Guest: Margaret Mallory and Her Highlanders + Giveaway!

We're happy to have Margaret Mallory as our guest today!

Margaret Mallory is the award-winning author of the Scottish historical series, THE RETURN OF THE HIGHLANDERS, and the medieval series, ALL THE KING’S MEN. First published in 2009, Margaret’s second novel was a RITA finalist, and later books were 2010 and 2011 RT Book Review Reviewers’ Choice Award nominees. Margaret lives in the beautiful Pacific Northwest with her husband, goofy dog, & crabby cat. Now that her children are off on their own adventures, Margaret spends most of her time with her Highland warriors. Her latest, THE WARRIOR, releases Oct 30th.

Welcome, Margaret! We're pleased you're here to tell us about your series.

Thanks so much, Vonda & Fierce Romance, for having me as a guest today! I’m excited to tell your readers about my RETURN OF THE HIGHLANDERS series. I wanted, in particular, to talk about THE GUARDIAN (Book 1) because my publisher is offering a special $2.99 ebook sale price for it through most of October. Yay! 

Q: That's a great deal! How did you choose your time period for this Highlander series?

I write adventurous romances, so I look for a period of conflict and change. I found that in abundance in 1513, in the wake of Scotland’s devastating defeat to Henry VIII’s forces at the Battle of Flodden. Thousands of Scots were killed, including many nobles and clan chieftains. The Scottish king also died, leaving a babe on the throne. After the battle, the crown was weak, court factions vied for control, clans rose in rebellion, and alliances shifted constantly.

My four heroes are fighting in France when news of the terrible Scottish defeat reaches them. When they return home to the Isle of Skye, they find their chieftain dead, their clan in peril, and rebellion brewing.
Isle of Skye

Q: Did you come across anything in your research that surprised you?

I was amazed that Highland chieftains of this period seemed to run through wives at a rate that rivaled Henry VIII. While the English king fought the church, these Highland chieftains followed their old Celtic customs without being overly troubled by the church’s rules. Rome was a long way away, and they generally chose to ask for forgiveness rather than permission. Women “put aside” husbands, too.

Q:  How did you choose your heroes’ clan?

I researched clan histories looking for conflict and interesting family stories. Once I found the MacDonalds of Sleat, I knew I had my clan. The first chieftain had six sons by six different women, and the animosity between these six half-brothers led to two generations of violence and murder.  Oh, yes!

Dunscaith Castle, home of the Chieftain, Skye

 Q: Do you include real historical figures in the books?

My main characters are fictional, but I love to include real historical people as secondary characters. I found so many colorful ones in researching this series that it was a challenge not to overcrowd my stories with them. Luckily, it’s a four-book series!

One of the most intriguing historical characters in THE GUARDIAN is Shaggy Maclean, a Highland chieftain who holds my heroes in his dungeon at Duart Castle. (Vonda recently posted photos of this castle.) Also, my heroine has a dangerous encounter with a powerful real couple: Margaret Tudor, the widowed queen of Scotland who is also sister to Henry VIII, and her lover, the handsome and ambitious Douglas chieftain.
Stirling Castle, where heroine meets the queen & her lover

Q: Tell us about the hero and heroine of THE GUARDIAN.

THE GUARDIAN is both an ugly duckling and a second chances story.

From the time she could walk, Sìleas loved Ian MacDonald, a black-haired, blue-eyed boy who is five years older. Ian ignored the teasing from other lads about “his wee shadow” and let her tag along. Since no one else looked out for Sìleas, Ian was always having to rescue his little friend from trouble.

When Sileas is thirteen—and in her absolutely least attractive phase—she prevails upon Ian, now a handsome young warrior, to come to her aid once more. This time, Ian is rewarded for his good deed with a forced marriage. He blames Sìleas and is furious with her. After saying vows to her with a dirk at his back, he sails for France. Five years later, Ian returns intent of dissolving their false marriage…But he finds that nothing at home is the same as when he left, including Sìleas.

