Tag Archives: Scottish romance

Furbaby Friday with Author Vonda Sinclair!


I am delighted to have Vonda Sinclair here to share her lovely kitties and fabulous Scottish romance, Highlander Unbroken. I remember when her sweet rescue cat, Kaylee, had these wonderful kittens. I followed their adventures on Facebook. ***Vonda is generously giving away an eBook or audio book to one winner to be chosen from those who leave comments.

Vonda: 

I’ve always been more of a cat person, but I love dogs, too. In fact, my most painful pet loss was probably a dog almost ten years ago. I’ve lost a lot of furbabies over the years and it’s always so heartbreaking. After that last devastating one, a kitty, I decided I didn’t want another cat or dog for a while because I didn’t want to deal with the heartbreak of losing a precious animal family member again for a long while. But fate, or destiny or the angels had other ideas. 🙂

For some reason, stray cats show up at my mom’s house frequently. We don’t know if people are dropping them off during the night or if they somehow have an instinct that she loves animals and will feed them. Regardless, a small, stray female black cat, less than a year old, showed up there. Pretty soon her belly started looking round and it was obvious she was pregnant. It was a cold January. My mom already had a female indoor cat who hates all other cats. There was no way my mom could bring the newcomer into the house without a major upheaval. So, obviously I took the stray black cat to my house and named her Kaylee. I named her after a ceilidh, (pronounced the same) which is a Gaelic social gathering featuring Scottish folk music, singing, traditional dancing, and storytelling.

Kaylee grew rounder and rounder over the next two months. Pretty soon she looked like a little watermelon with legs and she could hardly waddle across the floor. The vet said she thought Kaylee would have maybe three or four kittens. Boy, was she wrong. Kaylee finally had six kittens! Four black ones and two gray ones. I’m thinking, oh my gosh, what have I gotten myself into!? I went from having no cats to seven in a short time. But they were so adorable as kittens and I had to take pics of them almost daily. I hadn’t been around kittens in a long time. They were a joy and always made me laugh.

I contacted almost everyone I know, trying to find new homes for the kittens. I didn’t want to give them away, but there was no way I could keep that many. Finally, I found good forever homes for three of them. One special kitten I knew from the first that I couldn’t let go was a long-haired gray one named Bluebelle. She was the most adorable kitten ever, with a feisty personality. She’s also sweet and lovable.

(Bluebelle)

Jax is a brave, friendly boy who always climbed on my lap from the time he was tiny, so I knew it would be hard to let him go, too. No one chose him, so he got to stay with me. Now, I tell people he’s as big as a horse. Well, almost anyway. I bet he’s approaching twenty pounds. His favorite thing to do is crawl under my jacket and snuggle while almost crushing me. LOL

Pixie is like a wild forest creature, skittish, timid but very territorial. She’s so beautiful, I thought she would be the first chosen. And someone did take her, but returned her to me the same day. I’m glad she gets to live with her mama, brother and sister.

(Kaylee and Jax)

(Pixie)

They get along great most of the time, but sometimes Jax picks on his sisters and gets a hiss, growl or a slap. He’s so big and much heavier than his sisters, so I’m sure he just laughs it off. They remember that Kaylee is their mama, and they treat her with respect. Even though she’s now a lot smaller and shorter than her grown offspring, she can still put Jax in his place. He acts submissive toward her. It’s so adorable the way they groom each other. All the kittens grew into huge cats, very long and tall, much bigger than Kaylee. Their papa must have been a large cat.

They live indoors but go outside sometimes when the weather is nice for an hour or two. I have them trained, for the most part, to come back when I call them. I live in the country and they enjoy climbing the trees or running like insane cats through the yard to burn off energy. They’re all my babies, muses and companions. 🙂

I featured Kaylee and her babies in the book I was writing at the time, Highlander Unbroken.
How many furbabies do you have?

Beth: I love hearing about your kitties. I have three indoors and several  barn cats. Plus Puppy Cooper, our older rescue dog, Jilly, and farm dog Luca.

Blurb for Highlander Unbroken
Torture has driven Neacal MacDonald to the brink of madness.
As the new chief of the MacDonald clan, Neacal will do whatever it takes to honor his late father and to help his clan thrive. But whispers of his madness abound and many in his clan turn traitor, wanting MacDonald of Sleat to lead them instead. Conflict ignites between the bitter rivals when Sleat garners the help of the man who tortured Neacal in the past.

