Revisiting Ravensmuir and Kinfairlie

The Runaway Bride, book #2 of the Brides of Inverfyre series of medieval Scottish romances by Claire DelacroixOver the past few days, I’ve embarked on an unexpected adventure. I’ve been working on a series bible (or world guide) for Ravensmuir, Kinfairlie and Inverfyre. The plan was to compile what I’ve said about these places and characters before writing Ross’s book (The Runaway Bride) to make sure I don’t forget any important details. There are a LOT of details and it’s a much bigger exercise than anticipated. (I should have expected that, given how many books are set in that world, but there you go.)

The thing is that as I’ve been compiling details, I’ve found little gaps in the overall narrative. For example, in The Rogue, Ravensmuir is empty except for Ada and Arnulf when Ysabella arrives with Mavella, Tynan and Fitz. (Well, Merlyn is hiding there, but there are no more servants.) By the end of the book, Ada leaves, Berthe has arrived and Berthe’s parents come to be Merlyn’s seneschal and housekeeper. There’s no mention of men-at-arms or mercenaries hired to defend the keep, much less a captain of the guard. There needs to be one, and Berthe needs an HEA. In The Warrior, the Hawk has a company of loyal warriors and friends who follow him and aid in his quest. Where did he find them? I’m going to guess that he found some of them at Ravensmuir, in service to his uncle.

The Rogue, #1 of the Rogues of Ravensmuir series of medieval Scottish romances by Claire DelacroixSimilarly, by the end of The Rogue, Mavella has married her true love Alasdair, who is Kinfairlie’s miller. Alasdair has adopted his cousin’s fifth son to give that boy a legacy and to give himself an heir. On the downloadable family tree, Mavella and Alasdair are listed as having five unnamed children, the oldest of which is a girl. I left off the cousin’s son, since he isn’t their child. The next time we hear of Kinfairlie’s miller is in The Snow White Bride, when the current miller’s son, Mathew, is encouraged by Alexander to court shy Ceara. Who is that miller? I think he must be Alasdair’s youngest son, which means I need to figure out what happened to the other ones, as well as name some peeps.

The Rose Red Bride, #2 of the Jewels of Kinfairlie series of medieval Scottish romances by Claire DelacroixIn The Rose Red Bride, Alexander tells his sisters the story of the maiden who disappeared through the portal to the realm of the Fae, the one whose Fae suitor left behind a red rose made of ice as her bride price. This maiden was the beautiful daughter of the castellan who managed Kinfairlie keep after it was rebuilt by Merlyn and Ysabella but before Roland and Catherine took command of it. Anthony, the castellan at the beginning of The Beauty Bride is an older gentleman. Could this have been his daughter? What was her story? Where did she go and why? I always intended to write this story, but it’s been pushed aside for a while.

There’s also the story of Roland and Catherine. While we learn in The Beauty Bride that they drowned in 1420 in a shipwreck, they were still married for 25 years and had 8 children. I’m thinking they had a good marriage—plus they inspired a desire to marry for love in their daughters. Theirs must have been a love match. When and where did they meet? We know that Roland and the Hawk of Inverfyre were milk-brothers—when and where did that happen? Merlyn and Ysabella must have journeyed to Sicily, where Gawain and Eglantine were living after the siege of Inverfyre and where the Hawk was born. They must have gone during Ysabella’s second pregnancy or shortly thereafter, which makes sense given that Merlyn continued his trade in textiles from the east. I want to write Catherine and Roland’s story, too.

I haven’t even looked at the True Love Brides series, yet.

I’ve started Berthe’s story. My thinking is that these will be novellas or short stories, but we’ll see how it goes. I don’t tend to write short and I know you all prefer longer stories anyway. I’m going to call this collection Kinfairlie Tales. You’ll find a page for it under the Ravensmuir tab, after the Brides of Inverfyre.

And here’s my question for you today: would you be interested in the world guide for Ravensmuir, Kinfairlie and Inverfyre? I’ll be compiling it for my own reference, but could publish it as well. What do you think?

The Brides of Inverfyre

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.

The Warrior, book #3 of the Rogues of Ravensmuir trilogy of medieval Scottish romances by Claire DelacroixIf 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, a medieval romance by Claire Delacroix and book #4 in the True Love Brides SeriesThe 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. 🙂

The Renegade’s Heart Free!

The Renegade’s Heart, book #1 in my True Love Brides series of medieval Scottish romances with fantasy elements, is FREE at most online portals!

The Renegade's Heart, a medieval Scottish romance with fantasy elements by Claire Delacroix and first in a series, is free!

Released from the captivity of the Fae, Murdoch Seton wants nothing more than to forget his lost years. Undertaking a quest to recover treasure stolen from his family seems the perfect solution – but Murdoch is not counting upon a curious maiden who holds both the secret to the theft and his sole redemption.

The Renegade's Heart, book #1 of the True Love Brides Series of Scottish medieval romances, by Claire DelacroixIsabella is outraged to find her brother’s keep besieged by a renegade knight – especially one who is too handsome for his own good or hers. After a single encounter, she becomes convinced that his cause is just and decides to unveil the true thief, never imagining that their single shared kiss has launched a battle for Murdoch’s very soul.

As the treacherous Fae move to claim Murdoch forever, Isabella seeks to heal the knight who has stolen her heart. But will Murdoch allow her to take a risk and endanger herself? Or will he sacrifice himself to ensure Isabella’s future?

True Love Brides series by Claire Delacroix

Reader letter from this edition

Buy signed trade paperback copies of The True Love Brides series.

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And Then There Was Ross…

I figured it’s about time that I write a post about Ross, since the questions are starting to add up. There are eight siblings at Kinfairlie, and between the Jewels of Kinfairlie trilogy and the True Love Brides series, only seven of them have had their stories told. Many of you are worried about Ross, the eighth sibling. Did I make a mistake? Did I FORGET Ross?

Of course not. 🙂

Ross, as you may recall, went to Inverfyre to train with the Hawk and earn his spurs. We haven’t heard much from him since his departure, mostly because he’s been saving it all up for his own book.

The Warrior, book #3 in the Rogues of Ravensmuir trilogy of Scottich medieval romances, by Claire DelacroixThe Hawk of Inverfyre had his story told in The Warrior. (This was actually our second visit to that Highland estate, since The Scoundrel is also set there, and not only introduces the keep but tells the story of the Hawk’s parents, Gawain and Evangeline.) If you take a peek at the family tree for Inverfyre, you’ll see that the Hawk and Aileen have been busy over the years. They’ve had five kids, the oldest of which is just a little bit younger than Elizabeth. In fact, we first met the siblings from Kinfairlie when they all visited Inverfyre for the Hawk’s wedding.

So, for my next series featuring this family, we’ll be heading into the Highlands to return to Inverfyre. The upcoming series will be called The Brides of Inverfyre, and I’ll be writing it after The Champions of St. Euphemia.

Stay tuned for more details – and don’t fret about Ross!