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!!