Before traveling to the Scottish Highlands, all I knew about them was that they were beautiful, and the people who lived there had lovely accents. I also knew my grandmother’s people were Scottish stock, and that Scotland has a unicorn on its flag. I do love me a unicorn!
Then I read the first few books in Jennifer Ashley’s wonderful MacKenzie series of Scottish Victorian romances, and decided I wanted to turn my authorial sites in the same direction. To ensure I was properly inspired for that challenge, I rented a cottage at Balmoral Castle in Aberdeenshire for a week one May.
Balmoral is a private residence, and so most of the dwelling is not open to the public, but the grounds, and the ballroom are, as are the 70,000+ acres of surrounding policies. The tourists would leave at 5 pm, and those of us who were staying on grounds had the place to ourselves.
In May, the sun doesn’t truly go down until at least 10 pm, and by 4 am, there’s light in sky again. That meant the long, sweet hours of the evening were free for walking in a solitude that felt much larger than what I enjoy at home, for sitting by the River Dee, for lingering in the Balmoral gardens and letting the peace of Highland countryside seep into my bones. I’d write during the long, sunny mornings, and it was so easy, amid all that peace and quiet, to get good words onto the page.
In some regards, the Highlands are not unlike the Appalachian Mountains where I was raised, except Scotland is much farther north than Pennsylvania, and it can snow any month of the year in the higher elevations. That slight hint of a nip in the morning and evening air was energizing to me, and the light—that peculiar, contrasty, sharp, northern light—made the landscape even more beautiful.
The hospitality was fantastic, the logistics easy, and the costs reasonable. I wanted to stay longer, but of course, the place was thoroughly booked, and well it should be!
The Scottish Highlands are among the least populous areas of any developed nation. For somebody who can enjoy going for days without hearing another human voice, that’s a wonderful thought. The Scottish government keeps a sharp eye on its population figures, because maintaining population has been a problem in the past, but I worry about how soon I can get back to the Highlands, and be inspired to write more lovely books!
Link to Balmoral’s website if people want to look into renting a cottage there for a vacation: http://www.balmoralcastle.com/
Several photos accompany this post, all taken by me or at my request with my camera. One of is me on the driveway to Balmoral amid the Douglas firs that were planted early in the 19th century. Another is of the Castle, a third of the River Dee as it flows past the Castle.
ONCE UPON A TARTAN BY GRACE BURROWES – IN STORES AUGUST 2013
Honor or happiness—he can’t have both.
Tiberius Flynn may be every inch an English lord, but smart, headstrong beauty Hester Daniels has no use for his high-handed ways–no matter how handsome, charming, or beguiling he is. They only see eye to eye in caring about the feisty little girl who is under their protection.
Tiberius’s haughty insistence that his wealthy estate in England is a better place for the child than her beloved, rundown Scotland home sparks Hester’s fierce protectiveness, and the battle lines are drawn.
Praise for Once Upon a Tartan:
“Burrowes creates a powerful story replete with heartfelt emotion and rich characterization… An instant keeper.” —RT Book Reviews, 4 ½ stars, Top Pick of the Month
“Expert prose, likeable characters, realistic relationships, and believable complications create a pleasant and satisfying keeper.” —Publishers Weekly
“Warmth, sensuality, and humor infuse Burrowes’ writing, and fans of Suzanne Enoch and Sarah MacLean should enjoy this series.” —Booklist
“Grace Burrowes weaves her magic with words… a memorable love story—excellent and exquisite.” — A Long and Short Reviews Best Book
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Grace Burrowes is the author of the acclaimed Windham Family Series, The MacGregor Trilogy and The Lonely Lords Series. Her debut novel, The Heir (2010), as well as The Bridegroom Wore Plaid (2012) were both included as Publishers Weekly Best Books of their respective years, in the romance category. A practicing attorney specializing in family law, Grace lives in rural Maryland, where she is working on the final book in the Windham series, Lady Jenny’s Christmas Portrait (October 2013) and third MacGregor story, The MacGregor’s Lady (February 2014), and many more books. Visit her website at www.graceburrowes.com for more information about all of her books, exclusive extras and her lively blog.