Dunnottar Castle, Scotland

The day my friends and I visited Dunnottar castle started out foggy and rainy, typical Scottish weather. By the time we reached the castle, thankfully, the rain had stopped. But it was very windy, cold and cloudy when we got out of the car. Extra layers of clothing were necessary, but it was the perfect atmosphere to explore this amazing, unbelievable place. We walked down the 2600 feet long trail which includes extensive stairs. This access path is narrow and I can see how this would make the fortress easier to defend during times of conflict.

Dunnottar is in a very dramatic location on a cliff that juts out into the North Sea, about two miles from Stonehaven. And about two hours drive north of Edinburgh. The approach to the castle provides some stunning views of the castle and the sea.

The name Dunnottar comes from Scottish Gaelic, and/or Pictish language. Dun means a hill fort, fortress or castle. This fortress held an important place in many of Scotland's historic events and saw a lot of conflict over the centuries.

This part of the castle (above) overlooks the main entrance where soldiers would’ve used these arrow slits and gun loops to defend the fortress from invaders.

Above is another part of the entrance. The round rocks in these steps are very slippery when wet. The rail is definitely necessary.

The eleven buildings which currently comprise Dunnottar were built from the 1200s to the 1600s.

Storehouse and the taller Towerhouse or Keep.
The castle and the area around it were used from Pictish times, before recorded history. It was first mentioned in 681, in the Annals of Ulster, because of a battle which took place here. It is believed the Picts revered the site and felt it was important and sacred to their religion, similar to Druidism. To them, the site represented a strong feminine nature symbol. The Picts converted to Christianity around the 5th century when St. Ninian chose Dunnottar as a site for one of his churches.

Another battle was recorded here in 900. In this one Danish Viking invaders launched an attack against King Donald II, who was killed. The Vikings won the battle and seized the castle. In 934 King Aethelstan of Wessex launched an attack on Dunnottar. A poet named Blind Harry reported in the 15th century that Dunnottar was the site where William Wallace trapped and burned a garrison of English soldiers who were hiding in the castle church in 1296 resulting in the Scots defeating the English.

View out a window in the Keep.
Straight ahead is the Tower House or Keep and to the left is the Storehouse.
In the 1300s the English gained control of Dunnottar. But by the close of that century, Scotland (and Clan Keith) had control of the castle. The Keith chiefs were the Earls Marischal, holders of an important Scottish office. Sir William Keith was the 1st Earl Marischal. He built the Tower House or Keep which is the first visible structure as you approach the castle. (The below picture was taken inside.) The Earl Marischal had an important responsibility of keeping the king safe in parliament.

Above is the view, looking out one of the castle windows, of the beach far below. I'll share more Dunnottar photos and history in a future post.

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? 
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My First Romance

With the publication of Love Is...(the charity anthology which includes my story Her Royal Rendezvous) on Aug 5th, and The Cottage Next Door on Sept 16th, I just realized I will have 25 novels/novellas/short stories published! 25! Back in 2006, after writing and submitting for more years than I care to count, I despaired of ever being published. But in September of 2006, I got the e-mail that changed my life. Samhain Publishing wanted to publish my contemporary romance, The Ride of Her Life!

If there is a "book of the heart" this was the one for me. I learned so much going through the process of edits and covers and release days. It's still available in both print and download, so I thought I'd share the cover, blurb and an excerpt today.

The cover gods smiled on me. I'd been around long enough to know I was very lucky to get an awesome cover like this the first time out of the gate.


She’s in for the ride of her life.

After a devastating diagnosis, sensible Sarah Austin yearns to live life to the fullest. When she talks her former teenage crush into a cross-country ride on his Harley, she thinks it’s her one and only chance for adventure, including a fun fling with love ‘em and leave ‘em Bastian.

No longer a rebel, Dean Bastian is a counselor for troubled teens and ready to settle down. He doesn’t know why Sarah is so desperate for an adventure, but he’s willing to do anything to keep a smile on her face, even pretend to still be a bad boy.

