Swim Test for Graduation
Swim test for graduation - Life skill or Arbitrary Requirement?

Many colleges still have swim tests for graduation. I attended Cornell University, where such a requirement was in place and still is today. The test is something you take during freshman orientation. If you don't pass, you are automatically signed up for swimming lessons. (The school also requires 2 years of physical education, which does not count as an academic class for graduation.)

Many other colleges have this requirement including the Massachusets Institute of Technology, Notre Dame and Columbia University. These colleges believe that the ability to swim is a critical life skill. Other colleges have eliminated their swim requirements, stating that the test is arbitrary.

People who often have trouble with the test are students from large cities, where pools or swimming locations are not present and the student never learns to swim. Such a student sued MIT a few years back, but lost.

I also attended Columbia University as a graduate student. There was no swim requirement. That discrepancy makes the rule seem a little arbitrary. The undergraduates need to have this life skill, but the graduate students don't?

On the other hand, I included the above picture of my husband and dd jet skiing in Hawaii for a reason. Think of all the activities you won't feel comfortable enjoying if you can't swim. That's in addition to the fact that you are risking your life. You'll miss so many fun adventures if you're afraid to get in the water.

And there's this: Once I was jet skiing with my husband in Puerto Rico (on the same machine). He decided to race with his buddy. I begged him to slow down, but his middle name is "Thrill Seeker" and mine is "Coward". I was so angry I jumped off in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean and swam to shore. Who knows. If I couldn't swim, I might be divorced today! (j/k)

So, on balance, I vote for the swim requirement. Though it may be painful if you can't pass the test originally, you'll be better off in the long run if you know how to swim. And the schools who have the test all have lessons to teach you.

What do you think?




I Think I Traumatized My Son


So a funny from over the holidays. No spoilers I promise. I’m a fan of the Twilight movies. Unfortunately, this year, I didn’t get to go to the midnight showing of Breaking Dawn Part 2 like I usually would and all my friends were busy with the holidays, so I didn’t have anyone to go with me afterwards. Well, momma used her powers of persuasion and convinced her kids to go with her. My daughter was on board, but…well, let’s just say my son wasn’t completely thrilled about going. He didn’t have to go, mind you, but he loves the movies and didn’t want to be left out, so he went.

The kissing. This exchange reminded me very much of the “Is this a kissing book?” scene from The Princess Bride. My son took the kissing as well as little Fred Savage did. Every time Bella and Edward would lock lips, I’d look over and he’d have his hands covering his eyes. At one point I couldn’t hold my chuckle back anymore. He chastised my amusement with a, “I’m not used to this, momma!” I took pity on the poor kid and made sure not to make another noise about his embarrassment over two people kissing.  

Now for the part where I think I really traumatized him. I think everyone has heard there is a twist in the movie that wasn’t in the book. Yeah. Very bad mommy moment on my part…the fan girl came out and I forgot who I was with. There is a poignant moment that starts this twist. When it happened, I yelled…yes yelled in a theatre full of people, “WHAT!” Now in my defense, I talk to the TV when I watch it, so my kids know I can be verbal when I really get into a show. However, it didn’t go over that well this time. I FREAKED my son out. My reaction immediately set him on edge and it wasn’t long afterwards (after another WHAT! I couldn’t keep stifled) the tears started. All he knew was momma was having a very animated reaction to something going on and he didn’t like her reaction. He spent the rest of the movie with his head in his shirt.

BTW--the girl LOVED the movie and laughed at me every time I had a rather lively response to the movie. That’s how different my twins are.

Next time, though, I’ll just stick with the action movies for the boy. He loved The Avengers. But keep the romance ones for just me and the girl.

Abby


Stirling Castle, Scotland, Part 3: Inside the Palace
Between 1538-42 James V, the King of Scotland, had this building, the Palace, built for himself and his French queen, Mary of Guise. A couple weeks ago, I showed you the outside of the building and the original Stirling Heads which adorned the ceilings. Below are the important rooms inside the Palace

This is the recently recreated Royal Lodgings of James V and Mary of Guise as they would’ve looked in the 1540s. Experts researched for years to get every detail exact so we can see and appreciate how rich they would’ve looked when new.

