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I have a new book!

The Lord’s Highland Temptation is available now as an ebook and mass market paperback.

Last year around this time I was in Scotland on Number One London Tour’s Scottish Writers Retreat. What a lovely experience! I simply had to put what I saw and experienced in a book. The Lord’s Highland Temptation is that book.

This book was also inspired by an idea I’d held onto for a while. Did you ever see the old movie My Man Godfrey? The original 1936 version starred William Powell and Carole Lombard. It was remade in 1957 with David Niven and June Allyson. A socialite passes off a vagrant as a gentleman and he becomes the family butler, with everyone in the family singing his praises–except the oldest daughter, who did not trust the man at all. In the end it is discovered the butler is a wealthy man and he and the younger daughter, who has idolized him the whole time, fall in love.

The movie bugs me every time I’ve watched it, because the screenwriters picked the wrong heroine! The tension was between the older sister and the butler. She was the one who should have wound up with him!

So I decided to rewrite that story and set it in Scotland in 1816. My Man Godfrey is a screwball comedy and my book is the sort of emotional story I always write, but I fixed that heroine problem!

This book has been getting some very nice reviews. It even received a starred review from John Charles in Booklist: “RITA Award-winning Gaston gracefully tips her literary cap to the classic film My Man Godfrey in her latest thoughtfully nuanced, sweetly romantic Regency historical. While she deftly explores such serious themes as family duty and survivor guilt, Gaston also celebrates the importance of kindness and compassion in our lives.”

Thank you, John Charles!

See more at my website.

Have you ever thought a movie or TV show picked the wrong hero or heroine?

Whenever I’m asked to list my favorite couples from my lifetime of reading, one of the pairs I always include is Jennie and Alick from Elisabeth Ogilivie’s Jennie trilogy (Jennie About to Be, The World of Jennie G., and Jennie Glenroy). And in all the years I’ve listed them, I’ve yet to encounter anyone who’s so much as heard of them, let alone another fan to gush with over what a lovely story it is and how dreamy a hero Alick is.

The trilogy is historical fiction rather than romance, but reading the first two books as an impressionable young teen fed my later love of romance–and even some of the settings and story types I gravitate toward. The first book opens in London in 1808 with the orphaned heroine seeking a good marriage under her aunt’s chaperonage, so I’m pretty sure it’s the first Regency I ever read. But the setting quickly moves to the Scottish Highlands and eventually to America (the coast of Maine, to be specific). There’s history and action and angst, a richly developed community of characters, and did I mention the poignant cross-class central love story and how much impressionable teen me wanted my very own Alick?

So I’m trying one more time! Has anyone else read this series? Anyone? Anyone? And do you love a book or series no one else has ever heard of that you’d like to recommend?

AMOI on sale at iBooks

Also, a quick word of self-promotion. My second published novel, A Marriage of Inconvenience, is on sale for $1.99 exclusively at iBooks through the end of the month.

Today we welcome multi-pubbed Austenesque author Regina Jeffers with her new release The Disappearance of Georgiana Darcy, talking about the Scottish highland settings that were the inspiration for the book. She’s also giving away a copy of the book to one lucky commenter, so let’s get chatting.

Here’s the blurb (and isn’t that a lovely cover!):

Shackled in the dungeon of a macabre castle with no recollection of her past, a young woman finds herself falling in love with her captor – the estate’s master. Yet, placing her trust in him before she regains her memory and unravels the castle’s wicked truths would be a catastrophe. Far away at Pemberley, the Darcys happily gather to celebrate the marriage of Kitty Bennet. But a dark cloud sweeps through the festivities: Georgiana Darcy has disappeared without a trace. Upon receiving word of his sister’s likely demise, Darcy and wife, Elizabeth, set off across the English countryside, seeking answers in the unfamiliar and menacing Scottish moors. How can Darcy keep his sister safe from the most sinister threat she has ever faced when he doesn’t even know if she’s alive? True to Austen’s style and rife with malicious villains, dramatic revelations and heroic gestures, this suspense-packed mystery places Darcy and Elizabeth in the most harrowing situation they have ever faced – finding Georgiana before it is too late.

My latest novel, The Disappearance of Georgiana Darcy, is set in the Scottish Uplands in a land drenched in legend and mystery. It is an area where the heather in bloom can steal one’s breath with its beauty, but where nature can also teach harsh lessons.

The Merrick is a 2766-foot hill that is part of the Awful Hand. Close by is the descent to Loch Enoch, the Grey Man, the Murder Hole, and a host of other lochs. The wilderness walk that traverses the area covers nine miles. The Range of the Awful Hand is a string of hills in the Southern Uplands named due to their resemblance to the fingers of a hand. The hills, starting at the ‘thumb’ are Benyellary (719 m); Merrick (843 m); Kirriereoch Hill (786 m); Tarfessock (697 m); Shalloch on Minnoch (768 m).

The wilderness walk starts at Bruce’s Stone, a monument erected in memory of Robert Bruce’s defeat of the English at Glen Troll. If one knows anything of the battle, he realizes that the monument represents Bruce’s men rolling huge rocks down the hillside on the advancing army.

The “Grey Man of Merrick” is an eerie rocky outcrop aptly named, as it clearly resembles the stoney face of an old man. He sits just below Merrick Hill, acting almost as a guard to the highest hill in Galloway.

