Firemen Calendar "Mr June"

Wouldn't he make a great addition to next year's NY Firemen Calendar? It's hard to believe the little guy is nineteen months old. Where does the time go??

He's a big boy now and wants to do everything himself. Like try to find Elmo on Netflix.


And eat with a fork, even if it's easier to use his fingers.


In true boy fashion, he loves to play with water.



It's not easy to get a good picture of him now because he's always on the go. And he knows what a "phone" is and wants to look at the pictures. I caught him here just before he reached for it.


On the swing with "Papa".



Even though he's on the move most of the time, he still likes to cuddle with Grandma. (And Elmo and Cookie Monster and Bear)


And I'll cuddle with him for as long as he lets me.

Natasha

Sign up for mailing list

Playing for Real - available now
Her Royal Masquerade - available now
Her Royal Bodyguard - available now
The Cottage Next Door - coming Sept 16th - pre-order now
www.natashamoore.com



Savage Hunger--Rights Sold to Tantor to Produce in Audiobook Format!
Super news for the first book in my Heart of the Jaguar series. Tantor just bought the rights to produce Savage Hunger in audiobook format. It’s my first sale to them, so this is ultra exciting for me.

I also just received this fantastic review on Savage Hunger from Lost in Books by Cassandra, as though it was fate that both would happen on the same day. :)

You know I’m teasing, right?  :)



Savage Hunger
Heart of the Jaguar #1
by Terry Spear

Connect with Terry:
~ Website ~ Goodreads ~ Facebook ~ Twitter ~
~ Wattpad ~

My Thoughts – 5 out of 5 Unicorns – I loved it!!!

I love Kat as a character.  She is brave and confident and doesn’t want to just sit around while everyone else does the protecting.  But my favorites are Maya and her twin brother, they are awesome how they stick together and go out on a limb for each other ;)  I’m hoping Maya’s story is next :)  There is plenty of action and conflict in this story to keep you hooked. 

Terry does an awesome job of building the world because I was never bored reading it.  If I wasn’t watching my sister’s kids (4 of them), I’d have read this in one sitting :)

I highly recommend this book to my shifter loving friends, jaguar lovers & those who already love Terry Spear!!  Can’t wait to read more and since I have next book with me on vacation it will be soon!!!

Interested in reading???

~ Amazon ~ AmazonUK ~ B&N
And I’m back to working on edits to Her Highland Hero, and writing the novella: His Wild Highland Lass.
I was pondering the novella this morning. I had reached 12,000, but the problem with writing a 20,000-word piece of work is that you have to get to the point pretty quickly. So I was thinking about the opening and I’m going to have to rework it, have the hero see her sooner, not the build up so much, like I can do in a longer novel. But I want also to have her see him first. It means my word count will go down to begin with, but when I add her new scene it, that should bring me back up on word count. In the end, all that matters is the story turns out right. :) I always have to just write away, and then I begin to see who the characters are, what their pasts are, what the problem is. I often can’t figure that out by trying to plot it out first. And  in the end, that works for me!
My beta readers LOVE Her Highland Hero, soooo, it’s on track. :) And I can’t wait to share it soon! Oh, and that’s why I didn’t post yesterday! Juggling 2 books at the same time. Back to juggling!
Have a super, lovely Saturday!!
her highland hero cover with title cursive copy
Terry
“Giving new meaning to the term alpha male where fantasy is reality.”
Connect with Terry Spear:
Website:
Goodreads:
Facebook:
Twitter:
The All-Important Book Blurb
I have a contemporary erotic romance coming out in September, and I’ve been stressing over the book blurb. This is probably because I’m a pantser and not a plotter. A plotter would know exactly what the conflict is between the characters, so writing a story blurb would be a piece of cake.

Except relationships are never that cut-and-dried. Not even in fiction.

My heroine has control issues. A difficult childhood has made her determined to control every aspect of her life. She’s deathly afraid of flying, but it’s rooted in the fact she can’t control airplanes (or gravity, for that matter).

My hero also has control issues. While in the military, he lost men under his command, so he’s determined to remain single. He never wants to be responsible for another human life, least of all a wife’s.

The conflict between my characters’ control issues drives the book. But how on earth do you convey all of the above (and throw in a mysterious fortune teller, too) in the standard two or three sentences of a blurb?

All authors know that next to a book cover, the blurb is the most important thing to hook a reader into buying a book. It has to grab a reader’s attention as effectively as the opening line of the story. See? You can understand why I’m stressing.

Some nights I go to sleep vowing to become a plotter.

Except I never will, because I enjoy the thrill of having the germ of an idea but letting my characters tell me their story. That’s why I write.

What about you? Is an entire book easier to write or is the blurb simpler?  I’d love to hear about your process, especially if you’re a pantser like me who loses sleep, weight (and fingernails) trying to write the all-important blurb.

Tell me your secrets!

Leigh



Disco Diva
I've been feeling very Disco lately, and I don't know why. It just sort of comes on, kind of a wave of  nostalgia for the "good old days," which, to my recollection, I never took part in. I don't remember hanging out at Studio 54, streaking, or engaging in a variety of semi-legal activities with inebriated celebrities like Mick Jagger and David Bowie. If memory serves, I spent most of the 70s reading trashy romance novels by the light of my vintage lava lamp, taking care of my pet rocks, Ringo and Brett, playing Simon until I could hear beeping noises even when the game was turned off (kind of like cell phones), and trying to arrange mysterious "accidents" for my Rubic's Cube, which I could never solve and still can't.

