Welcome to The Plain, Kate. Tell us what sparked your interest in writing.
Living on an island in the cold North Atlantic (Newfoundland), storytelling has always been an integral part of our culture. I dabbled with filmmaking and stage productions before trying my hand at novel writing. My first novel, Bound to the Highlander, was inspired by a conversation between two girlfriends gushing over a movie they saw and loved.How would you generally categorize the books/stories you write?
I write historical romance. Currently the history part is set in 15th century Scotland and during the reign of James Stewart I. I am also researching an additional series set in Scotland, but a century later. Not sure if I have a contemporary in me, never say never.Do you set your books/stories in your hometown, or do you prefer more exotic locations?
I prefer a different location. Writing, like reading, is an escape for me and I have difficulty doing that in my home setting. Mind you the usual rain/drizzle/fog climate of Newfoundland helps give me an excuse to stay inside and write.How much of your writing is based on people or events familiar to you?
Not much in terms of plot. My story is set 600 years ago and so the research involved was pretty massive. However, there are definite characteristics of some people I know in some of my characters.What inspired you to write Bound to the Highlander?
This novel was inspired by a conversation I heard between two friends discussing the scene where Gerry Butler and Hilary Swank meet on an old country road in PS I Love You. There was something about the way they described the romantic setting and the irresistible pull between the characters that got the wheels turning.Was there much research involved?
There was an enormous amount of research involved. I had an inkling of when I wanted the story set and so researched the monarchs of the late middle ages. Once I happened upon James Stewart I’s story, I was hooked.Is there a message in your story you want readers to grasp?
I want them to turn the world off at the door and come along for the ride. :) A romance novel is all about pure escapism and that’s what I’ve worked hard to deliver.When you first started writing, did anything about the writing process surprise you?
Yes. I knew nothing about being a panster or a plotter. Incidentally, I learned I am a total panster and am surprised to learn that’s how I create best. In my daily life I’m a plotter so to speak, I need to know what’s coming. Creatively, I don’t want to box myself in and so let the story flow free.Do you celebrate when you finish a story, and if so, how?
I was really excited when I finished my first novel, Bound to the Highlander. But I’m really sad to say good-bye to my characters in Promised to the Highlander. I loved spending time with them and figure the hero from that book will pop up again and again.Do you have a set writing routine?
Not really. I’ve tried scheduling around my day job and the reality is I write when I’m not working full time, or being a Mom and wife.Do you listen to music when you write?
I listen to a 90 minute track of heavy rain I downloaded from iTunes. Puts me right in the zone every time.Give us a mini-tour of your writing space.
I’m a nomadic writer. Everything I use is portable so I can write wherever I can find a comfy spot. I use my laptop mostly, but I’ve been known to use the family desktop as well. I have a huge computer desk but am usually found in the dining room, on the couch with one of four portable desks, or at my local Starbucks.A nomadic writer. I love that! Name a few titles I’d find if I browsed through your personal home library.
In hard copy you’ll find The Count of Monte Cristo, Blindness, Atonement, Gone with the Wind, Pride and Prejudice to name a few. On my Kobo you’ll find ebooks galore from Sylvia Day, Nora Roberts, Julianne MacLean, Victoria Barbour, Johanna Lindsay, and Julie Garwood.What’s next for you? Can we look forward to a new story soon?
Book two in my Highland Chiefs series, Promised to the Highlander is in my publisher’s hands as we speak. Cross fingers they like it and we’ll be celebrating a release announcement soon.Fingers crossed, Kate. We’ll watch for that announcement. And now, let’s have a look at Bound to the Highlander.
Aileana Chattan suffers a devastating loss, then discovers she is to wed neighbouring chief and baron, James MacIntosh—a man she despises and whose loyalty deprived her of the father she loved. Despite him and his traitorous clan, Aileana will do her duty, but she doesn't have to like it or him. But when the MacIntosh awakens something inside her so absolute and consuming, she is forced to question everything.
James MacIntosh is a nobleman torn between tradition and progress. He must make a sacrifice if he is to help Scotland move forward as a unified country. Forced to sign a marriage contract years earlier binding Lady Aileana to him, James must find a way to break it, or risk losing all—including his heart.
From the wild and rugged Highlands near Inverness to the dungeons of Edinburgh Castle, James and Aileana’s preconceptions of honour, duty and love are challenged at every adventurous turn.
The early morning mist was refreshing as she walked along the well-beaten road leading north toward Inverness. The fog lifted just enough to expose the stunning landscape. Out here, with the rolling green hills and explosions of colour, she could spread her arms wide and feel free from the pain gripping her. The tightness in her chest eased. In the distance, the sharp mountain peaks protruded from the crawling mist towards the blue sky. The day would be lovely when the fog burned off.