Above is the King’s Outer Hall. A sign on site reads: “Only people of some social standing were allowed into this room to wait for a possible audience with the king. Staff then decided who might be given the privilege of petitioning or conferring with the monarch. The chosen few were invited to enter the King’s Inner Hall.”



I loved this suit of armor displayed in the room.

 This oak door is original 16th-century and this was verified by dendrochronology. It is amazing it survived so many years given Stirling’s military occupation.


The King’s Inner Hall “Visitors had the opportunity to meet the monarch in this room. Access to the king was tightly controlled—it was a great honour. Look for the Royal Arms of Scotland above the fireplace. The king’s chambers are unfurnished as they would have been after James V’s death.”

The painted design at the top of the walls is called grisaille paintwork, designed to mimic relief-carved stonework. The fireplace with its carved eagle capitals is original.




Recreations of the Stirling Heads reside on the ceiling as they would have in the 1540s, richly detailed and colorful.



The King’s Bedchamber: “Only the most important visitors and personal friends met the king in the intimacy of his bedchamber. Can you see the unicorn, a royal symbol of purity and strength, over the fireplace? The monarch probably dressed, washed and prayed here, while sleeping in a small room nearby.”




 James V’s crown is alternated with his royal ciper I5 is shown on the ceiling of the King’s Bedchamber. You will also see the royal arms, and symbols of the great European chivalric orders.


The Queen's Bedchamber

King James V died in 1542 and may not have seen this Palace completed. This is why his rooms are bare as they were originally. Contrasting those empty spaces are the richly furnished Queen’s Lodgings. Mary of Guise lived here after her husband’s death and eventually assumed control of Scotland as regent.


The Queen’s Bedchamber is right next to the King’s Bedchamber. The ceiling shows an arabesque antique style, in gold leaf, centered on the heraldic arms of the de Guise family. Luxurious brocaded gold cloth hangs on the walls. Persian carpets are on the floor and table.




The Queen’s Bedchamber: “This room was reserved for the queen and her most important visitors. The great state bed was symbolic—she slept in a small room nearby. Look for three birds shot by a single arrow painted on the ceiling, the mark of Queen Mary of Guise’s family.”

Detail of the alerion, three eagles shot with a single arrow, a deGuise symbol


Another ancient oak door leads into this room.


 The Queen’s Inner Hall: “Honoured guests would be granted a chance to meet the queen in this room. The stools and benches were for her ladies in waiting. The newly painted ceiling includes portraits of James and Mary, though it may once have been covered with carved heads.” Experts believe this because there were more heads than would’ve been required for the King’s Inner Hall only. Plus a visitor from 1731 described “two of these ceilings set of with ye well carved busts.” The set of Hunt of the Unicorn tapestries displayed in this room are highly prized.
“The Unicorn in Captivity”
These new tapestries were commissioned by Historic Scotland and some were woven at the castle. Each takes two to four years to complete. They are based on the original set of 16th century tapestries now in the Cloisters Museum of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Based on remaining inventories, it is believed that James and Mary had a number of tapestries. A set could have cost as much as a new warship. This set contains 7 tapestries that tell the story of hunting the unicorn in order to obtain its horn, believed to have magical powers of purification. This story could have several different interpretations, from religious to romantic.
Detail of “The Unicorn is Found”


The Queen’s Outer Hall: “This was the waiting room for people hoping for an audience with the queen. Those selected by her staff then moved to the Queen’s Inner Hall. This room was also used as an informal dining room.”

Interesting detail of the ceiling in the Queen's Outer Hall.
James V
Mary of Guise

I hope you enjoyed this visit to James V's and Mary's royal home.
Vonda
www.vondasinclair.com

Welcome to the World, Little Guy!
I'm thrilled to share the news that my grandson was born this past Friday afternoon. He was 7 pounds, 15 ounces and measured 20 inches, those important statistics for those of you who like to know those things.