I'm one of those annoying people who surfs radio stations while driving, going from station to station until I find something I want to hear. Usually, when I get to a 70s Disco song, I listen to a little of it, think it's nice or that it sucks terribly, and push the button (a learned skill from playing Simon all those years ago) to move on and not think anything of it. In the last month, though, if this happens, the result is very different. Sometimes I think, "OMG! This is the most amazing Donna Summer song EVER!" even though I've heard it two thousand times before. Or a Saturday Night Fever song will come on and I will think, "Oh yeah, sing it, Barry! Sing it Maurice and Robin! Go, baby, go!" Once an ABBA hit came on and I burst into tears because it reminded me of my shiny purple Disco hoodie. I even do the head bop thing to the song's beat like Wayne and Garth on Wayne's World. Once I rolled my car window down and drove along singing I Will Survive so loudly other drivers stopped and let me pass without incident, as if there was going to be one. It wasn't all a negative response, though. An elderly woman rocking some rainbow suspenders, gold lame pants, and groovy white boots gave me a thumbs up at a 4-way stop.

Is Disco making a comeback that I don't know about? I know that I hear lots of songs on the radio based on songs from other decades, but are there that many from the Disco era that are subliminally invaded my consciousness? Or is this just another side effect of that wonderful change of life we women all go through? If so, do I have to suffer through falling in love with songs from every decade of my existence all over again? I guess it beats hot flashes. 

I'm actually sort of enjoying my little crush on Disco because it does bring back some nice memories. What about you? What decade, if any, are you crushing on right now? If it's the Disco era, too, maybe we need to alert Area 51, as this could mean roller-boogie lovin' aliens from a distant galaxy far, far away are grooving along among us, feeding us Disco songs as a form of mind control. If we're not careful, we could all end up doing the Hustle or the Bus Stop when we should be filing account invoices.

On second thought, that might not be so bad. :)

Happy Discoing, er, Reading!
Dunollie Castle, Argyll, Scotland - Part Two
Dunollie Castle as viewed from the ferry from Oban to Mull.

Last week, I posted Part 1 of Dunollie Castle. Now we're going to take a look at the interior.

The inside of the keep.
 During the Covenanter Wars, Cromwell's troops garrisoned the castle. The Marquis of Argyll captured the castle in 1644 but it was returned to the MacDougalls in 1661. During the 1700s, the Jacobites brought an end to Dunollie Castle as the clan's main residence. The castle was forfeit to the crown and fell into ruin. In 1745, a new house was built nearby, using stones from the castle, its buildings and courtyard. The house was completed in 1753.


 Since then, the castle has been repaired many times. The 12th century core is difficult to see because of later additions. Dunollie is architecturally and historically important and has features more common to Irish castles. The main tower is dated to 1450 and was restored in the late 16th century by Dougall and his son, Duncan. They were considered to be ruthless and ambitious chiefs. They also built Gylen Castle on Kerrera. The ruin has been repaired at various times, such as during the 1920s and again in 1976. There has also been a recent repair program.

The first and second floor. You can see where the wooden floor would've been supported.
A sign on the site reads: "In medieval times, there were no roads on land and travel was hard. Argyll was a great sea kingdom, and Dunollie commanded or observed the fleets of galleys which brought invaders and trade, brides and dowries, funeral processions out to Iona."

The only part of the West Range still standing.
The castle had an East and West Range outside the keep for such things as a great hall, kitchens, service quarters, guest rooms, etc.


A staircase set into the thickness of the wall leads from the ground floor to the first floor which would have been the Lord's Hall or living quarters. Originally, the main access to the first floor was probably an external wooden stairway or ladder which could've been pulled up or destroyed in times of danger or siege. The hall is now open to the sky but there originally there was a floor above this one for bedchambers for the chief and his family. When viewing the two levels of windows, you can visualize where the floor would've been.

Stairway and arrow slit window.



  A sign on the site reads: A glimpse of the life and hospitality of medieval Dunollie appears in an old story. "MacDougall of Lorn… kept a dining table that was called a public table where anyone might sit and take their meals. Anyone could go every day and eat their fill at the public table of MacDougall throughout the year, without being asked who they were, or what their name was."


The castle overlooks a narrow straight between the mainland and the island of Kerrera, which is also owned by the MacDougall Estate. From here, the inhabitants kept an eye on the galleys and ships entering Oban Bay. There is also a small grassy island called Maiden Island.

Maiden Island

Back of castle.

Thank you for taking a tour of Dunollie Castle with me! Next time, we'll visit the 1745 House.
Vonda

Known for his wicked wit, fierce loyalty, and skills in battle, Robert "Rebbie" MacInnis, the Earl of Rebbinglen, loves freedom and has no plans of marrying anytime soon. But when his father, a powerful Scottish marquess, signs a contract betrothing Rebbie to an earl's young daughter, he is furious. If he has to marry, he's determined to choose his own bride, though he has no inkling who he would wish to wed until fate intervenes to remind him of one fair-haired, nameless beauty and the passionate night they spent together years ago. A night forever etched in his memory. 

Lady Calla Ferguson, a penniless widow with a young son, is forced to seek employment as her cousin's companion in order to pay her late husband's massive gambling debt. Having been ignored or mistreated most of her life, Calla has become a resourceful survivor who will stop at nothing to get what she wants—safety and security for her son and herself. Wealthy merchant, Claybourne cares little for the money the Earl of Stanbury owed him; he simply wants the earl's beautiful, voluptuous widow and he'll do whatever it takes to get his hands on her, even kidnapping and blackmail. 

