Friday, December 7, 2012

A clan is welcomed back into the fold, a man returns home, and a murder.

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.

The MacGregors ("Children of the Mist") are one of the most ancient Scottish clans, tracing their ancestry back to the time of Malcolm Canmore. They fought for Bruce at Bannockburn and have remained staunch warriors for Scotland and the Highlands ever since. Indeed, their proud spirits and boundless courage have caused the clan much grief over the centuries, not least due to the enmity and greed of Clan Campbell. King David II, Bruce's son, gave Glenorchy, ancient seat of the MacGregors, to the Campbells. The MacGregors were loathe to leave, but by 1400 the Gregor chiefship had moved to Glenstrae. However, their troubles were only beginning. The Campbells were great ones for using the law against those whose lands they coveted. Their method was to provoke the MacGregors to acts of violence and then invoke the law to put them down and take their lands. By this method, the Campbells stripped Clan Gregor of their Glenlyon holdings in 1502.

In 1589, the MacGregors killed a royal forester - an offence against the crown, which promptly issued letters of "fire and sword" against the clan, making it illegal to shelter or have any dealings with clan members. Various "fire and sword" orders were continually proclaimed against the MacGregors for the better part of two hundred years. In 1603, an Act was passed proscribing the very name MacGregor. This meant any member of Clan Gregor could be beaten, robbed or killed without fear of punishment. Anyone with the name MacGregor was banned from the church (no marriages, burials, communion, etc.). It was complete ostracism for the entire clan.

Finally, in 1775, John Murray (later MacGregor) of Lanrick was recognised as the MacGregor chief, and the MacGregor name was reinstated.

Move forward to 1822, three years before the story begins in My Highland Love, the MacGregor chief, Sir Evan MacGregor and his clansmen, guarded the honours of Scotland when King George IV visited Scotland. Sir Evan even had the honor of proposing the toast to the "chief of chiefs" King George, at the royal banquet in Edinburgh. Marcus MacGregor, clan leader, Marquess of Ashlund, and the hero of My Highland Love, marched alongside Sir Evan in the procession guarding the honours of Scotland.

The Honours of Scotland, also known as the Scottish regalia and the Scottish Crown Jewels, dating from the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, are the oldest set of crown jewels in the British Isles. The existing set were used for the coronation of Scottish monarchs from 1543 (Mary I) to 1651 (Charles II). Since then, they have been used to represent Royal Assent to legislation in both the Parliament of Scotland and Scottish Parliament, and have also been used at State occasions, including the first visit to Scotland as sovereign by King George IV in 1822 and the first visit to Scotland as sovereign by Queen Elizabeth in 1953.

As you can well imagine, being a part of this procession filled Marcus with pride and gave him hope that the centuries' old emnity between the MacGregors and Campbells might be at an end. Alas, no such luck. Marcus returns home to discover that one of his clansmen has been murdered by their old enemy, the Campbells.

Here's a snippet of that scene--

A tingling sensation crept up Marcus's back. "What happened?"
"We found him just over the border in Montal Cove with his skull bashed in."
"Any idea who did it?"
"Aye," Cameron said. "Campbells."
Marcus surged to his feet. He strode to the wall, where hung the claymore belonging to his ancestor Ryan MacGregor, the man who saved their clan from annihilation. Marcus ran a finger along the blade, the cold, hard steel heating his blood as nothing else could. Except… Campbells.
Had two centuries of bloodshed not been enough?
Fifty years ago, King George finally proclaimed the MacGregors no longer outlaws and restored their Highland name. General John Murray, Marcus's great uncle, was named clan chief. Only recently, the MacGregors were given a place of honor in the escort, which carried the "Honors of Scotland" before the sovereign. Marcus had been there, marching alongside his clansmen.
Too many dark years had passed under this cloud. Would the hunted feeling Ryan MacGregor experienced ever fade from the clan? Perhaps it would have been better if Helena hadn't saved Ryan that fateful day so long ago. But Ryan had lived, and his clan thrived, not by the sword, but by the timeless power of gold. Aye, the Ashlund name Helena gave Ryan saved them. Yet, Ryan MacGregor's soul demanded recompense.
How could Ryan rest while his people still perished?
Marcus removed his hand from the sword and faced his father. "It's time the MacGregors brought down the Campbell dogs."

My Highland Love is available at your favorite distributor. 


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