It’s Monday so I have a little treat for you. The Chieftain’s Secret, my Highlander novella is here for your pleasure. Niall and Ermina’s story has been called “a throughly entertaining read.” And one reviewer stated, “I recommend this book most definitely.” So stop by Amazon and get your copy.
On a windswept Scottish Isle…
Many objects wash up on the shores of the rugged Isle of Mull. The Laird of Lochbuie never expected a pregnant wife to be included in that. Honorable Niall MacLean was wed to his childhood love when she died in childbirth. Now a widower, he struggles to get beyond his grief. Then a dear friend, Ermina Bruce pleaded for his help. His protective instinct came alive and he handfasted with Ermina to save her from an unsuitable marriage and one drunken night has led to forever after and a repeat of his past heartbreak.
The bonds of friendship…
Noble Ermina Bruce has loved Niall MacLean since he first fostered in her uncle’s home. But he loved another so she settled for the deep bonds of friendship. When her family arranged a marriage she didn’t want she knew Niall could save her from that miserable fate.
One night of passion…
That one night in Niall’s arms led to her pregnancy. Ermina has not told Niall of their secret baby. But his reaction isn’t her greatest fear. Her fear is even greater than the brave laird’s wrath. Every woman in her family has died in childbirth and all know the same fate awaits her. Once again, Ermina knows Niall is the only one who can save her. And if he fails, her last days shall be with the man she has loved since childhood.
I love fashion. In case, you didn’t know, I studied fashion design. I can make a dress out of a scrap of fabric. So, it’s natural that I blend the things I am passionate about fashion, history and writing.
This is a new feature of my blog that focuses on historical costume or historical fashion (depending on what term you wish to use).
For this blog, I chose to focus on my favorite portrait. The portrait of Josephine Eleonore Marie Pauline De Galard De Brassac De Bearn, Princess de Broglie painted by Ingres in 1853. This work of art is located in the Metropolitan Museum of Art–the MET– in New York City. If you get to see it in person, you will be hypnotized and enchanted by both the skill of the artist, Ingres and by the sitter herself, Princess de Broglie.
Before I get into the costume, let me tell you the Princess’ story. Josephine was known for her beauty. Look at the portrait, you can also see that she appears shy. The princess was known to be profoundly shy. Though, her exterior form is striking (possessed the fashionable figure of that time with her sloping shoulders), there was more to this woman. She was deeply religious and highly intelligent. During her life, she published three volumes of essays on religious history.
Josephine was married to Albert de Broglie on 18 June 1845. She was the mother of five sons. Born in 1825, she would not live to an old age. She contracted tuberculosis and was died in 1860 at 35 years old. Her husband lived into 1901 and heartbroken, he never remarried.
Her portrait was completed when she was 28 years old. Her beauty and personality were captured in oil in the most beautiful garment I have ever seen. So, let’s get to what she’s wearing.
Princess De Broglie is wearing a blue satin evening gown embellished with a lace bertha and dangling blue satin ribbons. Lace trims the ruched ribboned neckline and sleeves and down the center front of the bodice is a row of matching blue satin ribbons.
The princess is dressed for an evening probably to attend a ball. The dress follows the fashion of the early 1850s France. This French time period is called the Second Empire. Fashion was having a Rococo Revival. The details of this style was a short-waisted bodice and dome-shaped skirt as well as the bow detail and the lace on the neckline and sleeves that mimic 18th century fashion.
What is she wearing beneath the gown? In order of dressing, she has donned a chemise, cotton or linen, tucked into pantalettes and a corset over that. The support garments would be additional petticoats.
Now for the finishing details, her hairstyle. Her thick, black hair is parted down the middle and pushed back and pinned and finished with pearl-laced maribou feathers attached to matching blue ribbons pinned on both sides of her head.
Her accessories include a white or ivory cashmere shawl finished with a border of gold embroidery. She has a matching gold and white or ivory face and white silk gloves. I believe just on the edge of the chair is a velvet black cloak she would have donned before heading out. These items are located on the chair.
