What Is So Great About 17th Century Scotland?
People sometimes wonder why I set my romance stories in the early 1600s. Is this my favorite time period? Would I like to travel back to that time?

It isn't an often-done period when it comes to historical romance. Everyone is so used to stories set in medieval times or Regency or Victorian. I just had to be different, didn't I? Yeah, I do like to be unique. But there is a specific reason I chose this time period and it has to do with kilts.


My historically set stories are Scottish and I wanted my heroes to wear the great kilt or belted plaid aka feilidh-mhor (great wrap) or a breacan-feile (tartan wrap). My research told me those were not worn until at least 1575 or perhaps slightly later. So if I accurately wanted my hero in a great kilt I couldn't put him in medieval times (although I love medieval stories.) No, I couldn't pull a Braveheart and ignore historical accuracy completely.

I have visited the wonderful Tartan Museum in Franklin, NC as part of my research. http://www.scottishtartans.org/kilt.html or http://albanach.org/kilt.html are among the best websites for researching kilts and other Highland dress. I want to quote something from the website:

"The truth of the matter is that only one document has yet been found that dates from before 1600 and without a doubt describes a belted plaid, the earliest form of the kilt. It is an Irish source, written in Gaelic. In the Life of Red Hugh O’Donnell written by Lughaidh O’Clery, we read of a group of hired mercenaries from the Scottish Hebrides, employed by O’Donnell in 1594."
"These were recognized among the Irish by the difference of their arms and clothing, their habits and language, for their exterior dress was mottled cloaks to the calf of the leg with ties and fastenings. Their girdles were over the loins outside the cloaks." ~Matthew. A. C. Newsome Scottish Tartan Museum

The girdles in this case would refer to belts and the mottled cloaks would be the plaid. A few more examples of early kilts. The red one is Lord George Murray about 1746. The second one shows two ways to wear a kilt, with the top portion used as a cape for warmth, or with the top portion secured at the shoulder. The third pic is Lord Mungo Murray, around 1680.


The below picture would be considered a small kilt, which came much later. Notice the top portion of the plaid is missing.

For the purposes of my stories, I also needed the Highland clan system to still be firmly in place, so they had to be set before 1746 and the battle of Culloden. And because of the plots of a couple of my novels, I needed a time period of relative peace between England and Scotland. So that's why I chose the reign of King James I & IV. He was king of Scotland first, then at Queen Elizabeth's death, he became king of England too.

Once I decided this time period would fit the needs of my stories, I delved into it to learn all I could about King James and his time period. But I couldn't focus on him and England completely because my stories predominantly take place in Scotland.

Some of my stories (like Devil in a Kilt) are time-travels. Would I like to time-travel back to 1621 Scotland? Hmm. That's a tough one. In one way I would like to... if I knew I could get back to modern day! I do like my modern conveniences, health and safety. There is nothing particularly romantic or appealing about the reality of the time. There were plague epidemics going on at various times, not to mention revolts, rebellions, riots, and clan feuds. One could be tortured or hanged for something minor. Hygiene at the time was abysmal, whether personal or in the streets. When I was in Edinburgh, I took a tour of Mary King's Close and the tour guide was not shy about presenting the gruesome facts of the 1600s. And since we were right there on that narrow, steep, dark (now underground) alley, it was all very easy to visualize. The furthest thing from a romantic fantasy.

I do escape into my stories and mentally travel back to 17th century Scotland, but I must put my own romantic spin on them. I'm not writing a history textbook; I'm providing fun entertainment and that means a hot man in a great kilt who bathes regularly. :)

Nicole North



Check below for a way to enter to win a copy of my book, to be released in July!


Kidnap This Logo!

And You Could Win!


To celebrate its Fifteenth Anniversary in June, Red Sage is throwing a party! Every party needs presents, and here’s a gift that could win you the July Secrets anthology and Calista Fox’s new novel, Object of Desire!

Here’s how to play the party game.

Anyone can play! All you have to do is “kidnap” this logo and post it on your blog or website. Copy and paste the jpg image of the anniversary gift to your own blog or website to kidnap it. Be sure to include these instructions so people know how to play!

Invite your readers and friends to send an email with the subject line “Ransom Note” to eRedSage@gmail.com. Inside this email, they must include a link back to your kidnapped logo.

Then you and your friend will both be entered into a drawing to win free trade paperbacks! Every time one of your readers sends a ransom note with a link, you will be entered again! Each Ransom Note is worth two entries in the drawing -- one for the person who sends the Ransom Note, and one for the linked blog or website. And you both can win!

