Saturday, October 20, 2012

A Halloween Story

L.G.C. Smith

Ten days from Halloween, my neighborhood is filling up with displays of ghosts, tombstones, bats, rats, owls, spiders and all sorts of spooky stuff. Every kid in my niece’s first grade class knows what she’s going to be for Halloween, and their costumes are mostly ready to go, minus the last minute hem jobs with fabric glue or duct tape. My niece is going to be a Greek goddess. Athena, I believe. Athena is her favorite because of the owls, and because one of the characters in Disney’s “The Little Mermaid” is called Athena. I lobbied for Ariadne since it sounds sort of like arachnid, and Ariadne led Theseus out of the labyrinth with a thread (and spiders make thread, right?), but that was rejected with an eye roll.

 I’m old enough to remember when Halloween wasn’t much of a deal. Nobody decorated yards or houses. There were probably three Haunted Houses in the entire Bay Area. There were no pumpkin patches, and there was one kind of pumpkin—big and orange. We made one jack o’lantern for the whole family. Mom bought us 99 cent Yogi Bear and Caspar costumes at the drug store, and they were so thin they shredded when we took them off. The masks got sweaty and cut into our pointy little chins. Halloween was mostly about getting the biggest candy haul possible. The goal was to fill a pillowcase. Spooky stuff was incidental.

 I never had a costume remotely this good.

Much to my surprise, ghosts have become a recurrent theme in my life. Spending hours at a time lost in the past seems to invite unusual happenings, such as naming all the characters for a book, then starting the research and finding many of the names chosen belonged to people who lived in the story’s setting during the time of the book. But my historical fantasy novella, “Eve of All Hallows,” came about because of two specific ghosts (for lack of a better word).

One of my cousins sees dead people. For real. And she’s not crazy. Never has been. You can judge for yourself if you watch two recent episodes of's television series “The uneXplained.” There’s my cousin Natalie talking about a couple of the dead people she encountered when doing ‘soul retrievals’ at The Monroe Institute. And there’s a researcher she doesn’t know and hasn’t met tracking down a couple of those people in historical archives. There are the details matching up. It’s pretty wild. (Natalie is also a writer and an accomplished artist. Her account of her near death experience after being blown up in an IED in Iraq is fascinating reading: “Application of Impossible Things” by Natalie Sudman. 2012, Ozark Mountain Press.)

Several years ago, while traveling in England my sister, mother and I felt all kinds of interesting sensations and had unusual, possibly ghostly encounters and experiences. Natalie and I decided to see if, using her special skills, we could trace back though our family tree to see who was there, where they had lived and when. I have some of those skills, but I’m in the bush leagues. Natalie’s got something special. Back we went through one of our maternal lines, and after a series of mainly low-key healers and water dousers, we got a live one. Her name was Gwyn, she told us, and she was furious with us both.

Why? Because we were wasting our gifts, she said. Look at us, women our age treating our abilities like parlor tricks to amuse ourselves when there was work to be done. Important work. Then she showed us her life.

Gwyn was a healer with a depth of gift rarely seen. She healed not only people but the land, animals, and pretty much anything present in time and space. She traveled throughout Britain, Ireland, and Northwestern Europe. She went where and when she was called. The druidic tradition from which she mostly worked had been nearly squashed by the Romans hundreds of years before her lifetime, but its hidden practice continued.

Gwyn did not have a family of her own, though she did bear a child late in life to continue her line. She told us lineage matters when it comes to these gifts. Some of them are physical traits that can be developed, much like athletic skills. People have differing abilities, and those with natural ability can greatly enhance their performance if they so choose.  Or squander their potential. She curled her ghostly lip at us.

It was hard to tell exactly when she lived, but it seemed to be somewhere in the early medieval period. She had a home base in the mountains in the English/Welsh Borders somewhere around Chirk. She lived a life of service. Her own dreams and desires were not as important as her work. She was demanding, relentless, harsh, critical, and powerful. She did not care if people liked her or if they feared her. She served a greater good. She worked tirelessly to bring peace and health to all. She was a woman of sharp contrasts who saw far more than the day-to-day reality most of us concern ourselves with.

