1358.

In the tumultuous 63 years of her life, Isabella of France married the bi-sexual King Edward II of England, lived with him for 17 years, bore him four children, fled to France in fear of his powerful favorite, returned with her lover, Roger Mortimer, to lead a rebellion and place her son on the throne, saw Mortimer executed as her son asserted his power, and lived to retire to a nunnery. She was indeed a medieval woman who dared pursue power.

I'm giving away a copy of Alison Weir's intriguing biography, Queen Isabella: Treachery, Adultery, And Murder in Medieval England. Leave a comment about your favorite queen, ancient, medieval, renaissance, or any other period. I'll draw a winner on October 31st.

Hanna Rhys Barnes

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Historic Haunts

Last month, I wrote my blog about ghosts of Virginia. Today, with an eye toward Halloween, my favorite holiday, I’m going to take us on a “tour” of haunted houses of the south. The history in haunted houses intrigues me as much as the prospect of ghostly funny-business afoot. Perhaps the Amityville Horror spawned a movie and an abundance of sequels, but the history of the house is actually quite recent. Murders in the latter part of the twentieth century aren’t nearly as intriguing as houses that may have been home to other-worldly beings for a hundred years or more.

One of the most notorious haunted houses was a farmhouse in Tennessee. The home of John Bell, a farmer in Adams, Tennessee, the Bell family was allegedly tormented by a spirit for years after an incident in 1817 when John Bell claimed to have shot at a creature with the head of a rabbit and the body of a dog. The creature disappeared, but the spirit made its presence known soon afterward. Scratching and knocking was heard in the home, while residents suffered hair pulling and other annoying assaults. Bell’s daughter, Betsy, took the brunt of the abuse doled out by the vengeful ghost. Supposedly, the ghost was the spirit of Kate Batts, a deceased neighbor who was said to have cast a vengeful curse on Bell from her deathbed. The Bell Witch became so famous that then-future President Andrew Johnson visited the home. Eventually, John Bell succumbed to illness, possibly the result of his experience with the Bell Witch. John Bell may have been poisoned, or perhaps the Bell Witch had her final act of vengeance with his death.

Less well-known is a house in Portsmouth, near the Virginia coast. A sea-captain who’d lost his wife in childbirth and later, his daughter to an outbreak of yellow-fever is said to roam the house where he once lived. Doors open and close and footsteps are heard on the stairs. Dogs have been known to bark at empty hallways. Unlike the Bell witch, the ghost in the Portsmouth house has never harmed anyone. Perhaps the heartbroken sea captain still wanders, seeking the loved ones he lost a very long time ago.

Sometimes, a house doesn’t appear to be haunted, but an object in the house demonstrates supernatural characteristics. An example is the portrait of Martha Hill, a Virginia beauty born at Shirley Plantation on the James River. The painting was once removed from the home and displayed as part of a travel exhibit. A well-respected witness reported seeing the portrait sway on its own from its hanging place in the exhibit. Months later, the portrait was stored in a closet for a period of time. Noise emitted from the closet disturbed employees until the portrait was removed. Eventually, the portrait was returned to its place in Shirley Plantation, and has ceased its restless motion. Could it be that the spirit of Martha Hill inhabits the portrait – while at home, she’s content and at rest – or were these incidents the result of coincidence? Perhaps we’ll never know.

One could devote a great deal of research time to the history behind haunted houses. Fanciful? Certainly. Enjoyable. Definitely, if you’re like me and enjoy a taste of the supernatural not. Whether or not you believe ghosts might be setting up residence in houses, the history behind these legends provides insight into the lives of the former occupants. Deaths due to disease and childbirth, love and loss, superstitions – these factors and more impacted the lives of those who came before us. The history of the occupants while they walked this earth is as fascinating as the speculation over the possibility they may still take up residence in their homes many years after their deaths.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Cutting Edge Music

As Blythe Gifford posted in September, I also listen to music when I write. I even create a playlist to get me in the mood. So how is this post different than the excellent one she posted last month?

