Culloden: Light After Darkness

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Highlighting Historical Romance with Laura Strickland.

To anyone who loves Scottish Historical Romance, the Battle of Culloden looms large. In fact, for many of us the entire Bonny Prince Charlie legend more or less epitomizes the bittersweet, double-edged sword—or claymore—of valor and loss, about which we love to read and write. The heart longs to side with the clans against the stuffy Hanoverians, even if the glorious cause we celebrate in word and song ultimately proved doomed.

1200px-The_Battle_of_Culloden-300x179 Author's Blog Highlighting History Ah, romance! It makes of an ugly, blood-fraught battle a scene of valor and of hungry, ailing and poorly-armed Highlanders bright heroes. So, what’s an aspiring Scottish Romance writer to do? Should she lionize the romance or present her readers with the far less appealing reality?

I faced that question when I began research for my Scottish Romance, “Honor Bound: A Highland Adventure”. Set directly following the battle of Culloden, it tells the story of Diarmad Ramsay, a young Highlander who must step into the boots of his slain brother, and play at being Charles Edward Stewart—pretend to be the pretender in fact—in a wild bid to help the bonny prince escape. Trouble is, Diarmid has seen too much and lost too much. His idealism has deserted him and he’s not sure the prince, who fled the battle when it went badly, deserves his sacrifice.

After_Culloden-_Rebel_Hunting-300x205 Author's Blog Highlighting History Research frequently proves surprising. After hearing so much about the battle of Culloden, I think what surprised me most was how very swiftly the battle was over. True, it was the culmination of months of preparation including a failed invasion of England. Yet the battle itself lasted less than an hour, even though it cost nearly 2,000 Jacobite deaths and effectively broke the backs of the Highland clans forever.

Ah, but despite the harsh realities, I couldn’t completely surrender the romance. In the end, like Diarmad himself, I discovered there is a sweet place in the human heart where love and duty find a balance, and that sometimes the ability to overlook ugliness proves most romantic of all. Research, like history itself, is woven of light and darkness. That, I suspect, is what makes it so beautiful!

HonorBoundAHighlandAdventure_w10554_750-2-200x300 Author's Blog Highlighting History About the Book: Honor Bound: A Highland Adventure blurb:

Following the disastrous defeat of the clans at Culloden, Scottish Chief’s son Diarmad Ramsay makes his dying father a promise. Diarmad will play the part of Bonny Prince Charlie in an effort to help the true Prince escape the Highlands. With only the fiery Mara MacIvor for guide and with danger on his heels, he must risk all for a Cause in which he no longer believes.

Mara MacIvor considers Ramsay a poor substitute for her beloved Prince. Ramsay may be one of the bonniest men she’s ever met and a braw sight with a sword in his hand, but his disillusionment makes a wide gulf between them. Pursued through the Highlands by Sassenachs and ruthless Highland renegades bent on claiming the price on Prince Charlie’s head, their physical attraction soon becomes a conflagration. But will they ever be bound by more than Diarmad’s vow of honor?


The interior of the tower felt cold and unwelcoming. Littered with rubble from the collapsed roof and portions of a wall, it made no fit place to rest.

Ramsay threw himself down anyway and hauled off his boots. “These accursed things are an abomination,” he spat. “I canno’ wear them.”

“What else will you wear?”

“I would sooner go o’er the heather barefoot.” He tossed the highly polished boots into the rubble and scrutinized his feet.

“The Prince would not go barefoot,” Mara protested.

“Hang the Prince.” Ramsay glared up at her where she stood. “’Tis what will happen to us if we are taken, you ken. We will be hanged.”

“Aye so,” she sneered, “and is your courage no’ up to it?”

“Hanging is an ignoble death with little to recommend it.” His gaze moved over her slowly, lingering on her hair, which streamed down over her shoulders. “They will not keep from stretching your neck merely because you are a woman, you ken.”

Mara made no reply to that but turned and rid herself of her pack and other burdens. He had offered to help carry nothing all this weary way.

Aye, well, and likely neither would the true Prince.

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About the AuthorLaura-Scotland-300x225 Author's Blog Highlighting History

Born and raised in Western New York, multi-published and award-winning Laura Strickland has been an avid reader and writer since childhood. Embracing her mother’s heritage, she pursued a lifelong interest in Celtic lore, legend and music, all reflected in her writing. While she loves to travel, she is usually happiest at home not far from Lake Ontario, with her husband and her “fur” child, a rescue dog. Her other Scottish Romances include Devil Black, His Wicked Highland Ways, The Hiring Fair and the Hearts of Caledonia series.

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6 thoughts on “Culloden: Light After Darkness

  1. I love this statement, Laura: “Research, like history itself, is woven of light and darkness.” Totally agree with you. In my humble opinion, research is the best tool for any writer.

    • Mary, I feel that as writers, we must sort through the threads of the facts and weave together a fabric that’s both authentic and beautiful. Thanks so much for stopping by!

  2. Good article, Laura. I find research can be tedious, but it can also be wonderful, taking me to what I need and also inspiring me to keep reading on the subject [even after I have what I need.] Your story sounds great – got to love those Highlanders! All the best.


  3. As a lifelong history lover and newer fiction writer I so enjoyed this essay. Thank you Laura. Your writing is divine. I’m going over to B & N now to buy Honor Bound.

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