Sarah doesn’t want to burden anyone with the future she faces, but can Dean convince her that the rest of her life can be an adventure…with him?


He was out in the driveway, polishing the bike, when Sarah pulled up to the curb. At least, he thought it was Sarah. The woman who stepped out of the late-model Ford was petite, wearing faded blue jeans and a tight T-shirt that hugged her every curve. She pulled out a familiar saddlebag and slung it over her shoulder, then grabbed a pizza box out of the backseat. She nudged the door closed with her hip.

Dean couldn’t take his eyes off her, or her new short, spiky hairdo. She looked sexy as hell. He felt his body tighten as her hips swayed in the well-washed denim. Her white T-shirt stretched seductively across her breasts and his heart pounded at the sight. They were only talking about the trip and he already couldn’t control his response to her. They hadn’t even left the driveway yet. What would happen once they were on the road? He felt more than a little irritated that he was so out of control around her.

“What did you do to your hair?” he called out, a little harsher than necessary.

Her bright smile faltered and she lost the little rhythm she’d had in her step. Real smooth, Bastian. She continued up the walk at a slower pace and Dean met her halfway. He took the pizza box out of her hands but she didn’t meet his glance.

“I didn’t mean that how it sounded,” he told her. “You look great. In fact, I was blown away. You look so different.”

She shrugged her shoulders and finally looked at him. “I can’t fit a hairdryer in here,” she said, pulling the saddlebag off her shoulder. “The stylist said I just use a little gel and I’m ready to go.”

He’d always been one of those guys who loved women with long hair. Preferably flowing in a riot of curls down her back. But one look at Sarah and he was a changed man. The smooth pageboy she’d worn before had been plain and simple. But this flirty style brightened her eyes and flattered her tiny features. With a simple haircut, Sarah had been transformed from merely pretty to palm-tingling sexy.

He wanted to touch her again. Really touch her this time. Play with the fringe of hair around her face. Nibble on her pretty little ears. Kiss the bare nape of her neck. He grasped both ends of the pizza box. He was in big trouble.

If you like road trip romances, stories of good girls who want to be bad and the bad boys who want to be good, or simply an emotional contemporary romance, why not give The Ride of Her Life a try?

Love Is... - coming Aug 5th
The Cottage Next Door - coming Sept 16th
Her Royal Masquerade - available now
Her Royal Bodyguard - available now

The Highlanders Bundle!!! 1st Two Books for One Price of $3.99!!! Giveaway Blog Tour: Hero of a Highland Wolf

HighlandersBundle 500x750
From USA Today Bestselling Author, Terry Spear, comes the long-awaited bundle of her popular two-book Highlander romance series—Winning the Highlander’s Heart and The Accidental Highland Here.
Lady Anice vows to flee the amorous advances of King Henry I and return to her home in the Highlands where she hopes to find a laird to wed. She soon discovers her staff has vanished. Premonitions of imminent danger warn her of foul play, and she is certain she is cursed when it comes to marriage.
The king orders the Highlander Laird Malcolm MacNeill, who is seeking an English bride, to provide the lass safe escort and learn what has become of her staff. Escorting her home safely proves a dangerous trial in and of itself and Malcolm has difficulty keeping his heart out of the matter. When the king wishes Lady Anice be wed to one of his loyal barons, the issue is further complicated. Losing his heart to the lass means Malcolm could very well lose his head.
Lady Eilis Dunbarton’s life undergoes a drastic change with the death of her cousin, Agnes. Now she’s faced with the disagreeable prospect of marrying the man who was to be her cousin’s husband. Not by a change of contract, though. Instead, by deceit—pretending to be her cousin. But if her husband-to-be discovers she’s not really Agnes, her life is forfeit. So what choice does Eilis have but to flee?
When Laird James MacNeill’s clan rescues a half-drowned lass from the sea, there is speculation she is of the enemy clan, especially since she doesn’t remember her own name. James is immediately enticed with the lady, but his focus must remain on finding the proper bride. For if he does not wed soon, he must give up his holdings to one of his younger brothers. Focus slips away with each day Eilis is close, and James finds himself contemplating the thought of taking her to wife without knowing her true identity.
But how dangerous would the end result be? And what will happen if Eilis’s husband-to-be comes looking for her only to find her in the arms of another man?
Still waiting on Barnes and Noble!
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Author: Terry Spear
Release Date: August 5, 2014
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Genre: Paranormal Romance