When Rebbie happens upon Claybourne abducting Calla, he rescues her and hides her in a secluded castle deep in the wild Scottish Highlands. Calla conceals her passionate spirit beneath reserve and duty, along with closely-guarded secrets which, if exposed, could ruin both her life and her son's. Years ago, she lost her heart to a dark-eyed stranger she never thought to see again, but now he's her protector. Rebbie craves another pleasurable night like the one they shared in the past, and she cannot resist the fiery passion that echoes deep in her heart and soul. Soft but strong, Calla sparks within Rebbie a desperate hunger and a need to protect her. But will her secrets tear them apart? 

Excerpt from My Rebel Highlander
Though Calla delays as long as possible, she finally meets Rebbie again. Up to this point, they've had no opportunity to talk about the past or the night they shared. Rebbie is determined to change that.

The céilidh was underway and Calla sat at the high table while most of the others danced to the sprightly music. Angelique was dancing with Lachlan, although not as boisterously as some of the others. Their dance more resembled a moving embrace. Very romantic. She marveled at the love-match they shared.
"'Tis a lively céilidh, is it not?" Rebbie asked, seating himself in the chair beside her.
Heavens! Calla's whole body heated. "Aye," she responded, surprised she got the word out. Wondering where Elena was, she glanced back over the great hall and found her dancing with one of the young Drummagan clansmen.
"A lovely lady such as yourself… why are you not dancing?" Rebbie's deep brown eyes sparkled. "Surely a dozen men have asked you already."
She shook her head. "Nay." Was that all she could utter? One word responses? "I haven't danced in… ages."
"Ha. Don't expect me to believe that, but 'haps you would honor me with a dance?"
She swallowed hard, her heart pounding. "Oh." How could she get out of this without him thinking she was daft? "I'm certain Elena would be jealous if I took you up on that generous offer."
"I don't see why. She's danced with every male in the room. Besides—" He cleared his throat.
Calla peered at him, wondering if he was going to finish the sentence. But he looked annoyed and glared at the young lady in question. "You are her cousin?" he asked, his gaze turning friendlier when it met hers.
"Aye, and her chaperone."
"I see." He glanced around the room again, then faced her and said in a low voice. "I need to speak to you in private."
Panic rampaged through Calla and she could scarce breathe as she assessed Rebbie's obsidian gaze. Then, unable to withstand the force of it, she glanced away. How could this be happening to her? She should have known… any dishonesty on her part was bound to come back to nip at her heels.
"Please." Rebbie's voice was barely audible above the loud music.
She darted a quick glance at him to try to discern his thoughts, but his eyes were near impossible to read. He did not appear angry. Merely… interested? And intense.
"Very well," she said.
"Do you ken where the solar is?"
She nodded.
He stood and bowed, then headed toward the stairs.
Good heavens! What did he wish to talk about? That night they'd shared? She inhaled deeply, trying to dispel the jitters that had suddenly overtaken her entire body. Even her knees shook as she rose from her seat.
All will be well. He is not a cruel man. And he doesn't know…
At least, she hoped he wasn't cruel and vindictive like her late husband. Would Rebbie keep their secret if she asked him to?
After watching the dancers for a few moments to make certain Elena didn't notice her following Rebbie, she sedately strolled toward the stairs. Hopefully, they would think she was merely retiring for the night.
Her heart pounding, she ascended the steps and started down the dim corridor, lit here and there by a candle sconce. Walking as slowly as she could, she tried to calm herself as she approached the solar. The door was open and, inside, several candles burned along with a low fire in the hearth. A dark form in his black clothing, Rebbie stood before it, gazing into the flames, his hand propped on the mantel.
She stepped across the threshold and halted, knowing not what to say.
He turned. "Lady Stanbury, thank you for agreeing to meet with me. Please, come in." His businesslike tone helped her relax marginally. Maybe he wouldn't get too personal after all. Moving toward her, he motioned to the hearth, then bypassed her and closed the door. "You don't mind, do you?"
"Nay." Saints! Her heart-rate doubled. Was it fear or excitement? Maybe a little of both.
"Come. Have a seat." He took her hand and drew her to the chairs near the hearth. He wore no gloves, and she perversely wished she didn't either. From somewhere deep in her soul, she craved the warm touch of his skin—something she hadn't felt in a very long time.
Once they were seated, she thought he would speak, but he didn't. Instead, he picked up the poker and stirred the fire's coals, then added two pieces of wood. The fire popped and crackled, burning a bit brighter.
Her stomach ached with frayed nerves.
He set the metal poker aside and glanced at her briefly. "I remember that night," he said in a low, deep voice.
Her breath stopped and heat rushed over her. "Pray pardon, I—"
"Nay." He held up a hand. "Why on earth would you apologize? 'Twas me who was a rogue and a scoundrel."
"Nay, you were not." She knew he'd said that because he was a charming gentleman, for she was the one who'd approached him.
She'd told him she was a widow back then. A lie. She squeezed her eyes shut. He could easily learn her husband died a mere five months ago.
"Anyway. 'Tis our secret," he murmured.
She glanced at him. A hint of a sincere smile softened his sensual mouth. Was it too much to hope for… that he would keep their secret? With fathomless eyes, he studied her, waiting for her response. He could've easily taken advantage of her, forcing her to warm his bed in exchange for his silence, but thankfully he didn't appear to be that sort of man.
"I thank you," she said. "I never imagined… that I would see you again."
"You hoped you wouldn't, aye?" He lifted a brow, looking none too pleased about that.
It wasn't that she didn't want to see him again, for she certainly did, dreamed of it every night, but…. She shrugged. "Under the circumstances—"
"And what were the circumstances?"
She bit her lip. Could she tell him the truth, that she had been married at the time? And that she was an adulteress? Although, not by her own choice. Shame consumed her.
"You don't wish to say." His voice gentled. "I understand. 'Tis far different for a woman than for a man."
"Indeed."
"So, 'twas not something you did often?"
Calla's shocked gaze flew to Rebbie. "Nay. Of course not."
"I meant no offense." He could easily tell by her words and actions she was not very experienced at seducing men, then or now. She blushed almost as much as a virgin, for heaven's sake. If she were a practiced seductress, she would be all over him now, wouldn't she? Instead, she would rarely meet his gaze. 'Twas obvious she was mortified that he remembered the night they'd spent together.
He almost wished she would do something. Smile at him, touch his arm. Anything. He wanted to see a glimpse of the lass he'd shared a pleasurable night of unbridled passion with. He remembered the joy in her eyes and her smile.
Memories from that night had taunted him all day and now they flooded his mind. He recalled that her actions had told him she wasn't very experienced. Of course, she hadn't been a virgin. No widows were, unless their elderly husbands had been unable to perform. But 'twas obvious to him Calla had never experienced a bedding like the one he gave her. She had not truly even known how to kiss before he'd shown her.
He'd been in his early twenties at the time and bedsport had been one of his favorite pastimes. There was no way in hades he would've refused such a beautiful lady. Aye, he'd known she was a lady, but a countess? He hadn't imagined.
"I know what you must think of me," she whispered, refusing to look at him. "But, nay, I had not done that before." She shook her head. "You have no idea how embarrassed I am right now."
"There's no need to be. I won't be telling anyone." Of course, he'd already told Lachlan, but he wouldn't breathe a word about it. "I would never think badly of you. 'Twas just one of those things that happens when two lonely people get together." Or in his case, sotted on whisky. He was rarely lonely, but mayhap she had been. And if so, he was glad he'd been there for her. "I don't regret it. And I hope you don't."
She studied him for a longer moment. "Nay."
"Good." He observed her, unsure what was going through her mind, but feeling somehow that maybe she was starting to trust him a wee bit. "I hope you don't feel I took advantage of you in a… fragile state."
"Nay. Of course not. I blame myself."
"There is no blame. 'Twas a memorable night and I have to admit, I think of it sometimes."
The color of her face deepened in the firelight and she again refused to look at him.
"Do you?"
Guest Author - Victoria Adams
Join me in welcoming Victoria Adams to Fierce Romance. She sharing a new release with us, A GUY AND A GIRL.