Can one woman’s song pull him back and begin to heal his soul?
Everything has been ripped from Anna Douglas except her angelic voice and the will to survive. When she meets Neacal, she recognizes something familiar in him—stark loneliness and pain. His past could be even more tragic and tarnished than hers. No one must learn her true identity or about the brutish man declaring she is his wife, for he will stop at nothing to reclaim her. Though Neacal vowed to never trust a woman again, he cannot resist the secrets in Anna’s eyes or her spellbinding song, which threatens to break down the icy walls surrounding his tormented heart.

Excerpt
Highlander Entangled is my latest release, but I want to share the excerpt from Highlander Unbroken, featuring Kaylee (Ceilidh) and her kittens.

The next evening, after Anna finished singing three songs, the other musicians took over. She needed a reprieve from the crush in the great hall during the cèilidh. Neacal had also disappeared again, as he did half the time. Was he telling the truth about enjoying her singing? She wasn’t so sure.
Still, anytime his eyes chanced to meet hers, her heartbeat sped along and she felt flushed.
Some wild and irrational part of her urged her to slip up to the ramparts again, for Neacal might be there, but…that would be madness. She’d best avoid him for many reasons. She must guard her secrets well if she wished to survive.
Aye, she would stay far from the ramparts and the tempting chief, she decided, savoring a small bowl of stew and a piece of bread in the kitchen. Most of the maids were in the great hall, carrying food or serving.
“Could I help you with anything?” she asked the cook after she’d finished eating.
Mistress Pottenger eyed her with a lifted graying auburn brow. “I thought you a singer rather than a kitchen maid.”
“Aye, indeed, but I like to keep busy.” Anything to keep her mind off the chief and how much she wanted to talk to him again.
Mistress Pottenger limped forward and handed her a small wooden bowl. “Aye, if you wouldn’t mind taking these scraps out to wee Cèilidh. I would take them myself but my bad knee is paining me something fierce this eve.”
“Of course. I would be glad to. Who is Cèilidh?”
“The black cat what catches all the mice. She has wee kittens hidden somewhere and I’m thinking she needs extra food.”
“Oh, aye.” Anna smiled. “I petted her earlier today in the garden, then I secretly followed her toward the back sheds. I did see a tiny black kitten.”
“Indeed.”
“Mayhap you should see Tavia about something to rub on your knee.”
“Aye, I will. I’ve been on my feet too much today.”
Anna headed out the door and across the bailey. The torches had been lit, but ’twas still light out. No one was about, although she was certain the guards on duty were in the gatehouse. Everyone else was inside the keep, dancing to the lively music. During supper, the great hall grew too warm and stuffy with all the people shoulder to shoulder. She much preferred some time alone in the fresh air. Besides, she liked being helpful to Mistress Pottenger. The woman had been kinder to her than most people. She also knew the woman likely had to keep working despite her knee pain in order to earn a living. She truly hoped the healer could help her.
Anna called the cat but didn’t see her anywhere. She strode around behind the stables toward the back sheds where the hay and grain were stored. This was where she’d seen a tiny black kitten that had escaped the nest.
Upon entering the shed, she saw naught but straw upon the ground. She soon heard mews in the back corner and found the wee critters. The mama cat meowed a warning and came out to greet her. No doubt to keep her away from her babies.
“Here you go.” Anna poured the meat scraps from the bowl onto the clean straw. The sleek black cat tore into the food as if famished. Anna crept closer to the squirming, wiggling pile of kittens, then knelt to better observe them. Four black ones and two gray. They all hissed at her. How adorable. She smiled and stroked their soft fur anyway, despite their hisses.
“Indeed, you have a large family to feed.”
Mama cat mewled but didn’t leave her food.
“I won’t hurt them, Cèilidh,” she whispered. Funny that Mistress Pottenger had named the cat after the song and dance the clan engaged in every night.
How Anna loved babies of any type, human or animal. If Blackburn hadn’t shoved her down the stairs and caused her to have a miscarriage, she might be holding her own sweet bairn. The lass would’ve been two years old by now. Tears pricked her eyes, blurring her vision as she watched the squirming kittens beneath her hands. How soft they were.
“What are you doing out here, my little songbird?” asked a rough male voice behind her.
Anna jerked around. ‘Twas the huge, burly guard who often stared at her, the one who’d spoken to her in the bailey a few days ago—Farquar.
“I was simply feeding the cat.” She rose to her feet.
“Ah.” Farquar watched her with focused interest, as a wolf watches a lamb.
Alarm prickled through her. “I was just leaving,” she said, picking up the wooden bowl. “The other musicians are awaiting me. I’m to sing two more songs.” ‘Twas a lie but her instincts warned her to get away from him. Now.