The accessories she has on her person are gold and pearl strand earrings. She has a simple gold necklace with a gold pendant. On her wrists are two braclets. On the left arms is a pearl braclet that loops around her wrist five times and is clasped with a metal detail–most likely gold. And on her right wrist is a gold and ruby bracket.
Are you as hypnotized by this portrait as I am? What do you love about it?
Mary’s second marriage held all of Europe enthralled. Many European countries had a political interest in the man Mary would walk down the aisle with. No country more than England and its queen, Elizabeth I and her most trusted advisor, Sir William Cecil.
Elizabeth even offered her favorite, Robert Dudley, the Earl of Leicester. But Mary refused her cousin’s rumored lover. But Mary did marry an Englishman. The Englishman that Elizabeth and Cecil didn’t want her to bind herself to.
Her second husband was Henry Stuart known as Lord Darnley, his courtesy title from his Scottish father, the Earl of Lennox. Now this is a crazy intersecting blood line.
So here we go: Lord Darnley’s mother was Lady Margaret Douglas. Her mother was Margaret Tudor who was Henry VIII sister. Mother Margaret (let’s call her to distinguish her from her daughter) had married the King of Scotland James IV (Mary, Queen of Scots grandfather) who died. Mother Margaret then married the Earl of Angus, Margaret’s father. Lady Margaret Douglas had a claim to the English throne as the granddaughter of Henry VII and as niece of Henry VIII. Both Margarets ended up in England and Henry VIII’s court because of some very crazy Scottish in-fighting (too long and soap opera-esque to explain here).
Now Lord Darnley’s father was the Scottish lord, Matthew Stuart, the 4th Earl of Lennox. His estates were located near Glasgow. He fled Scotland in 1534 then married Margaret Douglas.
Both mother and father had grand plans for their son and that plan was to wear a crown and the Scottish crown would do nicely.
Lord Darnley was the second of eight children (the eldest had died). He was born in December of 1545 or 1546. He was reared a Roman Catholic but would follow any religion if it gained him what he wanted.
Darnley was considered handsome even being described as “most handsome”. He stood between 6’1 to 6’3 so he was taller than Mary’s 5’10 to 5’11. He had a slim, strong and athletic physique that was desirable. He had fair, close-cropped curly hair. Darnley was the perfect courtier. He played instruments like the lute, played games and danced. Yet, this boy had his faults. He was spoiled, immature, and a drunk.
In 1565, Darnley was presented to Mary at Wemyss Castle then they parted ways. But they were soon reunited. Darnley charmed all the Scottish lords whose support he needed to marry Mary. He attended church with Lord James Stewart, a Protestant, as well as Mary. As stated before, anything to get the crown.
During this time, Mary’s talks with Elizabeth to be named as her heir fell apart. This was Darnley’s chance to gain Mary’s hand and Mary’s chance to get back at Elizabeth.
In April of that year, Darnley fell ill and Mary rushed to his side and cared for him herself. After that, Mary lavished him with gifts. She decided to wed Lord Henry Darnley. She believed herself in love but it was most certainly infatuation. As an English subject, he was required to gain Elizabeth’s consent. She did not give it but that didn’t stop the marriage from occurring.
Lord James Stewart, now Earl of Moray, was against this union and refused to sign a document in support of the marriage. This is the start when Lord James turned against his half-sister. Yet, the wedding date was set for July 29, 1565. The day before, Mary proclaimed Darnley King of Scots.
In August, Lord James and some other lords rebelled. It is called The Chaseabout Raid. This rebellion got its name because both sides just rode about, chasing (in Mary’s case) and fleeing (Lord James’ case). It ended because Lord James fled to England.
As Mary was at the height of her reign, her marriage was at its lowest. Darnley was a drunk. He spent his time carousing in taverns and brothels. Worse, the so-called King believed the hype (when he was king in name only). Meanwhile, Mary began spending time with Rizzio, her Italian secretary. Naturally this sparked talk of an affair between the queen and the upstart who came to Mary’s court as a musician and rose to secretary and close confidant of the queen.
People have said that she was foolish to do this but Henry VIII liked to appoint “lower classes” to high positions because they would know where their lives hung. After all Cromwell and Worsley were sons of a blacksmith and a butcher.