The MacQuarrie werewolf clan has overseen the Playfair family’s Ardmore Castle for three centuries. So when a Playfair granddaughter from abroad inherits the estate, clan chief Grant MacQuarrie has to train her to manage it—and he’s not happy about having her in his way. Until the prim old lady he’s expecting turns out to be a sexy young wolf…

Colleen Playfair is excited and apprehensive about her new role at the castle, and she has big plans to change the way its run. But the stubborn Grant won’t make things easy, and she’s forced to turn to seduction to get her way…
Barnes and Noble - http://bit.ly/1il2cxw



Goodreads Giveaway:


5 Stars!!

 I became hooked on shifter romances years ago and one of the people I blame for this addiction is author Terry Spear. Yes, that’s right, when I began to read Terry Spear’s Heart of the Wolf series, I was hooked. Why? Because Spear creates a fabulous, believable shifter world.

No, I didn’t start looking at my neighbors too closely (though I did wonder about that coyote/wolf that began wandering around). Seriously, though, Spear’s Heart of the Wolf series combines believable protagonists that are shifters whom I’d love to have move in next door. (Yes, quite a few hunky alphas in this group.)

In addition, Spear is a writer who makes every detail clear for her readers. We can see this Heart of the Wolf world take form in front of us with each page we turn. Each of the books include not only charismatic protagonists, but also exciting stories that keep the reader turning page after page.

This spring, I reread the entire series and enjoyed it even more as the details that thread each story and link each book to one another were so clear and well-integrated. The stories may be set in the Pacific Northwest, Colorado, Maine, or Scotland, but there are themes and characters that remain consistently as touchstones for her readers. FabFantasyFiction

Romantic Times, 4 Star! HOT

When it comes to paranormal romance, readers can always depend on Spear to deliver. This 14th entry in the acclaimed Heart of the Wolf series will not lee down those rabid fans of the hairy guys who howl at the moon. Hero of a Highland Wolf is guaranteed to excite, tantalize and stimulate all of your senses. And there’s kilts! Jaime A. Geraldi


Ah, those Highland wolves should just RUN when American woman arrive on their doorsteps. They really stand no chance of keeping their hearts to themselves! This is #14 in Ms. Spear's Heart of the Wolf Series. It's a stand alone, although you'll probably want to read the others, because, really...SHIFTERS! Hot Highland SHIFTERS!
Colleen arrives at the castle that she's inherited. She's been forewarned by her best friend that the manager, Grant, of the property is going to try and scare her off. Not that a whole bunch of Highland warriors, wearing kilts and swinging broadswords, would cause her to scarper off. Nope, she's tickled at all the shirtless and oiled men that fill her courtyard.
She is surprised that the men are all shifters. Her father, a jackass if there ever was one, had griped that they were all human.
Once again there are some steamy times as these two work to find their way together. There's a party, with a pirate theme, that had me giggling.
Yep, the Highland wolves should just roll over and show their soft underbellies when the American women come to them. I will definitely be reading more from Terry Spear. Good then she's so prolific!
Kathie Spitz


Fresh Fiction! 

I believe that any reader who wants to enjoy an action packed, sizzling 
romance will enjoy HERO OF A HIGHLAND WOLF ... the shifter aspect isn't 
overblown, in fact until they shifted to fight at one point 
I had forgotten it was a paranormal. It is a fantastic love story plain
and simple and one I plan to put in my keeper shelf. by: Annetta Sweetko   

Back to writing!
“Giving new meaning to the term alpha male where fantasy is reality.”
Connect with Terry Spear:

New release: The Disciplinarian’s Daughter

I’m thrilled to announce that my erotic Victorian romance, The Disciplinarian’s Daughter, is part of the new Secrets Volume 31: Fantasies Fulfilled anthology released by Red Sage Publishing.