Bio: Vonda Sinclair is the USA Today bestselling author of award-winning Scottish historical romance (aka Highlander romance) novels and novellas. Her favorite pastime is exploring Scotland and taking photos along the way. She especially loves ancient castle ruins! She also enjoys writing about hot Highland heroes, unconventional ladies and the healing power of love. Her series are the Highland Adventure Series and the Scottish Treasure Series. Her books have won the National Readers’ Choice Award, the CRW Award of Excellence, the Winter Rose Award of Excellence in Published Romantic Fiction–1st Place Historical, and an EPIC Award. She lives in the mountains of North Carolina where she is crafting another adventurous, wildly romantic Scottish story. Please visit her website at www.vondasinclair.com

Book Links

Highlander Unbroken (Highland Adventure Book 8)
by Vonda Sinclair

Kindle
http://amzn.com/B01BLUSSK6

Amazon Print
http://amzn.com/1532792913

B&N
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/highlander-unbroken-vonda-sinclair/1123677677

Kobo
https://store.kobobooks.com/en-ca/ebook/highlander-unbroken

iTunes
https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/highlander-unbroken/id1105598679?mt=11

Smashwords
https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/630792

Audible
https://www.audible.com/pd/Romance/Highlander-Unbroken-Audiobook/B06Y3SW27Q?

Vonda Sinclair’s links

Website:
http://www.vondasinclair.com

Newsletter:
https://my.sendinblue.com/users/subscribe/js_id/2leqq/id/1

Amazon Author Page:
https://www.amazon.com/Vonda-Sinclair/e/B005GXBR1C/

Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/VondaSinclair

Twitter:
https://twitter.com/VondaSinclair

Bookbub:
https://www.bookbub.com/authors/vonda-sinclair

Goodreads:
https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5083448.Vonda_Sinclair

Thanks for stopping by. Please leave Vonda a comment!

Furbaby Friday with Author Cathie Dunn!


I am delighted to have my friend Cathie Dunn here to share her deep love of animals and her Scottish historical romance, Highland Arms.

Cathie: Thank you so much, Beth, for hosting me today as part of your wonderful Furbaby Friday series. I’ve been enjoying reading posts by other authors about their furbabies – both present and past – and, like some, I found it a little tricky to choose one of mine.

Ellie dog–griffon beagle cross

We currently have three cats and one dog: Tiger, our 13 ½ year old eccentric patriarch who is of Welsh origin, then lived in Scotland for a decade, and survived the long drive to the south of France where we now live; Ellie Dog, a still timid female griffon beagle cross we adopted just over a year ago; Charlie Young Cat, a Siamese girl who suddenly showed up near us, still too young, last spring, and who we took in shortly after; and Shadow Kitten – the last one of four kittens we found abandoned (by a person, as they were scrambling around next to an empty plastic bag in thick shrubs by the riverside). No worries, the three other kittens found good homes, but nobody wanted a black male boy, so he’s staying… ~sigh~ 😉

So, after some thoughts, I’ve decided to write about Ellie Dog today. We don’t know her age, but the vet guessed she was around seven years old when we adopted her in December 2015 from a local rescue. That was mainly because her teeth were pretty bad, but we think she’s a couple of years younger. She can bounce like a puppy when she’s excited, but also tires quickly during walks.

Ellie was very scared when we visited her first. She’d not been at the center for long, just over a week after being found wandering the streets of a village, but she already showed herself as the gentlest creature, looking after her even more scared kennel mate. We knew, from past experiences, that adopted pets arrive with baggage, and Ellie was no exception. She was scared of everything.

Ellie is highly intelligent, tolerates the cats (Tiger took his time in accepting her, but Charlie and Shadow LOVE her and love cuddling up with her), and learned the ropes very quickly. Well, as long as there are no real ropes involved! We guess she must’ve been beaten, and she has several scars on her legs which may stem from trying to jump fences. Or something we’d rather not know.

Over the months, we tried to allow her to walk without a lead, but after she followed her nose (and, boy, does that nose work!), she shot off across vineyards and scrubs in search of the source. She was in heaven, ears flying, running back and forth. One afternoon, hubby walked her when she ran off along a path and he lost sight of her. Worried, he kept calling her, only to find her in a fenced in compound with another dog, in the middle of nowhere. The local hunters keep dogs out there, so there was nobody about. She must’ve jumped the fence at high speed, and now couldn’t find her way out again, so hubby had to climb over (yes, trespassing!), and pick her up. He wasn’t impressed – and she was grounded!

A year down the line, Ellie is still scared of many things, such as leaves flying in the high wind, us picking up a blanket from the sofa, or the lead dangling in front of her, but she has come a long way. No longer does she run away when you accidentally drop the lead, and if she’s unsure of something, she now looks to us for reassurance. When we both walk her, she often stays between us, as she does in the mornings on our bed, when she rolls on her back, at her happiest. It’s wonderful to see her come so far, but we know there’s still some way to go.