I'm sure he'll be told at some point that he was a Black Friday baby. But all that meant to us was that my daughter got to enjoy Thanksgiving dinner with family before going to the hospital.

My daughter and her husband struggled with fertility problems for several years, so to finally have this perfect little boy is even more of a blessing. Little guy's parents didn't agree on a name until he was born, Daddy finally giving in to Mommy's favorite. So, I hope you'll let me indulge in a little grandma bragging and show off some photos of my new grandson, Colin.

Only a few hours old, in his mommy's arms.


Grandma holding him for the first time.


He loves his grandma already, can't you tell?


Getting ready to go home.


Loving his swing.


And yes, Daddy says Colin is a Steelers fan.


Thanks for indulging a new grandma. I promise no more pictures, at least for a little while.

Natasha
Silken Canvas - coming Dec 25th
www.natashamoore.com



What To Do With That Leftover Turkey (or Tofurkey)
Since everyone is probably sitting around moaning about how much they ate yesterday, I figured today would be the perfect time to share some creative recipes on how to cleverly disguise the turkey leftovers you’ll undoubtedly be eating for days and days. Here are a few of my super-simple- to-make favorites…

Turkey pesto.  In a round casserole dish, alternately layer thinly-sliced pieces of turkey breast slathered with pesto, and a layer of sliced white mushrooms. You can make as many layers as you want -- I usually do three or four layers for two people. Add about 1/4 or 1/3 cup of white wine (this is for moistness, since the alcohol evaporates away), cover the casserole dish, and heat in a 350-degree oven for 30-minutes. Add a side of mashed potatoes or a vegetable and you have a meal.

Turkey curry. Patak’s Tikka Masala is my favorite curry sauce, but there are several varieties in the grocery store. (Spicy-hot Vindaloo is my hubby’s favorite.)  Start out by sautéing garlic and shallots in a skillet in a little oil. Add chunks of dark meat turkey, sliced white or bella mushrooms, and thin slices of red and/or yellow peppers. Add the Patak sauce of your choice, heat for about 12 minutes for the flavors to blend, and serve over white rice. If you microwave a couple of poppodums, you’ll have a trip to India without ever leaving home!

Turkey parmesan. If you’re feeling like an Italian meal, try this one. On a diagonal, thinly slice big pieces of white meat turkey, layer with your favorite Italian red sauce, sprinkle on top with shaved parmesan, and heat on a plate under a broiler until the cheese melts. Served with broccoli and garlic bread, this one is delicioso!

Of course, there are many old comfort-food standards like hot open-faced turkey sandwiches with gravy, and my personal favorite – a stuffing sandwich with mayonnaise!  (When I was growing up, my grandma made the best stuffing in the whole world. I can still taste it if I close my eyes, LOL!)

I go all-out on Thanksgiving, making a big  family meal with turkey, stuffing, gravy, roasted carrots and parsnips, potatoes, cranberry sauce, and Brussels sprouts with bacon. The traditional Thanksgiving day feast is a lot of work, but the best part, in my opinion, is that you get to enjoy the leftovers for days afterward without having to do any more cooking!

How about you? Any favorite T-day recipes to share?
Leigh

Have a Wonderful Thanksgiving
 All of us at Fierce Romance would like to wish our readers a happy Thanksgiving! Hope you enjoy your day with your family and friends. Thank you for visiting our blog and reading our posts!


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Copyright (c) 123RF Stock Photos
Happy Thanksgiving!
It's that time of year that we reflect on the past year and give thanks for everything we've been blessed with.

I'm thankful for my two awesome kids, who are wonderful about knowing when mommy is stressed over a deadline and being very understanding about it. One day I'm going to get those kids to Disney:) They deserve it.

I'm thankful for my mom, dad and sister, who are very supportive of my dreams and encourage me to continue. Who help me with my kids on my weekends, so I can go to my day job, and don't give me any fuss when I have to miss a Sunday dinner because a deadline is close and I'm not anywhere near being finished. 