Now, this royal couple lived very separate lives. During this time, a conspiracy began with Darnley being played by the lords. It is believed that this started so the rebel lords could return to Scotland. The Earl of Ruthven played a part along with the Earl of Morton, the Earl of Lennox and other Scottish nobles along with Sir William Cecil. It was decided that Rizzio had to die and the now pregnant queen must be detained until her child was born and Darnley given the Crown Matrimonal (which would have made him King of Scotland).
The plan to murder Rizzio happened as Darnley wished. In March 1566, the pregnant Mary hosted a few close courtiers for supper in her closet (a small room). During the night, Darnley made an appearance, playing the charming husband, when Lord Ruthven burst in, demanding Rizzio be handed over to him. Rizzio cowered behind the queen.
The other conspirators rushed in to the small room that could hold a dozen and was now crammed with at least thirty people. The men grabbed at Rizzio. Mary was thrown into Darnley’s arms and he was told to take his wife away. Darnley pulled Mary from the closet into the large space and Rizzio chased after her. Just then the men attacked, stabbing Rizzio. He cried out and clutched at the queen’s skirts as they stabbed him. Darnley bent back his fingers and the assassins dragged Rizzio away.
If you visit Holyrood Palace in Scotland, there is a plaque that states that this is the spot Rizzio died. People claim that they can see the blood stain on the wooden floorboards but those board had been replaced. Rizzio laid died in the queen’s rooms and Darnley’s dagger was demanded. His dagger was “embedded in Rizzio’s side to proclaim the King’s invovlement in the deed.”
The queen proclaimed that these lords planned to kill her and her unborn child. According to Alison Weir in Mary, Queen of Scots and the Murder of Lord Darnley, “that Fawdonside (a member of the conspiracy) had held a loaded pistol to her womb and would have killed her had not his gun refused to give fire.”
She could be right because “one of Ruthven’s followers…told James I (Of England and James VI of Scotland and son of Mary and Henry) that he had saved his life and that of his mother.”
That night, the queen was locked in her rooms with “Dowager Countess of Huntly and a few female servants with eighty Douglas men standing guard outside the palace gates and her bedchamber door, preventing her from communciating with the rest of her household.”
The next day, Darnley went to the queen in terror and begging her forgiveness. He swore that Rizzio’s murder was not his plan.
Mary replied, “Sire, within the last 24 hours you have done me such a wrong that neither the recollection of our early friendship nor all the hope you can give me of the future can ever make me forget it. I think you may never be able to undo what you have done. You say you are sorry, and this gives me some comfort. Yet I cannot but think that you are driven to it rather by necessity than led by any sentiment of true and sincere affection.”
She demanded Darnley reveal all and he did. He told of the plan to imprison her in Stirling Castle until she died. Mary can up with a plan.
Together, the royal couple escaped through the back stairs and through the wine cellar. They had to make their way through the cemetery and there two men waited with four horses. Mary heavily pregnant mounted her horse and rode away to Seton Castle then onto Dunbar Castle. After five hours in the saddle, Mary arrived safely.
When it comes to telling a story, POV (Point of View) plays a major part in order to “Tell the story right” as John Travolta says in the movie, Basic.
There are three POVs:
First Person: Basically is I. I saw the cow jump over the moon.
Second person: This is You. This POV isn’t used much. You are dancing between beams of moonlight.
Third Person: Is She/He
In Third Person, you have Third person Omniscient and Third Person Limited. In Omniscient, the narrator sees all like God and Third Person Limited only sees himself but both POVs use He/ She.
Lachlan lingered in the courtyard. He refused to step inside. No doubt, he could find a widow to warm the night with. He just had to stay away from the Great Hall and Rowen. Damn, she was so beautiful sitting upon her horse. She was so near to him. He could have snatched her up and run away. He couldn’t go near her. He kicked at a rock. Why did MacLean have to permit the marriage here? –From Highland Scandal
But this post isn’t about this. This is about my POV preference and it isn’t what you think.
