Friday, November 15, 2013

Historical Romance Week with Vonda Sinclair of My Notorious Highlander (Guest Post/Giveaway)

We've traveled the wilds of the Highlands, the mysteries of ancient Greece, young America and stringent England. And now we return to beautiful Scotland today to wrap up our Historical Romance Week. We hope that you have enjoyed the event and have found some new historical romances to read and authors to stalk! ;-)

Researching Historical Romance on Site

Thanks for inviting me to visit with you today! One of the great joys for me as a historical romance author is visiting the settings in Scotland that I write about and exploring them. I want to see, feel, and hear the small details so I can put them into my story and bring the setting to life. I like to smell the air and absorb the mood and atmosphere of a place. I even enjoy experiencing the weather in Scotland, which can be extreme, harsh, and cold at times.

Durness and Balnakeil Bay, in the far north of Scotland, is generally a very cold, windy place. Since my newest release, My Notorious Highlander, is set there in June and July, I wondered if it would be warm enough for an average person (not a Polar Bear Club member) to swim in the North Sea. I learned that yes, indeed, it is warm enough for Scots to swim in the surf in summer. Of course, it was still too cold for me to swim, because I'm a wimp when it comes to cold water. :) The air temperature was probably around sixty-five or seventy degrees, but likely the water was much colder. We ran into a woman one time in Scotland, a native, who had a habit of swimming every day in the ocean, at least in September and warmer months. She said September was when the water is the warmest. I'll take her word for it. :)

Now, you may wonder why I needed to know about swimming in the ocean. There is a scene in My Notorious Highlander in which the heroine slips off to take a private dip in the sea at a small beautiful beach called Sango Bay. What does the hero do? He follows her, of course. :) I hope you enjoy this fun excerpt!

Vonda Sinclair

My Notorious Highlander
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Chief Torrin MacLeod vows to possess and wed the spirited lady who stole his heart the previous winter. But Lady Jessie MacKay wants naught to do with the dangerous warrior, no matter how devilishly handsome and charming he is. When Torrin arrives unexpectedly at Jessie's home, along with Gregor MacBain, a man Jessie was formerly handfasted to, she is thrown off-kilter. She never wanted to see either man again, but now they are vying for her hand. Torrin promises to protect her from the devious MacBain, but how can she trust Torrin when she has witnessed how lethal he is?
The more time Torrin spends with the strong and independent Jessie, the more determined he is to win her heart. Once she allows him a kiss, he feels her passion flame as hot as his own. After she knows Torrin better, Jessie finds herself falling for the fearsome Highlander. But the odds are stacked against them. The sinister MacBain is bent on kidnapping Jessie, making her his bride and killing Torrin, while Jessie's conniving younger brother, Haldane, is determined to use Jessie to take over the castle in his older brother's absence. Jessie fears she can never be with the man she loves, while Torrin will do everything in his power to ensure they are together forever. In his heart, she is the only lady for him.

