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Archive for November 25th, 2008

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In the tradition of The Last of the Mohicans… and honoring the 250th anniversary of the Battle of Ticonderoga…

The sequel to Surrender

Untamed

MacKinnon’s Rangers

They were a band of brothers, their loyalty to one another forged by hardship and battle, the bond between these Highland warriors, rugged colonials, and fierce Native Americans stronger even than blood ties.

Untamed

Though forced to fight for the hated British, Morgan MacKinnon would no more betray the men he leads than slit his own throat—not even when he was captured by the French and threatened with an agonizing death by fire at the hands of their Abenaki allies. Only the look of innocent longing in the eyes of a convent-bred French lass could make him question his vow to escape and return to the Rangers. And soon the sweet passion he awoke in Amalie had him cursing the war that forced him to choose between upholding his honor and pledging himself to the woman he loves.

What is it about Scottish Highlanders that so many readers love? I’m not sure I could answer that question.

Is the accent, a lilt so sexy that it ought to constitute foreplay in and of itself? Is it sight of a man in a kilt and sporran? Or is it the courage and raw strength that characterized Highland culture? Your guess is as good as mine. But one thing’s for certain: romance readers devour Highlanders.

What happens when you take the Highlander out of Scotland and send him halfway around the world to America?

That’s one thing I set out to discover when I started my MacKinnon’s Rangers series. What would happen if, after the defeat at Culloden, a family of Highland Scots found themselves exiled and sent across the sea? What would happen if the parents failed to adapt to their new land, leaving their teenage sons alone on the frontier? Would a neighboring Indian tribe — perhaps the Mahican people — adopt the boys?

Something about that appealed to me—Highland Scots raised by Indians, the warrior culture of Scotland fused with that of the Mahicans. I had visions of tall Scotsmen with long dark hair wearing leather leggings and wampum armbands. I saw the Scottish warrior braids at their temples — and the Mahican warrior marks tattooed into their skin.

And I said, “Yum.”

And so Iain, Morgan and Connor MacKinnon came into being.

Of course, I couldn’t send them off into the wilderness alone, so Joseph Aupauteunk, their Mahican adoptive brother is with them. So are fellow Highlanders McHugh, Dougie, Brandon, and Forbes and stubborn Irishman Killy — all of them exiled, all of them raised on the frontier.

As I studied the history of the period and the world surrounding my Rangers began to take shape, I was surprised to find how at home they seemed beside the Mahican walking through the thick forest of Colonial New York. It’s exactly that quality that drew Lord William Wentworth to the MacKinnon brothers — their ability to fight on the frontier and to survive. It’s why he coerced them into fighting for Britain, giving them the choice between death at the gallows or commanding a Ranger unit.

Iain MacKinnon’s story is told in Surrender, my March 2006 release. Today is the official release date of Untamed. I’ve loved writing this series in part because the history fascinates me and because Iain, Morgan, Connor, Joseph and their men never cease to entertain me. Not that the books are light and funny, mind you. There is some humor involved, particularly when the Rangers are on a mission or hunkered down around a fire together.

But the New York frontier in 1759 was one of the most dangers places on earth, testing the mettle of these brave Scotsmen and their Indian allies. I’ve tried to create heroes that match their environment, bringing them together with women whose feminine courage and strength makes them worthy of such warriors. I hope you enjoy the results.

In the meantime — and just for the sake of fun — tell me what you like about Highlanders. What draws you to them? And if you had to take them out of Scotland and set their story in another place, where would you put them?

*****Leave a comment for the chance to win a copy of UNTAMED! Good Luck! 🙂

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