Monday, December 3, 2012

The Bridegroom Wore Plaid by Grace Burrowes

When I began writing a series set in Victorian Scotland, I expected to have to research things like when did the fountain pen come into common use (answers may vary), when did remote country houses in Britain acquire gas lighting (answers may vary even more), or when did the train tracks reach Ballater in Aberdeenshire, Scotland (ten years after I needed it to, of course). 
I did not expect to gain insight into  my own family history as the descendent of Scottish immigrants. One of the facts I came across is that the Scottish Highlands are among the least populous regions of any developed nation, though this was not always so. The Clearances—two centuries of periodic forcible removal of tenant farmers to make room for free range sheep—the potato famines in the first half of the 19th century, emigration resulting from those two factors, and a climate tending toward the sub-arctic all contribute to the creation of an area that for all its beauty  is very sparsely populated.
These factors have also resulted in a society characterized by frugality, hard work, resilience, ingenuity and strong family ties. If that list looks like much of what Americans traditionally pride themselves on, consider that most of the Scottish diaspora ended up in North America, and typically at the forefront of those involved in westward expansion across the wilderness.
My maternal grandmother’s people were MacDonalds, and my sister has traced where and when they came over from the old country. When I’m writing a Regency, I feel only a philosophical and artist and connection to the society I’m writing about. There’s a long ago, far away, quality to that world in my mind.
Not so, Victorian Scotland. We have photographs dating from early in Victoria’s reign, subway and rail stations built then that are still in use, and for me at least, there’s a cultural legacy that still resonates loudly in my own family.
Maybe this is why “The Bridegroom Wore Plaid” and its two sequels (“Once Upon a Tartan,” is due out in August 2013) ended up being stories that came to me fairly easily. The characters feel like they're my family, their problems real, their challenges genuinely daunting, their happily ever afters honestly deserved.
Publishers Weekly chose “The Bridegroom Wore Plaid” as a Best Book of 2012. I can’t help but think that somehow, Great-Grandmother MacDonald had a hand in that, just as she’ll have a hand in all the Scottish Victorians I’ve yet to write.
Where are your people from, and how does that influence you today? To three commenters, I’ll send a signed copy of “The Bridegroom Wore Plaid.”

Ian MacGregor's family is depending on him to trade his lofty title for a wealthy bride, but it's penniless Augusta Merrick who captures Ian's heart... 
To read an excerpt or order a copy click here.


  1. You also have to consider how many Highlanders fled in the mid-18th century after the Jacobite rebellions failed.The English, under the Duke of Cumberland, went to extreme lengths to destroy the clan system in the Highlands because of their support for the Jacobite cause. The seizure and sale of their properties set the stage for the clearances of the 1800's.

  2. Grace, congrats on the beginning of a new series! I began researching my family's history this summer. A preliminary search on my mother's side revealed I'm 7th generation American and my maternal ancestors came from England. Since I write Regency, this news was even more wonderful to uncover. :)

  3. Hi Grace. We were able to track my husband's lineage (100% German on all sides) back to Germany in the 1500's.

  4. Absolutely right, Virginia, and that despite the fact that more Scots fought for the Crown at Culloden than against it. It's also the case the Scottish regiments to this day are deployed to the realm's hottest spots, and suffer higher casualties as a result. Scotland's population is growing, but only as a function of immigration.

    Tracey, I found a Spanish great, great grandmother, without whom, my daughter would not have her gorgeous hazel eyes.

    Victoria, amazing the records you can find in some countries. Where my roots go to Ireland, the trail peters out fairly quickly because only the church was keeping much track of Catholics, and my roots were very unprepossessing.

  5. My family on my mother's side has done extensive research into our Dutch roots. My dad recently began to research his family (also Dutch). He likes to tell me about the womanizing preacher who settled in the United States in the mid-1800s. He's trying to convince me he'd make a great hero for a book...not sure whose book, but not mine!

  6. Happy Release Day, Grace! I loved reading your post this morning and know exactly what you mean, when I'm using one of my family names in my books it resonates on a much deeper level. On my mother's side, I finally found the name of the ship my great-grandfather came over from Ireland on in 1871. On my father's side, we have a treasure a family tree (beautiful painting of a tree w roots and branches) created in 1862--it's very fragile and rolls out to over 6' tall and 5' wide. We found our branch :)

  7. Congrats on your new release and another big success! I can't wait to read it. My grandmother tells us that our family is descended from Robert the Bruce.

  8. Shana, the best preacher hero I've come across is Adam Sylvanie, in Julie Anne Long's "A Notorious Countess Confesses." A human manly man of God--only Julie Anne could pull off such a feat.

    CH--and somebody will get the name of that ship as part of their book, no doubt. I've used all kinds of names in my books, like an Easter egg category just for family and friends.

    Sara, if Granny says so, then you probably are. Maybe that's where you get your charm and your drive?