Well, most of what I listen to is popular music. Cutting edge music. But we all tend to think of historical music as "classical." Venerable. Revered. Even stodgy and dull. What we all forget is that the music we now think of as stodgy and dull was the popular, cutting edge music back in its day.

Think of the waltz? Boring dance right? Well, maybe compared with modern gyrations on the dance floor it might be, but when it first appeared it was scandalous. Men and women in each others arms, pelvises together mimicking...sex. It was popular. It was cutting edge. And everybody was doing it - even if they only did it behind closed doors.

Now think of the musicians creating that music. Creating scandal. As today, they were the bad boys that all the women and girls probably watched with baited breath whether they admitted it or not.

What do we think of when we think of Mozart? He's the epitomy of classical music today. But when he was making music, he was a scandal. He was rude, crude and obnoxious (if the play/movie Amadeus can be believed). Yet the women went nuts for him. Well, if he really looked like the portrait to the left, I can guess why. There's a wicked twinkle in his eye that women respond to. He's not bad looking and dang, he created some amazing music. How could he not attract the chicks? He was the Elvis of his day. And I bet the dads hated the guy and kept their little girls far, far away.

I'm sure the antipathy between dads and musicians go back far longer than that. After all, the Middle Ages featured the troubadours. Young men who traveled from place to place with their instruments and made a living off their music. Secular music. Music about love. Courtly love. Forbidden love. Oh my...more sex. How delightfully wicked.

Imagine Nickelback (or fill in your favorite rock band with appropriately hot lead singer) showing up at your front door offering to play their music while you eat dinner. What's not hot about that?

In the image I've added here (painted by Edmund Blair Leighton) I don't know if the dude with the fancy hat is the father or the husband, but either way...he looks worried. And well he should. Musicians are and were the hot bad boys we'd all love to dally with in our deepest fantasies. And back in the day, their music was the scandalous, cutting edge stuff that rock music or hip hop is today. Keep it in mind when you're writing because it can help you create a useful and/or funny scene for a historical romance you write in the future.

What's your favorite historical music? Do you think the composer or performer was stodgy or a bad boy back when he wrote it?

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Setting as Inspiration

Setting as Inspiration

I love the Southwest and its history. When my delightful hubby wanted to visit New Mexico in August, I was pumped. Then he mentioned Roswell, graveyards, and alien space museums, not exactly my style. However, I saw my opportunity to visit a place I had waited patiently to see for thirty-seven years. After a tad bit of persuasion, refusing to visit Roswell unless we also visited Gila National Monument Cliff Dwellings, my drag-your-feet hubby reluctantly agreed. Not wanting me to be disappointed, he warned that the guidebooks considered the ancient Mogollon cliff dwellings at Gila less than spectacular.

In my humble opinion the guidebooks lie. Gila National Monument sits in a remote part of the Gila National Forest. The forty-four mile, narrow, winding, and sometimes one lane rode from Silver City offered very spectacular mountain and valley vistas. Deer, a wild turkey hen and her chicks, a herd of wild boar, and ground squirrels ventured within inches of the car during the drive. What a treat.

By the time we reached the monument, my downright impressed hubby was hooked and merrily snapped picture after picture with his fancy camera. The dwellings themselves were every bit as interesting and intricate as those found in Mesa Verde. But, wouldn’t you know, after a mile hike to the five cliff dwelling caves high in the cliff face, his snazzy camera ran out of batteries at the first cave.

All was not lost, however. The guide who led us through the ruins told a fascinating tale. Wild herds of cattle used the old Mogollon site as winter cover. In the 1880s, a rancher searching for his strays discovered the site, and the earliest national park restorers at Gila dug out two feet of cow dung that covered the artifacts in the first cave. Park officials still run wild cattle out of the caves after severe storms. Those wild cows must be part mountain goat. Even though I didn’t get the pictures I wanted, that wonderful little tidbit of information is sure to come in handy in my New Mexican rancher’s romantic tale.

