Somehow, throughout history, the notion of bride stealing has been romanticized—and I’m guilty as charged! Hence my six-book Stolen Bride series.
The very first historical romance (beyond the classics) I ever read was The Bride, by Julie Garwood. I loved that book, fell in love with Alec and wanted to be Jamie. For me, that was when bride stealing first became romantic, and it’s stuck with me all those years. Just the thought of some giant Highlander, thick with muscle, handsome chiseled face and an intense desire for his heroine and passion for his country makes me feel all warm and squishy inside!
When I decided to write The Stolen Bride Series (six books—two are already released: The Highlander’s Reward, The Highlander’s Conquest), I wanted to write a family saga, where you’ll see each of the characters throughout, while still focusing on the main hero and heroine for that book. While each book does stand alone, you can also follow this family through the entire series. The series covers stories of the Sutherland siblings and their cousins.
My favorite time period in Scotland is the War for Scottish Independence that took place in the late 13th/early 14th century. William Wallace took up his sword and brought it down mightily upon the English—until they captured him. Even that time period, this brutal war, has been romanticized. My belief is that it’s the idea behind it, not the actual violence and crippling bloodshed that took place. These men were fighting for what they believed in, their freedom. Freedom from oppression, freedom to express themselves within their own cultures, freedom from fear. The men fought valiantly and with heart and passion. It’s that passion, so intense, that makes this time period so romantic and fantastical. None of us can go back to that time. We only know from history books, first-person accounts and archeological ruins what happened—and that isn’t even the half of it.
Digging into that word, putting my own strong, intense characters into this time period is not only a bit of challenging fun, but gives me a chance to explore that world and what it would have been like to live during it.
Now about the bride stealing… To me this ups the conflict and really makes it hard to get the characters to fall in love—but the journey is satisfying, powerful, addictive. Highlanders were sort of known for stealing their wives, whether from the English or a neighboring clan they were warring with. Women were a commodity that were used often in vendettas and to gain alliances. But of course, my series is romance, and I wanted to give everyone a happy ending. I also made sure that my heroines were able to stick up for themselves and fight back.
Here’s the back cover blurb for the first book in the series:
She belonged to another… But was destined to be his…
Lady Arbella de Mowbray abhors the idea of marrying an English noble occupying Scotland. When she arrives in Stirling, she is thrown into the midst of a full battle between the Scots and the English. Besieged by rebels, she is whisked from her horse by a Highland warrior who promises her safety. But when he kisses her she fears she’s more in danger of losing herself.
The last thing Magnus Sutherland wants is to marry the beautiful English lass he saved. As the laird of his clan, he has a responsibility to his clan and allies. But when Arbella is attacked by one of his own men, he determines the only way to keep her safe is to make her his. A decision that promises to be extremely satisfying.
Magnus brings Arbella to his home of Dunrobin Castle in the Highlands. And that’s where the trouble begins… Their countries are at war and they should be each other’s enemy. Neither one considered their mock marriage would grow into a deeply passionate love. What’s more, they were both unhappily betrothed and those who’ve been scorned are out for revenge. Can their new found love keep them together or will their enemies tear them apart?
And an excerpt…
Arbella de Mowbray contemplated running away. The forest was conveniently to her left and still thick with leaves. Perhaps she could join a ring of outlaws hidden within the imposing foliage.
She shifted restlessly on her mare, arranging her skirts first one way and then another. The horse responded with an annoyed snort. If only she weren’t with a dozen guards and her father.
“Oh, hush, Bitsy,” she scoffed. The animal had no idea what was at stake here.
Anything would be better than permanently leaving England—and for Scotland! The land of heathens, barbarians… Oh, the horrors she’d heard went on there! The men ate their young. The warriors kept the bones of their victims tied to their beards. The horses were trained to sniff out an English lady and trample her to death. The women were witches. The children ran naked, even in the dead of winter. And the winters, how could she forget? No person of truly English blood could survive one.
She was glad that her maid Glenda had told her all she needed to know of Scotland. Although she could have done without the woman’s tears and fainting when Arbella asked her to join her on the journey. As a result, her old maid was not with her—in fact none of the female servants at Mowbray Manor would accompany her. She was alone, without help. Not that she needed help, but it would have been nice when she arrived in a foreign country to have someone with her from home. And while her father promised her husband would provide a maid, that maid would be Scots.
She would die before the new year—either from frostbite or at the hands of the dreaded Scots.
Now granted, her father said she would be marrying an English baron, but that mattered little. They would still reside in Scotland. And no doubt her baron husband would be just as brutal, if not more so, than the savages she’d heard tales of. Indeed, he would have to be if he kept them all tightly reined in. She knew little of her intended. Never met the man. Never heard any stories. He was a mystery. She discounted the things her father told her. He only honeyed the character of Marmaduke Stewart, hoping to sweeten the horror of her upcoming nuptials.
Arbella shivered, and rubbed her cloak-covered arms, contemplating the forest along the edge of the road. Late in the afternoon, the sun was hidden behind the trees making the road to Scotland chilly. A slight breeze blew, wrenching her hood from her head and pulling a few strands of hair from her tight chignon. Arbella tucked the hair back into the knot and pulled her hood over her ears. She hated the cold. Death might take her before the week was out. She’d no doubt shiver like mad in her new bed since the Scots abhorred warming their homes by fire. Another fact from Glenda. One thing was certain—she didn’t want to die anytime soon.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Eliza Knight is the multi-published, award-winning, Amazon best-selling author of sizzling historical romance and erotic romance. While not reading, writing or researching for her latest book, she chases after her three children. In her spare time (if there is such a thing…) she likes daydreaming, wine-tasting, traveling, hiking, staring at the stars, watching movies, shopping and visiting with family and friends. She lives atop a small mountain, and enjoys cold winter nights when she can curl up in front of a roaring fire with her own knight in shining armor. Visit Eliza at www.elizaknight.com or her historical blog History Undressed: www.historyundressed.com. Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/elizaknightauthor. Twitter: @ElizaKnight