I'm Victoria Adams. I live in Ontario, Canada with my husband and pets. Daughter's grown up and is now teaching. I like to garden, cook and belly dance. In the summer, cars slow down when they pass my front yard and the passengers gaze at my flower beds. Friends love to be invited over for supper as the meal is going to be good, good for you and nowhere near low-calorie! No dieting allowed at dinner parties. As to belly dancing, find a class and try it. It's a blast!

I've been writing since I was little. Being an only child, long car rides were filled with making up stories in my head about the people I saw out the car window. When my daughter was younger, I made up stories that she suggested. I'd say – Once upon a time there was a…. She'd shout an answer – chicken! And the story went from there. Great creativity exercise as it turns out. Now, my writing style has taken a split to contemporary romance for adults and contemporary romance for new adults.


Tagline
Lies, deceits and secrets - not a good way to begin a relationship.

Blurb
After an ugly past forced Hunter Connolly to escape to Europe, the talented hockey player is back in North America and determined to land a position with a professional team. But he can’t hide from his past forever, especially when his beautiful classmate, Chelsea, forces him to reexamine his life. Soon, hockey is not his first priority anymore.

Chelsea Henderson is a bright co-ed working towards her dream of being a professional dancer. She forms a unique friendship with one of her father’s newest recruits and would love nothing more than to take it to the next level. However, there’s just one small problem. He doesn’t know she’s his coach’s daughter.

Amid the deceptions, danger lurks closer than they could ever imagine. Will fate contrive to rip the young lovers apart? Or will Hunter and Chelsea have their shot at love?


Excerpt:

"Good, now that everyone is here, welcome. Today is a get-to-know-each-other day. I don't like impersonal classes where no one knows each other. I feel a class should be like a team. Since you'll be criticizing and analyzing each other's works, you should get to know one another. Let's go around the table, starting with you." He pointed at Chelsea who sat directly in front of him. "Name. Major."

"Uh...I...uh...I hate going first." A flush trickled up the side of her neck.

Out of the side of his mouth, Hunter whispered, "Better you than me."

She glanced at him. "That was supportive."

Hunter's heart skipped a beat.

"My name's Chelsea, and I'm taking this and a Composition and Repertory class."

"I speak for all of us when I say - a what?" Hunter looked at her sideways.

"A dance credit."

"Do you wish to be a dancer?" The professor folded his hands and placed them on the table. Chelsea blushed and nodded. He pointed to the person on Chelsea's right.

"My name is Steven Francis, and I'm pre-med."