In this EXCERPT, Ian has gotten drunk and crawled into bed with Sìleas: 

“What are ye doing in my bed, Ian MacDonald?” Sìleas lit the candle and turned furious eyes on him.
“It’s my bed, too,” he said.
“How dare ye come in here when I’m fast asleep and think ye can have your way with me.”
“You’re my wife,” Ian said. “That means I can have my way with ye.”
“So I’m your wife now, am I? Ye didn’t think so before.” She folded her arms beneath her breasts, and his throat went dry.
“I’ve decided to accept the situation.” He swung his legs over the side of the bed and gave her a slow look up and down. “I’m ready to take ye for my wife now. Quite ready.”
“Are ye now? And what has made ye come to this decision after all this time?”
She was tapping her foot, not a good sign. Ach, Sìl even had pretty ankles…
“Ian!” she said to get his attention. “I asked what made ye decide ye wanted to be married to me. I thought I ‘disgusted’ ye.”
He grabbed a handful of her voluminous nightshift and pulled her closer.
“I know ye heard me say some unfortunate words about ye before I left, and I’m sorry I hurt your feelings. But I find ye appealing now.” He dropped his gaze to the lovely, rounded breasts just inches from his face. “Verra appealing.”
When he looked up, her eyes were boring holes into him. He couldn’t think for the life of him what he was saying wrong now. What woman didn’t like to hear a compliment?
“What you’re saying is that ye want to take me to bed,” she said.
“Absolutely,” he said.
“And that’s the reason ye want to be my husband.”
“It’s one of the reasons,” he said, speaking carefully now. “I’ve also seen all you’ve done for my family and how attached they are to ye. My mother is very fond of ye.”
“So ye want to keep me because your mother is fond of me,” she said. “That would be a rare comfort to any woman.”
He stood up and pulled her against him. Finally, she seemed at a loss for words.
“We are going to bed eventually, Sìl,” he said against her ear. “Don’t make me wait. I want ye badly.”
She shoved him away. “There’s nothing special about wanting to take me to bed, Ian MacDonald.” Flinging her arm to the side, she said, “Half the men in the clan could say that. At least, I don’t think many would refuse if I made the offer.”
Blood pounded in his ears. “If ye offered? If ye offered!”
“Ye wanting me in bed is not a good enough reason for me.” She stomped across the room. At the door, she turned and shouted over her shoulder, “You’re not good enough for me.”
She slammed the door so hard her pretty rocks on the windowsill bounced.
He was more than a wee bit annoyed himself. If she offered. How could she say such a thing?
He grabbed his shirt from the floor, pulled it over his head as he crossed the room in three long strides, and took off after her down the stairs. “You are the one who wanted to be married to me in the first place. Ye can’t deny it.”
“Just stay away from me,” she shouted back. “Or I swear, I’ll stick a dirk in ye.”
“You planned the whole thing because ye wanted to be away from your step-da,” he bellowed as he followed her through the hall and into the kitchen. “And I wasn’t supposed to have any say over it, was I? Everyone would get what they wanted—but me.”
They were in the kitchen now, with the work table between them. When he reached around the side to get a hold of her nightshift, she grabbed a skillet from the table and swung it at his head.
“Now that I want ye to be a true wife, ye change your mind,” he shouted. “Just what did ye think you were getting in to? Did ye no expect a husband to want ye in his bed?”
“Perhaps I did expect it—a year ago. Or a month ago,” she shouted back. “Or a few days ago, when ye finally decided to bless us with your presence.”
“I am prepared to be your husband now,” Ian said, gritting his teeth.
“Oh, thank ye.” She rolled her eyes and patted her chest. “My heart is all a’flutter over it.” 
“You picked me, and like it or no, I am your husband,” he said. “And I don’t want to ever again hear my wife talking about other men and what they’d do if ye offered.”
That was when she caught him on the side of the head with the skillet.
Knock Castle, heroine's childhood home, Skye

Q: Great excerpt! What’s next for you?

THE SINNER, book 2 in the series, is already out. THE WARRIOR will be out October 30th, and THE CHIEFTAIN, the final book, releases Feb 26th.

