Welcome, Vonda. Tell us a little about yourself. What sparked your interest in writing?
Thanks so much for inviting me to be here today, Pat! As a child, I had a very active imagination. Playing pretend was one of my favorite pastimes, along with reading or watching my favorite TV shows. I started writing in 7th or 8th grade.We're glad you've continued. What components, in your opinion, make a great story?
Fantastic characters you can easily fall in love with. An unpredictable plot. A story atmosphere and setting that takes me away to a different time and place.Like Scotland. How would you generally categorize the books/stories you write?
They are Scottish historical romance or Highland romances with big, strapping warrior heroes who wear plaid and carry swords. :) The stories, set in the 1600s, are filled with both intense romance and high-stakes adventure.What was the hardest part of the story to write?
I wouldn’t say it was hard, but there are a sequence of scenes and events leading up to the climax and dark moment that I had to think about more than usual and map out so that everything would fall into place. It’s important to make sure the author’s presence isn’t detected in these complex situations. :)What was the easiest part of the story to write?
The hero, Keegan. He’s not only daring, he’s also a darling. :) I’d gotten to know him in the previous book (My Brave Highlander) because he was a secondary character, a cousin and good friend of the hero of that story. Keegan is a guard and fierce warrior, but he is also charming and quick with a smile. He is a gentleman who is respectful with the ladies, but he has a sensual, mischievous side. :) Most endearing of all, he’s not afraid to wear his heart on his sleeve.A daring darling indeed. Was there much research involved?
There is quite a bit of research involved in every book. Probably more in the first book of the series because I had to learn a lot about Scotland at the time. But with each book in the series, I build on that research and do more. One of the things I love doing is bringing the setting and atmosphere of the Scottish Highlands to life. I think I would have a much harder time doing that if I hadn’t visited Scotland because it is a unique and special place.Nothing like first-hand research, and I hope you have many opportunities to do lots more. Is there a message in My Daring Highlander you want readers to grasp?
Love conquers all! I love writing stories which are fast-paced, dramatic, action-packed, highly romantic, sensual, atmospheric and I want the reader to feel they’ve been to Scotland of the past. I also want them to feel that happy glow of love and friendship. When readers finish the book, I want them to feel good.Noting your reviews and reader comments, I’d say you’re doing a good job. When you first started writing, did anything about the writing process surprise you?
How much I got into it and lived in that story world as if it was real. The characters become real people to me, like friends, neighbors or family members.Do you listen to music when you write?
When I’m first starting a book, to around the middle, I listen to music for inspiration. After a certain point, though, I no longer need it. The story becomes so big and so real it carries me along.What’s next for you? Can we look forward to a new story soon?
I’ll be writing Jessie and Torrin’s story next. They were secondary characters who met in My Brave Highlander, the sister of the hero of that book and the former fiancé of the heroine. I don’t have a title for it yet, but I know it takes place in Durness, Scotland, in summer. I’m very much looking forward to writing it!And your fans will await it eagerly. Who supports your writing activities most?
My husband. He has always been encouraging and supportive in every way. There was a time when he believed in me even more than I did myself.Another daring darling :-) What advice would you give an aspiring author?
Believe in yourself.The best advice of all. Thanks so much for stopping by today, Vonda. I've enjoyed getting to know you and your Highlanders. And now, let’s have a peek at My Daring Highlander.
Beautiful and fiercely protective of those she loves, Lady Seona Murray captured Keegan MacKay’s attention when she first set foot in Dunnakeil Castle. Though she is a chief’s daughter and forbidden, Keegan has fallen in love with her from afar and burns to possess her. But so does the clan traitor, Haldane, an obsessive outlaw bent on murder and kidnapping.
Sinfully handsome, Keegan MacKay is a fearsome guard as well as the chief’s cousin, but Seona’s father would never consider him a worthy husband for her because he is not a titled laird. Seona has secretly watched the sensual, tawny-haired warrior from across the crowded great hall for months, but when he is tasked with escorting her across Scotland, back to her home, their simmering attraction flames into sizzling passion with just one kiss.
Though she fears she is endangering Keegan’s life, Seona cannot resist his seductive charm or his spellbinding kisses. Keegan sets fire to the memories of her sad past and shows her what it means to truly live. But her father has other plans. He’s arranged for her to marry a wealthy Lowland laird. Is Keegan daring enough to steal her away? Or will the vindictive Haldane snatch her first?