Gwyn tempted my imagination. I think she was probably a real person, but it doesn’t matter if she wasn’t—not for me as a fiction writer. She inspired me to work harder at getting my books to readers. And she inspired a character based on her, the hidden Queen of the Isles in “Eve of All Hallows.” I began to spin a story built around a tough, powerful healer with forgotten gifts and wisdom. I put her in the way of another ghost who had roared into my mind a year earlier in the Welsh Marches south of Chester, Æthelfrith of Bernicia, a seventh century Northumbrian warlord king.

My fictional interpretations of Gwyn and Æthelfrith do not closely resemble their ghostly personalities, but they are informed by them. Through Natalie, I have been able to ask them questions and ‘talk’ to them several times. Again, I wouldn’t go to the mat insisting they’re real, but they lead me to good stories. And then there are those ghosts Natalie talked to that ended up matching the details of real people who lived and died in the 19th century.

Gwyn might be real. It’s enough of a Halloween story for me.

Here’s an excerpt from the beginning of “Eve of All Hallows.” It’s available as an ebook from, Barnes and Noble, All Romance Ebooks, and Smashwords.

 Samhain, 594 AD, in an Eastern Vale of Gwynedd
At midnight following the last sunset of the old year and before the first sunrise of the new, the walls betwixt this world and the next shuddered, slipped, and fell. Gwyn was there to catch them, seeking tasks and truths, as her mother had once done, and all her grandmothers before them. Samhain it was, so alone Gwyn sat upon a hawthorn stump, gazing into the flames beneath her cauldron, awaiting any who might come to share her fire and a cup of warming broth.
 Many came and told their tales. Gwyn listened carefully to each one so she might commit their words to memory. There were other nights the Visitors came to her, but none so important as on this night of summer’s turn to winter. She welcomed all who appeared, be they kindly fat old women, children lost in the woods, hunting wolves, madmen, goblins, half-formed wights, or shadowy spirits. She heard their tales, or simply kept them company if they did not speak. Samhain was hers, and none were turned away no matter how gruesome their appearance or the tales they brought.
When the eastern darkness shrank before the faintest graying breath of dawn, Gwyn blinked and, finding herself alone, rose to stir her soup and ladle a dipperful into her cup. It was almost to her lips, the steam warming her nose with woodsy herbs and the good meaty scent of her oldest hen, when a gentle cough stopped her.
Beside her stood a small, wizened being. An old man, perhaps, but she thought not. He put her in mind of a barrow wight who’d borrowed a woolen cloak and cap from some unsuspecting traveler. His pale, bland features peeked in and out beneath the shadows of his cap, the shape roughly a man’s, but lacking human details. No eyebrows. The nose but barely there. A smooth, unsmiling mouth.
“Sit, my lord, if you would share my fire and cup. You are most welcome.” She offered him her soup, noting how the cup glided from her hands without a touch. She gestured to one of the stumps beside her, and seated herself when he did.
“Thank you, Lady.” He sipped the broth. “Ah. A kind and fertile land you have here. This was a happy hen.” He sipped again. “The parsley greened upon fat roots. The onion swelled thick and sweet in the sheltering earth. The water carried joy out of the mountains. The salt sings with the hale heart of ancient seas.”
Gwyn smiled, for this was high praise indeed from one such as he. “My thanks, kind lord. There is more in the pot if you would like it.”
He nodded, handing her the cup that she might fill it once more, and then again and again until Gwyn’s pot was empty, with just a film drying on the bottom. It pleased her that he drank it all, for few appreciated it as much.
When he was finished, he set the earthenware cup upon the ground. The sky was moving on toward dawn now, and he would soon leave, Gwyn knew, but she did not hurry him. Daylight would not harm him.
“I sought you from my home in the north, Lady, for I have news of one who will come to you before this year ends and the next follows on its wings. He is like a bright storm one moment and a dark flood the next. We have watched him since he was a babe, my kin and I, and he is now a man grown. King he has become in the Old Green Hills. Yet his path is not clear. He wavers between the dark and light. He needs a tempering hand, Lady. One such as yours. To guide him. He doesn’t know how deeply he can scar the land. He cares not. He cares for his people, but not the land that makes them and gives them life. There is . . . concern.”
“What would you have me do?” Gwyn asked. She had seen this soul when scrying. Felt him in the cold east wind. Seen his hands drip blood in visions.
“Teach him to respect the Mother.”
Gwyn was silent whilst she sent her spirit searching for this young king. When she found him, she sighed. “He will not listen. He harkens only to his own will.”
“You have something he seeks.”
Startled, Gwyn met the wight’s hazel eyes. “The Lady’s Gift.”
He nodded solemnly.
“It has not been used in centuries,” she said.
“Yet it is your right to grant.”
“I am not sure I could.”
His eyes smiled even if his mouth did not. “My kin and I are sure you can. I am come to tell you this. You must test him. If he is worthy, your guidance may turn him properly into the True King he is capable of becoming.”
She measured his words. “Or he may not earn the Blessing.”
“Indeed. You will judge.”
“Young as he is, I do not think he will like that.”
He shrugged as though it didn’t matter. “Will you take him on?”
She thought about the Gift that was hers alone to grant, about what it would mean to the Isles to have a True King and True Queen at once for the first time in a thousand years. She thought about an old song she had learned from her great-grandmother, too.
“Is it true,” she asked her guest, “that a draught of such a warrior king’s blood grants life immortal?”
If the wight had possessed eyebrows, they would have drawn together. “Not immortal in the sense you mean. Lengthened life. Three, maybe four natural lifetimes of your kind.”
Gwyn considered that. “In so many years, I could teach many. Strengthen our stewardship of the Isles.”
He nodded solemnly. “A Lady may take from such a king one of two Gifts in exchange for what she offers. You may have his child, or you may have the longer span of years.”
“Such a child would be powerful.”
The wight inclined his head. “In many ways.”
She inhaled as the wind blew fragrant applewood smoke in her face. “A choice like this bears close scrutiny.”
“Of course. There are great risks. If this king leans too far into the darkness—this question gnaws at the bones of the hills and the rivers running. It is why I have come to you. Why the land itself seeks your help.” He gripped his cloak with long fingers. “Will you take him on? Test and try his soul? Urge him to his brighter side? Teach him to master the darker half?”
Knowing it would not be easy, she raised her hands, palms up, toward the wight. “I will accept this task, if he comes to me here on a coal black mare with a white foal birthed in May.”
It was an acceptable condition, she knew. If the gods were with him, not at all difficult, either.
“He should come with his pride in check, and his heart willing to learn,” she added.
The wight stood and bowed to her. “So be it, Lady. Look for him ere the year is ended. My thanks to you, and may the Mother’s blessings fall like warm sunlight all the year long.”
She blinked, and the wight melted between the flamecast shadows into the sheltering wood behind them as the first blackbird’s song rose to greet the dawning of the New Year.

