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Alyson McLayne | Top 3 Places To Visit In Scotland
Author Guest / July 31, 2019

Scotland’s held a special place in my heart for a long time. My mom put me in Highland Dancing when I was little, and I can remember standing on a chair in our dining room for hours as she struggled to make my kilt–pinning and repining the pleats and making sure it sat perfectly on my hips. She also made me a fitted, velvet vest to wear over my lacey blouse. The final product was beautiful but heavy (all those deep pleats!), making the dances even harder to perform. Not surprisingly, when I grew out of my costume a few years later and needed a new one, she paid someone else to make it. We were both happier that she left it to the professionals! So years later, when I was on a University exchange in England for six months, the first trip I took during spring break was all the way north through Scotland to the Orkney Islands, off the northeast coast. To get there I stopped in Edinburgh, Inverness, and other places along the way. Scotland was a magical place to me with its history, castles, green valleys, craggy mountains, and wild seas. And brawny Scots in kilts,…

5 Essential Things All Highlanders Need
Author Guest , Top 5 / August 13, 2018

I love a book filled with adventure, passion, and humor—with a mandatory HEA, of course. Add a medieval setting—preferably in the Highlands of Scotland—and I’ll stay up way too late finishing the story!! But I can only imagine how tough it must have been to actually live there in the 1450s: danger from brigands and other clans, blustery cold in the winter months, the very real possibility of starvation, not to mention plague and pestilence. And if that wasn’t bad enough, women and infants had a much higher mortality rate during childbirth than they do now—some estimates are as high as 4% (and that sounds conservative to me). So Highlanders had to be a hearty bunch to survive, which got me thinking…what are some of the essentials all Highlanders need to not only survive, but to thrive? Here are my top five! A warm plaid to snuggle under—with a brawny Highland Laird, of course! A strong clan to call your own, and a warm castle to live in—preferably as Lady to that Highlander! A sturdy horse to flee your enemy, while sharing a saddle with your hot Scot. A sharp wit to outmaneuver other clans and the hated, bluidy Grit…

Alyson McLayne | Excerpt of HIGHLAND CONQUEST
Excerpt / February 16, 2018

EXCERPT MacPherson Castle—Loch Eireachd, Scotland, 1452 Fistfuls of hair fell to the bed like streams of molten iron. The growing pile, more orange than gold, resembled a dragon’s nest, and gleamed seductively in the firelight. Amber sighed at the sight. If only it were a real dragon’s nest and a beast could rise and smite all her enemies. One very much in particular. She almost smiled at the fanciful thought as she chopped off her hair. Almost. In truth, her plan was an act of desperation with little chance of success. By all that was holy, she’d need a miracle to get away this time. Grabbing another handful, she raised the knife and sawed off an even bigger chunk. The remaining strands sprang up to curl around her neck and ears, a light, airy feeling at odds with the heaviness in her heart. Laird Machar Murray would come after her, of that she had no doubt. If he found her, no amount of false hexes or curses or threats from the devil would deter him from destroying her this time. Her lost hair would grow back. Her lost spirit and soul could not. The heavy wooden door rattled as a…

Alyson McLayne | My Favorite scene in HIGHLAND PROMISE
Author Guest / October 11, 2017

My favorite scene is at Darach’s keep in his great hall when Caitlin’s worst fears come to pass—her uncle, who’d kept her under guard for three years with the intent of marrying her to the highest bidder, has found her and threatens to take her back. But instead of trusting in Darach and letting him handle it, Caitlin takes matters into her own hands. In the process, she messes up all of Darach’s well-thought-out plans and brands herself a besom in the hopes that she’ll be “ruined” in her uncle’s eyes, and he’ll leave without her. Her uncle’s jowls quivered with outrage. “She was a maid when she left my keep, I made sure of it. ‘Tis someone here who’s ruined her. I had other men lined up if Fraser fell through. Now who will want her?” “MacInnes,” Darach said, “I’m sure Caitlin isna a—” “I am,” she said, cutting him off in her haste. If she had no value to her uncle, maybe he would leave too. “None will want me now. My bastard children will roam the halls wherever I live. They’ll overrun your keep, Uncle. More mouths to feed and bodies to clothe. You best leave me…