For more information on Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument (U.S. National Park Service) at http://www.nps.gov.gicl/. Check out the view.

Margaret Breashears


Monday, October 12, 2009

Texas Medicine of the 1800s

Although the nineteenth century has been termed “The Golden Age of Medicine” the doctors of the Texas wilderness still practiced medicine much as it had been practiced since the Middle Ages using the ancient Greek theory of the four “humors.” Blood was thought to come from the heart, phlegm from the brain, yellow bile from the liver, and black bile from the spleen. According to this theory, disease and sickness occurred because of an imbalance in one these humors. If one was in excess, it had to be removed or equalized, hence the use of emetics to induce vomiting and the practice of cupping or draining a certain amount of blood to remove the “harmful humor.”

Wounds and bacterial infections caused the majority of deaths and disabilities. Doctors of this time battled malaria, yellow fever, pneumonia, cholera, dysentery, post partum infection, tuberculosis, measles, and small pox. They could splint fractures, suture wounds, perform amputations and drain infections (and all with unsterile technique.) For medical instruments, many had only stethoscopes. Other tools—saws and knives came from the kitchen. This particular device
was used to remove arrows...

For a treatment to be effective, most thought it had to have a foul smell or taste. Powders were sought over tablets, and colored tablets over white ones. Some medicines in use at the time included quinine, calomel, blue mass pills, belladonna, ipecac, columbo, asafetida, boneset, squill, pokeweed, hog's foot oil, castor oil, digitalis, lobelia (or Indian Tobacco.) There were many home remedies and poultices and plasters were common—some producing enough heat to burn the patient.

Morphine or laudanum was often prescribed for pain relief. Also, paregoric (camphorated tincture of opium) was used to inhibit diarrhea, coughing, and to calm fretful children. The concept of drug dependency was not considered. Anesthesia (with nitrous oxide, also known as laughing gas) was not used for surgery until 1844, although one New Orleans doctor used ether several years earlier. Before this, the most sought-after surgeons were the ones who worked fast so that the pain would be less. In 1847, chloroform was first used for pain during a delivery.

My new release, Texas Wedding for their Baby's Sake, takes place just after the battle at the Alamo and the rebels are the Mexicans and Anglos in the Texas Territory who want to secede from Mexico's rule. Researching the battle, I learned that Santa Anna de Lopez, the president of Mexico, brought only one physician on the charge north—for his own personal use. There were no doctors or medics for the common soldier--nearly 10,000 men, not to mention the wives and soldaderas that followed. For the Texians at the Alamo's small hospital, medicine ran out two months before the battle. People had to depend on home remedies, folklore, and borrowed knowledge from the Native Americans, using whatever was on hand for their aches, pains and sores.

Here are a few home remedies used back then. Do not try these! I have no idea as to their efficacy or safety, but I found them interesting to read about. Information was obtained from A Pinch of This and a Handful of That; Historic Recipes of Texas 1830-1900.

Snake and Spider Bites -- Beat onions and salt together, wet tobacco, mix thoroughly. Split wound and apply at once.
Warts -- Take a persimmon stick and put as many notches on it as you have warts. They will go away.
Sores – (1895) Powdered alum is good for a canker sore in the mouth. Never burn the cloth bandage from a sore; you must bury it for the sore to heal.
Knife Cuts – (1853) Clean wound well and apply a piece of fat bacon or fat back. Strap it on for several days.
Puncture Wounds (Nails, Gunshot) Put some old wool rags into an old tin can, pour kerosene over the rags and light. Then smoke the wound. This also works with chicken feathers.
Boils or Infection – (1890) Salve: Take one part hog lard, two parts quinine and mix.
Bleeding from the nose – Bathe the feet in very hot water, while at the same time drinking a pint of cayenne pepper tea or hold both arms over the head.
Other bleeding – Place a spider web across the wound.

We've come a long way haven't we?

Thursday, October 8, 2009

If You Ever Go Across the Sea to Ireland...