Q: Any questions for our readers?

Do you like romances in which the hero and heroine knew each other before, especially 2nd-chance romances?  What about ugly duckling stories? Do you like when an author gives you a peak at the hero or heroine when they were much younger?

(please remember to leave your email address along with your comment) 

Thanks so much for letting me visit! I’d love to respond to comments or questions. I’ll give away a signed book to one of the commenters. The winner can choose either  THE GUARDIAN or THE SINNER.

Please visit Margaret online at:

Thanks so much for being our guest today!!

31 Responses
  1. Anonymous Says:

    Hi Margaret I totally love second chance romance story and ugly duckling story :), ugly duckling is my favourite fairytale. Thx for the giveaway . Pick me ! Pick me please!:),,Aretha zhen , arethazhenATrocketmailDOTCOM

  2. Enjoyed the interview, Vonda and Margaret. Great excerpt, and I love your covers, Margaret. Good luck with the series. :)

  3. Ann Q Says:

    Always wanted to marry a man in a kilt,they seemed so rugged and dashing. When I went to Scotland as a young woman, I found that I could not understand a word they were saying. despite that, still love those men in kilts. May not have married one, but, still love to read about them.

  4. Eli Yanti Says:

    Do you like romances in which the hero and heroine knew each other before, especially 2nd-chance romances? Yes, i love 2nd-chance romances because everyone deserve 2n-chance

    What about ugly duckling stories? Love it and waiting everyone was amazed when the ugly duckling turned into a beautiful swan, but more important thing is, the hero will still love the heroine when she is an ugly duckling or beautiful swan

    Do you like when an author gives you a peak at the hero or heroine when they were much younger? i want it, make me feel curious :)

    thanks for the giveway

  5. Thanks for being our guest, Margaret! Your covers are giving us some yummy eye candy today. :) Plus I love looking at photos of Scotland and hearing how other authors write and do research.

  6. Great interview, ladies. Margaret's books tend to go on my keeper shelf.

  7. Thanks for your comments! I get started later here on the West Coast, but I'm here now. :) I should have mentioned that the photos are from the trip I took with my daughter to research the series.

    Glad to hear the enthusiasm for my covers. I was especially pleased with THE GUARDIAN's because the cover model looks EXACTLY how I imagined Ian.


  8. Anke D. Says:

    Hi Margaret,

    I enjoy second chance romances, bad boys, ugly ducklings AND ones where the hero or heroine have a physical imperfection. Heck, we all have SOMETHING so it seems easy to relate. It is how the characters overcome whatever their issues are that makes it for me. That and all the historical detail. :-) Thanks for all that you do, Margaret!

  9. Eliza Knight Says:

    Great interview! Loved the pics and excerpt :)

    I like all of those :) I love the interaction between the h/h most and seeing how it plays out in each scene with their various backgrounds.

    Wishing you many sales!

  10. OOOH this sounds like another winner, Margaret. The Warrior has such a great action-packed cover. I've visited a lot of the places you mentioned so reading this story will really be fun.

    I do love the ugly duckling type stories. I am working on one myself. Good luck, Margaret.

  11. I'm glad you like 2nd chances stories b/c my next book is one of those, too. ;)

    I figured that in a tight-knit clan on an island it made sense to have more than one of set of my heroes & heroines have a shared past.


  12. I love 2nd chance romances because no one is perfect and everyone wants love. 2nd chance romances are wonderful for having a tortured hero who wants love but doesn't think it's possible till the right heroine comes along.

    I loved the excerpt! Thanks for a terrific interview, ladies!

  13. As you might guess, I LOVE a tortured hero.

    Glad you enjoyed the excerpt. Ian is kind of a jerk in it, but he's really a good guy beneath it! Sileas knows he has a good heart--& will push him until he shines as the hero he was meant to be. ;)

  14. Joanne Says:

    I love second chance stories along with ugly duckling stories. No one is perfect and there is someone out there for all of us. I like getting a peak at the h/h when they were younger. It lets us know how they ended up acting as they do now.
    Thanks for the great excerpt. I lol when Sil hit Ian with the skillet.