I'm thankful for my totally awesome critique partners, who didn't blink an eye last month when I was posting chapters like crazy as I wrote the second book of my paranormal series. They jumped right in and was there every step of the way, offering me encouragement when I was totally panic-stricken that I wasn't going to finish. I love these ladies. They've helped me become the writer I am, and I'll never forget that.

I'm thankful for Entangled Publishing for taking a chance on me, and making me feel like my dreams are truly within my grasp.

And last but certainly not least, I'm extremely thankful for my roommates. Without them the last two years would've been impossible to get through. We have each others backs at all time. If one of us has something happen, the others step up to pitch in and help. It might not be the most conventional living situation, it's crowded at times, and constantly chaotic, but I wouldn't change it. It's a safety net a lot of newly single parents don't have and I'm extremely grateful that I have it. One day we'll all be back on our feet, ready to go our separate ways, but this time will never be forgotten, and will always hold treasured memories for both me and my kids.

Abby




Heroines with Fire
Hello, everyone, please welcome our special guest today, Eliza Knight, as she talks about creating worthy heroines for those hot, strong heroes. She is generously giving away an ebook copy of one of her books to one commenter! To be entered, please leave a comment and your email address so we can contact you. Thanks!
***
Heroines with Fire
By Eliza Knight

I tend to spend a lot of time talking about how I love hawt heroes :-) And hey, there’s nothing wrong with that is there?

But today I wanted to talk about my heroines. The truth is, we have to love the heroines too, right? She has to be worthy of our hero in order for us to not hate her when they fall in love. Considering that at least half the book will be in her head, we’ll have to want to be there.

I like my heroines to be clever, fiery and kick-a**. I want them to be able to make decisions, take care of themselves if they have too—but still be able to lean on the hero. They have to have issues which they learn to overcome.  They aren’t perfect, because none of us are, and I hate a perfect heroine!

What goes into creating a heroine? I’ll give ya the breakdown of how I start…

~Physical: Hair, eyes, height, body-shape, distinguishing marks
~Personality: Strengths, weaknesses, likes, dislikes, fears
~GMC: Goals, Motivation, Internal Conflict and External Conflict (this includes backstory)
~Skills: What are her skills? All of my heroines are good at something.
 
Once I have all that figured out, I start writing so I can see her come alive on the page and in my mind. Seeing her in action is the best way to make sure I’ve developed her well, that she is a strong character, not lackluster.

What makes a heroine strong? A “real” personality, one we can relate to and root for. “Real” fears and weaknesses. When I say real, I mean that they make sense to the story, that the reader isn’t wondering why the heck that’s in there. For example, if my heroine had a fear of being taken, but nothing substantiated that, then why would she be fearful of it? I want her to have realistic goals for the story, and I want her skills to prove useful.

Skills you say? Aye, indeed, she must be able to do something.

Skills rap-sheet…

Arbella from THE HIGHLANDER’S REWARD: Arbella can knock a man out with her knife-hand strike. She’s also a good cook.

knife-hand strike
Aliah from THE HIGHLANDER’S CONQUEST: Aliah can understand Gaelic, is skilled with a bow and arrow—and she soon learns she’s also skilled with sewing a man up.


Sorcha from HIGHLANDER BRAWN: Sorcha is skilled at knife-throwing, which she didn’t realize would actually land her a husband she doesn’t want…

Myra from THE HIGHLANDER’S LADY (releasing 12/15): Myra is skilled at being invisible, which stems from her fear of capture. She can also fashion a spear if needed.

What do you look for in a heroine? Leave a comment for your chance to win an ecopy of either Book One or Two of Eliza’s Stolen Bride Series (THE HIGHLANDER’S REWARD, THE HIGHLANDER’S CONQUEST) & a copy of Eliza’s short novella HIGHLANDER BRAWN.

THE HIGHLANDER’S CONQUEST (Book Two: The Stolen Bride Series)

What is a Highlander to do when he falls for the daughter of his enemy?

