|The view that made me fall in love with Sango Bay|
|A cottage on the hill above Sango Bay|
Two years ago, my husband and I went to Scotland. (His first trip.) I wanted to go to Sango Bay, even though it's a really long drive to the north coast. We didn't drive all the way from Glasgow to Durness in one day. That would be torture. We had already stayed at a couple places in between. We saw lots of red deer between Loch Ness and Durness and some amazing views.
While we'd been in Argyll a couple days earlier, a huge storm hit, breaking down trees and knocking down power lines. We'd had a power outage at the B&B where we'd been staying. Once we reached Durness, the temperamental weather continued. Not as severe as the near-hurricane from days earlier, but there were very high winds, sleet, and rain. We saw a few snow covered mountains. This was in late May.
Although the weather was harsh, we went out and walked on the beach at Sango Bay one day. It felt like February and we were bundled up in multiple layers of sweaters, jackets and raincoats. My husband did not see WHY I love Durness and Sango Bay so much. LOL Well, yes, the sleet did almost beat our eyes out one day between the B&B and the car, but… shrugs… it was still an adventure. When I write about a place, I want to experience it in all kinds of weather. If I didn't experience the harsh weather, I couldn't write about it and describe it in detail.
|Strong winds blowing the waves|
|One of my favorite views.|
This year, we stayed in Ullapool for five days and on one of those we drove the 67 miles up to Durness for a few hours. Not only did I want to visit my favorite spot, Sango Bay, again. I also wanted to do some research for my latest book, My Notorious Highlander, which takes place there and in the surrounding area.
I set one of my favorite scenes in the book at Sango Bay during summer. I needed to know if it was ever warm enough for Scots to swim in Sango Bay and the North Sea. Sure enough, several people sat or walked on the beach and some were even playing in the water. I wouldn't have been able to. Even though it was much warmer than the previous times I'd been there, it was still only around 70 degrees F and the wind was blowing. I'm a wimp when it comes to getting into cold water. LOL But I definitely enjoyed walking on the beach on this warm, beautiful, sunny day in July.
At some point after my first visit, there must have been a severe storm that destroyed the set of wooden steps leading down the bank. Now, the only way to access the beach is a simple sand and rock pathway along the edge of the bank. Not easy to get down because it's very steep in places and there's no rail, but it's still doable.
I also notice that the amount of sand deposited on the beach of Sango Bay varies from year to year. The first time I visited, the huge pink sandstone rock at the far end of the beach was more exposed (above).
|The sunny and warm Sango Bay in my latest book.|
Thanks for visiting Sango Bay with me!
My Notorious Highlander: Chief Torrin MacLeod vows to possess and wed the spirited lady who stole his heart the previous winter. But Lady Jessie MacKay wants naught to do with the dangerous warrior, no matter how devilishly handsome and charming he is. When Torrin arrives unexpectedly at Jessie's home, along with Gregor MacBain, a man Jessie was formerly handfasted to, she is thrown off-kilter. She never wanted to see either man again, but now they are vying for her hand. Torrin promises to protect her from the devious MacBain, but how can she trust Torrin when she has witnessed how lethal he is?
The more time Torrin spends with the strong and independent Jessie, the more determined he is to win her heart. Once she allows him a kiss, he feels her passion flame as hot as his own. After she knows Torrin better, Jessie finds herself falling for the fearsome Highlander. But the odds are stacked against them. The sinister MacBain is bent on kidnapping Jessie, making her his bride and killing Torrin, while Jessie's conniving younger brother, Haldane, is determined to use Jessie to take over the castle in his older brother's absence. Jessie fears she can never be with the man she loves, while Torrin will do everything in his power to ensure they are together forever. In his heart, she is the only lady for him.
During supper at Castle Dunnakeil, one of the guards approached Lady Jessie MacKay at the high table. "We have visitors, m'lady," he said, raising his voice over the roar of conversation in the candlelit great hall.
Halting her knife in the midst of cutting a piece of venison, she glanced up at him with trepidation. Please don't let it be Haldane. She couldn't deal with her outlaw younger brother. Although Dirk hadn’t exactly left her in charge of the castle, she was the next oldest of her siblings and of the highest rank here. Dirk's sword-bearer, Erskine, and the guards were to handle defense. But if they had noble visitors, she was the one left to entertain them… along with her other brother, Aiden. But his method of entertainment was music. She would have to deal with everything else.
"Who is it?" she asked with dread.
"Chief MacLeod and Chief MacBain," the guard informed her.
"What?" Jessie's mouth hung open. Noticing a few people staring at her, she snapped her mouth closed and tried to contain her shock. Those were two names she'd hoped to never hear again. "Are you certain? Torrin MacLeod and Gregor MacBain?"
