Hi E. Elizabeth and welcome to HJ! We’re so excited to chat with you about your new release, Twelfth Knight’s Bride!
I’m so glad to be here, and so happy to chat ! Thanks for letting me stop by to talk about my new holiday romance!
Please summarize the book a la Twitter style for the readers here:
Writing Twelfth Knight’s Bride was so much fun! In this book, Lady Aileana Grant is desperate to help her ailing clan. Christmastide is upon them, and due to raiding, they have little. In her desperation, and perhaps with a pinch of spite at heart, she steals food from Laird James MacDonald, a warlord known as the Devil who has made conquering her lands his life’s mission. To say this sparks MacDonald’s retaliation, and initiates a delicious plot, would be too gentle a statement. Laird MacDonald has his own plans. He has to marry an enemy Grant by Twelfth Night in order to claim his inheritance, and now that Aileana has wronged him, he demands a hand fast as compensation for her thievery. But his plan backfires, and she negotiates a break in the union should marriage to him be too miserable. Therefore, James needs to win her heart by Twelfth Night so that his hand fast is permanent, or else lose his inheritance forever. I don’t want to say more, for fear of spoiling the book!
Please share the opening lines of this book:
“A little farther, man,” Aileana encouraged her brother’s horse as she rode hard through the snowy glen.
The beastly stallion panted, leaping over drifts with fringed hooves. She leaned over his neck, which lunged and retracted with each bound while his mane blew wildly in her face, her hands close to the bit. Her bundle, wedged between her belly and the saddle pommel, threatened to jostle loose. She pressed her stomach into it to keep the stolen goods in place and glanced over her shoulder, fearful of her pursuer.
“Mayhap we’ve lost the cretin.”
Please share a few Fun facts about this book…
Writing Twelfth Knight’s Bride was inspiring! Or I should say, I was inspired. After my most recent trip to Scotland last year where I toured the Highlands, one of our stops was at Urquhart Castle. Our tour guide had entertained us the entire way with stories of clan feuds and historical trivia, but when he told us about Urquhart being controlled by Clan Grant, and that it was heavily raided upon by the MacDonalds, this clan conflict inspired my story. Before I returned home, I already had the plot for this book outlined! You can read more about my historical facts on my website here: https://eelizabethwatson.com/historicalfacts/
What first attracts your Hero to the Heroine and vice versa?
The physical chemistry between my characters is strong. Aileana is taken aback by James’s tall and lean appearance, not to mention his sparkling blue eyes–which runs counter to what she’s always known of him as a warrior raiding them, covered in mud and woad for camouflage. She is certainly expecting a beast of a man, not a handsome, and young laird. He also exhibits subtle kindnesses to those around him, something that intrigues her and makes her wonder what he’s really like. James, too, is surprised. He thinks a lad has stolen from him, but when he sees a woman with curling red-auburn hair, wearing no make-up, and with a feisty attitude, he’s taken aback. She thinks she’s plain–which can’t be farther from the truth–and she’s a hard worker, willing to do whatever must be done, including manual labor, to help her people. In spite of James’s anger, he respects her grit, and is drawn to her fresh, natural beauty.
Using just 5 words, how would you describe Hero and Heroine’s love affair?
The First Kiss…
James turned toward her, dipping his head to her ear. “I promised yer brother I’d no’ take liberties with ye.” He squeezed her hands in his. “But hell if I havenae wanted to kiss ye since yer tongue first lashed me at Urquhart.”
Her stare shot up to his. He waited for her response, but her voice failed her. All she could muster was a nod.
“Are ye certain?” he whispered, his thumb rubbing nervous caresses across her clutched fingers.
Again, she nodded, a frantic gesture mirroring the excitement in her gut and the dryness that suddenly afflicted her mouth.
James relinquished her hand. A finger touched her chin, tipping up her face. His twinkling blue eyes held hers captive while his people laughed and goaded him to claim the prize. Such concentration.
He seemed intent and focused, then with a handsome smile that creased his cheeks and made nervous wings beat across her skin, said much louder now, “It’s been so ordered. One cannae disregard the Abbess of Unreason’s ruling, for it’s akin to defying the king!”
And he dropped his lips to hers.
She stood frozen as the ruckus roared in her ears at the laird’s audacity. How did one kiss? How did one breathe? How did one think? What was he thinking? The noise faded to the periphery of her thoughts. Her lips tingled where his touched hers, and—goodness, she needed to breathe. She sucked in a lungful, and God above, this enemy smelled so…good. Nay just like leather and wine and sweat, but like fire smoke and soap made of almond powder and marjoram mixed with the scent of his skin, a male musk all his own.