Highland warrior, Blane Sutherland, has one mission: disguise himself as an Englishman, cross the border and retrieve Lady Aliah de Mowbray. Always up for a challenge, he agrees, pursuing his conquest with vigor—and trying to deny the powerful desire that eclipses him each time he touches his charge. A rogue of the highest order and a younger son, he has nothing to offer a lady but a broken heart.

And what is a lady to do when she cannot trust her heart?

Aliah is skeptical of the English noble who has come to take her to her father and sister in Scotland, but she pushes her doubts aside. Without word in months, she must make certain her family is safe, then she can return to England to join the convent to which she has sworn to pledge her life. But then her escort reveals his true self—he’s a Highlander and his kisses are more seductive than the sweetest of wines.

Surrender never tasted so sweet…

Read it! Links: Amazon / Barnes and Noble

Eliza Knight is the multi-published, award-winning, Amazon best-selling author of sizzling historical romance and erotic romance. While not reading, writing or researching for her latest book, she chases after her three children. In her spare time (if there is such a thing…) she likes daydreaming, wine-tasting, traveling, hiking, staring at the stars, watching movies, shopping and visiting with family and friends. She lives atop a small mountain, and enjoys cold winter nights when she can curl up in front of a roaring fire with her own knight in shining armor. To learn more about Eliza’s books visit her at www.elizaknight.com or her historical blog History Undressed: www.historyundressed.com.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/elizaknightauthor 
Twitter: @ElizaKnight



Wedded Bliss
I'm doing a drive-by post since I'm recovering from having the second part of my reconstruction surgery earlier this week. I'm hanging in there, but I might be juuuuust a little loopy on pain meds... :)

 
Even so, I wanted to stop in and let you know about an anthology I'm in along with The Queen of Steam, Jaid Black, Sky Robinson, Dena Garson and Kelli Scott. Each of the novellas included in Wedded Bliss have one thing in common -- all of the hero and heroines are married before any hanky-panky happens. This is the first print anthology for Ellora's Cave's Branded series, where no sex before marriage is key. But after the "I do's" are said? It's game on!

My novella, Getting Naughty, is the second story in the book. Here's the blurb and a link to an excerpt. You can find Wedded Bliss now at Ellora's Cave and other retailers.

BTW, isn't the cover gorgeous?

Getting Naughy Blurb:

Tara North is tired of her husband’s workaholic tendencies, tired of not being a priority. And very tired of the lack of action in their bedroom. So she sits in the company parking lot, impatiently waiting for his coworkers to vacate the building. Why? To seduce her husband, of course.

Tara’s going to get their sex life back on the fast track to Blissville. As she strips for him, Tara issues a challenge—how many times can Jared make her come before the cleaning crew reaches his office?

There’s only one way to find out. It’s time for Jared to really get to work.
 
Click here for a sexy excerpt!
 
Enjoy!
 
Kristin
 

 
 

Everything Old is New Again...Yippee!
 We had a touch of snow down our way recently, and, although it melted right away, it reminded me that December is almost here, which reminded me that it will be six years ago on 12/6 that my first purely erotica piece was published. It was my first foray into getting published in the genre, and I've continued to write in the area ever since. As the seasons change, though, and the continuation of life comes full circle, so does a writer's career, and mine has done just that recently.

Over the last few months, I've requested and gotten the rights back to most of my books. I have plans for each of them, whether it be placing them with another publisher or trying to produce them myself, and I am really, really excited to get the chance to work with them again. It feels like getting a first contract on each book all over again, which is really sort of cool. I mean, who expects to feel the ecstasy of a first kiss more than once?

It also sort of feels like a rebirth, because I'll be going through each book and editing it, updating it and, in some cases, putting in what I had to take out. For example, one editor I had, who left the company soon after my book was published, raved about my "romantic comedy" and then proceeded to have me remove anything remotely amusing in it. All that's going back in, even though trying to figure how much and what I revised is going to be somewhat of a tough task after all these years.