If one is adventurous enough to set out on foot in the area, it is best to approach Loch Neldricken via the Rig of Loch Enoch, which is high enough to keep a person from the bog lands below. The advantage of walking along the Rig of Loch Enoch is it is high enough to keep a person out the bog lands below. There are no paths, and the grass grows in lumpy tufts making walking quite difficult. Sometimes one’s feet will disappear into a deep shuch, and a person ends up covered in mud.

In this photo, one finds the infamous Murder Hole. It is the round pool to the right of the loch in this photo. Legend has it that many years ago weary travelers were robbed and their bodies dumped in the hole never to be seen again. In summer there is a ring of reeds growing around the hole, but none grow in it. It is also rumored that in even the coldest winters, the center does not freeze.

Though it is claimed that the real Murder Hole is near Rowantree Bridge on the Water of Minnoch where the bodies of waylaid, murdered travelers were dumped, the “Murder Hole” refers to an incident in Samuel Crockett’s novel The Raiders.

Galloway’s landscape and its legends inspired Samuel Rutherford Crockett (1859-1914), a writer with a prodigious output. The Raiders, his best known book, was a romantic, loosely historical, adventure story, which sold thousands of copies in 1894, and further editions were published to meet demand.

Taking A762 past the ruined Kenmure Castle, a traveler will eventually come to Mossdale, where he will find the sad little wooden sign of Little Duchrae Farm, where Samuel Crockett was born and further on the impressive memorial at Laurieston Village, the Clachanpluck of ‘The Raiders’ story. Paid for by public subscription and unveiled in 1932 by Crockett’s wife Ruth, it is constructed with large granite blocks set on a slight rise just off the road. Although he never met Robert Louis Stevenson, Crockett and Stevenson corresponded, and a plaque on the pillar carries part of the Stevenson poem, To SR Crockett,

Blows the wind today,
and the sun and the rain are flying,
Blows the wind on the moors today and now,
Where about the graves of the martyrs the whaups are crying
My heart remembers Now!

In her book The Life and Times of Samuel Rutherford Crockett, Islay Murray Donaldson stresses that, due to various circumstances, Crockett could not afford the luxury of spending enough time on his literary efforts, so he never reached Stevenson’s sustained heights or enduring popularity.

So, this is the setting for the mystery behind The Disappearance of Georgiana Darcy. Is it not the perfect? One of the best sites for photos of this area is Walkhighlands.

If you’d like your name to be entered into the drawing for a copy of The Disappearance of Georgiana Darcy, you must include your email in a “safe” form, e.g., riskies at yahoo dot com. We’ll announce the winner on Monday evening.

Tell us about favorite settings, real or imagined, that you’ve enjoyed in books.

Amanda is taking Tuesday off for a little pre-4th of July picnic prep, but Michelle Willingham is filling in with a post about Scotland and her exciting new release, Tempted By The Highland Warrior!!  Comment for a chance to win a copy.  See you next week…

Visiting Scotland for Research
When I was contracted to write a Highlander series, I knew I had to visit Scotland. In my mind, I envisioned tartan-clad heroes riding across the hills, with their claymores drawn. I pictured William Wallace, Robert the Bruce, and of course, the eternal Highlander as we drove on those narrow, winding roads.

It’s a stunning land, full of wild beauty. But during our days there, it rained every single day. At the time, I was a little frustrated. I had wanted to hike through the mountains of Glencoe, seeing the mountains in all their glory. Instead, I saw fog and clouds, blocking our view. Our windshield wipers got a great workout, and every time we stopped the car to take a picture, both of us were fighting off the rain.

But when the rain stopped and the mists rose, the landscape left behind was breathtaking. It was a haunting place where I could feel the stories. We visited the infamous Loch Ness (and yes, I did look for the Loch Ness Monster like everyone else), but what drew my eye was Urquhart Castle. Although there were fortifications there as early as 460 AD, the first castle was likely built in the 13th century. It was there during the time of William Wallace and it provided the perfect research location on what a castle might look like during the era I was researching.
As you approach the main gate, there was once a portcullis to counteract the effects of a battering ram. Two guard towers were on either side, and a small deck made of timber allowed the defenders to pour hot oil on the invaders or attack from above.
Inside, although the floors have all rotted away, you can see the upper floor was divided into several rooms, one of which was used as a banquet all to serve honored guests. Music and feasting were part of the tradition of Urquhart Castle, which were held by the Comyn, Durward, Gordon, and Grant families. Boats could travel along Loch Ness, bringing news to the castle inhabitants or bringing items to trade.
The castle was captured by Edward I of England in 1296 and was transferred through different families until it was almost destroyed in 1609 by Williamite forces who were holding the castle against the Jacobites. By destroying it themselves, they ensured that it wouldn’t fall into enemy hands (a strange move, but one that worked). It remained a ruin and is now owned by the state.
When I was writing my MacKinloch Clan series, Urquhart Castle provided a wonderful inspiration for the settings of the different books. My newest release, Tempted by the Highland Warrior features a mute Highlander who grew up as a prisoner-of-war. He’s in love with Lady Marguerite de Montpierre, the daughter of the Duc D’Avignois. It’s a Romeo and Juliet story of two lovers who are worlds apart and try desperately to be together.
Today I’m giving away a signed copy of the book (or Kindle if you prefer) to one lucky commenter. Just tell me— what’s the weather like in your part of the world?
Learn more about Michelle Willingham’s books by visiting her website at: http://www.michellewillingham.comor interact with her on Facebook ( or Twitter (
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