I’ve always been fascinated with castles, so it should come as no surprise that I’ve chosen castles for settings in several of my books (Think Castle Brides and Highland Heather Romancing a Scot Series).
I asked this question on Facebook the other day. Here a few of the responses:
“Because they make us dream.” ~A. Barbin
“…the untold stories they hold.” ~T. Morrison
“They get my imagination all worked up.” ~T. Patton
“Because you were a princess in a past life?”~ S. Owens
I think it’s all of the first three, and maybe a bit of me wanting to have been a princess or at least a member of the gentry or nobility so I’d have access to a castle or two. I confess, my obsession extends to palaces and manor houses too. (Take a peek at my Castle, Palaces and Manor Houses Pinterest Board.)
Castles are inherently romantic…well, if you ignore the whole dungeon/torture aspect, that is.
In Virtue and Valor, book 2 in my Highland Heather Romancing a Scot Series, Isobel is abducted and held captive in at Dounnich House by a band of rogue Scots.
Isobel paced back and forth in the stark chamber she’d been thrust into yesterday. No simple manor, Dounnich House was a rustic, medieval castle, older than Craiglocky Keep.
From what she’d observed, as a brute hustled her to this chamber, the keep was in sad repair, in need of a good clean, and rodents obviously had free run of the place.
Drafty and reeking of God knew what, she shouldn’t have been at all surprised if a goodly number of spirits, evil no doubt, roamed the corridors at night, moaning.
One of my friends commented that castles were cold and drafty too. True, especially if you’re talking about a medieval castle. They weren’t built for luxurious comfort, but rather protection from invaders. Isobel loves her family castle, Craiglocky charming, but a bit outdated. The great hall’s display of ancient weaponry and hunting trophies aren’t really to her taste either.
But still, castles captivate.
If I could time-travel, I’d love to go back, invisible of course, and wander some castle corridors, hang out in a few great halls and watch a ball or two. I’ve been privileged to visit several castles while visiting England, France and Spain and touring as many as I can drag hubby to when we go to Scotland in 2016 is at the top of my list.
Although I enjoyed the opulence and extraordinary lavishness displayed, I find myself drawn to the more rustic castles. That’s how I picture Craiglocky Castle and Dounnich House. And don’t even get me started on Scottish castle ruins.
Oh, the stories they could tell.
Common castle features include a mote, the raised flattened surface a castle was often constructed on. Sometimes the builders used natural features (think castles on cliffs or hills) and other times, they constructed the mote from surrounding dirt, which left a ditch called a moat. Dounnich House is situated on a man-made mote atop a hill.
The bailey was a fortified enclosure surrounded by a high, thick curtain wall that typically sported battlements. The barracks, stables, blacksmith, and living quarters of those not privileged enough to live in the keep were within the bailey. The keep is the actual building the nobles lived in and the part of the castle that most fascinates me. The main access to the castle was generally only available through the gatehouse; a structure built with multiple defenses, including more battlements to keep unwanted visitors out.
Craiglocky has some secret entrances, which was not uncommon.
Another defense against intruders was the moat which could be either wet or dry. It was more typical to see a moat filled with water in low-lying areas. All many of disgusting matter was tossed into the water causing it to smell to high heaven.
Though I’d love to visit more castles and daydream about the former occupants, I don’t think I’d want to live in one. Of course, I wouldn’t say no to a nice long stay in a comfortably appointed chamber, as long as there was a bathroom nearby.
Have you ever visited any castle? Where? What fascinated you the most about them?
To celebrate Virtue and Valor’s release, I’m giving away a $25.00 gift card.
I’m also celebrating with a Summer Extravaganza on Facebook. Join me and thirteen other authors on June 25th from 6:30-10:00 EDT for fun, games, and more giveaways!
Click HERE to join.
Virtue and Valor
Highland Heather Romancing a Scot Series, Book 2
Bartholomew Yancy never expected to inherit an English earldom and had no intention of marrying. Now, the Earl of Ramsbury and last in his line, he’s obligated to resign his position as England’s War Secretary, find a wife, and produce an heir. Only one woman holds the least appeal: Isobel Ferguson, an exquisite Scotswoman. Brought to Scotland to mediate between feuding clans, he doggedly woos her.
Disillusioned with men pursuing her for her attractiveness, rather than her unusual intellect, Isobel has all but abandoned any hope of finding a husband in the Highlands. Not only does she believe Yancy no different than her other suitors, he’s a notorious rake. She’s been told he’s practically betrothed. Therefore, his interest in her cannot possibly be honorable, and so she shuns his attentions.
When Isobel is mistakenly abducted by a band of rogue Scots, Yancy risks his life to rescues her. To salvage her compromised reputation, her brother and father insist she marry him. Yancy readily agrees, but Isobel—knowing full well she’s fated for spinsterhood by refusing his offer— won’t be coerced into marriage.
Can love unite a reluctant earl and a disenchanted beauty?
An arched window opened onto a narrow ledge three stories above the ground. Once more, as she’d done at least a score of times already, Isobel fully opened the shutter and peered through the narrow slit.
Her room faced a lush meadow where several head of shaggy Highland cattle milled about. A narrow track led into the dense forest she’d passed through on their last leg to the keep.
No battlement surrounded the rear of the castle, the singular thing in her favor. Well, that and the apparent lack of patrols or lookouts at the keep’s rear. A lumpy band of crumbled stones, partially covered by earth and grass, revealed a wall had been present at one time.
Unless a person had the ability to climb like a spider or fly, this side of the keep appeared impenetrable. No windows graced the lower levels, and only a child or smallish woman could pass through the narrow, rectangular openings serving that purpose on this floor.
She slapped the casement in frustration then winced as stinging pain lanced to her shoulder. Not a tree or lattice to aid with escaping. The lone blanket tied to her cloak wasn’t long enough to hang from the window and use as a makeshift rope, and had it been, the chamber contained nothing to use as an anchor.
Other than climbing onto the ledge and creeping to the oriel’s tiny balcony, at least four windows away, fleeing proved impossible.
She closed her eyes and leaned against the cold wall. Heights terrified her. God’s bones, the very notion of slinking along the thin ribbon and climbing over the balustrade in long skirts made her lightheaded. If her stomach weren’t as empty as Hannah’s womb, she would cast up her accounts.
Besides, that chamber, and the others between her and her only hope of salvation, could be occupied and someone might sound the alarm as she skulked by.
One arm braced against the sash, she hung over the wide sill. Too bad she couldn’t change her hair into wings like the mythical Persinette and fly from this jail.
You can get you copy of Virtue and Valor here: BUY LINK