Hunter listened as several other students listed themselves as pre-med, pre-law, business administration and economics. He shook his head. I'm so in the wrong place. But with Chelsea being here, this class could be liveable. At last it was his turn. "Hunter Taylor, and I don't have a declared major."

"What do you do?"

"I play hockey. I'm trying out for the Vipers."

The other five girls sat up taller, fixed their hair and smiled.

"At least our two dreamers are sitting next to each other." A smirk spread across the face of the pre-law student.
Hunter glanced at the table then back at the pre-law student. "You don't dream about becoming a lawyer? You don't dream about pleading a major case in front of the Supreme Court?"

The classmate refused to make eye contact with Hunter.

"Everyone has dreams." Hunter jerked his thumb towards Chelsea. "Chelsea's and mine may not be academic ones, but they're just as hard to achieve as yours are. Don't put me down 'cause I want to be a hockey player. I may have to hire you to represent me when I negotiate my deal."

"An interesting mix of students." The professor scanned the group with eyes lit up with humour. "A dancer, a few lawyers, doctors, business people and a hockey player who can defend himself against a lawyer."

"I play offence. We're the aggressive ones."


A GUY AND A GIRL is available now!

Where to find me
Blog – Victoria's Pages of Romance – http://victoriaadams.blogspot.com
FaceBook - http://www.facebook.com/victoriaadams.romancewriter
Facebook Author Page - http://www.facebook.com/pages/Victoria-Adams/244325918978641
Facebook - Circles Trilogy Page - http://www.facebook.com/CirclesTrilogy?ref=hl
Twitter – http://twitter.com/_VictoriaAdams
Website - http://victoriaadamsromance.wix.com/victoria-adams
Google+ - Victoria Adams
Wattpad - http://www.wattpad.com/user/VictoriaAdams
Plus – Triberr, Amazon Author, LinkedIn, SocialOmph, Goodreads etc



Purple Flower Day!!
purple flowers (640x582)
These are from my birthday flowers, so not exactly wildflowers, but most of the rest are!
mushroom fly wildflower (640x492)
These are so tiny, barely noticeable when I took the picture of the mushroom.
beautiful purple flower (640x626)
Not sure on this one. Tried to locate a picture like it, but couldn’t find one.
blurry purple flowers (640x427)
Not sure on these either.
Iris open
My garden iris.
IMG_5676 (640x427)
Mountain Laurel
IMG_5684 (640x427)
not sure on this one
flower weeds 007 (640x427)
Dead Nettle
Shasta daisies 005 (800x676)
Aster
5 more purple flowers (640x529)
Verbena
purple flowers (640x533)
Horsemint, attracts butterflies and hummingbirds!
more purple flower (640x589)
Wild petunia
houston wildflowers 007 (640x427)
Clover flowers
periwinkle (640x427)
periwinkle
desert willow flower (640x433)
Desert Willow
bluebonnets wildflower by airport
bluebonnets at the airport
I probably have more, but here is a selection of pretty purple flowers.
And that is my purple flower day.
Don’t you love them?
Off to work on Her Highland Hero.  7,000 words to go! :)
her highland hero cover with title cursive copy
Terry
“Giving new meaning to the term alpha male where fantasy is reality.”
Connect with Terry Spear:
Website:
Goodreads:
Facebook:
Twitter:
Jaguar Family
Purchase Link:
Swaney Bean – Scotland's Hannibal Lecter
Do you enjoy reading tales of the macabre? Then here's one I came across while doing research for my Highland Moon Series. It's the shocking tale of Sawney Bean, who is believed to have been born in East Lothian in the late 13th century, and was a tanner by trade.  He later moved to Ayrshire and married. Swaney and his new wife set up housekeeping at Bennane Cave, by Ballantrae in Ayrshire, Scotland.  Bennane Cave was made up of many tunnels penetrating the solid rock and extending for more than a mile into the cave.  And there were lots of side passages to accommodate a growing family over the next 25 years. The cave's entrance was flooded for several hundred meters, twice a day at high tide.
Sawney planned to support his new wife by robbery, ambushing travelers on the lonely narrow roads that connected the villages.  He realized that in order to make sure he could never be identified for his crimes, he should murder his victims.  He came upon the idea of while disposing of any evidence, he would butcher the bodies to provide a high protein diet of human meat for himself and his wife. The diet seemed to have been effective as Mrs Bean bore fourteen children, each with an appetite for human flesh.  Those children grew up and through incest, produced children of their own, increasing the need for even more food.
 Over two decades, generations of Bean offspring grew up in Bennane Cave, refining their skills of murder and cannibalism, even salting and pickling the flesh.   Preserved but decaying body parts were discovered washed up on the surrounding beaches.
The local authorities had by then established the longest missing persons list ever created.  Although mass searches of the area were carried out to locate either the missing people or their murderers, nobody ever thought to search Bennane Cave.
Years passed and the family grew older and thanks to their diet, bigger. As many as half a dozen victims would be ambushed and killed at a time in military style operations by the Sawney Bean men.  The bodies were taken back to the cave to be carefully prepared by the women.
But their luck finally ran out when one evening they attacked a man and his wife returning home from a nearby fair.  One group pulled the woman from her horse and had her stripped and disemboweled before the other group had a chance to wrestle the man to the ground.  He fought desperately to escape, driving his horse into and over his attackers.  A group of twenty or so people also returning from the fair happened upon the scene.  After a brief and violent exchange the Sawney Bean men realized they were outnumbered and quickly retreated back to the cave, leaving behind the mutilated body of a woman as evidence, a number of witnesses and one very angry husband.
The husband was taken before the Chief Magistrate of Glasgow, who after hearing the tale and putting this together with his longest missing persons list ever and the many reports of the mysterious pickled body parts, decided to take the matter to King James I, who quickly arrived in Ayrshire with a small army of four hundred men and a pack of tracker dogs, and together with a band of local volunteers, launched one of the biggest manhunts the country had ever seen.
Like before, the search extended through the Ayrshire countryside and coastline and like before, nothing was discovered, until the dogs picked up the scent of decaying human flesh while passing a partly waterlogged cave. Carrying torches, the troops entered Bennane cave and with swords drawn, they proceeded down the mile-long twisting passage to the inner depths.  
Nothing could have prepared them for the sight they witnessed that day. The damp walls of the cave were strewn with row upon row of human limbs and body parts, like meat hanging in a butchers shop.  Other areas of the cave stored bundles of clothing, piles of watches and rings and heaps of discarded bones from previous feasts.
After a brief fight, the entire Sawney Bean family, all forty-eight of them, were arrested and marched off to Edinburgh by the king.  Their crimes were considered so heinous that the normal justice system, for which Scotland is so renowned, was abandoned and the entire family was sentenced to death.  The following day the twenty-seven men of the family met a fate similar to that of many of their victims, by having their legs and arms cut off and being left to slowly bleed to death, watched by their women.  The twenty-one women were burned like witches in huge fires.