Here’s the blurb:

Only virgins need apply…

In sexually-repressed Victorian England, Dr. Trevor Markham is determined to prove that the condition known as ‘female hysteria’ is simply a woman’s sexual frustration. But when innocent Amelia Ashworth responds to his ad for a scientific study of virgins, Trevor’s sexual experiments produce results neither of their hearts expect.

A little background on the story:

Victorian England was a very sexually-repressed age. At one time, even table legs needed to be covered, lest they remind the male species of women’s legs! And a glimpse of an actual female ankle beneath a woman’s gown was considered scandalous.

Needless to say, female sexual satisfaction was a very low priority during this time. Sexual frustration among women – the irritability, short-temperedness, difficulty sleeping, and other symptoms that can result – was considered to be a medical condition which doctors called ‘female hysteria.’ In my story, doctor Trevor Markham recognizes hysteria for what it truly is, and sets out on a noble experiment to discover the toys and techniques women could use to satisfy themselves if their husbands neglected or ignored this marital responsibility. He just didn’t count on innocent Amelia Ashworth being the lady who responded to his ad for a virgin volunteer…  

In real life, toward the end of the Victorian era – and with help from the advent of electricity – Dr. Joseph Mortimer Granville patented the first electromechanical vibrator around 1880. And women have been thanking him ever since! 

I hope you’ll enjoy The Disciplinarian’s Daughter, which is the much-asked-for sequel to my story, The Disciplinarian, in Secrets, Volume 15.

Until next month,

Smoo Cave in Durness, Scotland

Smoo Cave is on the edge of Durness on the north coast of Scotland. The cave is 200 feet x 150 feet x 50 feet high at the entrance and contains 3 sections. Inside the second section is a very dramatic and noisy waterfall, the Allt Smoo River, pouring through the cave. Standing inside this smaller part of the cave right next to the waterfall, you have to shout to be heard when talking. Sometimes boat trips are available that go back through the cave to the third section but when we were there, the river was flowing too much for a full tour of the cave. The waterfall is 80 feet high.

Click to enlarge

View of the cave from outside.
 The cave is said to have served as a smugglers hideaway hundreds of years ago and also that illegal whisky was distilled in the deepest part of the cave. One story says after 1745 government revenuers were sent in to stop the illegal distilling of whisky and arrest those responsible. They hired Donald MacKay who lived nearby to take them into the deepest part of the cave so they might find the stills. The river happened to be in high flood at the time and MacKay is said to have steered the boat into the waterfall so it would capsize. He was a strong swimmer and swam to safety. The revenuers were not so lucky and one of their bodies was never found. It is said he still haunts this part of the cave.
View of the inlet or Geodha from the front of Smoo Cave. It appears this was at low tide.
The Caves were also used often during the Norse Era and the name Smoo is probably of Norse origin, from the word Smugh which means rift, cleft or cave. Boats were repaired here throughout history. The Geodha provided a natural protected harbor.
In 1992, a midden--a domestic prehistoric refuse heap--was discovered and excavated at the entrance to the cave (above). It contained many discarded shells. Early inhabitants of the cave had eaten a lot of shellfish. The top of the midden was dated to the Iron Age and the deeper layers were much older, dating back to the Mesolithic Era. They believe these people were the earliest human inhabitants of the Highlands.
View from above the cave, looking down the Geodha. It is believed that more of the gorge was covered over long ago and was part of the cave, but it gradually collapsed over time.
A long set of steps leads down to the cave.

Wildlife is abundant here, especially birds.
Ruins of a block hut built by an 18th century Orkney merchant. He used the cave as a store and built Smoo Lodge.

Wildflowers at the base of the ruin.

Another view looking down over the inlet and entrance to the cave. You must cross this small footbidge to access the entrance.
Thank you for visiting Smoo Cave with me!!

In writing news, My Notorious Highlander won an award! It's the Colorado Romance Writers Award of Excellence. Here is my trophy! I love it!!

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.