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What is the Appeal of the Scottish Hero?

from Mia Marlowe...

Well, this is embarrassing. I invited my Casablanca sisters to blog about their own books for my Sins of the Highlander launch party, but true to her generous nature, my next guest has chosen to wax poetic about the glories of men in kilts!

Please welcome New York Times Bestseller Grace Burrowes to the Blog Bash. In addition to an insightful post, chock full of the kind of historical precision that characterizes her own fabulous books, Grace is offering 3 lucky commenters a chance to win a copy of her VIRTUOSO.

So be sure to leave a comment or question at the end of Grace's post.

Grace Burrowes:  With “Sins of the Highlander” we have another terrific read from Mia Marlowe—and from Scotland. Other historical writers have told me, “Wales and Ireland can be tough to sell, England sells, but Scotland really sells.”

That’s just… that’s just… well… maybe? When I decided to dip my toe outside English Regency waters, Victorian Scotland beckoned irresistibly, but why should that be?

Scotland is beautiful, and that never hurts, but to this day, the Scottish Highlands are among the least populated areas of any developed country. This was not always so. Centuries of ill will between England and Scotland, the clearances (often perpetrated by Scottish landlords on Scottish tenants), famine (there were Scottish potato famines too), and the fact that Scottish regiments have historically been deployed to the hottest hot spots have all taken a toll.

As has immigration. For much of modern North American history, the non-native population concentrated itself on the narrow Eastern seaboard. Scots who first relocated to northern Ireland in the early eighteenth century began immigrating to North American in quantity at the turn of the nineteenth century (joining many native Scots in the process). Within 50 years of the major tides of Scottish and Scotch Irish immigations, great blocks of the United States from east to west had been explored, if not settled.

I am not positing that Scottish immigrants exclusively managed what all their predecessors did not, but Scottish immigrants were extremely hardy specimens. They were not daunted by harsh land, difficult climates, remote settlements, or hard, hard work. Successive generations of Scottish settlers pushed further and further into the wilderness, having a stronger proclivity for taming the land than for being tamed themselves. Some historical sources refer to the Scottish immigrants as, “The Disposable People” precisely because they dealt so stoically with successive marginalizations into a dangerous wilderness.
These are generalizations, of course, but think about what we regard as basic American values: Waste not, want not. Work hard and get ahead. A penny saved is a penny earned. My dad’s favorite: Before I buy something, can I fix what I’ve got, use something else, or do without? Work hard, play hard. Pray devoutly, but hammer stoutly. We hold these truths to be self-evident…
These aphorisms embody the hardy, shrewd, hearty Scot (among others) and I think this is part of the explanation for why the Scottish hero resonates so strongly with us. He’s the quintessential embodiment of virtues that have become core to our culture, but in a form rendered more pure by his circumstances and historical context.

Then too, the dude wears a kilt, sports a burr, and can hold his whiskey while he risks all for his lady. As far as I’m concerned, this makes the Scottish hero the first true superhero, and the reason why I have “Sins of the Highlander” sitting on my night table!

Mia: Thanks so much, Grace! I've been loaning out my copy of The Heir to my reading friends. Can't bring myself to part with my Virtuoso. ;-)

Be sure to leave a comment or question for Grace or me to be entered to win one of three copies of Grace's VIRTUOSO. Remember I'll also be drawing a new winner each hour who'll receive their choice of one of my eNovellas, A Duke for All Seasons or My Lady Below Stairs. (While we're on the subject of winning, be sure to enter my website contest where the Grand Prize is a new KINDLE!)


