Setting a Contemporary Romance Novel Amidst the Scottish Highland Games by Hanna Martine
In my author bio I mention the fact that I got married in a haunted Scottish castle. On our two-week honeymoon we drove all over the Scottish countryside, spending one day attending the local Highland Games in Dufftown. I fell completely in love with the community atmosphere of the games, the overall joy, and the history surrounding the various events.
For those who don’t know, Highland Games are local festivals that bring together many aspects of Scottish culture: bagpipes and drums, highland dancing, sheepdogs/herding, and of course, the heavy athletic events, in which kilted strong men (and women!) heave ridiculously huge implements for sport. The most visible and most popular athletic event is the caber toss (that huge tree you have to balance upright in your hands, then toss and flip over end over end).
Years later I found out that there’s an annual Highland Games near Chicago (where I live). Upon attending, I was thrilled to learn that while the location isn’t nestled amongst centuries-old castles and shepherds using border collies to drive their sheep around crumbling stone walls, the Chicago games themselves were authentic, the music divine, and the party super fun.
Two summers ago I spread out my picnic blanket under the sun, beer in hand, to watch the heavy athletic events. As I cheered on the incredibly strong athletes as they threw the caber and the hammer, tossed the sheaf, and heaved these massive weights for height and distance, I immediately thought: This would be the perfect setting for a romance novel. And what better romance hero is there than a powerful, modern man in a kilt?
For research, I spent many long, hard days wandering around the festival grounds (haha!). I kept an eagle eye on the heavy athletic events, watching how the athletes warmed up, how they practiced, how they stood when they threw, and how they gripped the weights. I took photos and did a ton of reading online. The North American Scottish Games Athletics website was a lifesaver, especially the forums where real athletes talked about … everything. Including their beards.
I must have watched a million instructional videos of men demonstrating how to perform each event, and how they lift weights and train for competition. It was difficult research. *Sigh* The things I have to do for my readers …
The hero in Long Shot, Leith MacDougall, doesn’t have a beard, but he’s a seasoned competitor in heavy athletics, a man born to a pure-bred Scot who emigrated to New Hampshire decades earlier. Leith is witty and selfless, and oh so sexy.
Here’s a bit about Long Shot:
Let the games begin …
Jen Haverhurst is on the verge of becoming a partner in New York City’s top event-planning company when her sister calls begging for help. The New Hampshire town of Gleann—where they spent many happy childhood summers—is in danger of losing its main attraction, the Highland Games. Jen reluctantly agrees to take over running the Games, as well as helping with their aunt’s failing B&B. But she didn’t count on Leith MacDougall.
Before Jen left town ten years ago, Leith was a summer friend who grew into something much more. Since then, he’s become a legend of the Highland Games, winning three years in a row. Now retired, he’s just about ready to skip town to chase his own dreams of success.
But when Jen tries to convince Leith to stick around and help revive the Games, their youthful romance is revived into a very grown-up Highland affair…
Long Shot is the first book in my contemporary romance Highland Games series, available now in print at bookstores, and in ebook all over the web.
Hanna Martine left a decade of office work in order to show her daughter what it meant to go after one’s dream. She loves bar stools, books, travel and her friends. Though she and her family live outside Chicago, her heart resides in Australia.
Learn more and order your own copy of Long Shot here:
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