As a Romance Author, I write in third person limited. But my favorite POV is first person POV. Some people say that it is a hard POV to tackle. For me though, I love it. You must have heard about Method acting where the actor transforms into his character. When I’m writing, I do Method Writing. I take on my character. Ever action my character takes is one that I have weighed based on backstory, character development, goals, and conflicts.
When I’m writing, I am escaping just as much as I hope my readers are too. Another reason I prefer firstperson is I don’t feel separate from my characters. Readers (even I) can feel that in the writing. I suppose the reason I like it some much is because I have a lot of practice writing in that POV. Since I first started writing back when I was a little girl, I always wrote in first-person.
So, do you have a preference in both reading and writing?
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We all know that books influence our lives. They can be the self-help books that help with various parts of our life or how-to books that can help with anything that troubles us. Those For Dummies books have certainly helped me.
But what about other books that’s purpose is to teach you, entertain you or anything else; do they have an influence in everyday life? The answer would be yes.
Throughout my life (am I sure I’m not the only one who feels this way) books have taught me life lessons, helped me see the world around me in a new way, opened my mind to something I never knew or just let me know that I wasn’t alone.
One book I remember is still with me these years later and that book is A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. I was just a schoolgirl who had to read the Betty Smith’s novel for school. I remember looking at the cover and thinking this book has nothing to do with me. Oh no, another book for school that I do not want to be bothered with. I rather read something else like the Sweet Valley Series I loved.
After I read the first sentence I saw a piece of me in the father and mother. John and the mother (whatever her name was) were employed to clean schools. When in the empty schools, they would play out their dreams–dreams that saw them through the hard times, dreams that would never come true but dreams that were needed in their life to get through it.
My teachers always accused me of daydreaming and I was. I was weaving stories of a place where I far away from my everyday life, far from my desk and that school. My teachers made me feel like those daydreams were wrong. That me having dreams were wrong. They told me repeatedly that my dreams of writing were stupid and would never happen.
But that book told me differently and taught me that I wasn’t going to live my life without doing everything I could to make my dreams real. That I was worthy of a dream and worthy to make it come true. As we all do.
So every day, when I write that book influences me. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn changed me. I still have the book with its aged, urine-colored pages, dusty smell, and binding that cracks if I dare lift the ugly 80s cover. So I take it out every so often, stroke the cover and place it back so nothing happens to it.
There are many more books that influence me every day, books that have made me who I am and that list is too many to list. And every person has those books that have molded them into the person they are, so what book is it for you?
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You may not know this but I love–and I mean love Mary Stuart, Queen of Scotland. I first learned of her when I was a little girl about nine or ten years old. And I must confess that I was heartbroken when I learned of her execution. When I say heartbroken, I mean that I mourned her as I have never mourned a person I did not know personally let alone one who had been dead for hundreds of years.
So when the Mary, Queen of Scots movie was released I was thrilled. I must confess something else that is very shameful. I haven’t seen the film yet. Every time I plan to go something comes up and I’m unable to go to the movies.
Naturally, I had to write Mary Stuart and the men she married. First is Francis, the Dauphin of France and her first husband. Their love story doesn’t start with their marriage. The story begin in Scotland.
Mary Stuart was born on 8 December 1542. About a week old and this tiny infant became Queen of Scotland. Her father, James V died days after the defeat at the Battle of Solway Moss. She was crowned September 9, 1543.
Henry VIII, the king of England, decided that the Scottish Queen should marry his five-year-old son, Prince Edward and that the young queen be reared in the English court.
Well her mother, Mary of Guise, didn’t agree with that. So started the Rough Wooing. At this time, the future Dauphin Francis (The title for the French heir to the throne) was not yet born so to Henry’s thinking who else but the future king of England for the Scottish queen. That would bring England and Scotland under one crowned couple. Henry’s attitude to Scotland was burn it to the ground. During this time, the Battle of Pinkie Cleugh was fought. The queen was moved from castle to castle, home to home in order to keep her safe and far from English hands.
In 1548, her mother made a marriage agreement with France (her home nation) for Mary to wed Francis. In July, she sailed to France.