  1. Another thing I think adds to the appeal of a Scottish hero is that there is plenty of Viking DNA in the making of one. The raiders may have come to pillage, but they stayed to settle and intermarry with the local gals. ;-)

  2. Hi Mia and grace. So happy that my mom always teaches me to become an early bird . Now I can join this wonderful giveaway. For me scottish hero is really2 interesting :). I ever heard from my friend That male from scotland is very sexy . They wear kilt and blow a bagpipe. I always imagine them as a true hero, ethereal , and strong like Hercules . Cheers

  3. I agree, they are honorable, heroes. They do the right things. They are often so bossy! haha But they are dependable, strong and true.
    And I have not yet seen the virtuoso in the stores. I have not been to an actual book store for some time. It is sadly limited now since Borders shut their doors. :-( I will perhaps have to break down and order online.But I will get it one way or another. Love Grace!!
    lisakhutson [at] {cox} (dot)

  4. What a great post Grace, and so true! The gorgeous rugged highlander in his kilt, not subsceptible to the cold, and risking all for his lady. Who would not love of them for her self?

    And the time period you describe makes me remember one of Tom Cruise's movies, Far and Away. Such a good one!

    Thanks for the giveaway ladies, I do hope to win one of them (if they are international!)

    auriansbooks at gmail dot com

  5. Yes, there is the broad shoulders factor. The Scot has that proximity to Scandinavian DNA, but surprisingly to me, there's a lot of Norwegian DNA in parts of southern England and Wales. The Viking museum in York is full of fascinating info on the genealogy of Great Britain.

  6. krazymama, thanks for stopping by. I notice you don't mention the bagpipes in the list of the Scot's heroic attributes, but they do take tremendous lung power.

  7. Aurian, my book give aways are international unless stated otherwise. Thanks for dropping in.

  8. I love the Scottish heros!! They are real "Alphas" and seem to know how to win the ladies!!
    Happy New Year!!
    bettysunflower at hotmail dot com

  9. Oh, I love Scotland. Been only there once but love the castles and the history... :)

    Also loved The Heir a lot...

  10. Hi Grace. Happy New Year. I was surprised to hear that Ireland was a tough sell, but maybe that's just my Irish blood talking. Scots are big, strong and sexy. I do love to read about them, but I have to say that the English guy will always be my first choice of hero. (You know, the outwardly reserved gentleman, but with the burning passion underneath...woo hoo!)
    bonnieblue at wowway dot com

  11. Anon and May, I think the terrain and the competence of the Scot (of either gender is related). It isn't a land that suffers fools, and the lightweights were genetically weeded out many winters ago.

    Bonnie, I tend to fall for individual heroes more than entire nationalities, but I know what you mean about that English reserve. I think Ireland will always have its fans, and it certainly doesn't lack for appeal among contemporary romance readers. My own roots are as Scottish as they are anything, so maybe that explains part of the appeal for me.

  12. Great post Mia and Grace! I love learning more about the origins of something, whether it's a race of people, a saying, a recipe--whatever. Fascinating!

    Mia, congrats on your newest release! Loved seeing it on the B&N shelf.

  13. I think what adds to the whole Scotland/highlander theme is the language, clothes and setting. Kilts, bonnie lassies and castles- what more could you ask for, maybe besides a real highlander to warm your bed ;-) Happy New Years ladies.

    your1chef at aol dot com

  14. Hi Grace,

    what an interesting post! Your analysis of what's so appealing about Scots is a real eye-opener. Your comment about Norwegian DNA in Wales suprised me at first, but it makes sense: Norwegian Vikings first settled in Ireland, and crossed the Irish Sea again to settle in parts of western England and Scotland as well as Wales.

    By the way, no need to include me in any of the draws: I've already got all the prizes! I loved your whole trilogy, Grace, and Mia, you know what I think about your books ;).

  15. Terrific post! Love the consideration of the character values of the Scottish hero rather than his brawny physique and the history interwoven with those values.

  16. I love Scotland, and plan a trip there in the next couple of years. I especially like men in kilts. Great post.

  17. Hi Mia and Grace,

    yeah, definitely agreed, scottish hero is an alpha, bossy, strong character, possesive, sexy, temper,can't deniable and have a soft heart.i always loved scottish hero ;)

    dont count me on the drawing of virtuoso's book, i have it and i really love this book.

    you're so great Grace ;)

  18. Hi Mia and Grace, I love reading about these gorgeous, sexy and fearless Highlanders. I love to follow their battles, roam their castles, and eventually end up in their beds (figuratively speaking of course).