Those words from the song "Galway Bay" evoke a yearning to be by that lovely, salt-sprayed seaside. Having visited Galway this past summer, I can fully understand why.

The west of Ireland is filled with charm, and nowhere more than Galway, where each year, on a Sunday in mid-August near the feast of the Assumption of Our Lady, a crowd gathers at the Claddagh pier for the ancient ceremonial blessing of Galway Bay and its fishermen.
This is the start of the herring season, and it's traditional for the fisherfold to ask the Lords blessing for a plentiful harvest, and ask His help in bringing them safely home after each voyage.
The ceremony itself is a simple one. Early in the morning, a fleet of boats gather in the Bay - currachs and the traditional Galway hookers - and at the pealing of a church bell, they form a circle around a boat carrying altar boys, a choir from the Galway Church, and a Dominican priest.
A passage from the Gospel of St. John is read:
'And he said unto them, cast your nets on the right side of the ship, and ye shall find. And they cast threfore, and now they were not able to draw it for the multitude of fishes. And Simon went up, and drew the net to land full fo great fishes, a hundred and fifty and three, and for all there were so many, yet was not the net broken.'
Following this, the Benedictite calls on all creation to give glord to God. Another gospel, this time from St. Luke, recalls the weariness and frustration of St. Peter:
'Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing; nevertheless at thy word I will let down the net. And when they had this done, they inclosed a great multitude of fishes: and their net brake. And they beckoned unto their partners, which were in the other ship, that they should come and help them. And they came, and filled both the ships.’
Another blessing asks God's mercy on the fisherfolk:
'We ask, O Lord, your mercy on us. Even as you multiplied five loaves and two fish to satisfy the hunger of five thousand, so now multiply for the use of the men the fish that are generated in these waters that we, experiencing your benevolence, may give thanks and praise in your Holy Name.'
At the end of the blessing, the white-robed priest calls on Mary, Star of the Sea:
'Mary, Star of the Sea, intercede for your children, and when they are tossed about among the storms and tempests of life, look to the star, and call upon Mary.'
The Magnificat is sung, and the sea is sprayed with holy water. The last action of this charming ceremony is a Sign of the Cross over the fishing fields, an appeal to God to bless them and the men who fish in them, as well as their boats, tackle, and their labors.
The blessing over, the boats will make a short circuit of the bay before heading homeward. While on the outward journey, hymns and the singing of the Rosary can be heard, on the way home group songs sound a lighter note, always including the singing of "Galway Bay."
Today, trawlers have replaced the black, brown-sailed hookers in the bay, but the traditional Galway fishing boats still play an important part of the pageantry of the blessing of the Bay.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Swords of the Highlands

I confess, I love writing action scenes. Quite often these are 17th century battle or skirmish scenes or somehow involve weapons. I'm not a fan of gory violence, but I do enjoy exciting action, suspense and imagining a Highland hero showing off his battle skills. This first picture is one I took in the great hall of Edinburgh Castle and shows two types of swords I want to focus on here.

The most famous and well known Highland weapon is the claymore. There is some dispute and misconception about what a claymore is. Most people see it as a two-handed Highland sword. But now the experts say otherwise. Claymore comes from the Gaelic word claidheamh mor which means the great sword. AVB Norman in Culloden - The Swords and the Sorrows published by The National Trust of Scotland in 1996 says claidheamh mor, or the great sword, is “a term which should be used only for the basket-hilted broadsword. The correct term is now known to be claidheamh dà làimh” in reference to the two-handed Highland sword. The Glasgow Museums website confirms this information.