My Notorious Highlander excerpt

Torrin frowned down at the ground far below and the woman dashing away from the castle. Was that Jessie? Her head was covered, hiding her hair, and she faced away from him. But the woman was tall and slim, and she moved exactly like Jessie. She must have slipped past the guards and out the postern gate, and was now headed away from castle, in the opposite direction from the bay. Where was she going? She normally walked on the beach, but she was not headed that way now. Nor was she walking at a leisurely pace. Nay, she was practically running. When she glanced back over her shoulder once, a lock of her copper hair gleamed in the sunlight, and he got a glimpse of half her face. Aha, 'twas indeed Jessie. Why was she slipping away?
Trying to escape him? Or had something happened?
Torrin rushed down several sets of winding steps until he reached the bailey. Not having a key to the postern gate, he asked the guards to open the main portcullis for him. They also gave him his basket-hilt broadsword, for he might need it to protect Jessie.
Once outside the walls, Torrin ran toward the east. She had already disappeared from sight, difficult in this flat landscape near the shore, but gorse bushes grew here and there in small groves. Once he passed a group of them, he saw her plaid-covered head disappear behind another cluster of bushes. He was determined to catch up to her without her seeing him. She wasn't traveling toward the village, and he needed to find out what she was up to.
They must have walked for more than a mile when he lost sight of her. Muttering curses, he glanced this way and that, then ran forward. The rocky shore and a drop off lay ahead. Had she gone in that direction? Saints! Had she fallen off the cliff?
His heart rate soaring toward the sky, he quickened his pace.
Once at the edge, he saw it wasn't a cliff, but simply a steep bank of sand about thirty feet high. Beyond it was a small golden sand beach with black boulders protruding here and there from the sand. He lay down and belly-crawled to the edge so she wouldn't notice him. Aye, indeed, she was descending a rock and sand path along the edge of the bank. What in blazes was she doing here?
He scooted sideways and hid himself better behind a clump of thistles. He was wicked for spying on her, but he had to protect her. Not that he truly expected anyone to be all the way out here, a mile or more from the village and further than that from the castle.
She strolled along the wee beautiful beach, which was enclosed and cut off from other areas of the coast. Cliffs jutted out on each side, making it very secluded. He could understand why she loved this place. 'Twas one of the loveliest spots he had yet seen. To add to its appeal, a slight breeze blew in off the sea, but 'twas a warm summer day.
Jessie perched on one of the boulders and gazed out to sea. Was she daydreaming? He hoped she was thinking of him.
Moments later, she got to her feet and walked further along the shore, her gaze searching the tops of the cliffs and sand bank. He ducked. Had she seen him or sensed his presence? He kept his head down and hoped she didn't notice his plaid.
She hastened to the far end of the strip of sand, which was more concealed behind the large rocks. Though she disappeared from sight, he hesitated to crawl closer to the edge for fear she might spot him.
She appeared again, wearing only her white smock. Hiking it to her knees, she ran into the water.
"Saints," he hissed. She was going swimming? He chuckled, but forced himself to be quiet. Not that she could hear him over the waves crashing into the boulders below. What an adventurous spirit she had. It only made him fall harder for her.
How lovely she looked, her fiery red hair streaming down her back as she waded deeper into the water reflecting the blue sky. She disappeared behind a black boulder.
A swim would be perfect right now. While she was hidden from view, he took the opportunity to slip down the bank along the narrow trail she had used earlier. He hastily removed all his clothing and left it on the dry sand behind a rock, then crept between the boulders. The sun-warmed, wet sand felt good against his bare feet. Then the edges of the cold surf washed over his toes. He often took swims in Loch Assynt, so he was accustomed to cold water. It appeared Jessie was, too.
He waded into the water and peered around the last boulder. When her back was turned, he slid beneath the water and swam underneath a wave. When he emerged twenty feet out, she happened to be facing him. Her eyes wide, she screamed and swam toward the shore.
"Jessie! 'Tis only me," he called.
But she didn't listen; she kept moving quickly toward the beach. Once the water was shallow enough, she ran, probably difficult wearing that smock. She tugged its hampering weight from around her ankles and quickened her steps. He wished she would remove the blasted garment.
He followed her, splashing through the shallow surf.
"Let's go back in," he called over the roar of the waves.
She stopped and turned to face him, her wide-eyed gaze dropping to his groin. She sucked in a sharp breath and covered her eyes. "Put on some clothes, MacLeod!"
Halting ten feet away, he grinned and crossed his arms over his chest. "'Twould be much better if you'd simply remove yours." Although he did appreciate this view. Her wet smock had become more transparent, and her hard, rose-colored nipples showed through the material. But he wasn't going to tell her that. Sexual heat rushed over him despite the cool breeze blowing over his bare, wet skin.
"Are you mad?" She faced the other direction, grabbed her arisaid from the stone and attempted to belt the plaid about her waist.
"I think you are the one who is mad, wearing a drenched smock beneath your other dry clothing. Makes no sense. You should remove it all and lay it on the rocks to dry."
"You followed me!" she accused, refusing to look at him.
"Aye. I had to protect you, after all. MacBain could return." Although he doubted the bastard could return this soon. Torrin's two men and the MacKays who had escorted the MacBains south had not returned yet.
"I need no protection."
He shook his head at her stubbornness. "You didn't mind that I came to your rescue last time."
"Leave me be." Carrying her shoes and three sheathed knives, she strode away from him along the beach, dodging the massive black boulders which protruded from the sand, but he followed. She glanced back, catching his eye, then started running. Abruptly, she tumbled onto the ground with a short shriek.
"Saints! Are you hurt?" He knelt by her, one knee drawn up.
She turned to her back and leaned up on her elbows. "My foot! I stepped on something sharp."
"Och. Let me see." He lifted one of her bare, sand-covered feet. 'Twas a long, slim and elegant foot, much like the rest of her body.
She sat up, glaring at him. "The other one."
"Ah." He examined her other foot but saw no sign of blood. "Where does it hurt?"
"My heel."
"I see no injury to it. I think you'll live."
She narrowed her eyes, her gaze skittering over his naked chest, then looked skyward. "Where are your clothes?"
"Over there somewhere, but it's much nicer without them today. You should try it. The sun is warm. How often have you gone naked outside?"
"Never." She lowered her voice. "Well, except when I swim sometimes."
"Indeed? You swim naked?"
Her blush deepened. "A couple of times."
"I'm shocked, m'lady," he teased with a smile. Saints, how he loved the image in his head of her swimming naked like a goddess of the sea. "You are a wild and brave lass, are you not?"
She shrugged. "Some would say wayward."
"I like a wayward lady."
At the moment, the way he knelt, his leg hid his shaft, but the problem was it was rapidly rising to its full height. She made him hard so quickly, so easily, every time he was in her presence.
"Don't give me that look, MacLeod," she said firmly.
"What look?"
She pointed at his eyes. "That one."
Could she see the raw need and desire written upon his face? He hoped so. She'd driven him mad for the past several days. "I can't help it," he said in a low tone. "I hunger for you."