L.G.C. Smith is the author of “Eve of All Hallows,” “Master of My Surrender (A Paranormal Erotic Romance Novella), “The Outlaw’s Secret Bride." She’s never met a historical period she couldn’t fall in love with, and most days she wouldn’t mind time travelling—except when Downton Abbey, Game of Thrones, or True Blood are on. She can be reached at:, and you can follow her on Twitter: @lgcsmith

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Maria Fitzherbert - The Secret Wife of Prince George by Vivienne Westlake

It was well known during the Regency that Prince George and his wife, Caroline of Brunswick, hated one another. He tried many times to accuse her of adultery and have the marriage dissolved. He also made it difficult for her to spend time with their daughter, Princess Charlotte.

What is not as well known is that the prince had a wife before Caroline. When George was 23, he married Maria Fitzherbert, a slightly older widow that he'd met the year before. He was so eager to marry her that he did so knowing that the marriage was illegal and it is said that he paid 500 pounds to get his chaplain out of debtor's prison so that the minister could conduct the ceremony.

In order to marry legally, the Prince had to receive permission from the king and the Privy Council. King George III refused to validate the marriage. One of the reasons that Maria was considered unsuitable as a wife is that she was Roman Catholic. Note that the Pope and Roman Catholic Church later upheld the marriage of George and Maria, though the Anglican Church did not.

The Prince of Wales was pressured to marry his cousin, Caroline of Brunswick, though the Prince had never met her and immediately disliked her once he had. The main incentive for Prince George to re-marry was that he was in quite a bit of debt and Parliament would increase his annual income once he married legally.