Pictures of extant swords of this type show them to be between 51 inches and 73 ¼ inches. Two-handed swords weren’t just Highland weapons. They were used all over Europe and are considered a Renaissance weapon. Though they were not excessively heavy, they were heavier than smaller swords and were usually wielded by the largest soldiers. They were often used to hack through pikes on the front lines to allow the rest of the soldiers through. Many of the blades of these Scottish weapons were German made. But it is the design of the two-handed Highland swords that distinguishes them from the others. The hilts were generally made in Scotland. In my story Devil in a Kilt, I describe one of these swords, specifically the Highland design of the hilt:

Something flashed in the dimness of the tent behind Ranald and her gaze darted to it. A huge two-handed Highland sword sat on a stand. A light must have glinted off the blade.
“Ah, I see the sword has caught your eye.”
“It’s beautiful.” And very large. Taller than her own five-feet-four.
Ranald moved away from the table and stood beside the sword. “You should see the detail.”
She sidled around the table and joined him in the middle of the open-sided tent. A few nicks and pits scarred the long dull steel blade. Spiral-carved, leather-wrapped wood formed the grip. The brass cross-hilt guard featured down-sloping arms with four tiny circles on the ends.
“Only a very strong warrior could successfully wield the claidheamh dà làimh in battle, and Gavin MacTavish was such a man,” Ranald said.
“It’s amazing. Is it authentic?”
Ranald’s mischievous blue eyes twinkled. “Of course. It’s nigh onto five-hundred years old. Would you like to hold it?”
Though she didn’t like weapons and the violence they stood for, she did love antiques. Her hands itched to touch the hilt of this sword. She set down her backpack, rubbed her palms together and stepped forward. Then back. “Oh, no, I couldn’t. I’m sure it’s very valuable, and I might drop it.”
“It’s a sword, Shauna. It’s seen many a rough day.” He winked, lifted the sword out of the stand and offered it, hilt first, to her. “I imagine you’ll regret it if you don’t hold this important piece of history for at least a few seconds.”
Shauna wiped her palms on her skirt. “All right. If you insist.”
A wily smile spread across Ranald’s face. “I daresay you will enjoy it.”

Nicole North - Devil in a Kilt, Secrets Volume 27 Untamed Pleasures

And of course this is the object that causes Shauna to time-travel.

How is this weapon used? Though the weapons in the video below are probably not Highland in design, this demonstration can give you some idea of how a two-handed sword is used. Obviously the whole body must be thrown into the action.

By around the 1620s, the time period I write about, the basket-hilted broadsword was considered characteristic of the Highlands. So, I write about this type of sword more often than the two-handed variety. Basket-hilted broadswords were shorter, around 37 – 39 inches in length. Both edges of the blade were generally sharpened.

Photos of swords from Glasgow Museums.

You can learn more about each sword there.

The narrow bars forming a cage protected the hand of the person using it. These were based on a design of the mid 1500s. The specific design of the cage varied and evolved over the course of the next century or so. Many of these improvements were for the purpose of further protecting the wrist. Not only were the basket-hilts functional, but also decorative. The Scottish regiments today still carry this type of sword. Another photo I took of basket-hilted broadswords in the great hall of Edinburgh Castle.

How is this weapon used? Please click to watch the video.


Thursday, October 1, 2009

It's Release Day!...well sort of.

It's October! I should probably dazzle you with wit or teach you something of value like the importance of action tags over dialogue tags, but I'm not going to...why? Because my second release, HIGHLAND DRAGON, hit the shelves today. (Kinda)

Here's the thing...the publisher said the release date was October 6th, but the street date and the online date are different from what I gather. And what's even more exciting is that HIGHLAND DRAGON went to a second printing before its release date!! Whoot!! I'm so thrilled to have this blog spot today to tell you about the book. You see HIGHLAND DRAGON is the book of my heart. I actually wrote it before my debut, HER ONE DESIRE.

To expand...HIGHLAND DRAGON is the book I put through the ringer on the contest circuit. She brought home more than a dozen finals and seven first place wins. She has made me proud but consumed me for more than a year. Blood, seat, and tears I tell ya!

Now I can hardly go on and on about this book without giving you a little taste, now can I? :)

And get thee over to my contest page. I'm hosting a week long soirée where I'm giving away books and a critique.