    Thanks for offering such a generous giveaway.

    dpd333 (at) aol dot com

  19. Those Scottish men are rough around the edges and there's something very sexy about that. The accent doesn't hurt either. Great blog party today, Mia!

  20. Hello Grace! Hello Mia!


    Both of you in the same 'room' with me [I love my imagination]!

    Grace you never fail to 'inform' and 'educate' and this post is proof. I have now learned so much about them men in kilts, and I thank you!

    Mia, I think you should have these 'bashes' more often :)


  21. Two things. The accent and the kilt. Gotta love 'em!

  22. I know that Kilts and the accent are big draws for the Scottish hero and I admit I like them too but I think I'm just really attracted to the rugged beauty of the Scottish Highlands...something about the green grass, the rivers, the hills and the mountains just speaks to my soul.

    No need to enter me for a copy of Virtuoso as I have a copy already.

    junegirl63 at gmail dot com

  23. Great post Grace! And congrats to Mia for her new release! Woo hoo!

  24. I just love the Scottish accent, that one is really addictive.

  25. Historicals and Highlanders - two of my favorite or one in the same sometimes lol. If I didn't know better I'd think I was from Scottish stock from my parent's values seem the same lol.


  26. Great post, love Scottish heroes!


  27. Grace, you don't have to convince me! I visited the Highlands about 14 years ago and fell in love with it. Just beautiful and the people are some of the finest I've met.

  28. Christine, up until about a hundred years ago, there were three languages spoken in Scotland. Scottish, a Teutonic, lowland language, English, and Scottish Gaelic. I hadn't realized there was a Scottish language, though as far as I can tell, that one died out, while the Gaelic lives on.

  29. Hi Grace.I have always wanted to visit Scotland. Love books set there and Highlanders are amazing.

  30. Nynke, I think the DNA findings surprised a lot of people. What I want to know is do we have much Italian (Roman) DNA in the mix, or did those bad boys mostly take their marbles and go home?

    Tara--the character traits business is mostly me overgeneralizing, but there's some basis in historical scholarship for it too.

    Callie--Do like everybody tells you to and start with Edinburgh. There's so much there, and much of it is free and easily walkable. There are a ton of tours leaving from Edinburgh too... You're making my feet itchy!

    Eli, maybe we'll keep you in the drawing and you can give a copy to a friend if you win. You can never have too many Virtuosos.

    Diane D, you and me both. It was odd how easy it was to write a Scottish hero AND his family.

    Rough, sturdy and warm, like some wools, Sara. Not a bad combination on a chilly night.

    Greetings, Melanie! I think YOU ought to have a bash or two, and thanks for stopping by.

    Cheryl, three things: the accent, the kilt, the wee dram.

    Maria, the second photo in the blog is of Balmoral, the "hideaway" Albert built for Victoria and their children (seven when the castle was finished, nine in all). No wonder she loved Scotland... and you can stay on grounds there in various cottage now, something I'd love to do again.

    catslady, my theory is full of holes of course. An emphasis on hard work and family is as Asian Pacific as it is Scottish. Maybe these are qualities immigrants have or emphasize when they're in a new land because they enhance the chances of success?

    Shana, we must plan a research trip, and Robin, thanks for dropping in.

  31. I've always enjoyed the Scottish hero, there's just something about those rugged men, with their lovely brogue and their kilts that I can't get enough of.

    Barbed1951 at aol dot com

  32. The Scottish are a pretty hardy people and who wouldn't want a hero to have all of the determination, strength, capability and sense that we attribute to such a people?

    little lamb lst at yahoo dot com

  33. Barbara, zillions of readers agree with you, so you must be on to something!

    Lil, you make my point with a lot fewer words than I needed. Well said.

  34. Great post! I think I'm in a Highland sort of mood now:)

  35. that's great Grace, i love to give it to my friend, there are so many of friend will love to get it ;)


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