Vonda Sinclair’s favorite indulgent pastime is exploring Scotland, from Edinburgh to the untamed and windblown north coast. She also enjoys creating hot Highland heroes and spirited lasses to drive them mad. Her historical romances have won an EPIC Award and a National Readers' Choice Award. She lives with her amazing and supportive husband in the mountains of North Carolina where she is no doubt creating another Scottish story.

Vonda is giving away an electronic copy of My Fierce Highlander, My Wild Highlander and My Brave Highlander (first three books in the Highland Adventure Series) to one winner! To enter, just leave a question or comment on this post for the author and then fill out the rafflecopter below. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. Love historicals. These sound good too.

  2. Congrats, Vonda, on your newest release. It's a good thing I love Highlanders 'cause this one you wrote is "right up my alley"! Holiday time is "my" time since my kids are all grown and away...and I spend a lot of my time reading my romances. Thanks so much for this post!

  3. Nicola, thanks!

    I do too, Leslie!

    Janice, thanks! I'm glad it sounds good to you! Enjoy your reading holiday! :)

  4. I love reading Historical romances especially those featuring sexy Highlanders. They just have a way of making you smile and dreaming your in their world.
    Visiting Edinburgh is on my bucket list. I have wanted to visit since the first Historical romance I read set their.

  5. *laughs* I've GOT to read a romance where the heroes name is Torrin. He must be a human ancestor of Thorin (I'm a big fan of Peter Jackson's The Hobbit)

  6. I agree, Steph! I love dreaming I'm with those sexy Highlanders. :) Hope you get to visit Edinburgh soon! It's an awesome city. So much history.

  7. That may be true, Linda! LOL! If you read it, hope you enjoy! :)

  8. I am a fan of Vonda's and I love her highlanders. Thanks for the chance

  9. I envy your visits to Scotland, I would love to visit. I love a good Highlander story, it's such a great setting and the people who live there are fascinating.

  10. I love historical romances!
    Thanks for the chance to win!

  11. There is something rather special about a Highlander.

  12. Thank you, Sheryl! So glad you love my Highlanders! :)

    Barbara, going to Scotland is what I live for. LOL My favorite thing to do! Hope you'll get to go soon! You're right, the people are fascinating!

  13. Natasha, great to meet a historical romance fan! Thanks for entering!

    Mary, I agree. I definitely think Highlanders are special.

  14. I would love to go to Scotland someday! It's on my bucket list! :)
    How many books do you have planned for this series?
    Great excerpt! Love that cover, too!

  15. Tina, I hope you get to go to Scotland! It's totally worth the expense and the misery of jetlag. :) I'll be writing Rebbie's story next. Then I plan to do a spin-off series about Isobel's brothers, the MacKenzies, which could have 5 - 6 books in it. Thanks! So glad you like the cover and excerpt! :)

  16. I do too, Sheila! :) There's just something about them.


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