George let Maria Fitzherbert keep her 3,000 pound annual pension and they had an on again-off again relationship for most of his life. Just after his wife gave birth to Princess Caroline in 1796, the Prince put Maria into his will, leaving her his property and calling her "the wife of my heart and soul". Some time later, the two reconciled and were happy for a few years until they parted for the last time in 1808.

On his deathbed George IV kept her get well letter under his pillow and wore a miniature of her around his neck. And after he passed, it was discovered that he'd kept all of Maria's letters over the years.

For more information:,maria_anne.html

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Duchess of Devonshire
Princess Di’s great-great-great-great aunt.

by Sheryl Hoyt writing as SaralynnHoyt
I recently saw the movie The Duchess, with Ralph Fiennes and Keira Knightley after having read the book Georgiana, by Amanda Foreman many years ago. This is one of my favorite time periods and after having visited Versailles in 2009, I really got a feel for how these mega-rich aristocrats lived.

The movie was actually pretty well done considering the length and depth of the book, which was generally created from actual letters written by or to the Duchess. What maybe wasn’t related very clearly in the movie was that Princess Diana was a descendant of this wildly dysfunctional couple’s family. Must be genetic.

What I found most fascinating about Lady Georgiana Spencer Cavendish, Duchess of Devonshire, was that she was deeply political in a time when women could not vote and really had no hope of such a right. Yet she was a very powerful influence and sought after political force for the emerging Whig party. She was an ally of the Right Honourable Mr. Charles Fox, who practically ran the party for decades and he discussed the current politics with her at length, according to letters saved from her estate. My guess would be this was because her husband had little interest in the subject and it was the only way for the Whig party to capture his ear. There are almost no letters saved from the Duke’s correspondence as it was common practice for them to be burned upon a high ranking person’s death in order to preserve their legacy (in case the political tide turned).

Another fascinating aspect of Georgiana’s life was her obsession with doctors and medicine. It’s a wonder she and her children weren’t poisoned by all the crazy concoctions that the surgeons and apothecaries thought up during that period. For goodness sake they prescribed mercury for their patients!

Georgiana was a maverick in fashion as well inventing the Devonshire Brown, a Devonshire Hair Powder, applied to her elaborate and slightly ridiculous hair-do’s called hair towers.  These consisted of what looked like a panorama of miniatures all arranged in a monstrous coif.

If you are interested in more information about Georgiana, just Google her and you can find many books, blogs and websites dedicated to this fascinating woman and her family.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Little Known Medieval Dog Breed by Anna Markland

Some of the most popular posts on my own blog have been about the dog breeds I have featured in several of my medieval romances. The "star" of my latest release, Wild Viking Princess, is Thor, an alaunt gentil.

The following information about the breed comes from the webpage of the British Alaunt Society.

The Alaunt was bred and formed by the Alani tribes, Kavkaz nomads of Indo-Iranian ancestry, who were known as superb warriors, herdsmen and breeders of horses and dogs. The Alans bred their dogs for work and had developed different strains within the breed for specific duties. The Alaunt's primary ancestors are the dogs of the Caucasus and Central Asia, but also the shorthaired hounds of India and Persia. The large, massive guard dogs were not much different than the typical Eastern mountain dogs, even though the hunting variety was leaner and had a smoother and shorter coat.

When the Huns conquered the Alani tribes, the nation was separated in the 370's into the Eastern and Western Alans. The Eastern Alani tribes merged with the Albanians, Ossetians, Serbs and other nations, introducing their dogs into the bloodlines of many Balkan breeds, such as the Illyrian Mountain Dog, Metchkar, Qen Ghedje, Hellenikos Poimenikos and other Molossers of the region. Some believe that the white-coloured alaunts were the direct ancestors of Greek and Albanian breeds, which in turn influenced all other white dogs in the Balkans.

The Western Alans joined the Vandals on their raids through Europe and by the 410's, their fierce dogs were influencing many breeds in France, Spain, Portugal, England and other countries, spreading the use of the "alaunt" name, which became synonymous with the type of a working dog, rather than a specific breed.

Through breeding with various scenthounds and sighthounds, the alaunt became a valued large game hunting dog, existing in a variety of types, dictated by regional preferences.

In France, alaunts were separated into three main categories, based on physical appearance and the duties they performed. The lightest type was the Alaunt Gentil, a greyhound-like dog, which eventually became assimilated into the local hunting breeds with the Alaunt Veantre.