I also have some new stories I will be combining with some of the older ones in collections, and a couple of never-before-seen pieces that need a chance to leave the literary nest that is my computer hard drive. I still have two books and a story in an anthology available--Second Nature, Seducing Gracie, and Going Somewhere (Firestorm Anthology)--until the others debut all shiny and renewed.

I just wanted to share my endeavor with readers because I've been getting inquiries about my next book, but also because you've have been incredibly supportive and wonderful about my books though the years. I can't thank you enough...or can I? Should I have a special promotion for the anniversary of my writing career in December? Hmmm, that's a thought. What kind of promo do you like the best? Any ideas? Please do share!
Starting Book Three
So after taking a week and a half away from writing, my brain and body feels refreshed and ready to tackle book three. I have a sick baby at home today with a stomach bug. I'm not sure how much writing I will get done with her here, but even if I only get a few words down at least I've finally started. I won't have to write this one as quickly as I did Liam's story. With the holidays right around the corner, it's going to pretty much impossible to get that kind of word count again. Thanksgiving is next week, and the kids are out of school for three days and then it's just a couple of weeks until Christmas where they are out for almost two weeks.

Kids and writing just don't go hand in hand anymore.

Anyway this book should be a little easier to write. I hope. Liam's book was so dark (and exhausting). A lost love romance with a lot of heartache, and a conflict that kept them a part all the way to the bitter end. Britton's is the polar opposite. An enemy-to-lovers romance. My heroine is a badass homicide detective who doesn't back down from my hero's (a street cop) taunting mouth. In fact, she gives just as good as she receives. The banter between these two during Liam's story was simply fun, and I'm looking forward to more.

Here's to a healthy word count!!!
Abby
Stirling Castle, Scotland, Part 2: The Palace & Stirling Heads
The Palace and the Queen Anne Garden

Stirling Castle is a royal castle that stands high on a volcanic crag over the plains below. In the past, this site was one of the most strategic locations in Scotland. It was said that to hold Stirling was to hold Scotland. Because of this, it was attacked fairly often and was the focus of the important battles of Stirling Bridge in 1297 and Bannockburn in 1314. From the 1100s, Stirling was one of the favorite homes for kings and queens in Scotland. It includes an interesting group of buildings which were built in the 1500s for the Stewart court. In the 1600s after the king decided to live elsewhere, Stirling was converted into a garrisoned fortress for soldiers.


Detailed carvings on the exterior of the Palace
 Stirling has been described as ‘a huge brooch clasping the Highlands and Lowlands together.’ It overlooks Stirling Bridge, and hundreds of years ago, controlled who was allowed to cross the River Forth. The castle played a key role in the Wars of Independence and was extremely damaged. It was rebuilt several times and this is why only the later buildings survive above the ground.


View from the French Spur where several cannons sit. Stirling Bridge, River Forth, and the Wallace Monument.



A pepper-pot sentry box

We had to duck to enter the low door of the pepper-pot sentry box. 
View from one of the arrow slits in the Forework


The Forework, the Palace and the walls of the French Spur
 The beech tree seen above is over 200 years old.
The King's Old Building
 Shown above is the Inner Close and the King's Old Building which dates to 1496 and housed the royal apartments of King James IV.


1538-42 James V had this building, the Palace, built for himself and his French queen, Mary of Guise. He wanted to send a message to the world: that he was a wise and virtuous ruler. The king decorated the outside of the palace with over 250 sculptures designed to proclaim the peace, prosperity and justice of his reign.



 The upper floor of the Palace is where the Stirling Heads Gallery is located. It is like a museum and a great place to learn about courtly life during the 1500s. Below are some quotes from the posted information.



 “1539 James V commissions a series of carved timber portraits – the Stirling Heads – to decorate the palace ceilings. The Stirling Heads visually presented James V credentials and demonstrated his right to rule.”




"‘Virtue and good actions… good training and… an array of family portraits,’ these were the qualities of a Christian prince in the 1500s. Making and exchanging portraits was an important part of political strategy. Portraits were given to seal political alliances and formed part of the negotiations of marriage contracts."