  9. Big, big CONGRATULATIONS on the beginning of your new blockbustin' series! My maternal ancestors were the Chapmans of England who intermarried with the Edwards and the Quaids. On the paternal side, six generations back my wild, red haired Irish grandmother came to this country and married an Indian chieftain.

  10. Grace! Congrats on the release... Scotland? Victorian times? Oh yeah, I must read this series :-) Thanks for adding a new book to the top of my towering TBR list ;-) And Sara... Robert the Bruce? How cool!


  11. Congrats on the new release, Grace! Can't wait to read it as I love all things Scottish! I have several different Scottish ancestors including the Duke of Argyle's daughter who ran off with the commoner MacNeill, and the Playfairs who were famous Scotsman--including one that created the bar and other mathematical graphs and his older brother who has a crater named for him on mars and the moon--brilliant scientist, and another brother who was a famous architect and who wrote up plans for several distinguished royal homes and other noteworthy buildings. :) The mathematician apprenticed with a couple of famous Scottish inventors also. But also have Welsh, Irish, English, German, French--Roux, which means red/redhead, so one of my red wolves is named Roux, and one Italian.

  12. I'm not sure I can claim any Scottish ancestry, but that doesn't mean I can't appreciate the landscape, the accents, or a Scot in a kilt! Congrats on writing another winner!

  13. My family came from the Virginia Blue Grass area. My mom was born during the depression. My grandfather worked on the barges on the Mississippi river. Most of my family live around Kentucky, Alabama, TN, and MS.

  14. I just read a book review over at the Book Savy Babe blog and now I'm excited to see a giveaway here!
    I hope Canadians are included?

    My background in England (mom's side) and Ukrainian on my dad's. Sadly I know nothing about the history since it has been many generations that settled in Canada. I do think the spelling of my maiden name changed along the way because I can't seem to find that particular spelling anywhere in Google before 1913.

    One day, I'd love to dive in and really figure out how to trace back. I think it is all so fascinating.

    Best to you!
    Another Look Book Reviews

  15. There is just something special about all that wilderness/wildness of the area and it's people. All my relatives came from Sicily. Fishermen and sheep herders in the old world and vegetable farmers and shop owners in this world. All hard working and down to earth with a love of food and family, of course lol. Also, have to say I'm almost finished with Lady Louisa's Christmas Knight and loving it!

  16. Carolyn Brown, we suspected a few wild grannies on your family tree! Be sure to add to their number.

    Tes, If you like Scottish Victorians, be sure to grab Jennifer Ashley's MacKenzie series. She's brilliant.

    Terry, seems to me the Scots are overly blessed with brillance--Adam Smith, Andrew Carnegie, James Watt, Alexander Graham Bell... And Terry Spear, of course.

    Cheryl, I could listen to the burr all day, every day.

    Sue, would love to hear YOUR accent too. Many of the Scots settled in the Appalachians, that topography being very similar to the Highlands. It was also free land, open for settlement, and to people who'd been hounded from their own hills, that held appeal.

    Michelle, my personal giveaways are all international. Glad to see you here, and might have to send you a Scottish Victorian read to help you stay warm this winter.

    Jeanne, glad you're enjoying Louisa, and I bet your house smells terrific this time of year... Love that Italian cooking!

  17. Congratulations on the new release, Grace! Don't family trees make wonderful starting points for research?

    I visited Culloden once, on a long-ago trip to England. Not a happy place--the day was grey and overcast. which added to the gloom, and I saw numerous stones marking where members of various clans had fallen in the battle. Brrr!

  18. Pamela, I live near the Antietam Battlefield, site of 20,000+ casualties in one Civil War battle. It's pretty countryside, but there's a "disturbance in the Force" feel to the place even on a sunny day. The 220th anniversary of Waterloo is coming up and part of me wants to see the place... and part of me doesn't.

  19. They're from Asia.


  20. Looks like a great read, Grace! CONGRATS!!!

    My family is from Mexico, but beyond that I would have to do some research. I do plan to do that though because I find it fascinating to learn about others.

  21. My people are primarily from Great Britain, including Scotland, Ireland and England and I imagine that's why I enjoy historical romance so much. I think that has influenced my dream of visiting Great Britain one day as well.

  22. I have family from Asia, Africa and America!

  23. I'm so excited to read this - been waiting for it to come out. My gift to myself!

  24. I think my family is a variety of Irish, Scottish, a little Itailan, and lots of differnt Native American tribes. I am not sure what else might be in there, I am just basically a mutt, lol.
    manning_J2004 at yahoo dot com

  25. Hi Grace! I just got this on my Kindle today and am loving it. Would love to win a signed copy to give to my sister, Margaret, for Christmas. She just retired from being a 5th grade teacher and now has time to read for fun! I love your books - keep writing :)