If you read my most recent newsletter, you know that we’re heading back to the highlands this year. The Brides of Inverfyre will be my next historical romance series. I love beginning a new series, because I feel as if the possibilities are endless. In this case, though, I don’t exactly have a blank slate. Since the series continues from three other linked series (The Rogues of Ravensmuir, The Jewels of Kinfairlie and The True Love Brides) there are established facts. This means that the first thing I had to do was gather what I’ve already said about these characters and review it all. I thought I’d share a bit of that with you today, as many of you have said that you’d like to see “behind the scenes” a little more.
If you look at the Inverfyre family tree (which is free for download here), you’ll see that the Hawk and Aileen (their story is The Warrior) had five children:
• Nigel was born in 1403
• Evangeline was born in 1410
• Mhairi was born in 1414
• Gawain was born in 1415
• Avery was born in 1417
My plan is to tell the story of each of these kids, as well as that of Ross from Kinfairlie, who was born in 1403. (The Kinfairlie family tree is free for download here.) So, I’ll have six stories in total. One of them is going to be a novella, published in a multi-author project for Christmas 2017. It’s not going to be the series starter, because I want a full book for that. (Also, these joint anthologies require that the story be exclusive to the anthology for a period of time, so I won’t be able to publish this novella in its own edition until 2018.) So, the novella will be Mhairi’s story, and you’ll be able to read it out of order.
The Warrior’s Prize, the final book in the True Love Brides series, ended in 1429 when Elizabeth and Raphael married. This new series must start after that. According to the family tree, the Hawk of Inverfyre dies in 1440 (at the age of 68), and I don’t want to show that scene. 😦 So, the books in this new series will be set between 1430 and 1439.
I had a look at the family trees and figured out what the rest of the Kinfairlie family has been doing in those few years. There are babies to be added. 🙂
I had to go back to Inverfyre and The Warrior to note the details about that keep and figure out which characters might still be there, some twenty years later.
What was happening in Scotland in the 1430’s?
This is the reign of James I, who returned to Scotland in 1424 and was assassinated in 1437. He tried to subdue the Lord of the Isles and claim that territory, and did undermine the authority of the barons of Scotland. He also spent a great deal of tax revenue that was gathered in Scotland but owed to the British crown. His extravagant lifestyle caused resentment in the early 1430’s. He built Linlithgow Palace and had other castles fortified, expanded and furnished more lavishly. When he was killed, his son was only six, so there was a regency and the influence of the barons rose again.
I’m going to start in 1431 as resentment rises and the Hawk is trying to steer a safe course between the demands of the barons and James I. The last book in the series will be set around the time of James’ death. I have a six-year window for six stories.
Who is our first bride? The Hawk, as you might recall from The Warrior, is very big on strategic marriages. He abducted Aileen and compelled her to marry him, then was surprised to have love grow between them. I think he would be an organized father and proactive in arranging marriages for his children—especially that of his oldest son and heir, Nigel. In 1431, Nigel is 21 years old, which is a good time for an heir to marry in medieval times.
But what if the strategic match arranged when Nigel was a child isn’t so strategic any more? James I returned to Scotland in 1424—previous to that, he had been a captive of the English king. The barons were ascendant before that and the Lord of the Isles was powerful. It was unexpected when James I arrested the Lord of the Isles and his mother in 1428 in an attempt to claim control of the domain. Alexander, Lord of the Isles was subsequently released, but surrendered to captivity again after a military defeat in August 1429. Alexander was held in captivity at Tantallon castle (the inspiration for Ravensmuir) until 1431, then released again, having surrendered to the king’s will.
I thought that Nigel’s fiancé should be connected somehow to Alexander of Islay, Lord of the Isles. In my world, Keanan is a close ally to Alexander and also imprisoned with him. He has only a single daughter, Brigid. Since Keanan has been arrested and may be executed, Brigid should be glad of the security an arranged marriage will offer. Instead, she feels trapped. She’s been brought to Inverfyre for her own safety but is miserable. Nigel is too young, in her opinion, to capably defend a wife and family—although he’s nice enough. Most of all, she can’t imagine living out her life in a place that offers no glimpse of the sea. News of her father’s release from captivity makes Brigid realize that she has one chance to decide her own fate. She runs. The Hawk will hire the most competent mercenary he knows to hunt her down—incidentally, the one who brought the news of Keanan and Alexander of Islay’s release—Ross Lammergeier. Remember that Ross trained for his spurs at Inverfyre under the Hawk’s instruction. Ross is also exactly the kind of man that Brigid wants to marry, although the Hawk doesn’t realize as much. We can guess what will happen when Ross pursues Brigid. He probably wouldn’t forget his obligation to the Hawk and the family at Inverfyre, but Brigid will be determined to tempt him in order to shape her future the way she wants it to be. Ross and Brigid’s book will be first in the new series. I know the title, but you’ll see it on the cover when it’s done.
Mhairi’s story will be the Christmas novella. It will be numbered 1.5 but you’ll be able to read it out of order.
I’ve created a series newsletter for the Brides of Inverfyre because I know that many of you don’t want to miss a single detail. Subscribe and you’ll be first to hear the news about these books. Of course, I’ll still talk about this series in my monthly newsletter – the series newsletter is for readers who just want to hear about that series and not everything else every month. 🙂