Without revealing too much, what is your favorite scene in the book?
Of course, we authors love every tiny word in our books! I have several favorite scenes, but they do give away things I’d love the reader to discover. However, I love my heroine’s feistiness. She throws James MacDonald for one heck of a loop during their very first encounter toward the beginning, so here’s a brief excerpt of when the enemies meet one another as an example:
Seamus leaned into her ear as she felt Laird MacDonald’s gaze still scrutinizing her, perusing her figure with his devilish eyes. His moniker was proving to be true. Devil indeed.
“Pray tell,” Seamus whispered so softly she could barely make out his words, “why I must face down this bastard and his accusations of thievery.”
She remained high-chinned and gave the MacDonald a searing perusal of her own, as he was doing to her, causing his eyes to narrow curiously. He was probably conjuring some nefarious plot, for he looked as if he contemplated something.
“Sakes, brother, but I can barely stand to be so close to him. Breathing the same air as him will surely bring about a case of hives.”
A nearby guardsman snorted at her jest, and she smiled sweetly at her adversary, knowing by the tightening of his brow that he had heard her. Then his gaze dipped to her lips, then back to her eyes again.
“Sister…” Seamus rubbed the bridge of his nose. “Were ye outside the gates today?”
“I was. ’Tis a lovely day for a country ride, one of the few pleasures we still have, since all other pleasures have been stolen from us,” she replied, making no effort to hide her flippant tongue as her gaze bore into James MacDonald’s.
The MacDonald harrumphed, grumbling, “Yer sister has a disagreeable tongue. Nay a wonder why she’s no’ married yet.”
The nerve! Anger flared in her chest at his insult, even if it had been delivered by a deep, husky voice, inducing more shivers across her skin than she should be proud of. What did he expect from the Grants? Kindness and benevolence?
“Too bad ye’ll never ken a whit about my tongue,” she snapped in return.
James’s brows shot up in surprise at her lewdness, and she smirked, crossing her arms with satisfaction and popping her hip.
If your book was optioned for a movie, what scene would be absolutely crucial to include?
Every scene, of course! The story takes place over the days leading up to Twelfth Knight, and each day, there is a new Yuletide festivity to be celebrated. The festivities teach James and Aileana valuable things about each other, and the story simply wouldn’t be the story without them! The first kiss scene above, is one of my favorites. The celebration is exciting, and the Abbot of Unreason has just been selected who has just ordered Laird MacDonald to kiss his new bride. It’s such a vulnerable moment for both Aileana and James. I would hope that magic would be captured in every glorious detail WHEN my book is turned into a movie, ha!
Readers should read this book …
I love the enemies-to-lovers trope and this book is without a doubt, solid enemies-to-lovers. It’s also a Scottish historical, AND a holiday romance! It’s several of my favorite things bundled into one. This story is also based upon some true tidbits of history–raiding upon Urquhart Castle by the MacDonalds, in the year 1513, as well as the middle of the 1500s, and there’s a bit of lore worked into the book, too. These are definitely reasons a reader might want to dig into this book.
What are you currently working on? What other releases do you have planned?
My newest novella, The Capture of Finnan MacLeod, is about to release in a week, included in an anthology with five other amazing Scottish and Medieval romance authors, entitled: Merry Mayhem: A Collection of Yuletide Rogues and Outlaws. Clearly I had the holidays on the brain this year, ha! Readers wanting to know more about that set can find it on my website here: https://eelizabethwatson.com/aboutbooks/
I’m also working on another Scottish historical, but I can’t share any of those details just yet. I have far more Scottish historicals in my head than I’ll ever be able to write! And for a plot twist, I recently signed my first contract for a contemporary cowboy series set in Texas. Those books won’t begin releasing until 2022, but I’m definitely working on those. I love to say, whether kilts or pearl snaps, my heroes wear plaid!
Thanks for blogging at HJ!
Giveaway: An E-copy of Twelfth Knight’s Bride for your preferred E-reader!
To enter Giveaway: Please complete the Rafflecopter form and Post a comment to this Q: I love to read about traditions, and often find symbolic ways to work them into my stories. With so many holidays occurring during the winter season, what is one of your favorite holiday traditions? Perhaps a unique family tradition, or memories of something you always celebrated growing up?
Excerpt from Twelfth Knight’s Bride:
He quirked the corner of his mouth, deciding not to press the matter. Could it be that we are finding more common ground?