Remember...Fall in Love Everyday... ;)

Secrets and lies have a price that must be paid in blood through the generations. In medieval Scotland, Laird Calin MacLeod must choose between avenging his father's death and surrendering to the passion he finds in the arms of his enemy's daughter.

EXCERPT of HIGHLAND DRAGON by Kimberly Killion

"The devil himself could seduce a maiden in this solar."

Calin lifted one brow beneath her fingertips. "I have nay intention of seducing ye."

"If ye dinnae intend to seduce me, how are ye to take my…virginity?"

A rogue's grin curled one side of his mouth, as if he knew something she didn't. "I'll never force ye to do anything ye dinnae want to do. Nor will I touch ye anywhere ye dinnae want to be touched. Tonight, Akira MacLeod. Tonight, ye will take your own virginity. I'll just offer my…assistance."

Akira hooted. "Though I admit to being ignorant to…matters of…coupling, I am certain ye will need to participate in…this."

"I intend to participate fully," he assured then dropped her to her feet. He turned from her and proceeded to disrobe to his plaid. Pale white scars veining his back spoke of the time he'd spent in battle, and she knew he displayed them and the blue battle rings with pride. She wanted to know the depth of his losses, but now wasn't the time to speak of war.

He washed briefly at the basin then turned back to her, exposing the golden ripples of a magnificent chest. He settled casually onto the high-backed bench cushioned with burgundy damask. Careful not to topple the two goblets of wine on the dressing table, he scooped up a handful of rowan berries from a wooden bowl and popped them, one by one, into his mouth.

"Would ye like to start seducing me now or wait 'til the bed has been blessed?"

She knew nothing about seducing a man, but the thought of it made her insides thick and her breasts heavy. Her nerves spiked and she could do little more than banter with him. "I think ye are arrogant, Calin MacLeod. And if ye think I'll be the one ravishing ye, ye are deceiving yourself."

"Tsk, tsk, wife. Ye must conserve your energy. Ye are going to need it." Calin revealed his dimples with this threat while his eyes traveled leisurely over her body.

She remained standing in the middle of the room, hoping Father Harrald would arrive quickly. Calin's heated gaze made her feel naked and vulnerable. How did he do that? The heavy gown she wore suddenly felt as thin as a threadbare shift. Her skin tingled against the silk and she wondered if she'd just married the devil. Only a hex could make her feel this wanton. He chewed slowly on the berry he'd just popped in his mouth, and her body tightened, wanting to know the feel of those lips on her skin. She crossed her arms over her breasts in an effort to subdue the sensations flitting inside her. Closing her eyes, she asked God's forgiveness for her sinful thoughts.

Her prayers were answered when Father Harrald staggered through the open door, bringing with him the smell of burning frankincense. Kendrick, Gordon, and Alec guarded the entranceway behind her as if she might bolt from this duty. Admittedly, the thought had occurred to her.

Silent reverence filled the room as the priest spread a cloth over the tabletop and prepared the oils. Calin remained seated while Father Harrald made the sign of the cross against his forehead. The priest then wavered slightly when he turned to her and did the same. He proceeded to sprinkle the bed with holy water and recite the prayer that would bless their union. Her tension eased when the priest turned and stood before her again. His dark eyes glazed with approval when he opened his mouth to speak.

"Father Harrald," Gordon shouted from behind, "your duty is done. 'Tis time we return to the festivities."

Father Harrald offered her a faraway look and kissed her on the forehead saying nothing more.
Alec stepped forward, his eyes downcast. "Aileen is in the corridor if ye have need of a maid to prepare ye, m'lady."

"She has nay need of a maid. I will prepare her."

Even Father Harrald grinned at Calin's comment, and Akira was sorely tempted to kick all of them. Before she could offer her own barb, the men ushered Father Harrald from the room and left her in silence with her husband.

"The bed has been blessed, and I believe ye were about to seduce me."

OK...so since I'm in PR mode...anyone else have a release out this month? Tell us about it...