Want more chances to win? Invite your readers and friends to kidnap this logo, and then you can enter again by sending a Ransom Note linking to your friend’s blog or website!

The more times you enter, the more chances you have to win! But get your entries in by June 30. We'll be drawing the winners on July 1!

Group blog or website? No problem! Just be sure to sign your post so we know who the winner should be!

Good luck, and have fun!
9 Responses
  1. Carly Carson Says:

    I love stuff like this (history buff). I never knew the kilt was such a recent invention. Though I still didn't hear what a man wears under a kilt! Will no one ever tell me?

    Carly


  2. Nicole North Says:

    Carly, how cool that you're a history buff! Yes, I'll tell you what a man wears under his kilt. Nothing. :) That is, if he considers himself a true Scot. Some of the Scottish military regiments wear kilts and it is manditory that they NOT wear underwear, because this is the traditional way to dress. Also some pipe bands have this requirement. But for Highland Games, the athletes are allowed to wear dark shorts beneath their kilts so they won't flash everyone. Those kilts do flip up and swirl about easily. :)


  3. Carly Carson Says:

    Geez, I had to come back on and say isn't that the whole point! To flash us. Whoops, I didn't say that, did I?

    Carly


  4. Nicole, we have to view historical settings through rose-colored glasses or we'd never enjoy romances set there! There was so much filth, disease, injustice - even the upper classes were pretty dirty. I recall when I took a tour of the Museum of Costume in Bath, we were told the long jewelled sticks the women carried were to scratch their heads beneath their powdered wigs because most of them had lice all the time. Eeeww! But we don't want to dwell on that, do we? I love Edinburgh, by the way, and we saw a few young men wearing kilts when we were there - sort of a "back to their roots" kind of thing.


  5. Nicole North Says:

    Carly, LOL!! I wouldn't complain about flashing during the Games, but it is apparently supposed to be a family atmosphere. :)

    Carol, absolutely about the rose-colored glasses. Sure, I might mention how stinky or filthy London or Edinburgh was at the time, but I don't dwell on it. And my main characters never stink. That just wouldn't work, especially for erotic romance. LOL! I love to write sexy bathing scenes in historicals. That way the reader knows they're clean. ;)


  6. Carly Carson Says:

    Look what you started. Today my dd graduated from HS and they had 2 bagpipers lead in the procession! And where was my mind? In the gutter! Or under the kilt...definitely, somewhere where it shouldn't have been. Talk about a family atmosphere.

    Carly


  7. Nicole North Says:

    Congratulations to your DD! Wow I wish they'd have bagpipers around here at important events like this. So I've corrupted you and made you only think about what's under (or not under) that kilt during an important ceremony! I've achieved my goal! :) LOL


  8. Anne Rainey Says:

    A sexy man in a kilt...makes my mouth water! LOL


  9. Nicole North Says:

    LOL Mine too, Anne!!


  • Defended by a Highland Renegade

    Defended by a Highland Renegade
    Vonda Sinclair, 12/1/16

    In the Court of Love and Loss

    In the Court of Love and Loss
    Jenna Ives 11/15/16

    A Very Jaguar Christmas

    A Very Jaguar Christmas
    Terry Spear 10/4/16

    Choose Me

    Choose Me
    Natasha Moore 9/24/16

    Taken by a Navy SEAL

    Taken by a Navy SEAL
    Carly Carson 9/5/2016

    Alpha Wolf Need Not Apply

    Alpha Wolf Need Not Apply
    Terry Spear 5/3/16

    Conqueror Vanquished

    Conqueror Vanquished
    Leigh Court, 4/26/16

    The Viking's Highland Lass

    The Viking's Highland Lass
    Terry Spear 4/4/16

    SEAL Wolf In Too Deep

    SEAL Wolf In Too Deep
    Terry Spear 2/2/16

    Covert Cougar Christmas

    Covert Cougar Christmas
    Terry Spear 12/18/15

    Her Royal Mistake

    Her Royal Mistake
    Natasha Moore 8/20/15

    Her Royal Rendezvous

    Her Royal Rendezvous
    Natasha Moore, 10/5/14

    The Cottage Next Door

    The Cottage Next Door
    Natasha Moore, 9/16/14

    Playing For Real

    Playing For Real
    Natasha Moore, 2/4/14