The Outcast Highlander
(The Highland Renegades)
Scottish Historical Medieval
254 pages, self-published
He’s lost his family, his title, and his honor, but he can’t lose her…
Kensey MacLeod returns home after a failed marriage alliance in France to find her world in turmoil: her best friend married to an English sympathizer, her mother at death’s door, and her father imprisoned and thought dead. As an English lord descends to claim her father’s lands, Kensey escapes north with her mother and brother, and runs straight into the arms of the outcast Highlander.
Driven from home and family by a crazed father, Broccin Sinclair refuses to stand aside while the English invade his beloved Scotland. But who should he champion? The freedom fighter who saved his life, the family who has forgotten him, or the woman who captured his childhood heart?
“If it wouldn’t be too much trouble, may I ask why your horse grazes yonder when there are men who chase you?”
“Oh, stop, you impertinent fool.” Kensey shook his hand away and searched the area around her for something. “I was knocked off my horse.”
“What are you looking for?”
She sighed. “I would like to get up and resume my travels.”
So she looked for something to pull herself up with, yet ignored his help. How like her. He must be beneath her notice. Or her care.
“Let me help you.” He stood and offered both hands. She considered him for a moment and finally touched him again. He couldn’t deny a tiny thrill at having won the fight, or at having her hands in his. But her frustration continued.
She furrowed her brow and released his hands. First one step, then another. But on the third step, she began to sway and Broc had to follow quickly to catch her.
“You’re in no state to be walking.” He swept her into his arms, despite her protest, and stilled her grasping hands by hooking both of her wrists together in one grip. “Nor riding.”
He deposited her atop his horse and jumped up before she could make any more fuss. The Ross men obviously hadn’t followed them, but they would have to proceed carefully from here, knowing they may come back upon them at any time.
Broc urged his horse forward into a slow cantor, searching for the least dense path forward. In his lap, Kensey pulled on the dirty folds of her dress, dislodging bits of the forest floor that still clung to the delicate fabric.
“What are you doing here?” she demanded.
“Let’s get you out of here first, lass.” He glanced back into the thick canopy of stillness for a moment. “Ross’s men may be quick on our heels.”
Sitting against him as she was now, she felt tiny and vulnerable. His cloak had opened as he’d climbed onto Gaidel’s back and she was now sitting in the midst of it, against his nearly bare chest. She seemed to suck up all the warmth in his body as she curled against him. Her eyelashes blinked furiously, as though she tried to keep herself awake when sleep called. He reached down and wrapped the warmth of the cloak around her.
“You can sleep. It appears we’ve lost our pursuers and it will be slow progress back to the trail, if we even dare to follow it.”
“I’m not tired.” She yawned and her weight pressed even more against him. She would no doubt be asleep soon. His body tensed against the desire that tried to consume him. This was his brother’s intended.
He was merely delivering her back to him.
Not enjoying having her in his arms. Not at all.
The Heat Is On
As a major fan of the genre of Scottish romance growing up, I feel an immense amount of pressure to write the best book of all time. It can be hard for authors, in my opinion, to write in a genre they really love because it’s not just about putting out a good story. It’s about honoring everyone who’s come before. And in my case, because the genre is so popular, and because the readers of such books tend to read many, many of such books, it is incredibly difficult to write.
I remember being at a writing conference once and sitting down to pitch with a couple of editors. All I had to say was, “I have a completed Scottish historical romance,” and they stopped me right there. “Send away. I want to see the whole thing.” Of course, I finished the pitches, just to make sure they really wanted it, but both were practically salivating before I even got through the first sentence.
I’ve had multiple releases now, and none scared me quite as much as this first Scottish Historical Romance. Not only was I putting my story out there with the likes of my mentors and friends, Eliza Knight, Vonda Sinclair, Terri Brisbin, Margaret Mallory, and others, but I was also putting my story out there with the likes of my favorite books by Julie Garwood, Johanna Lindsay, and Diana Gabaldon. I could do nothing to calm my nerves. The expectations were so high.
And no matter what happens, I feel like I failed to live up to the expectations. Every negative review, every dip in sales… everything reminds me that I’m in a competitive genre, full of excellent writers. There are so many places to get good Highlander love stories. Why should mine be special?
Of course, I think it is special. It is everything I love about today’s romance (complex, quick-moving plots) and everything I love about yesterday’s romance (the melodrama of being in love with essentially a barbarian warrior). I love the story, the characters, the whole experience, and am actively writing the next book. But I won’t deny that Scottish Historical Romance is the most difficult genre I’ve ever written.
The most fun, the most challenging, and the most rewarding. But definitely the most difficult, as well.
What about you? Do you compare books you read to other great books or movies? Do you love Scottish Historical romance?
2 great prizes !! Grand Prize: R.L. is giving away a Kindle Paperwhite. As a secondary prize, she would like to give away a set of Scottish Historical romances from some of her favorite authors.
R.L. Syme works at a youth theatre, teaching kids performing arts and musical performance classes/camps when she’s not writing. Otherwise, she’s putting her Seminary degree to good use writing romance novels. Let not all those systematic theology classes go to waste…