        The Ballad of Swaney Bean
They've hung them high in Edinburgh toon
An likewise a their kin
An the wind blaws cauld on a their banes
An tae hell they a hae gaen.

I hope you enjoyed the story!

Gwyn

She lay down, with her back toward him, and he settled behind her, their bodies mere inches apart. Galen wondered what she'd do if he slipped his arm over her waist and drew her back. He imagined how the shapely curve of her hips would fit perfectly against him. He suddenly realized if he wasn't careful, Sorcha would be well aware of just how much he desired her.
She suddenly rolled over onto her back.
Galen raised himself up on one elbow and peered down at her.
Sorcha's eyes sparkled in the pale moon light as she gazed up at him. She brushed her fingers against his cheek.
He closed his eyes, fighting his overwhelming desire for her.
"Kiss me," she whispered softly.
Galen brushed his lips across hers, savoring their soft fullness. He'd never wanted anyone as badly as he wanted Sorcha at that moment. He moved his hand down her side and over the curve of her hip, drawing her against him. He groaned against her mouth, prepared to deepen the kiss, then remembered through a haze of desire—they weren't alone.






Finding the Right Spot
No, I'm not talking about THAT spot, although that is important. :) I'm talking about the spot on these ads that keep popping up and taking over my browser. It's infuriating!

I remember in the old days of the Web that pop-ups, the ones that showed up outside of your browser, were a common nuisance. These ads would sometimes fill up the screen to the point of not being able to do anything. The human user couldn't click fast enough to make them go away. However, anti-virus programs evolved to get rid of browser-independent pop-ups, and so the only ads Web users had to worry about were those that appeared when we landed on a website or those we accidentally pointed to with our mouse. Those are the ones driving me a little nuts right now.

Lately, it seems like it's a lot easier to accidentally point to these ads. It's almost as if they know where our pointer will be when the site comes up. Also, I've noticed the minute I land on certain sites that part of screen, the part I want to see, will fall away and an ad will appear. Or something will whoosh across the screen, and the next thing I know there are people ice skating next to a convertible or some other surreal scene I can't turn off.

Why? Why can't I make the ads go away? Because the ad people are getting craftier about hiding the word Close or the X, so I have to struggle to find the right spot, the one that will make the ad disappear so I can continue looking at pictures of kittens climbing curtains in little pink tutus.

What about you? What about the Web currently irritates you? Please do share in the comments section.

Happy Reading!


Dunollie Castle in Argyll, Scotland
Dunollie Castle perches on a 90 foot outcrop of rock about a mile outside the beautiful town of Oban in Argyll, Scotland—one of my favorites. A castle stood here many centuries before the town existed. Dunollie (from the Gaelic Dùn Ollaigh) was the home of kings and chiefs and was a center of politics and trade. The hilltop where the castle sits was occupied even in prehistoric times. Excavations show that a fort sat on the site during the Bronze Age. This was one of the capitals of the Kingdom of Dál Riata in the 7th and 8th centuries. Kings of the Cenél Loairn tribe ruled over the area of what is today called Lorn.

View of Dunollie from the ferry.
 We visited Dunollie in July 2013. First we took a tour of the 1745 House which is set up like a museum. I'll do a post on it later. After leaving the house, we walked up a trail behind the house to the hilltop where the castle sits. It's a really nice walk, though steep in places.
Trail leading from the 1745 House up to the castle.
 The Irish annals record that Dun Ollaigh was attacked or burned down three times, in 686, 698 and 701. According to the records, it was rebuilt in 714 by Selbach mac Ferchair who at the time was King of Dál Riata and who had destroyed the site in 701. Experts say this early fortification was abandoned sometime after 900.

Memorial to Alexander James MacDougall in the castle's courtyard.
Dunollie is known as the primary seat of the MacDougall Clan. The MacDougalls were a significant force in Scottish history and at one point, are said to have owned a third of Scotland.


