Kaye, Marguerite, The Highlander’s Return (Highland Brides, Book 2), (Richmond, Surrey: Harlequin (UK) Limited, 2011).
Title: The Highlander’s Return (Highland Brides, Book 2)
Author: Marguerite Kaye
Issues: Class Differences; Parenthood
Return of the prodigal highlander!Banished for daring to court the laird’s daughter, Ailsa, it’s been six long years since Alasdhair Ross set foot on Munro land. Gone is the rebellious youth – years of hard work have shaped Alasdhair into a fiercely intense man, one set on returning to his homeland and claiming what’s rightfully his…Bitter experience has taught Ailsa Munro that her exuberant wilfulness gets her into trouble. But one glimpse of Alasdhair’s sinful eyes – and the once-experienced-never-forgotten pleasure they promise – and Ailsa knows a reckoning is irresistibly inevitable…
Highland Scots have a long and successful history of emigration to North America. Jacobites on the run, impoverished lairs and dispossessed crofters alike sought fame and fortune in the New World in their droves during the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries in a bid to escape persecution or poverty. Some failed, some returned home, but many, like Alasdhair my hero, carved out a very successful life for themselves.
At the same time entrepreneurial Glaswegian merchants were taking advantage of the favourable Trade Winds to cross the Atlantic quicker than their English counterparts. Their clippers laden with consumer goods difficult to obtain in the New World, these canny Scots willingly granted the plantation owners credit with which to buy their goods – something their English counterparts were reluctant to do. Returning with a cargo of tobacco (and, sadly, in many cases slaves), the Tobacco Lords, as they came to be known, became rich on the proceeds, and by the middle of the eighteenth century completely dominated the trade. It was a logical step for plantation owners such as Alasdhair to enter into a business deal with these distributors, ensuring the best price for his own produce. It was actually the research I did for an article about Glasgow’s Merchant City, home of the Tobacco Lords, which planted the seed for Alasdhair’s story.
As a historian and writer of historical romances, authenticity matters a lot to me. As a Scot, evoking the true ambience of the Highlands is also something I’m passionate about. Through Errin Mhor, where this story is set, doesn’t actually exist, I know exactly where it is: on the west coast, near Oban. All the surrounding places mentioned in Alasdhair and Ailsa’s story are real places in my native Argyll. The Tigh an Truish, a drovers’ inn on the Isle of Seil, so called because it was where Highlanders going any further south swapped their plaids for trews, is still there today, as are many of the little ferry and drovers’ inns which would have provided my hero and heroine with shelter on their journey. They visit Inverary at the time the present-day castle was being built. In order to secure the view, the Duke of Argyll really did have the original fishing village ‘moved’ a few hundred yards along the banks of Loch Fyne, where the town, with its Palladian frontage, remains to this day.
If you visit Argyll you won’t find Errin Mhor, but I hope that you’ll discover for yourself the essence of it, which is far more beautiful than anything I could ever describe.