Lady Seona Murray watched with sickened dread as Keegan, Dirk and several more men charged boldly toward the hill where the outlaws lurked.
She’d stayed with the MacKays for several months and almost considered them her clan now. They had certainly shown her more care and consideration than her own clan had.
"Dirk," Lady Isobel called, but not too loud. If her husband heard, he ignored her. "He is mad," she grumbled through clenched teeth as the men disappeared from sight, the eerie mist enfolding them. "Haldane will kill him if he has half a chance."
"They are capable warriors," Seona said, knowing she was right, but at the same time realizing they were not invincible. She said a silent prayer for their safety.
"Aye," Isobel said, her dark brows furrowed.
The eight well-armed guards would not let the women move from the cover of the huge rocks surrounding them on three sides.
Seona was equally worried about Keegan, but could not voice her concerns. Her Aunt Patience, standing on Isobel’s other side, could never know that Seona held Keegan MacKay in such high regard. All winter and spring he had made a point to greet Seona at every opportunity with a charming smile and a bow. Sometimes she would catch him watching her with an intense focus from the other side of the great hall, but he had not done anything more intimate than usher her to the high table and pull out a chair for her almost every evening.
His pale blue eyes enchanted her, made her feel vibrantly alive. They reflected great interest and longing. She wanted to do naught but stare into his eyes for hours. His thick, tawny mane looked as if it would be soft and silky; her fingers itched to find out. Though he was a tall, broad-shouldered warrior, his size did not intimidate her, for he had an easy smile. The only part of him she had touched was his arm when he escorted her. Each time she slipped her hand around his elbow, she savored the hardness of his well-developed muscles.
A few times this spring, on rare and precious sunny days, she and Isobel had watched the men training with swords in the walled barmkin outside Castle Dunnakeil. She could not tear her gaze away from Keegan then, especially when he grew warm and threw off his doublet. His muscles were obvious through the thin damp linen of his shirt, and his calf muscles beneath the bottom edge of his plaid intriguing.
She only hoped he would be careful as he and the men pursued the outlaws. With each minute that passed in relative silence, Seona’s stomach ached more and more. The mist before them, strangely lit from behind by morning sunlight, hurt her eyes. She squinted against the brilliance.
"Why have they not returned?" Isobel grumbled a quarter hour later.
Having no answer for her friend, Seona shook her head. Indeed, what could be taking so long? Had they been ambushed and killed silently? A chill passed over her.
"Will one of you go check on them?" Isobel asked the bearded guard closest to her.
"Nay. The chief has commanded us to stay and protect you ladies," he said in a brusque tone.
A sound from within the white mist caught Seona’s attention and then a movement, low to the ground.
Seona shoved Isobel into her aunt, toward the left side of the stony enclosure. Something struck the sandstone, spraying rock particles over them.
"What on earth?" Aunt Patience squawked.
The women ended up in a heap on the ground. Seona’s knee pained her, but she hoped she hadn’t injured the others.
Seona looked behind her. "An arrow," she said, pointing to the broken shaft and feathers on the ground where it had bounced off the rocks exactly where Isobel had been standing.
"Men advancing from the rear!" a guard shouted. A clunk against wood sounded as an arrow drove into his targe.
The other guards cursed and moved into position to better shield the women.
"Saints, Seona, you saved my life," Isobel said in a stunned voice.
Seona knew not what to say; she’d simply acted on instinct. Isobel had become like a sister to her over the past few months, and obviously she’d help her in any way she could. Just as she wished to return home and help her own sister.
Seona’s attention was riveted to the four enemies on foot, wielding swords, storming from the bright mist in front of them, the opposite direction from where Keegan and Dirk had charged earlier.
* * * * *About Vonda Sinclair:
|Vonda and Kilchurn Castle (Scotland)|
Vonda Sinclair’s favorite indulgent pastime is exploring Scotland, from Edinburgh to the untamed and windblown north coast. She also enjoys creating hot, Highland heroes and spirited lasses to drive them mad. She is an EPIC Award winner, a past Golden Heart finalist, and Laurie award winner. She lives with her amazing and supportive husband in the mountains of North Carolina where she is no doubt creating another Scottish story.
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My Daring Highlander / Available from