Francis of Valois was born in 1544 to the King of France and Catherine de Medici. He was sickly from birth. The cause was believed due to all the concoctions Catherine took to get pregnant. It took her ten years before she had Francis.
Mary met her future husband and these two got along from the start. Mary was raised in the nursery alongside Francis and his sister Elisabeth as royal children. There she lived in luxury and in the splendour that is France and its castles. She learned to speak French, her preferred tongue, but this Queen of Scots never lost the Scots tongue.
The time came for the young royal couple to wed. On Sunday, April 24, 1558, Francis and Mary wed in the Cathedral of Notre Dame. Mary–according to Antonia Fraser’s biography Mary Queen of Scots— “was dressed in a robe as white as lilies, so sumptuous and rich that the pen of the contemporary observer fell from his hands at the thought of describing it.”
White was a favorite shade of Mary since she looked best in that color. But it was also the traditional color of mourning for the queens of France. The wedding celebrations were a three-day affair.
These two seemed to have a very caring, loving relationship with reports of them sitting in the corners of the court, apart from everyone with their heads together and giving kisses to each other. Though, they were different in nature. Mary was fearless and Francis was timid.
Now whether their marriage was consummated is up for debate. Francis had a delicate nature as well as a deformity–undescended testicles, which lead to his stunted height and lacking physique. Mary towered over him as she did with most people.
Yet, Mary says that it did. However, people say that as an untried miss ignorant of such things, she would think that sleeping together in the same bed and some petting and such would mean that the royal couple had sex.
On July 10, 1559, King Henry II of France died and now Francis was king and Mary was Queen of France and Scotland. They were just teenagers with the king fifteen and Mary sixteen. The French court went into mourning.
Francis was crowned in September but Mary wasn’t since she was already Queen of Scotland there was no need to confirm her royal state. The court returned to mourning.
It was during this time her mother died. Then in 1560, Francis complained of a ghastly ear-ache then a few days later he fell down in a faint. He had a large swelling behind his left ear. Mary and her mother-in-law, Catherine de Medici nursed him themselves. Mary left his side once to go to church to pray for Francis’ recovery. Other than that, she was at his side.
Francis died a month before his seventeenth birthday. At eighteen, Mary was a widow and Dowager Queen of France. Her and Francis had never been apart for longer than a few months. He had been at her side since she was a girl of five. Mary must have felt lost. No doubt, that they loved each other. But I believe that their relationship was a love that didn’t burn with a passion but was warm and sometimes brotherly and sisterly but was a partnership for them both.
Mary grief was heavy and she wrote a poem (as she did and there is a book of her verses.)
Wherever I may be In the woods or in the fields Whatever the hour of day Be it dawn or the eventide My heart still feels it yet The eternal regret... As I sink into my sleep The absent one is near Alone upon my couch I feel his beloved touch In work or in repose We are forever close...
Now, Mary could no remain in France so to Scotland, she was to go. Where she will meet the English Lord Henry Darnley.
Fraser, Antonia (2001). Mary Queen of Scots. New York, New York: Bantam Dell.
Just imagine…Oh, I would love to have all the time and money in the world. Now, what would I do with it? Boy, do I know the answer to that. This #MFRW author has thought about that question a lot.
First, I would travel the world. Scotland, England, France, Spain, Germany, Australia, Argentina, Japan and on and on. I would have an extended visit, soaking up all the beauty. Then I would go home. My home base would a country home in Spain or France with countryside just stretching out to the horizon.
My home would be decorated as I have always wished. My bedroom would be a cozy, cushy place that cocoons me when I go to bed. I would have a library crammed with books. My office to write that overlooked my beautiful garden that hums from the bees and birds that have gathered. I would have someone cook and clean for me because first I do not want to eat my own cooking and as for cleaning, I don’t want to do that. I would share more but my dream home is my own escape and all mine.
Second, I would see that all my family had a lovely home and no stress about paying bills, paying for school or retirement. They would enjoy life.
Third, I would help people. Send kids to college, get homes for homeless, food for the hungry. I would use the money to help. Because people and animals just need a helping hand once in a while.