“Would it make any difference to ye now to ken that the mare ye ride is light of foot and won me a race in the Inverness games four seasons ago?” he diverted.
She glanced at him. “She is quite spry for her age. What does that have to do with clan rivalries?”
His semi-smile broadened, and he leaned down to her, lowering his voice as he wrapped his hands around his reins in preparation. “Absolutely nothing. I’m saying my horse could use a good jaunt, and since yer palfrey bears the record she does, how would ye like a wee competition? Up to the wood’s edge where it’s dense of trees and sparse of people?”
Her eyes brightened, and a smile of her own danced upon her lips as she looked ahead of them to get bearings on the mark. Just as he suspected. The lass, bold of tongue, was also competitive.
“I do believe I’m being challenged to a race by the enemy. More rivalry is what we need, then?”
“Only a gentle bird frightened of losing would refuse,” he taunted, sitting upright again and staring down his nose at her like a haughty prince.
“Then I suppose the only way to silence ye is to put ye in yer place.” She giggled.
A giggle. His eyes dipped to her lips.
“What’s the boon for winning?” she asked.
“The chance to gloat that their clan is better, aye?”
She lifted her eyes heavenward. “Childish of ye, Jamie.” And damn, but the moniker again made his heart skip like an eejit. She gathered her reins alongside her mount’s neck, patting the pretty beast.
He grinned. “Ye bring out the best in me, lass.” Turning to his nearby guardsman, he ordered, “Bother us nay. We’re off for a gallivant and will await the party from the forest’s edge.”
The knight nodded his nasal helm in compliance.
“Since ye challenge me, laddie,” she bated further, though he wondered if she, too, was anxious to break away from the party. “Ready…go!” she breathed, tapping her horse into motion, and launched ahead of him.
His grin never faltering, he shook his head and tapped Devil into a charge, overtaking her. “I see ye’re a cheat, nàmhaid, jumping the start!”
“As are ye!” she called back as her cloak billowed like shimmering banners behind her, and sakes, but a gorgeous, full grin had split her lips, the likes of which a man would want to litter with pecks as he acquainted himself to every secret within her kiss.
“Ye challenge me, and yet it’s ye who rides a prime stallion who isnae even exerting himself yet! Ye’re certain to win, and I needed the head start to even the stakes!”
He laughed, a husky, hearty sound. “I’d expect something so underhanded from a Grant!”
Her mouth dropped in feigned shock, though she laughed. “As I would from a MacDonald!”
“Careful, woman, ye’re one of my kind now!”
“Never!” She urged her horse onward, overtaking him by a neck, which he leveled out easily, surging ahead.
Excerpts. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
Lady Aileana Grant just wants to help her starving clan at Christmastide. So she pilfers some vegetables from the bastard Laird James MacDonald–the Devil, they call him. When the Devil shows up and demands marriage as recompense for the thievery, Aileana can’t believe it when her brother agrees. Even if she’s able to negotiate a severance on Twelfth Night, that’s still two weeks to put up with the laird in enemy territory. She’s counting down the days, even if James isn’t quite the disgusting cretin she’d imagined.
James needs to marry an enemy bride in order to inherit his fortune. Cursed restrictions. He’d been unable to look away from Aileana’s untamed beauty ever since she squared off with him. He might as well handfast with the infernal lass. He’d get his money and perhaps some peace among the clans. He has a fortnight to win the heart of the lady with the voice of an angel despite her sharp tongue.
Twelfth Night is merry and bright as Aileana and James realize a true connection between them. But when Aileana discovers the reason the Devil forced her into marriage, how can she ever believe he truly wants her?
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Meet the Author:
Elizabeth is convinced life is better with good coffee, chocolate, and a pair of hiking boots. Ever since her elementary school librarian “published” her epic childhood tales—complete with handmade covers—she’s enjoyed writing. She loves exploring history through literature, and the world through hiking. While studying prehistoric Britain at Newcastle University and roaming castle ruins and Hadrian’s Wall with her kids, Elizabeth found story inspiration in the tumultuous history of the British Isles and the folklore of Scotland.
A recovering archaeologist and biomed research coordinator, Elizabeth is known for her Ladies of Scotland series, as well as her HEA at USA TODAY–recommended Christmas Wore Plaid. She spends her days penning rugged heroes draped in tartan and chain mail, and the willful heroines who ensnare their hearts. She currently lives on a mountainside in West Virginia with her husband, sons, and various pets. Because she’s always honored to hear from readers, make sure to follow her on Facebook, Bookbub, Twitter, Goodreads, and Instagram.
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