My writing friend, JEAN M. GRANT, is visiting me today to talk about her new book SEEKER: A Scottish Medieval Enemies to lovers Romance. The book is part of a 7 book series from a variety of authors under the banner of THE MORTAL AND PESTLE SERIES.
When writing about Scotland, Jean knows of what she speaks, as she tells us, here:
Finding my Muse in Scotland
Over a decade ago for our anniversary, my husband and I traveled to my bucket list destination: Scotland. Lone sheep wandered down the middle of a meandering country road. Windswept moors, heather fields, wet and cloudy skies, the occasional sunshine, rocky trails, impressive mountains, green rolling hills, deep lochs, and a gazillion castles greeted us…it was an amazing trip! Visiting the land of my daydreams stirred the muse within me to write about medieval Scotland. From that inspiration sprung my trilogy and now my spin-off book (it can be read as a standalone), Seeker (which is part of the new Mortar & Pestle series with six other authors).
Here is my list of must-sees!
10. The abbeys—Abbeys are poetic and serene and back in the Middle Ages served as monasteries to different Christian orders. We walked among ancient gray and rose stone ruins at Dryburgh and Melrose Abbeys.
9. The isles—It is hard to not visit an isle while in Scotland. There are many: Lewis and Harris, the Shetlands, or my beloved Uist. We visited Isle of Skye on a dreary day and could not even see the Black Cuillin mountains in the torrential rain, so I had to leave those images to my imagination.
8. Lochs—Like isles, lochs, many glacial, are a must-see and hard to miss whether it is the deep blue Loch Ness, expansive Loch Lomond, or the inspiring Loch Awe.
7. Crags & Glens—High and low crags are everywhere…the Trossachs, Cairngorms, or the five sisters of Kintail are impressive mountains. Glencoe is not one to skip. A rainstorm washed out our path and I got 100 midges stuck in my hair, but it was still oh-ah breathtaking.
6. Standing Stones—Standing stones are one of the few places we couldn’t visit on our trip as most are on the isles. Note to self for next time!
5. Scottish Folk & Pubs—Scots are pleasant people, and we had a great time chatting with the locals. And yup, there are plenty of the other kind of locals: sheep! My husband even tried haggis.
4. The Lowlands—The lowlands often get overlooked, but they are green and lush with undulating hills. I loved them.
3. The Highlands—Rich in clan history and natural beauty and oh so many hiking trails, the Highlands are the epitome of Scotland. Tramp (hike) through glens, up stony crags, or visit Culloden Battlefield (we did), and just get lost on the winding one-lane roads. On my next visit I hope to hike the Hadrian’s Wall path on the English border.
2. Highland Games—Up for putting the stone, caber tossing, tug-o-war, music, and dancing…oh yes, and lots of kilts? Get thee to a Highland Game. We visited one in Pitlochry.
1. Castles—[notice my countdown order – I loved castles the most!] I visited over a dozen on my trip. My favorites: Eilean Donan (the central castle in my books), Kilchurn (we kayaked to it), Threave (we took a rowboat across a river to it), and Borthwick (we stayed overnight in this 14th century tower house that is haunted).
Seeker is a medieval Scottish romance, part of a 7-book series about a magical mortar and pestle that brings true love to its holders. Castles…mythical creatures…to everyday adventurers, it has something for everyone. In Seeker, restless archer Aileana yearns for a target to prove her worth, but when a magical mortar and pestle spins its charm upon her and a rival clan’s son, winning the yearly tournament might mean the difference between war and peace, between love and curses.
Nock, draw, release. Her bow is always ready, and if her arrow hits its mark, she will secure her destined soulmate.
Aileana Montgomerie’s bloodline holds valuable gifts of foresight and healing, but with each honor comes a curse. Even though she is descended from the mystical isles’ folk, she lacks the ability of the Scottish Ancients and wonders if she belongs in a magical family. Aileana just wants a purpose. What good is her bow and arrow if she is denied the right to fight for her clan?
Brodie MacDougall is ordained to be the next war chieftain of his clan. The title is a privilege as long as his brother, the future laird, doesn’t expect him to lift a sword and charge into battle. Chronic pain and nervous vapors force him to spend his days alone. Can his strategic skills keep him one step ahead of his conspiring brother?
Through a magical Mortar & Pestle, Brodie finds his heart’s desire. But there’s a catch. The seat on his brother’s council is no longer dependent upon his health…but on Aileana’s strength. With rumblings of unrest among their clans, will their love foster an alliance or be a step toward war?
The mixture of herb fragrances mingled in her nose. Nutty, sharp, awakening.
She inhaled. Brodie inhaled.
As he released his hand from the pestle, a dark violet waft of smoke rose from the mortar.
An image appeared in her head, though her eyes were wide open:
A vast and lush meadow. Her bow in her hand. She stared at a target, runes carved into its center. The butt was made from a large mound of dirt, the kind used in the yearly tournament.
What in all the stars was happening?
And Brodie stood beside her in the image. Vision? Nonsense! Had she knocked her head? Fallen asleep? She held no gift of prophecy. What was this?
The ground rumbled. She heard Brodie’s heart racing as he whispered words of love in her ear.
Her neck tingled with gooseflesh, the way the wheat fields rippled on a windy day. He pressed a kiss to her cheek, and her belly warmed.
In your presence, the answer is shown, a voice said. Stay close to him, for your heart’s desire is known. What you seek, you will reap. Follow the golden prize. Let it be your sun.
She blinked as the image faded, her face aflame and the residual heat of his lips upon her skin still palpable. “Did you see that?”
He was staring at her, his body so close. She broke their shared gaze. “The mortar.”
He blew out a full, healthy breath as the lavender mist dissipated.
“Smoke?” she coaxed. Oh, please, Brodie. Say you see it, too!
He stared at the mortar. The purple smoke was now a pale haze fading to gray. The flecks in the black granite shimmered as bright as the stars.
“Aye, I do. A flame, but the color of a thistle. Though now it is gray.”
She gulped, feeling relieved but confused. Her mother’s treatments were as natural as the earth. She didn’t cast spells or evoke flares from simple herbs!
“Has this ever happened before?” he asked.
She wet her lips, searching his face. Her chest tingled.
Get your copy here: SEEKER
Checkout the entire series, here: MORTAR AND PESTLE
Check out the book trailer:
Jean’s background is in science, and she draws from her interests in history, nature, and her family for inspiration. She writes historical and contemporary romances and women’s fiction. She also writes articles for family-oriented travel magazines. When she’s not writing, she enjoys gardening, hiking, and exploring the outdoors.
Connect with Jean here:
Jean M. Grant
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