  15. How do you keep your heroes straight when writing the series? Your highlanders are very sexy men who find love in unexpected women. Thanks ever so much for the giving readers a chance to share their love of romance.

  16. Actually, Sue, it was a huge challenge to make all 4 heroes distinctive & heroic--& to do it without letting them take over each others' books. They are all in each others' stories, so I often have them side-by-side, so to speak. I've had a lot of positive feedback from readers about the "bro-mance" among them, which makes me feel good about how it came out. :)

  17. Lavada Dee Says:

    I am so ready for this 3rd book. My daughter was just talking about how she loved the covers and often turned to them while reading the stories.

  18. Aww, thanks, Lavada. I think Duncan, the hero of THE WARRIOR (book 3 in this series), is probably my most tortured hero yet. I'm so mean--I really made the poor man suffer.


  19. Thanks for such an interesting interview Margaret. I also love stories about tortured heroes. I love to follow their journey right upto their "happy ever after".

    I also adore "Highlander" stories. There's just something about them that appeals to everybody. After all, who doesn't love seeing a man in a kilt?

    Thank you for the giveaway.

    dpd333 (at) aol dot com

  20. This comment has been removed by the author.

  21. Those are some fabulous covers, Margaret! I'm fairly new to Highland romance, but this definitely sounds like something I'd love to read. Beautiful pictures, too! I'd love to visit Scotland. Not sure if this question has been asked before, but what are some of your favorite Highlander tales?

    I do enjoy a story where the characters already know each other. I like it when the author shows what they're like as children. It gives depth to both the book and the characters. It helps us see their progression.

    Thanks for the giveaway.

  22. mslvoe Says:

    Hai Margaret,

    Great interview! Thank you for sharing lovely photos of Scotland as I live far far away from Scotland.

    I have all your books and ebooks too for my Nook. Your books has a special place in my Highlander bookshelf.

    Thank you for the giveaway
    - from Malaysia -

  23. Love hearing you have all my books and ebooks, too, mslvoe! Not even my relatives buy both. LOL.

    If you are new to Highlander tales, Kristina, you need to read Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. It is--and probably always will be--my favorite.

  24. June M. Says:

    Thanks so much for the great post. I loved the pictures (I really want to be able to go & explore some of the beautiful castles in Scotland someday). And I loved the excerpt. He sure did not like the "If I offered" comment, did he? LOL I will definitely have to put this book on my TBR list.

    I am not sure if you have been asked this question or not, but is there any other genre you would want to write in?
    manning_J2004 at yahoo dot com

  25. No, Ian did not like the "If I offered" comment. LOL. He's a bit cocky, but Sileas will have him on his knees. She grew up adoring him, but she's coming into her own--so look out, Ian!

    My first series was Medieval, & I loved that sub-genre, too. Men of honor swinging swords, oh yeah. :)

  26. Anonymous Says:

    The isle of Skye is my most favorite place in the world. Spent time there a few years ago! Loved the excerpt. Cannot wait to read the entire series. Great covers!

    KL Mullens

  27. Mary Preston Says:

    I do love ugly duckling stories. They give us all hope for our own HEA.

    I do enjoy a glimpse into the lives of the characters in their developing years.


  28. Laurie Ryan Says:

    You know, I've read two of these stories now and I can't decide if I like Ian better or Alec. They are both so different and SO alpha. I think I'll wait to read The Warrior and The Chieftan and THEN try to decide. :)

  29. Laurie Ryan Says:

    Argghh! It's Alex, not Alec. I knew that. :)

  30. Thanks so much for all the comments, and thanks to Vonda and Fierce Romance for having me as a guest.

    Congrats to Joanne, who is our winner today! I'll send you an email so you send me your address & tell me which book you want.

    Thanks and happy reading!

  31. LilMissMolly Says:

    Thank you for the sneak peak. I love all of Margaret's books. I can't wait to read this one too!
    lvsgund at

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