The heavier mastiff variety, known as the Alaunt de Boucherie, was crucial is the development of the fighting and baiting dogs of France. The same occurrences happened in other countries, such as England and Spain, where the alaunts gave birth to mastiffs and bulldogs, which in return influenced nearly every European guarding, baiting and fighting breed. By definition the Alaunt was “fleet enough to hold a wounded deer, brave enough to hold a wild boar and easily able to dispatch a wolf and also a fierce guard”.

This dog's name is actually Lynx
The British Alaunt Society has an interesting article by D.B.Plummer on the efforts to create a new breed, the New Alaunt, a functional replica of the medieval breed.   

Wild Viking Princess is available from Amazon for $1.99 for a limited time. The dog in the story belongs to the heroine, Ragna FitzRam, and was given to her by her Norman uncle as a puppy. The dog accompanies her on a journey from England to Hamburg. However, a fierce storm blows her ship off course and she ends up on an island on the west coast of Denmark.

Ragna is an Englishwoman who has named her dog Thor, because her family has always teased her with the nickname Wild Viking Princess. Of all the people in her family she most exhibits the characteristics of their Danish ancestors. She is rescued from the shipwreck by Reider, a true Viking. Don't worry, he saves the dog too! 

Friday, October 5, 2012

A Scottish Nobleman and the War of 1812

My Highland Love is set in 1825, at the very end of the Georgian era.

The hero, Marcus MacGregor, clan leader and Marquess of Ashlund, was a product of the Napoleonic wars, but he also saw one campaign in America as a part of the War of 1812. At this point in our hero’s life, he was twenty-five years old. Though the book doesn’t really go into this time in his life, I tried to show how Marcus was a product of this experience. Of course, I did far more research than went into the book—that’s half the fun! I am ashamed to admit how little I knew of the War of 1812, a war that was considered to be the second war of independence.

Several elements are considered to be reasons behind the war. For a quick overview, Wikipedia names a few:
Honor and the second war of independence
Trade with France
British support for Indian raids
American expansionism
US political conflict

I wasn't surprised by these reasons--except for one: British support for Indian raids. Here's a snippet from Wikipedia. 

The Northwest Territory, comprising the modern states of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, and Wisconsin, had been an area of dispute between the Indian Nations and the United States since the passage of the Northwest Ordinance in 1787. The British Empire had ceded the area to the United States in the Treaty of Paris in 1783. The Indian Nations followed Tenskwatawa, the Shawnee Prophet and the brother of Tecumseh. Tenskwatawa had a vision of purifying his society by expelling the "children of the Evil Spirit": the American settlers. Tenskwatawa and Tecumseh formed a confederation of numerous tribes to block American expansion. The British saw the Indian nations as valuable allies and a buffer to its Canadian colonies, and provided arms. Attacks on American settlers in the Northwest further aggravated tensions between Britain and the United States. The Confederation's raids hindered American expansion into rich farmlands in the Northwest Territory.

The British had the long-standing goal of creating a large "neutral" Indian state that would cover much of Ohio, Indiana, and Michigan. They made the demand as late as the fall of 1814 at the peace.

It might be interesting to note that the Northwest Oridinance in 1787 came with the prohibition of slavery in the territory, which had the practical effect of establishing the Ohio River as the boundary between free and slave territory in the region between the Appalachian Mountains and the Mississippi River. One might pose the question as to how the American government dealt with the issue of ensuring the abominable practice of slavery was outlawed in these territories, while the oridnance was expanding into territory already occupied by the native people. That's a question that intrigues me.

Now, back to the War of 1812. It seems this war could have been averted, but communication was slow in the early nineteenth century--no twitter!

On June 1, 1812, President James Madison sent a message to the Congress recounting American grievances against Great Britain, though not specifically calling for a declaration of war. After Madison's message, the House of Representatives deliberated for four days behind closed doors before voting 79 to 49 (61% in favor) the first declaration of war, and the Senate agreed by 19 to 13 (59% in favor). The conflict began formally on June 18, 1812, when Madison signed the measure into law. This was the first time that the United States had declared war on another nation, and the Congressional vote would prove to be the closest vote to formally declare war in American history. (The Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 1991, while not a formal declaration of war, was a closer vote.) None of the 39 Federalists in Congress voted in favor of the war; critics of war subsequently referred to it as "Mr. Madison's War".

