Gerri Russell stopped by the Tule blog to discuss the fourth book in the Guardians of the Isles series, To Claim His Highland Bride!
Where did you get the inspiration for To Claim His Highland Bride?
When I originally created Rowena as the only female MacLeod with five brothers, I knew she had to be strong-willed and perhaps a bit of a rebel to counter the dominance of her warrior brothers. The most outrageous things she could ever do would be to reach across a centuries-old divide and fall in love with her clans’ enemy.
Marcus MacDonald is a dreamer with an explorer’s heart. He loves his clan but wants more out of life than simply feuding with the MacLeods. Marcus’s heart has always belonged to the sea, so with great joy I wrote a “pirate-adventure” story for Marcus and Rowena.
Rowena is such a strong female character in a time where women are historically more subservient. Where did you draw inspiration for her? How do you relate to her?
In my fiction world, I like to portray strong and dynamic women who seem ahead of their time. Yet to me they are only holding on to their positions as evidenced throughout history when women were warriors, powerful priestesses, and political leaders. In the early Christian church, women held positions of equal influence to men. In Medieval times, women were the healers, and their wisdom was valued in a world without medicine. I acknowledge all of that changed at different times in history for various reasons, but I like to imagine my female protagonists, such as Rowena, could stand up to their male counterparts and demand equality in their little corner of the world.
I can relate to Rowena’s desire for independence and her need for a sense of purpose because of my own past. My father died when I was young, leaving my twenty-nine-year-old mother widowed with three children to raise in a world where her name wasn’t even on the mortgage, the bank accounts, or any of the utility bills. I watched her struggle to gain footing in a world dominated by men, to become a strong, independent, and successful woman. My sister and I are both fiercely independent as a result. (Just ask our husbands.) A little bit of my mom, my sister, and me are in every female character I write.
What song would be in the soundtrack to Marcus and Rowena’s love story? Why?
Chasing Cars by Snow Patrol captures the essence of Marcus and Rowena’s relationship.
I need your grace
To remind me
To find my own
If I lay here
If I just lay here
Would you lie with me and just forget the world?
These lines capture Marcus’s guilt and grief, Rowena and Marcus’s conflict with their clans, and their need to build something of their own together.
Are there any settings in this story that readers could visit today?
To Claim His Highland Bride is set on the Isle of Skye in Scotland. Much of the story takes place at Dunvegan Castle which is open to the public from April 1st to October 15th each year. Approximately ten miles from Dunvegan is Neist Point, on the west coast of Skye, which is accessible by car. And finally, if you’re up for a bit of a hike, readers could visit Uamh Oir, the Cave of Gold, located about five miles north of Uig.
What are you currently reading?
Just like everyone else in the world, I’m indulging in Spare.
About the Author
Gerri Russell is the award-winning author of historical and contemporary novels including the Brotherhood of the Scottish Templars series and Flirting with Felicity. A two-time recipient of the Romance Writers of America’s Golden Heart Award and winner of the American Title II competition sponsored by RT Book Reviews magazine, she is best known for her adventurous and emotionally intense novels set in the thirteenth- and fourteenth-century Scottish Highlands. Before Gerri followed her passion for writing romance novels, she worked as a broadcast journalist, a newspaper reporter, a magazine columnist, a technical writer and editor, and an instructional designer. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and four mischievous black cats.
Love the backstory on this novel. Thank you for being here.