Today's guest is historical romance author Ann Stephens. From her website bio,
Although Ann Stephens wrote stories and (bad) poetry in her twenties, she did not focus on writing an actual book until she was in her forties. The first novel she ever attempted was bought by Kensington Publishing after an editor read the first chapter as part of a contest. Entitled To be Seduced, it arrived in stores in February 2010. Her second book, Her Scottish Groom, will be released on March 1, 2011 and is available for pre-order now.
She appeared in the Debut Corner of Romantic Times Book Reviews February 2010 issue. Ann is a member of the Romance Writers of America, the Nebraska Writers’ Guild and the Nebraska Writers’ Workshop. She lives with her husband, her two beautiful daughters and two cats.
Since it is Valentine's Day, I gave Ann the day off to enjoy it with her husband, daughters, and cats. In her place, I introduce you to Lord Kieran Ross from HER SCOTTISH GROOM.
Kim: Welcome, my lord, to SOS Aloha! Can you tell us about your family estates - where are they located in Scotland?
His Lordship: Thank you for your invitation, Mrs. Adams. Pardon me for saying this ‘internet’ is a confusing notion. That tòstalach Mrs. Stephens, who claims to be my creator, tells me that it’s even faster than telegrams. I understand you’re also American, but you live in the Kingdom of Hawaii. I met a chap named Stevenson a few years ago who seemed interested in the place. Sickly lad, said he wanted to write about pirates.
Back to my home, however. Duncarie stretches inland from Moray Firth for several miles. We’re not part of the Highlands proper, but you could say we’re Highland cousins, comh-dhalta . It’s a braw bonnie place, and my family has held it since before the Bruce took the throne. We have a small deer herd that runs wild, and valley lakes for fishing. We even have some scrub along the coast perfect for a game of golf!
Duncarie House itself is new by Scottish standards. It was built in 1790 when the Rossburns got our lands and title back. The English razed the old castle after Culloden. [Pause, clears throat] My grandfather lost some respect locally for his choice to make up with the king, but our family motto is ‘We hold our own’. I suppose he was living up to it. By now, even some great clans have a dram of English blood. I’m half-English by blood but a full Scotsman by heart.
Kim: My readers are particularly fond of Scotland - can you explain why we find it so romantic?
His Lordship: Handsome men and bonnie lasses? I’ve heard some talk among females in the household that our kilts have something to do with it, but this is 1875! We dinna wear kilts every day in modern times, only when it’s traditional to do so. Or on very special occasions. Never mind what Victoria and Albert insist on at Balmoral, they’re naught but a pair of tourists. (Pardon my brogue. Between my mother and boarding school, I’ve spoken the Queen’s English for years, but the burr does come out when I get excited.)
Kim: It is romantic that you are marrying an American heiress - what are your plans for Valentine's Day?
His Lordship: [A very long pause] Aye, well – my fiancée, Miss Diantha Quinn. I must explain that our engagement is more of a business arrangement with her father. She’s quite pretty, but she’s quiet. Verra, verra quiet. Granted, her family hardly lets her squeeze a word in edgewise. I’m not sure I’ve heard her say more than three full sentences in my presence, except for this evening when I found her with a nearly empty bottle of cognac in the library, and I’m no’ sure that was much better. She fills a man’s arms to perfection, but you try getting a soused female discreetly back to her room when she’s quoting Shakespeare and shouting at gargoyles!
(I must ask you not to repeat that bit. I gather from a few hints she dropped in the library that she does not anticipate our marriage any more than I do. She’s already going to have the devil’s own hangover tomorrow; no need to add to her distress.)
The gargoyles are her mother’s idea of interior decoration. Hideous things, but only to be expected from people like that. Vulgar, money-grubbing oafs, the lot of them. Well, perhaps not Miss Quinn, but it’s impossible to tell for sure, since except for tonight we’ve never been left unchaperoned. I would never hae approached her father for help creating jobs for my people if I’d known I’d end up ceangailte to a girl who acts like a wee mouse. We’re stopping by Paris on our honeymoon, but I suppose she’s stuffed too full proper notions to enjoy a city devoted to pleasure. And I’m no’ entirely sure how well she’ll settle in to Duncarie, but that is my home and she will have to make the best of it. Forgive my manners, but if you met these people you’d understand my feelings.
Let me tell you how Valentine’s is celebrated in Scotland instead. Since printers started making special cards for the day a few years before I was born, we’ve gone daft for them. Sometimes we even write our own sentiments on elaborate cards and send them, or we’ll write a little poem on the envelope and send it by penny post. But the most important tradition is the one you have to be most careful about: The first young man or young woman you see is your Valentine for that year, and you must spend the day with that person.
Blast. What if Miss Quinn is going to be my Valentine for this year? I may need some of that cognac myself.
Kim: Can you whisper some Scottish sweet nothing into our ears?
His Lordship: I suppose now you expect me to quote Robbie Burns’ ‘My love is like a red, red Rose’. He wrote another poem I like better. This is what I’d say if I ever found the gra geal mo chroi, the ‘Bright love of my heart’:
O Wert Thou in the Cauld Blast
O wert thou in the cauld blast,
On yonder lea, on yonder lea,
My plaidie to the aingry airt,
I'd shelter thee, I'd shelter thee.
Or did misfortune's bitter storms
Around thee blaw, around thee blaw,
The bield* should be my bosom,
To share it a', to share it a'.
Or were I in the wildest waste,
Sae black and bare, sae black and bare,
The desert were a Paradise,
If thou wert there, if thou wert there;
Or were I monarch o' the globe,
Wi' thee to reign, wi' thee to reign,
The brightest jewel in my crown
Wad be my queen, wad be my queen!
*Bield means ‘shelter’.
|The Betrothal of Robert Burns and Highland Mary|
by James Arthur
Kim: Well done, my lord, well done! As the Hale of Kamehameha would say, No Ka Oi, you are the very best (locals would say in Pidginn, Da Kine). In honor of your visit and your upcoming marriage, I am giving away a special gift from the National Trust of Scotland - the Scottish and American flags crossing each other. Plus a few Hawaiian treats from Princess Victoria Kaʻiulani, the daughter of Princesss Miriam Likelike and Scottish Financier Archibald Scott Cleghorn.
To enter the giveaway,
1. Leave a comment for His Lordship on how to woe an American heiress - poetry? chocolate? shortbread? bagpipes? whiskey?
2. Because love is universal, this giveaway is open to all readers.
3. Comments are open through Saturday, February 19, 10 pm in Hawaii to enter the giveaway.
4. If you are a new to SOS Aloha (US or international), I would like to share Aloha with you. Send your mailing address to firstname.lastname@example.org for a Hawaiian treat!
Kim in Hawaii
Indeed, Scotsman Robert Lewis Stevenson visited Hawaii in 1889 and was presented to King Kalakaua at the Iolani Palace. From the Robert Lewis Stevenson website,
The Kona Coast of Hawaii is the setting for most of “The Bottle Imp” (1891): Keawe is from Honaunau on the island of Hawaii in the mountains above Hookena. When he has the bottle, he builds a house there and meets Kokua nearby in Honaunau Bay. After catching leprosy he decides to buy back the bottle and takes the boat to Honolulu, where he tracks down the successive owners of the bottle, starting at Waikiki Beach and ending in Beritania Street in the centre of Honolulu.
Stevenson also penned Treasure Island, Kidnapped, and Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.