On Scottish Marriages: Guest Blog from Colette Cameron

MEDIA KIT Author Photo

I am so excited to be a guest on Romantic Historical Lovers today. Thank you!

When the heroine of Highlander’s Hope, Yvette Stapleton, finds herself married to the hero, Laird Ewan McTavish, without benefit of a marriage ceremony, she’s more than a bit put out. In fact, it nearly destroys her trust in him.

My quandary was how to get Yvette married to Ewan without her knowing it. Was it possible to simply say you were married in 1817 Scotland and, poof, you were indeed legally married? Would the marriage be recognized by the Church of Scotland?

Those are the thoughts that sprang into my mind one day while contemplating the dilemma. I wasn’t considering handfasting either, which by the 18th century, was no longer recognized by the Kirk (Church) of Scotland.

No, I needed something recognized by the Scot’s Church. I starting digging into Scot’s marriage laws of the 1800s and was pleased-as-punch to come across Scot’s Canon Code and irregular marriages. In essence, anyone could perform a marriage ceremony as long as the parties involved expressed consent to the union, either in person or in writing. Most romance readers are familiar with Gretna Green, and the romantic notion of couples trotting off to Scotland to get married—quite literally over a blacksmith’s anvil. Well, that was part of the Canon Code.

Irregular and clandestine marriages—those not performed by a cleric of the church—included simply agreeing to take one another as husband and wife before two witnesses (Gretna Green), cohabitating in Scotland under the ruse of being wed, and finally, by merely declaring you were married—even if no ceremony had taken place. You could also agree to marriage in writing with express consent. There was no particular form, either verbally or written, required for the marriage to be valid and binding.

I arranged for Yvette and Ewan to claim they were married in the midst of a very dangerous situation in order to prevent Yvette from being ravished. I reinforced it by having Ewan declare to several kin and clans members that he and Yvette were married, and then I had them cohabitate at Craiglocky Keep under the guise of marriage. Yvette was unconscious for the first four days she was there, so she wasn’t in a position to protest the implied marriage.

I did take a bit of liberty with the code, but then, isn’t that what we authors do?  I’ve got another story fermenting in my mind, and I do believe I’m going to use the written agreement as an segue to an irregular marriage.

Just an aside, Gretna Green is still a wildly popular marriage venue in Scotland.  I have an unmarried daughter. She wants to get married in Scotland. . .

Excerpt

(the Great Hall scene when Yvette discovers she’s legally married to Ewan) 

                Escape.

Yvette stood on unsteady legs, grasping the table’s edge for balance. She strove for poised composure, despite feeling like a powerless pawn in a despicable game of human chess, played for the amusement of those who enjoyed tragic endings at the expense of someone else’s happiness-no-their very existence.

The Great Hall radiated silent tension. All eyes were on her. She looked at the strangers staring at her, their eyes reflecting a myriad of emotions. Embarrassment, horror, dismay, pity, outrage, compassion, and yes—even a few smugly satisfied.

“You knew?” She looked to Hugh and Duncan, before swinging her gaze to Alasdair and Gregor. They bowed their heads in chagrin. Her turbid gaze swept the rest of Ewan’s family.

“You all knew?” Yvette searched Giselle’s sorrowful eyes, then Adaira’s tear-filled ones. “You must think me such a fool.” Her agonized whisper exposed her vulnerability. Her shame. Her absolute humiliation.

Ewan touched her arm. “Evvy—”

She whirled around. “Don’t you touch me,” she hissed between stiff lips.

Yvette knew her gaze was a mirror of desolation when she finally met his eyes. “How could you?” she whispered. “I trusted you.” She’d never make that mistake again.

He reached for her again. “Please . . .”

She slapped away his hand. “Don’t.”

She clenched her teeth to still her quivering mouth and chin. Closing her eyes against the torrent of tears cascading down her face, she drew in a bracing breath.

Lord, give me the strength to walk from this room with my head held high.

On wooden legs, she stepped away from her chair.

Ewan grasped her elbow, restraining her. “Evvy, I don’t know what she told you, but . . .”

MEDIA KIT Book Cover 

Not a day has gone by that Ewan McTavish, the Viscount Sethwick, hasn’t dreamed of the beauty he danced with two years ago. He’s determined to win her heart and make her his own. Heiress, Yvette Stapleton, is certain of one thing; marriage is risky and, therefore, to be avoided. At first, she doesn’t recognize the dangerously handsome man who rescues her from assailants on London’s docks, but Lord Sethwick’s passionate kisses soon have her reconsidering her cynical views on matrimony. On a mission to stop a War Office traitor, Ewan draws Yvette into deadly international intrigue. To protect her, he exploits Scottish law, declaring her his lawful wife—without benefit of a ceremony. Yvette is furious upon discovering the irregular marriage is legally binding, though she never said, “I do.” Will Ewan’s manipulation cost him her newfound love?    

ABOUT THE AUTHOR : 

A life-long Oregonian, Collette Cameron was born and raised in a small town along the northern Oregon coast. Today she makes her home in a rural community, 30 minutes west of Portland. Her Victorian farmhouse sits on a one-acre certified wildlife habit, interspersed with a plethora of gardens: English, rose, butterfly, rock, water, and of course, vegetable.

A voracious reader of romance since her teens, she even named her daughter after a heroine in her favorite romance novel. An enthusiast of times gone by, and anything related to romance, she writes Historical Romance, with a dash of inspiration, a pinch of humor, and a liberal portion of suspense.

Having dabbled in interior decorating in her youth, Collette returned to school, graduating summa cum laude from Oregon State University, and going on to obtain her Master’s Degree in Teaching. She is member of Romance Writers of America, Rose City Romance Writers, The Beau Monde, and Love Faith and Hope, Inc.

Some of Collette’s favorite things include unique blends of coffees and teas, trivia, Cadbury Milk Chocolate, inspirational quotes, and scented candles. Her Christian faith, husband, three adult children, and five miniature dachshunds round out her life quite nicely! When she’s not teaching or writing, she enjoys amateur photography, bird watching, gardening, interior decorating, rock-hunting, boating or fishing on the Columbia River, and reading.

 

11 thoughts on “On Scottish Marriages: Guest Blog from Colette Cameron

  1. I’m so happy writers are trying to bring the term “Romantic Historical” to the genre. Your willingness to research and educate readers in a past process or tradition and to stay as true to fact as is possible in a fiction plot is what brings history alive for readers. I write in Late Antiquity (5th century Rome), and I want readers to discover the ways and traditions of the time as well as be entertained. Some may argue with me, but I think of books like Gone With The Wind, or Quo Vadis as romantic historical novels. Tons of history but the romance drives the plot. BTW, I like you book cover. Very nice.

    • I agree with you. I’m a stickler for historical accuracy, and I’m very fortunate to have beta readers and critique partners who are experts in the era I write in. They catch things I’d researched and could have sworn I had right. I love the cover too!

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