Aileana reached the crossroads and turned right, following a smaller path leading east. Thick brush and oak trees framed the path, often giving way to vast farmlands that lay beyond. Littered here and there were bluebells, lady fingers, and cowslip. She knelt to collect some, pausing to inhale their sweet scent.
The flowers brought back memories of the many times her uncle had brought them to her. Widowed and with no children of his own, he took guardianship of Aileana after her father’s death and came to love and treat her as if she were his own. All these years, they had only each other and she was lost without him.
Her hair prickled at her nape. She stepped onto the road and looked both ways, her arms full of flowers. The thunder of hooves reached her ears at about the same time her peripheral vision caught a flash of something white and very large coming around the bend just ahead. She leapt out of the way to avoid being trampled, landing on her backside. She strained her neck and viewed the largest horse she’d ever seen. The dense fog had prevented her from seeing the horse or its rider approaching at top speed. She was lucky to have avoided serious injury.
Aileana’s heart raced. She should have known better than to walk alone, considering all the recent raids. Was the rider friend or foe? She recognized a small path across the road. If she could get around the giant beast before the rider saw her, she could slip through the trees undetected.
Within a split second, however, the rider dismounted and held out his large hand. His deep chuckle made her cheeks burn.
"I’m sorry, lass. I didn’t expect to see anyone out at this hour, nor this far from any dwelling."
The tall man took in her appearance, his sweeping glance resting on the embroidered stitching of her low neckline. His gaze lingered there before travelling up her throat. She held her breath as his eyes trailed over her body.
"You can ride with me if you like." His husky voice conjured images of silk sweeping across her flesh.
She was entranced by the sight of him. Thick muscles flexed beneath a dark leather jerkin which ended just above his knee and was secured at his waist with a broad belt. In his current position, she could see his thigh muscle tense and her face grew hotter. His plaid covered one shoulder and ran underneath his sword arm secured by a large silver brooch offset with rubies and centered with a wildcat.
They supported the king. It wasn’t well known, but Uncle had speculated to those he trusted. Anyone who supported a man who pawned his people like cattle for his personal gain was no friend of hers.
It was clear from his inappropriate suggestion, she was better off not knowing him. He was no gentleman, despite his expensive accessory and giant horse. No decent man would speak that way to a lady. Couldn’t he tell by the way she was dressed that she was no common wench? Then again, it would not matter to this base sort of man. Either way, without a chaperone, she was not about to remain in his company for one more second. His hand hung in mid-air, but she ignored it, hoisting herself instead off the cold ground.
She mustered the most authoritative voice she could. "No thank you." Aileana lifted her chin and walked away.
"Wait lass. I’m sorry to have startled you. What are you called?"
Aileana turned on her heel intent to put this rogue in his place and ran into his chest. She gasped. The thick, rich scent of leather enveloped her, sending an unexpected shiver down her spine. She stumbled, but he was quick enough to catch her by the arms before she fell. Her hands splayed flat against his chest. Bulging muscles underneath his jerkin begged her fingers to stroke their curve.
His bright green eyes bore into hers. While his long brown hair was tied at his nape, a few strands had broken free and fell loose across his face. She fought the irresistible urge to reach up and tuck them behind his ear.
"Who are you?"
His deep voice was warm honey on her flesh. He smelled of sweet ale and she was transfixed by his mouth which curved in all the right ways. "Perhaps you’re a faerie come to steal me away."
His raspy voice made her skin tingle.
"I bet you taste as delicious as you smell."
Aileana pushed against his chest. He pushed back. The stranger pulled her forward, his mouth now no more than an inch from hers. His hard body pressed against hers, spreading heat to her very core.
His fingers brushed the side of her mouth and his lips parted. Her knees trembled. His intent was clear and their proximity was inappropriate.
Panic hit her hard.
* * * * *About Kate Robbins:
Kate Robbins writes historical romance novels out of pure escapism and a love for all things Scottish, not to mention a life-long enjoyment of reading romance. Her journey into storytelling began with a short screenplay she wrote, directed, and produced which was screened at the 2003 Nickel Film Festival in St. John’s, Newfoundland. She has also written and directed several stage plays for youth.
Kate loves the research process and delving into secondary sources in order to give readers the most authentic historical romance possible. She has travelled to Scotland and has visited the sites described in her Highland Chiefs series.
Kate is the pen name of Debbie Robbins who lives in St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada with her hubby, the man-beast, and her two awesome boys, the man-cubs.
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Bound to the Highlander / Available from