 When Somerled, King of the Isles, died in 1164, Dunollie passed to his eldest son, Dugall. It became the seat of the Clan MacDougall, with the chiefs titled the Lords of Lorn. The MacDougall Clan, one of the most ancient clans in Scotland was, at that time, the most powerful clan in the Western Isles of Scotland. They were also appointed overlords of the Norse territories of the Isles. Known as kings, Duncan and Ewan held much power from Dunollie to the Outer Hebrides. They held most of Argyll and the islands of Mull, Lismore, Jura, Tiree, Col and many others.

View from the courtyard of the road and shoreline below.

Detail from a sign on the site.


 The first five MacDougall chiefs built eight castles around the Argyll mainland and the islands. Alexander, the 3rd chief, was married to the sister of John Balliol, who became the King of Scotland from 1292 to 1296. This proved to be the MacDougalls' downfall when the Balliols lost their supremacy to Robert the Bruce.


Click to enlarge.

Detail from a sign on the site showing how the castle probably looked in its heyday.
When the MacDougalls came into conflict with Robert the Bruce in 1308 at the Battle of the Pass of Brander, they lost their lands and power. Much of it was given to the Campbells. Though the MacDougalls didn't recover all their territory, they were still an important clan, involved in national politics and various causes. The MacDougalls regained Dunollie and some other estates in the late 14th century.

This is me in the cellar or basement of the castle. It has a vaulted ceiling.
The keep measures approximately 39 feet by 37 feet on the outside. The walls are between 9 feet and 11 feet thick. This vaulted ground floor room might have been used for storage. There are traces of two slit windows looking into the courtyard.

The stairs leading to the upper floors.

Thanks for visiting Dunollie with me! Next time, I'll show you more of the interior of Dunollie Castle and share more history. :)

Vonda


Known for his wicked wit, fierce loyalty, and skills in battle, Robert "Rebbie" MacInnis, the Earl of Rebbinglen, loves freedom and has no plans of marrying anytime soon. But when his father, a powerful Scottish marquess, signs a contract betrothing Rebbie to an earl's young daughter, he is furious. If he has to marry, he's determined to choose his own bride, though he has no inkling who he would wish to wed until fate intervenes to remind him of one fair-haired, nameless beauty and the passionate night they spent together years ago. A night forever etched in his memory. 

Lady Calla Ferguson, a penniless widow with a young son, is forced to seek employment as her cousin's companion in order to pay her late husband's massive gambling debt. Having been ignored or mistreated most of her life, Calla has become a resourceful survivor who will stop at nothing to get what she wants—safety and security for her son and herself. Wealthy merchant, Claybourne cares little for the money the Earl of Stanbury owed him; he simply wants the earl's beautiful, voluptuous widow and he'll do whatever it takes to get his hands on her, even kidnapping and blackmail. 

When Rebbie happens upon Claybourne abducting Calla, he rescues her and hides her in a secluded castle deep in the wild Scottish Highlands. Calla conceals her passionate spirit beneath reserve and duty, along with closely-guarded secrets which, if exposed, could ruin both her life and her son's. Years ago, she lost her heart to a dark-eyed stranger she never thought to see again, but now he's her protector. Rebbie craves another pleasurable night like the one they shared in the past, and she cannot resist the fiery passion that echoes deep in her heart and soul. Soft but strong, Calla sparks within Rebbie a desperate hunger and a need to protect her. But will her secrets tear them apart? 