Perhaps it’s best we don’t know what happened to her. That way, we can channel our energies into making the rest of her life the best it can be.

Ellie has her own Facebook page, so if you’d like to know more about her life, feel free to follow. We share posts there in three languages… 😉 https://www.facebook.com/mrselliedog/

Blurb for Highland Arms:

Exciting blend of danger and romance

“The author has a wonderful way of describing the highlands.” ~ Booked Up Reviews

Escape to the Highlands

Betrayed by her brother’s lies, Catriona MacKenzie is banished from her home to her godmother’s manor in the remote Scottish Highlands. While her family ponders her fate, Catriona’s insatiable curiosity leads her straight into trouble–and into the arms of a notorious Highlander.

Five years after an ill-fated Jacobite rebellion, Rory Cameron works as a smuggler to raise money for the cause–until Catriona uncovers a plot against him and exposes his activities. Now, Rory is faced with a decision that could either save their lives or destroy both of them.

But he’s running out of time…

Excerpt:

One day, she had to return home—just not yet. Her father planned to find her a new suitor, someone willing to overlook her indiscretion. Pah!
Once he found such a paragon of society, he’d send for her. Most likely, the chosen suitor would be a rich man, but what else? Old, grizzled, and frail? Or young and arrogant, cast in the same mould as her brother? She liked neither option but then, it was not her decision to make. One thing was certain—love did not feature in her marriage contract.

What if her father let Angus have a say in it?
The notion froze her to the core, and she sat up. Despite her fondness of Edinburgh, and its array of entertainments, the longer she remained here in the Highlands the safer she was from such a fate. Perhaps she’d even be allowed to stay on as her godmother’s companion? Growing old without having to wed anyone. Remain a spinster for the rest of her days. It was not the most appealing option, but preferable to whomever Father or Angus might choose. Yes, she’d just have to convince Auntie Meg—and Rory Cameron—that she simply had to stay.

Her mind made up, she rose and wrapped a thick blanket around her shoulders. As her bare feet touched the wooden floor, she hissed at the chill. With no maid to call upon, she left her room and went downstairs in search of the kitchen. The thought of a warming cup of tea raised her spirits. Then she’d continue to set her plan into motion.

She pushed the kitchen door open and stopped short. Standing by the mullioned window, in front of a large bowl overflowing with water, was Rory Cameron. He turned as he heard the door. Catriona caught her breath and grabbed the handle, letting go of the blanket.

Water dripped over his head and down his torso, trickling in small rivulets over his kilt held by a broad belt with a round silver buckle in a Pagan design of interlacing swirls. The light curls of hair on his tanned chest glistened with moisture. His shoulder-length hair was unbound, falling softly over taut muscle. A dry smile told her she was staring at him. Again.

She swallowed hard. “I…” She stuttered. “I’m so sorry, Mr Cameron.” She averted her gaze to her feet. “I was just going to heat up water for my tea. I didn’t mean to interrupt.”

The insufferable man laughed as he grabbed a piece of cloth and began to pat himself dry. “I don’t think you did.” He shook his head, sending strands flying before rubbing it vigorously. “And it’s Rory, remember?” He grinned. Catriona stood rooted to the spot. Words failed her. Her mouth went dry.

“But tell me,” he went on, “do you always venture into the kitchen so early? If so, you’d better get dressed next time.”

Transfixed by his mocking gaze, her cheeks heated as she became aware of her own state of undress. What an impression was she giving him, with her hair falling loosely over her shoulders, and the blanket only barely covering her modesty?

Oh, dear God, the blanket!

Highland Arms is in Kindle at: https://www.amazon.com/Highland-Arms-Danger-Scottish-Highlands-ebook/dp/B01MYLCKHK

About Cathie Dunn:

Cathie Dunn writes historical romantic suspense.

Cathie has been writing for over 20 years. In 2008, she gained a certificate in Creative Writing from Lancaster University. Her focus was on novel writing, which she teaches in the south of France. She loves researching for her novels, delving into history books and visiting castles and historic sites.

At the moment, Cathie is working on a medieval Scottish romance, and a time-slip paranormal romance set in the Languedoc area in southern France, in the present time and the days of Charlemagne’s reign just prior to AD800.

Cathie’s stories have garnered praise from reviewers and readers for their authentic description of the past.

Follow her at www.cathiedunn.com!