As for time, I would spend it much as I do now. With my family and writing.
Yeah, so I don’t want much. Tell me what you would do with all the time and money in the world?
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I have fibromyalgia and my memory is garbage. I used to know weird facts that I couldn’t forget. I could spell any word and remember lines from any movie from just watching it once.
Now, I forget how to spell the very simple word the. I can’t recall what day it is and have struggled with many more things but I just can’t remember what all that is.
Which makes writing historical romance a difficulty when I’m trying to remember a historical fact that has flown from my mind. So I’m looking up things a great deal and repeatedly.
But I have a memory from my childhood that is my first one. In case you don’t know I am an Air Force brat. When I was about three years old, the Vietnam War had ended. And the soldiers were returning stateside. If you are old enough, you may remember that some American people treated these soldiers–let’s say badly. People spat on them, called them baby killers, and sneered at these men at the very least.
Anyway, I was in Hawaii and the men were landing at Hickman Air Force base and my family–my dad, mom, brother and I–went to welcome them home. I remember sitting on my father’s shoulders with a small American flag in my hand that I waved about with glee. A helicopter landed and downtrodden, war-weary men stepped out. They hung their heads and on each of these men’s faces was a look of pure sadness, defeat, and something that I can only describe a crushed soul. They gave a half-smile and a nod of greeting as the adults said, “welcome home” and gave them supportive cuffs on the shoulder or back.
These many years later, I can never forget those men or those looks. It was seared into me. I didn’t understand the reasons for their demeanor but I knew that they were hurt–not physically but somewhere deep inside where some many who serve this nation have packed away their memories and emotions of fighting a war.
No matter that fibromyalgia is moving around the marbles in my head, I can never forget this memory. It is a part of me. And I’m thankful for it.
What is your first memory? Come on, tell me. After you do that don’t forget to check out the other blogs taking part in the #MFRW 52 week blog challenge.
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History remembers him as William the Conqueror, the first Norman King of England and the creator of the Doomsday Book. But before he defeated King Harold of England, he was known as William the Bastard, Duke of Normandy.
In 1051 or 1052, William married Matilda of Flanders. Matilda was the niece and granddaughter of Kings of France. Viewing their status through that lens, Matilda certainly married down.
Matilda was considered beautiful and wealthy. And not as short as we learn. She stood 5 feet tall, the average height for her time and William was 5’10 not the giant proclaimed.
Now the story of their courting. William sent his representative to ask for her hand in marriage and she turned him down. William not satisfied with that. William rode from Normandy to Bruges and found her riding to church. He tackled her in the street, pulling her off her horse by her long braids. He threw her in the street, beat her and then rode off. After that, she agreed to marry him.
Some people say the story is true others say that it is not. I guess it depends on who you read. In 1053, William and Matilda married even though Pope Leo IX banned it on the grounds of consanguinity (being closely related). Luckily for their children, in 1059, the royal couple received a Papal dispensation by Pope Nicholas II.
And William and Matilda would have children–10 to be exact who all would live into adulthood. A great feat at a time when children died.
In 1066, William would transform from the bastard to the conqueror when Edward the Confessor (King of England) died without issue. So, William prepared to invade the isle nation since he was a cousin to Edward and stated that Edward promised his throne. Matilda outfitted a ship named Mora with her own funds. While William went off to England, Matilda was regent of Normandy for her young son, Robert II.
In 1066, William won the Battle of Hastings but not all in England was peaceful. The Danes were fighting in the North for control and there were rebellions from the local nobility and people. Historians put the number of dead at 100,000. That is a large number when one thinks about how much smaller the population was.
Now the King of England, Matilda had to be crowned. On May 11, 1068, she became the Queen of England. But she was still in Normandy. It would take more than a year for her to visit her new nation. Only one child was born in their new realm–Henry I who would become one of the two English kings this union produced.
In the summer of 1083, Matilda became ill and died on the 2 of November 1083. Four years later, William followed on September 9, 1087. Both are buried in France.
England now a great amount of Williams. But history never recorded William having bastards. This couple changed Europe and the world and this is just some of their historical romance.