09 May 2010

Guest Author: Blythe Gifford

This week on Unusual Historicals we're celebrating with one of our contributors, Blythe Gifford, as her latest book hits the shelves. Blythe is the author of five medieval romances from Harlequin Historical. She specializes in characters born on the wrong side of the royal blanket. With HIS BORDER BRIDE she crosses the border and sets a story in Scotland for the first time, where the rules of chivalry don't always apply. Her 2009 release, IN THE MASTER'S BED, has just finaled in the Readers Crown contest. You can also visit her at her Facebook page.

Royal Rogue: Gavin Fitzjohn is the bastard son of an English prince and a Scotswoman. A rebel without a country, he has darkness in his soul.

Innocent Lady: Clare Carr, daughter of a Scottish border lord, can recite the laws of chivalry, and knows Gavin has broken every one.

Clare is gripped by desire for this royal rogue--could he be the one to unleash everything she has tried so hard to hide? These persuasive urges have stayed safely dormant--until now...

"Oh, ye'll take the High Road and I'll take the Low Road...
...And I'll get to Scotland a-fore ye."

Isn't that how the song goes?

Well, when I announced that my next book would be set in Scotland, I knew I would face some stern questions from the crew here. It's called HIS BORDER BRIDE and has plaid on the (very beautiful!) cover. How can that possibly be called 'unusual'?

Well, I kept my Unusual Historicals badge. How?

Because I took the "low road." My book is set in the Lowlands, not the Highlands.

What's the difference? Well, perhaps I can define better what Borderers are not in comparison to the Highlanders romance readers know and love. (Caution: All generalizations are false. Including these.)

They are not Celtic. Their ancestry tends to be more Viking, although there's a mix of everything.

They don't speak Gaelic. They speak Scots, which they will defend to the death as a separate language from English.

They don't have red hair and green eyes. Well, I suppose some of them do. But they don't have the stereotypical Scots coloring. (Remember the Viking blood I just mentioned?)

They do not live in clans, although the Border families had similar loyalty.

They did not wear kilts.

They did not wear plaide, at least not in the 14th century. The only tartan in sight is on my cover. (And technically, a plaide is a garment and the tartan would be the design.) In fact, I've been told, a Borderer would not be caught dead in a tartan.

They spent as much time warring with the English as with each other. Certainly, there were family feuds and raids a-plenty, even in my time period. (And even in my book.) But by definition, a "border" is a boundary between two things. So those who lived on the boundary with England took the brunt of each invasion and gave as good as they got. Certainly, later wars extended into the Highlands, but during the 14th century, when my story is set, the fighting was concentrated on the border.

In fact, as I did my research, I came to the conclusion that Scotland and England are not two countries, they are three. And the folks on both sides of the Scots-English Borders have more in common with each other than with their fellow countrymen, the Highlanders in the north and the English from the south.

And I became so fond of them that you may find another Blythe Gifford book set on the Borders in the future.


Thanks for stopping by, Blythe! Readers, Blythe is giving away to one lucky poster a signed copy of HIS BORDER BRIDE. To start the discussion: Do you read Scottish-set historical romance? What appeals to you about the setting? We'll draw one lucky winner at random next Sunday. Void where prohibited. Best of luck!

Cover Art used by arrangement with Harlequin Enterprises Limited. All rights reserved. ® and T are trademarks of Harlequin Enterprises Limited and/or its affiliated companies, used under license. Copyright 2010. Author photo by Jennifer Girard