now browsing by category
Helena writes about one of the most beautiful sites in Britain– Edinburgh Castle. She sent me several photos I’m going to put in the Gallery! Thanks, Helena!
Helena Fairfax – The Scottish Diamond
The first time I ever visited Edinburgh, the capital city of Scotland, I knew the city had something unique about it from the moment I stepped out of the train station and onto the bustling thoroughfare that is Princes Street. A man in a kilt was playing the bagpipes in front of one of the dark stone Victorian buildings, and at the top of the street, perched on a volcanic crag and dominating the skyline, was the ancient fortress of Edinburgh Castle. It was a magnificent and unforgettable sight.
Edinburgh has been at the centre of some thrilling and dramatic events in history. In the fourteenth century, for example, the Castle was captured by the English, and Robert the Bruce’s nephew recaptured it through the daring feat of climbing its steep and craggy sides in the dead of night.
In the sixteenth century, the ill-fated Mary Queen of Scots – half-sister and rival to Queen Elizabeth I – came to stay in Edinburgh’s Holyrood Palace. For several years she held balls and entertained dignitaries in the Palace, and she married her two husbands in the Palace’s state rooms. Then her private secretary David Rizzio was brutally murdered there, and Mary’s life was threatened by supporters of Elizabeth, and her brief life of happiness came to an end. After many years in prison, Mary Queen of Scots was beheaded for treason.
Today, the Palace of Holyroodhouse is the official residence in Scotland of Queen Elizabeth II. Visitors can tour the rooms where Mary Queen of Scots lived, including her bedchamber and the tiny supper room where Rizzio was dragged away to his death. (I’ve done the tour myself, and I found the bloody history a very oppressive experience!)
In the eighteenth century came one of the most famous periods in Scottish history – the Jacobite revolution. This was when the Highland clans joined forces under Bonnie Prince Charlie to fight the English and regain the throne for the exiled House of Stuart. The uprising came to a bloody end, and Bonnie Prince Charlie and his supporters were forced to flee.
You’ll have guessed by now that this beautiful and unique city is the perfect setting for mystery and romance. My latest romantic suspense novella, The Scottish Diamond, is set in the present day, but the Scottish Diamond of the title belongs to the fictional aristocratic Falmire family. In 1745, Lord Falmire fought in the Jacobite revolution, and was forced to flee to my fictional Mediterranean country of Montverrier, taking the diamond with him. While in Montverrier, he plays cards with the Montverrian prince, and… Well, you’ll have to read the rest of the story to find out what happens to the diamond next!
The Scottish Diamond was great fun to write, and the Edinburgh setting added enormously to the mystery and romance of the tale.
What do you do when nothing is what it seems…even the man you love?
“Fair is foul, and foul is fair…” When Lizzie Smith starts rehearsing Macbeth with her theatre group in Edinburgh, she’s convinced the witches’ spells are the cause of a run of terrible luck. Lizzie’s bodyguard boyfriend, Léon, is mysteriously turned down for every job he applies for, until he’s finally offered the job of guarding “The Scottish Diamond,” a fabulous jewel from the country of Montverrier.
But the diamond’s previous guard has disappeared in mysterious circumstances. The Scottish Diamond has a history of intrigue and bloody murder, and Lizzie is plagued by nightmares in which Macbeth’s witches are warning her of danger.
Then Lizzie discovers she’s being followed through the streets of Edinburgh, and it seems her worst fears are about to be realised…
And here’s an extract to whet your appetite:
I continued to frown up at him, troubled. He took my face in his hands and kissed me.
‘I know what it is,’ he said, his eyes twinkling. ‘It’s all your talk of witches and ghosts. Your Scottish superstitions are rubbing off on me and I’m seeing things in this gloomy weather that aren’t there at all.’
He swung me into his arms and kissed me again.
After that, Léon dismissed his vigilance as something brought on by the strangeness of his new city. And once he began his new job at the Castle, he didn’t mention being followed again, and in fact, all the tension he’d been showing disappeared, and he became almost his old self. He left the house with a sense of purpose that had been lacking in his previous aimless wanderings around Edinburgh. And the best thing was, he was beginning to understand more and more of our Scottish brogue every day.
I later discovered it wasn’t just our Scottish way of speaking he was mastering. A few days after he started work, I was in the kitchen preparing our evening meal, when I heard the front door close and Léon’s light tread in the hall. Usually he went straight upstairs to change, but this evening he came directly to the kitchen and put his head round the door. His eyes brimmed with amusement.
I stepped closer to give him a kiss, and he pushed the door wide. My mouth fell open. He was dressed in a kilt. The green tartan cloth was thrown over one broad shoulder in Highland fashion, and the pleated skirt revealed an inch or two of tanned, muscular leg above a pair of thick, cream-coloured socks.
‘Wow,’ I stuttered. ‘You look…’ I breathed out in a long whistle. ‘You look amazing.’
He smiled broadly, showing his white, even teeth in one of the first real smiles I’d seen him give since we left Europe.
‘This is my new uniform.’ He spread his arms a little, glancing down at himself. ‘Not a bad effort for a half-Italian, half-Montverrian. What do you think?’
‘Not bad at all.’ My face decided right then and there to turn a decided pink, and to hide the fact that I couldn’t keep my eyes off him, I threw my arms around his neck and planted a kiss below his ear.
His arms encircled me, and he murmured, ‘Ever made love to a man in a kilt?’
And after that, everything between us was perfect again. All my worries about Léon wanting to go home to Italy, and all his former tension vanished, and we were just as we had been during those idyllic two weeks we’d spent at his home on the Amalfi coast that summer.
But of course, perfect times can’t last forever. Everything changed when I realised it wasn’t Léon who was being followed. It was me.
The Scottish Diamond is available on Amazon http://mybook.to/ScottishDiamond
Helena Fairfax writes engaging contemporary romances with sympathetic heroines and heroes she’s secretly in love with. Her first novel, The Silk Romance, was a contender for the UK’s Romantic Novelists’ Association New Writers’ Scheme Award and a runner-up in the Global Ebook Awards. Helena Fairfax was shortlisted for the Exeter Novel Prize in 2014.
Helena is a British author who was born in Uganda and came to England as a child. She’s grown used to the cold now, and these days she lives in an old Victorian mill town in the north of England, right next door to the windswept Yorkshire moors. She walks this romantic landscape every day with her rescue dog, finding it the perfect place to dream up her heroes and her happy endings.
* * *
Social Media Links
If you’d like to get in touch, or find out more about my books, writing, and photos of my settings or the Yorkshire moors where I live, please follow my newsletter by subscribing here: http://eepurl.com/bRQtsT
All new subscribers to my newsletter will receive a FREE copy of Palace of Deception – a romantic suspense novella
* * *
Thanks so much for having me today, Alicia! It’s been fun revisiting Edinburgh and its bloody history. I hope you’ve enjoyed my post!