"What on earth are they doing here?"
"They would not say, but they're requesting entrance."
"How many men with them?" her younger brother, Aiden, asked beside her.
"Just over a dozen."
"I'll see what they want." Aiden stood.
"Wait." Jessie grabbed his slender arm. "I'll go, too." Why couldn't Dirk have been here at a time like this? He and around twenty-five had left, traveling south, a few weeks ago. They'd been planning to stop by Munrick Castle, Torrin MacLeod's keep. He knew Dirk wasn't here. Was that why he'd come? To harass her about marrying him? "Where is Erskine?" she asked. Her older brother's sword-bearer would ken what to do if conflict broke out.
"Outside," the guard said. "But he wanted your permission before we allowed them entrance. We're fair certain the MacLeods are allies, but we don't ken about the MacBains since… eh…" The guard's face flushed.
"Aye." Since her handfasting with him had gone sour three years past.
"I don't think Torrin MacLeod wants to wage war with you, sister." Aiden smirked, his boyish face taking on a pixie charm.
She rolled her eyes. She could guess why Torrin was here, but MacBain? The man whose castle she'd spent a year and a day at. She'd hoped to never see him again. Of a certainty, at the time, she'd fallen for him, but since being away from him, she'd come to realize what kind of knave he truly was. He cared for no one but himself. Gregor MacBain was incredibly selfish and changed his mind as often as the changing weather in the Highlands. He'd entered into a legal marriage with another woman. Jessie had naught to say to him.
After pushing herself up from the table, she crossed the great hall on shaky legs. But never could she let either of the men outside see a smidgen of weakness from her. They would circle and close in like hungry buzzards.
Stepping into the courtyard, she saw that gloaming had settled over the land with a purple light just after sunset, and a brisk breeze blew in off the North Sea. She, Aiden, and the guard moved toward the iron portcullis.
Erskine joined them, his short brown hair ruffled by the wind. He wore leather armor and carried a sword at his hip. But he did not appear overly concerned. "M'lady." He gave an abbreviated bow. "Both MacLeod and MacBain appear to have come in peace. They wish to speak to you."
Jessie's stomach knotted worse than the ropes used on the galleys. Saints! She gave a brief nod, though she did not want to face either man, but for different reasons. She took a deep breath and placed a hand upon the hilt of the foot-long dirk in the scabbard on her belt. She was never without it. Not that she expected to have to use it on either man. But it gave her more confidence.
As they approached the gate, her breathing grew shallower and her sweaty hands more fidgety. She clasped them before her.
Her gaze landed on Torrin MacLeod first. A wave of panic and something far more disturbing washed over her. The man was just as striking and attractive as the last time she'd seen him, mayhap more so, with his compelling green eyes, long chestnut hair and tall, lean frame. He was one of the few men who towered over her. But looking into his eyes filled her with a mixture of dread, fear, and something she didn't want to think about.
She quickly switched her gaze to Gregor MacBain. His black hair was much longer than it had been the last time she'd seen him and a scruffy short beard covered the lower half of his face. His dark-brown eyes had once completely bewitched her, but now she could hardly tolerate the sight of him. She had been so young and naïve when she'd first met him.
"Lady Jessie," Gregor said in a cheerful tone, then bowed deeply. His conciliatory smile annoyed her greatly. "I'm so glad to see you, lass."
"What do you want, Gregor?" she demanded.
Torrin snorted, one side of his lips kicking up in a half smile as he watched her with pronounced interest.
Heat rushed over her and she immediately felt even more edgy than before. No matter how disconcerting she found him, she simply needed to ignore Torrin, but remain ever vigilant around him for he was a dangerous man. She had seen firsthand what kind of lethal warrior he was.
"Is that any way to greet your husband?" Gregor cajoled.
"You are not my husband," she stated firmly, sending him what she hoped was a cutting glare. "You married another woman."
"Aye, but she passed giving birth to my son. I made a mistake. I never should've left you for her. I ken you must have missed me."
"You're wrong. I hardly remember much about you. And our marriage was not a legal one, so you were never my husband, in truth. 'Twas only a handfasting." She detested the Highland practice of trial marriage for a year and a day, to see if the woman would conceive a bairn, before the legal marriage took place. This, of course, benefited the man, usually a chief who needed an heir. She would never willingly enter into one of these arrangements again. She'd much prefer to remain unmarried and be of service to her family and clan.
Gregor sighed. "A storm is blowing in off the sea. Will you not let us in and feed us supper? What of Highland hospitality?"
"I have no hospitality or sympathy for you," she said, only now noticing the strong wind whipping her hair and cooling her overheated face.
"Allow me to talk to the lady alone." Torrin's tone was low and deep, but most disturbing of all, he never took his eyes off her.