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Sunday, July 14, 2013

Guest Post with Author Susana Ellis and Giveaway

Please give a warm welcome to Susana Ellis, who is has stopped by to chat about her book, Treasuring Theresa.

A former teacher, Susana is finally living her dream of being a full-time writer. She loves all genres of romance, but historical—Regency in particular—is her favorite. There’s just something about dashing heroes and spunky heroines waltzing in ballrooms and driving through Hyde Park that appeals to her imagination.

In real life, Susana is a lifelong resident of northwest Ohio, although she has lived in Ecuador and studied in Spain, France and Mexico. More recently, she was able to travel around England and visit many of the places she’s read about for years, and it was awesome! She is a member of the Maumee Valley and Beau Monde chapters of Romance Writers of America.

Places to find Susana:
| Site | Blog | Facebook | Twitter

A Tribute to Flora (1722-1790)

Having just returned from my first trip to Scotland, I find myself haunted by the tragedy of Culloden and the story of the Bonnie Prince's rescue by Flora MacDonald, a young lass with unusual courage and compassion.

In case you're not familiar with the story, Flora was a young Protestant Scotswoman who was asked to help rescue the defeated Bonnie Prince Charlie from the vengeful English forces under the Duke of Cumberland following the bloodbath of Culloden in 1746 (although it has been pointed out that a good share of the duke's forces were Scots who did not support the Jacobite claim to the throne—this was a war over religion more than royal blood and there was much resistance to a Catholic monarch on the throne). Flora's family was Protestant, but secretly supported the Stuart claim to the throne over the German usurpers.

It is said that Flora refused the request at first until she saw the Prince's handsome face—there is a reason he was called “bonnie” after all—but there is no indication that there was anything more between them. She later said that she would have done the same for the Duke of Cumberland, in spite of the way he ordered a vengeful massacre of the Scottish clans afterward, burning them out of their cottages and killing or exiling entire families of suspected Jacobites.

Flora's stepfather, the commander of the local militia, had given her a pass to the mainland for herself, a manservant, her maid, and a boat with a crew of six men. Flora had the prince dress as her maid Betty Burke, and helped him escape to the island of Skye and to safety in Europe.

The Prince promised to reward her when he finally gained his rightful throne, but it never happened. The King of France not only refused to help him, but kicked him out of France, and the poor bonnie Prince spent the rest of his life bemoaning his fate and taking refuge in alcohol until he died in 1788, abandoned by his family and friends.

Flora's part in his escape was soon discovered, and she spent a year or so in the Tower of London before she was pardoned and returned to Scotland. She married a captain of the army in 1750 and they had five sons and two daughters. She and her husband—also a MacDonald—had some adventures as Loyalists in North Carolina during the American Revolution before returning to Scotland—her ship being attacked by privateers along the way—and eventually regaining her husband's family estate of Kingsburgh. She died in 1790 and is buried at Kilmuir cemetery. A statue in Flora's honor stands in front of Inverness Castle.

And the Duke of Cumberland, nicknamed “Butcher” following the massacres of the Scots following Culloden? Well, he never won another battle, suffered a stroke and died in 1765 at the age of forty-four, unmarried.

Is there a lesson here? Oh yes, lots. But for me, the overriding emotion here is sadness at the viciousness of human nature, at the horrendous killings in the name of religion, of all things. And the courage and compassion of a girl who risked everything to save a man whose blind ambition resulted in the death of fifteen hundred Scots at Culloden and untold thousands afterward from Cumberland's vengeance.

Flora did what she knew to be right, not blindly following the dictates of any religious or political sect. Many would have said the Bonnie Prince deserved to die, but Flora would not pass judgment on another human soul, no matter the potential consequences to her if she were caught. Flora is a heroine of heroines. And this romance author chooses to believe she had her happy-ever-after ending, even though there were trials along the way.

You rock, Flora!

In tribute to you, I will be rereading the entire Outlander series, this time with a better understanding of what Jamie and Claire went through as they tried to prevent Culloden from happening, and then skirted the hazards of the revolutionary New World, only wishing to be free to live in peace without the intrusion of religion and politics.

The Skye Boat Song was written by Sir Harold Boulton (1859-1935). Check out this great video and see if its sad melody doesn't haunt you as it does me.


Speed, bonnie boat, like a bird on the wing,

Onward! the sailors cry;

Carry the lad that's born to be King

Over the sea to Skye.

Loud the winds howl, loud the waves roar,

Thunderclouds rend the air;

Baffled, our foes stand by the shore,

Follow they will not dare.


Though the waves leap, soft shall ye sleep,

Ocean's a royal bed.

Rocked in the deep, Flora will keep

Watch by your weary head.


Many's the lad fought on that day,

Well the Claymore could wield,

When the night came, silently lay

Dead in Culloden's field.


Burned are their homes, exile and death

Scatter the loyal men;

Yet ere the sword cool in the sheath

Charlie will come again.

At the betrothal ball of the man she had expected to marry herself, Lady Theresa latches on to Damian Ashby, hoping to divert attention from her own humiliating situation. Of course, she's not seriously interested because he's a useless London fribble, in her opinion. He is not favorably impressed with her either.

Still, she's the daughter of an earl, and he's the heir to her father's title and estate, so they are destined to spend more time in each other's company…sooner rather than later. And who knew that the two of them would develop an unlikely attraction to one another?

But can a London swell and a country lady ever make their diverse lives and interests work together?

Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble |
Check out what's up for grabs.

Up For Grabs:
  • 1 lucky person will win a Box of Scotland Goodies. If the chosen winner resides outside of the US they will receive a $20 Gift Card.

To Enter: 
  • Please leave a comment or question for Susana.
  • Please fill out the Rafflecopter form.

Good Luck! 
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  1. Sounds like a great book! I love historical... esp. the balls and dresses!

  2. Love historical...put this on my wish list! Thanks for the giveaway!

  3. Part of the thrill of writing a historical romance must be the research! Bet it's a lot more interesting that the dry history books during school.

  4. I don't usually write in this period, but I'm going to have to create a character like Flora…and maybe a Scots setting this time, since I'm feeling so inspired by my trip.

    If you think you like READING about a ball, trying visiting a Georgian or Regency era house in England…awe-inspiring! I want to visit 'em all!

  5. Lovely post, Susana!! I tweeted and shared with FB. I can't wait to see you at Nationals!!

  6. Great post. I was familiar a little with Bonnie Prince Charles and Flora's story, but this was a great refresher summary :)

  7. I lived in England for 4 years and loved visiting all National Trust estates and imagining all the balls and parties that were held.

  8. music like that does give me chills! I'd love to get back to Scotland for a visit.

  9. An excellent post thank you.

    History is alive and well.

  10. What a fascinating post about Flora, a very courageous and spirited woman especially during such a turbulent time period. Her story reads like an adventure novel. She was certainly blessed with children and to live to such an old age for that time period (68).

  11. Flora definitely rocks! Thanks for the history lesson. Nice to get to know about heroines from long ago.

  12. What a great read. It's nice to know there were kick-butt women even back then. Thanks for sharing that!!

  13. Sounds like a great read!!
    Thanks for the chance to win!

  14. Thanks for the interesting info on Bonnie Prince Charlie's escape.

  15. What a wonderful post! I loved the song too.