Furbaby Friday with Author Laura Strickland


I am happy to welcome Author Laura Strickland, who has a heart for elderly dogs. What a wonderful picture of Laura with her adopted dog, Jessie.

Laura: The Privilege of Loving to the End

“Why would you adopt such an old dog? You’re just letting yourself in for a lot of trouble, expense and heartache.”

I’ve heard this objection many times. My husband and I are in the habit of taking our dog, Jessie, with us to local festivals and gatherings just as we also took our last dog, Shannon. People who stop to admire our pet invariably ask, “How old is she?” And when we tell them, folks look taken aback.

Jessie, probably a spaniel/poodle mix, is our second senior rescue. The first, Shannon, came to us from a local rescue organization after her elderly owner failed to return from a hospital visit. Shannon’s story touched us so deeply we never hesitated to open our home to her, even though she was estimated to be eleven years old at the time. We had her almost exactly three years before we lost her to degenerative neuropathy. Every one of those days was a joy, and knowing we gave her a happy, safe and loving place to spend the end of her life more than made up for the pain.

Not to say losing Shannon wasn’t devastating. Anyone who’s lost a beloved pet knows how it feels—just as if a big empty hole has opened in your soul. You’d think after that we’d hesitate to take on another senior dog but lo and behold, along came Jessie. Estimated to be at least ten at that time, she was surrendered to an overcrowded shelter in another state and narrowly missed being euthanized. So my husband and I looked at one another, drew a deep breath and took the plunge again.

(Shannon)

Jessie, as you can see from the picture of her cuddling with me, bonded with us quickly. She’s proved herself to be a little angel full of love and happiness, energy and fun. Of course she’s had her health challenges. And if my husband and I are honest with each other, just lately we have to admit we can see her slowing down. You see, she’s also nearing her three-year mark with us. And we know what’s ahead.

But I’ll tell you something: it’s a privilege to love a dog to the end, to be the one who holds and reassures her, to be the last loving voice she hears. Will I be willing to rescue another senior dog in the future? Fool that I am, I probably will.

Beth: How deeply moving, Laura. I understand why you do it. God bless you and your husband for taking in these senior dogs. I know the love they give in return is worth the pain, but I also can well imagine the heartache.

About Laura’s wonderful books:

The heroine of my most recent Scottish Romance, The Hiring Fair, is also a fool for animals. Annie MacCallum collects stray and injured creatures the way other women collect hats. Is it so surprising she’d also take on a farm worker with an injured hand? Is Annie’s compassion her weakness, or her strength?

Blurb for The Hiring Fair:

Brutally dispossessed during the Highland Clearances, Tam Sutherland comes to the hiring fair at Oban, Scotland hoping to find a job for the season. But his maimed right hand, inflicted by the same cruel factor responsible for his parents’ deaths, means he’s one of few men available when the beautiful woman makes her surprising announcement: she’s looking not for a hand but a husband, not just for the season but forever.

Annie MacCallum is under threat from a brutal factor also, back at her home farm—one who preys on unmarried women. If she’s to protect all those who rely on her, including her beloved animals, she must have a husband, if only in name. Secretly glad when the attractive Tam takes up her proposition, she doesn’t realize she’s dragging him into a situation that will trigger old demons. Nor does she expect to give him her heart.

Social and buy links:

Author Web site: www.laurastricklandbooks.com

Author Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000002632317

Author Amazon page:  http://www.amazon.com/Laura-Strickland/e/B001KHSACW/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1

Buy link Amazon: http://amzn.to/2aSfWzi

Buy link Amazon Canada: http://bit.ly/2aSgBRn

Buy link Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/2aSgYvq

Buy link The Wild Rose Press:

http://catalog.thewildrosepress.com/all-titles/4472-the-hiring-fair.html

Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/2aSgBRn

Author bio:

Born and raised in Western New York, Laura Strickland has pursued lifelong interests in lore, legend, magic and music, all reflected in her writing. Though she loves to travel, she can usually be found at home not far from Lake Ontario, with her husband and her “fur” child, a rescue dog. Author of Scottish romances Devil Black, His Wicked Highland Ways, Honor Bound: A Highland Adventure and The Hiring Fair as well as The Guardians of Sherwood Trilogy consisting of Daughter of Sherwood, Champion of Sherwood and Lord of Sherwood, she has also published four Steampunk romances, Dead Handsome: a Buffalo Steampunk Adventure, Off Kilter: a Buffalo Steampunk Adventure, award-winning Sheer Madness: a Buffalo Steampunk Adventure and Steel Kisses: a Buffalo Steampunk Adventure. Her Lobster Cove Historical Romances include The White Gull, Forged By Love (which won the International Digital Award) and Words and Dreams.