Meanwhile in London on May 11, an assassin killed Prime Minister Spencer Perceval, which resulted in Lord Liverpool coming to power. Liverpool wanted a more practical relationship with the United States. He issued a repeal of the Orders in Council, but the United States was unaware of this, as it took three weeks for the news to cross the Atlantic. In response to the US declaration of war, Isaac Brock issued a proclamation alerting the citizenry in Upper Canada of the state of war and urging all military personnel "to be vigilant in the discharge of their duty" to prevent communication with the enemy and to arrest anyone suspected of helping the Americans

The War of 1812 was short compared to, say, the Civil War--thank heavens for small favors! And certainly, the cost in lives was far less than that of the Civil War, but was no small matter. The war emcompassed the area from what was then called Upper and Lower Canada, which was territory north of the Great Lakes, up to Maine, then down to Virginia and west to Illinois. The details are too great to go into for a short post like this, but take a look at the losses and compensations for an idea of the complexity of this war.

British losses in the war were about 1,600 killed in action and 3,679 wounded; 3,321 British died from disease. American losses were 2,260 killed in action and 4,505 wounded. While the number of Americans who died from disease is not known, it is estimated that about 15,000 died from all causes directly related to the war.These figures do not include deaths among Canadian militia forces or losses among native tribes.

There have been no estimates of the cost of the American war to Britain, but it did add some £25 million to the national debt. In the U.S., the cost was $105 million, about the same as the cost to Britain. The national debt rose from $45 million in 1812 to $127 million by the end of 1815, although by selling bonds and treasury notes at deep discounts—and often for irredeemable paper money due to the suspension of specie payment in 1814—the government received only $34 million worth of specie.

In addition, at least 3,000 American slaves escaped to the British because of their offer of freedom, the same as they had made in the American Revolution. Many other slaves simply escaped in the chaos of war and achieved their freedom on their own. The British settled some of the newly freed slaves in Nova Scotia. Four hundred freedmen were settled in New Brunswick. The Americans protested that Britain's failure to return the slaves violated the Treaty of Ghent. After arbitration by the Tsar of Russia the British paid $1,204,960 in damages to Washington, which reimbursed the slaveowners.

On a personal note, I find it interesting that it was slave owners who were reimbursed for their losses. War is a funny business.

How does a woman tell her betrothed she murdered her first husband?

Elise Kingston is a wanted woman. Nothing, not even Highlander Marcus MacGregor, will stop her from returning home to ensure that the man responsible for her daughter's death hangs.

Until she must choose between his life and her revenge.

My Highland Love is now available from Silver Publishing and Amazon

I'm giving away a couple of copies of My Highland Love at Close Encounters with the Night Kind.
Stop by for a chance to win.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Come and Git It!! by Jennifer Jakes

Come and Git It!

Or at least that's how we perceive the Chuckwagon Boss calling the cowboys to dinner. His voice ringing out against the clank of a "dinner" triangle…. Is that how it happened?? Well.....maybe.

While some form of the kitchen in wagons had existed for years before as families moved West for a better life, the term chuckwagon or chuck wagon is credited to being coined by Charles Goodnight, a rancher from Texas who had the idea in 1866. He started with a Studebaker Army supply wagon and modified it to fit the needs of the cook and cowboys.

First he added a "chuck" box to the back of the wagon. It had drawers and shelves and a hinged lid to serve as a cooking/ prep area. He also attached a water barrel to the side and a canvas hanging underneath to carry firewood. (Though, I've read other articles about families who did both of these things -- the water and the canvas -- before Goodnight.) Here is a really fun link that tells what kind of supplies a family headed West might pack for cooking and for their life on the trail! It's very interesting.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Braveheart: William Wallace by Eliza Knight

Braveheart: William Wallace by Eliza Knight

A version of this post was originally published at The World of the Blue Bells Trilogy.

Many years ago, tired of the oppression upon his country, a man rose up from the shadows, one without a well-known name, seemingly from nowhere, and led his country in the Scottish Wars for Independence. That man, is now a household name: Sir William Wallace, aka Braveheart.

There is not much known of Wallace and his earlier days. It is thought that he grew up in a family of means—they were landholders. Wallace would have been exposed to the sort of education that a lower gentry family would have. He’d have trained with a sword as well, which also explains why he was so great with wielding one—comes with practice.