Excerpt from My Rebel Highlander

Wearing his belted plaid kilt, Rebbie stepped out of the Breakstane Inn and approached his saddled horse where the groom from the livery stable held him. He secured his clothing behind his saddle. Dreading the trip to Draughon and the conversation to come with Barclay, he hoisted himself into the saddle.
A scream sliced through the air.
"What the devil?" His gaze scanned the village.
Down the street, in front of the livery, a man carried a kicking, screaming woman into the stables.
"Hold him," Rebbie said to the groom, then leapt off the horse and ran forward, determined to help her, whoever she was. She wore a black cloak and cowl but a lock of blond hair slipped free. Given her petite size, the woman looked like… Nay, it couldn't be.
Calla?
He withdrew his sword and charged into the stables.
"Release her, you whoreson!" Halting, Rebbie squinted into the dimness, waiting for his eyes to adjust.
"This is none of your concern, Highlander." The man's voice grated from the shadows.
Rebbie now easily discerned the man's gangly silhouette. He held Calla, his hand over her mouth muffling her protests. Her eyes wide with terror, she kicked and elbowed her captor, but he didn't loosen his hold.
"Release Lady Stanbury or I will cut you down where you stand!"
Laughing, the man shoved Calla into one of the stalls, latched the door, then drew his basket-hilt broadsword.
"Rebbie!" Calla rattled the door as if trying to open it. "Nay! Watch out!"
"Have no fear. I'll get you out," he told her. "Once I kill this whoreson."
Claybourne charged and thrust the blade, but Rebbie easily deflected his blow. The man was tall and thin, dressed in well-tailored dark brown breeches and doublet with an expensive collar at his neck. Obviously, some sort of laird. Rebbie struck out, his blade nicking the man's arm through his fine doublet. Blood soaked the exposed white linen of his shirt.
The man flicked a glance down at his arm. "Bastard!"
Rebbie sent him a malicious grin and sliced again but the man dodged back.
"Hastings!" the knave yelled through the wide, open doorway toward the street.
Och. So he needed backup, did he?
Rebbie pressed his attack and the man fled the stables. Rebbie ran to the stall where Calla was confined and opened the door. "Are you well?"
"Aye."
"What the devil is going on?"
Tears glinting in her eyes, she shook her head. "Is he gone?"
"He ran outside. Come. I must get you back to Draughon." He offered his elbow and she slid her hand around it. "What are you doing here alone?"
"I'm not alone. The driver, maid, and guard are with the coach down the street," she said, her voice shaky. "I came to pick up Lady Elena's dress."
He didn't have time to ask what she was doing so far from the coach and the others in her party. Wielding his bloody-tipped sword, Rebbie glanced this way and that as he led her from the stables. On the muddy street, at twenty yards, the whoreson stood talking to another man. Almost a half-dozen others stood behind him.
"Grab her!" he yelled and charged forward with the rest of his men.
"What the hell?" Rebbie muttered and rushed Calla to his horse. Why were these men after her? He didn't have time to ask questions. After sheathing his sword, he lifted her into his saddle and leapt on behind her. He headed the horse toward Draughon, but when he rounded the bend at the edge of the village, several armed men on horseback waited in the road, too many for him to best alone while protecting Calla.
Rebbie drew his sword and slashed at the first man to approach. The blade sliced his forearm and he fell back, screaming. The other men on horseback formed a barricade across the road leading to Draughon, swords drawn. With Calla on his horse, he couldn't risk riding head-long through them. She could be grievously injured or killed.
His only other alternative was a well-worn trail leading to the right. Mayhap he could circle around to Draughon. He guided Devil in that direction.
"Stop them!" the whoreson yelled behind them.
Holding Calla tightly before him, Rebbie urged the stallion into a breakneck gallop across the moor. The horse relished a good run anyway. Rebbie tried to figure out how to circle back to Draughon Castle, but then he remembered that the River Tay lay in their path. The bridge was further back. Damnation. Now what was he going to do? With all the rain, the river was too deep and swollen to wade through.
He glanced back at the dozen or more pursuers in the distance. "Hell," he growled through clenched teeth. Why were they so determined to capture Calla?
As they crossed a grassy field, Rebbie gave the horse his head. Devil leapt a stone dyke, then galloped along another muddy road. He followed it northwest for a mile or two. Moments later, he slowed Devil, not wanting to lather him, and glanced back. The whoresons were nowhere in evidence, but Rebbie still had to keep ahead of them.
Or mayhap he could outsmart them.
A thick wood lay ahead. The dark green leaves would provide good cover. He directed the horse into the trees, hoping to hide while their pursuers rode by. Then, they could double back and head south again toward Draughon.
Devil's breath whooshed in and out. 'Twas the only sound within the quiet forest, but not loud enough for anyone approaching to hear over their own horses' hoof-beats… if anyone should appear.
Rebbie focused on the road he could see through the branches, but the sweet floral scent of Calla's unbound hair wafted up his nose, distracting him.
"Did he hurt you?" he asked her.
"Nay. I thank you for rescuing me." Her soft, feminine voice grabbed at something within him, making him want to protect her with every last ounce of strength he possessed.
"I'm glad I was there to help." He couldn't imagine what the knave would've done to her if he hadn't shown up. Raped her? Killed her?
None of the bastards passed by on the road beyond the wood. He listened for hoof-beats in the distance, but all was quiet.
"Where the devil are they?" Rebbie grumbled. "No doubt lying in wait for us to return. How would he know we need to get to Draughon Castle?"
When Calla didn't respond, he frowned, growing more and more curious. "Who is that bastard? He's a laird, is he not?"
Calla nodded and turned toward him a bit. "A wealthy merchant. Edward Claybourne. But, aye, he owns land."
"And why is he trying to abduct you?"
Her back to him, she faced forward again and dropped her head, as if she were staring down at her hands.
"Come now, Calla. Tell me," he said gently, eyeing her lush flaxen curls, wanting to bury his hand in them and experience the softness of her.
He hadn't asked if he could call her Calla, but given their past intimacy, he thought 'twas not out of the question. And he certainly wanted her to call him Rebbie.
She turned her head, her profile clear. "Claybourne and my late husband often gambled. Stanbury lost everything he owned—which wasn't entailed—to him and grew deeply in debt before he died. I've been repaying Claybourne, but 'tis not enough."
"'Slud!" Rebbie shook his head, his heart sinking, just imagining the horrible situation she was entangled in. "What a bastard." Both her husband and Claybourne.
She nodded.
Hell. That had to mean Calla was penniless, then. That was why she was working as a companion to Elena. How could her husband leave her in such dire straits? Had he been daft? This Claybourne was evidently a piece of work, trying to abduct her because he'd won everything from her late husband. What an evil-hearted whoreson. He'd best not touch Calla again or Rebbie would slice him limb from limb. He couldn't risk riding back south with Calla. He couldn't fight Claybourne's garrison singlehandedly and still protect her.
Her feminine scent, a blend of roses and lavender, teased his nose. Damnation, but she was bewitching. He wanted to bury his nose in her hair and breathe her in. She would of a certainty think him mad. He would also love to smell the delicate skin of her neck, then kiss her there. Taste her. Hell. He almost growled the word.
"We'll ride northwest." Rebbie needed to distract himself from her allure and focus on how best to keep her safe.
"Where will we go?" she asked. Despite the dangerous situation, he found himself liking the sound of we coming from her lips. Was he daft? There was no we.
"I have a small castle deeper in the Highlands," he said. "Tummel Castle, about forty miles from here…"

Amazon | B&N | Print


  • 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