 King Henry VIII of England celebrated his geneology in a similar way to James V. But whereas Henry VIII could point to only two generations. James V could claim a long and unbroken family line going back to Robert II, the first of the Stewart monarchs.



Over a period of ten years Historic Scotland, together with other experts, has undertaken detailed research into the Stirling Heads, the sculptures and the palace. What you see today is the result of careful analysis by historicans, archaeologists and conservators to reveal some of the meaning behind James V’s elaborate design for his palace. The knowledge has enhanced our understanding and helped establish the designs used to recreate the rooms and ceiling of the palace.





Experts used tree-ring dating technique known as ‘dendrochronology’ to analyse the oak from which the Stirling Heads are carved. They discovered that the timber was grown in Poland and felled in 1539 before being brought here to be carved.



State-of-the-art 3D laser scanning recorded every detail of a Head. Painstaking analysis has shown that the Heads were originally painted. Although the carvings have lost most of their decoration some tiny paint fragments still survive. From studying these, experts have discovered a little about how the paint was originally applied, helping to build up a picture of the likely original colour scheme in the palace.
These Stirling Heads were designed to reinforce James V’s credentials by aligning him with other powerful men. Two of them probably represent his ancestors, while the others depict men of power and influence. By Displaying his friends in high places, the king affirms that he, like them, is one of the most powerful leaders in Europe.


The more ancient and unbroken the line of royal ancestors to which a king could lay claim, the less likely that his authority could be disputed. Portraits were a valuable way of demonstrating this inheritance.
One of the Heads may depict Charles V (1500 – 58) who was Holy Roman Emperor and heir to four of Europe’s leading dynasties. Throughout James V’s lifetime, Scotland was caught in an ever-shifting balance of power between France, England and the Holy Roman Empire. By including Charles V in the Heads, James made it clear that he was standing shoulder-to-shoulder with the most powerful ruler in Europe.


In 1777, the enormous weight of the Stirling Heads caused part of the ceiling in the King’s Inner Hall to collapse. This drawing, from 1817, is the earliest attempt to suggest how the ceiling may have originally looked.


Now, the King's Inner Hall has been redone and restored to what is believed to be its original freshly-painted condition, including the heads on the ceiling. You can compare the original Jester to the redone, painted jester above.




James V stands on the north-east corner of the Palace. (Below) This sculpture is supported by a square column decorated with a floral motif. He stands beside the classical gods Saturn and Venus and looks down on visitors. Saturn and Venus symbolize peace and plenty. The art and architecture was influenced by the palaces of France and ancient Rome.

I hope you enjoyed this visit to the Palace at Stirling Castle. I have more photos to show of the restored interior of the Palace next time.
Thanks!
Vonda
www.vondasinclair.com

P. S. James V's grandson, James VI & I is a secondary character in my novel, My Wild Highlander!


Lady Angelique Drummagan, a half-Scottish, half-French countess, has suffered much pain and betrayal in her past. She wants nothing to do with the sensual Scottish warrior that the king has ordered her to marry because the rogue could never be a faithful husband, but she has little choice in the matter. Dangerous, greedy enemies threaten her from all sides and she's in dire need of his protection.

Sir Lachlan MacGrath, known as Seducer of the Highlands, possesses a charming wickedness and canny wit which has earned him much popularity. After the king decrees that he wed the fiery hellion, Lachlan discovers there is one woman who can resist him--Angelique. Can he break through her icy façade and melt her heart, or will the dark secrets lurking in her past not only cost them their future together, but their very lives?


I've recently received some wonderful new reader reviews at Amazon!

A. Will: "What is it about the bad boys that women desire? The second book in Vonda Sinclair's Highland Adventure series proves to be a phenomenal read! ...I am amazed at Ms. Sinclair's ability to weave such a beautiful storyline that it enveloped me into the world of 17th Century Scotland. She is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors and I can't wait to read more from her."
Teresa G.: "What an amazing book. The author is truly talented and I love 
her work." 
M. Rutherford: "This story was just so gosh darned fun!"
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