No one is sure of his parentage, other than his father was either Alan or Malcolm Wallace and his birthdate is unknown; however it is believed he was in his twenties when he died.

Through William’s early childhood years, Scotland was ruled by King Alexander III, and was relatively peaceful. However, with the King’s death in 1286, Scotland was thrown into turmoil. King Alexander’s heir was a young girl who passed on her way to Scotland to sit upon her throne. In stepped King Edward of England, better known as Longshanks. Brutality was about to begin as the English king sought to take control of the country and weed the Scots from their own lands.

It is my guess that William was between the ages of 6 and 10 at this time, old enough to witness the new brutality and to remember a time when Scotland was ruled by its own people.

At some point, Wallace joined up with Andrew Moray, another leader in the war, declaring his intentions to help lead the country to freedom. There is some speculation about his reason behind joining the revolt, and a legend that whispers from one shore to the next of a wife or love of his that was murdered by the English. There is no proof of this, but I like to believe it because it’s romantic and softens the brutality of war, heightens our beliefs in the violence that must be unleashed.

What is more likely, is that William Wallace was devoted to his country. He remembered growing up in peace and wished for any children he might have to live the same way. He wanted the English king out. He wanted a Scots king in.

Stirling Bridge
His first act against the English was in May 1297 when he executed the High Sheriff of Lanark. My novel, The Highlander’s Reward (Stolen Bride Series) begins in September 1297 on the eve of the Battle at Stirling Bridge. Wallace would have been between 17 and 22 at the time. I’m leaning more toward the latter, which puts him at 29 at his death. My reasoning behind this is that he would have been a more seasoned warrior, more capable at age 22 rather than 17 to take on a leading role. (*Of note: most portrait depictions of Wallace put him much older, which is misleading—the portraits were also done years after his death.)Wallace is described by contemporary accounts as being a rather giant of a man—perhaps 6’5 or 6’6 and well-muscled.

It is probable that prior to the Scottish Wars for Independence that he had some military experience, but none are recorded. He and Moray were victorious, however Moray died sometime later of the wounds he sustained. My hero, Magnus Sutherland, was instrumental in helping the Scots to win this battle, and it’s the first time he meets Wallace, but not the last. In fact, Wallace will play a part in each book in the Stolen Bride series.

Prior to Moray’s death, he and Wallace were named the Guardians of Scotland. By the end of 1297 early 1298, William Wallace was knighted by one of the leading Scottish earls, Lennox, Carrick or Strathearn. These earls also play a part in my series, and in the second book, The Highlander’s Conquest, the earls and Wallace make a visit to Dunrobin, the seat of my hero’s from both books family, and an earldom is bestowed upon them.

William Wallace's Trial 
In 1298, Wallace lost the Battle of Falkirk against the English, but did not allow that to deter him. He gave over his guardianship of Scotland to Robert the Bruce, putting his full support behind the Bruce, but continued to play a part in the war for freedom.

Unfortunately, Wallace would not live to see his dream of freedom realized. He was caught and subsequently executed by the English in 1305—his charge, treason against the crown. While he did not live to see it, the dream lived on and freedom reigned in 1328…until the next war.


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?

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THE HIGHLANDER'S CONQUEST, Book Two: The Stolen Bride Series

What is a Highlander to do when he falls for the daughter of his enemy?

Highland warrior, Blane Sutherland, has one mission: disguise himself as an Englishman, cross the border and retrieve Lady Aliah de Mowbray. Always up for a challenge, he agrees, pursuing his conquest with vigor—and trying to deny the powerful desire that eclipses him each time he touches his charge. A rogue of the highest order and a younger son, he has nothing to offer a lady but a broken heart.

And what is a lady to do when she cannot trust her heart?

Aliah is skeptical of the English noble who has come to take her to her father and sister in Scotland, but she pushes her doubts aside. Without word in months, she must make certain her family is safe, then she can return to England to join the convent to which she has sworn to pledge her life. But then her escort reveals his true self—he’s a Highlander and his kisses are more seductive than the sweetest of wines.

Surrender never tasted so sweet…


Eliza Knight is the multi-published 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 or her historical blog History Undressed: Twitter: @ElizaKnight and Facebook: