Photo Researching How To Marry A Royal Highlander with Vanessa Kelly

Picture One: I’m a very visual person, so I often get ideas for my books from TV shows or movies. One of my favorite shows is Strike Back, which is a British spy thriller featuring two heroes—a Brit and a Yank, both special forces soldiers. Together, they’re an unstopable team, saving the world from all sorts of nefarious bad guys. They’re completely opposite in style, with the upstanding, serious Englishman and the wiseass American with an eye for the ladies. But they make a great team and it’s a SERIOUSLY awesome show. It even has the occasional romantic element, since both characters are studly guys who make the ladies swoon.

So, I thought, why not a Regency Strike Back with two of Wellington’s spies for heroes? But instead of an American, I’ve got a Scot—Capt. Alasdair Gilbride, soldier, spy, rogue, and the hero of How To Marry A Royal Highlander (inspired by the guy on the right in the picture below, the very yummy Sullivan Stapleton). His partner is Capt. Wolf Endicott, the hero of How To Plan A Wedding For A Royal Spy (inspired by actor Philip Winchester). Put these two in boots, breeches, and waistcoats, and you get the idea. Nothing, I mean nothing will stop these tough guys—except for my heroines, of course!


Picture Two: Here’s another inspirational image for Alasdair. Just picture him in a kilt and you’ve got it. Or out of the kilt, as the case may be. But that doesn’t happen until Chapter Nineteen. But, hey, he’s got a great smile, too!


Picture Three: Every Scottish hero needs a castle, especially a hero who’s the heir to a Scottish earldom. I spent many hours drooling, er, researching castles in the Highlands, and I think I found a good one to serve as a model for my fictional Blairgal Castle. For one thing, it’s pink. Yes, there actually are pink and amber castles in Scotland, a result of a certain plastering process. But, seriously, how romantic is a pink castle?! And I wanted one with lots of towers and turrets to make it extra romantic. This is Castle Fraser, which also made me think of the dreamy Jamie Fraser from Outlander. I find Jamie very inspiring when it comes to all things Scottish.


Picture Four: Every good romance ends with an HEA, and How To Marry A Royal Highlander ends with a traditional Scottish wedding—with reels, kilts, and bagpipes. Formal white wedding dresses didn’t come into vogue until several years after the Regency Era, so I knew I had to find something that fit the period and setting. Then I stumbled upon this traditional Scottish wedding gown. Can you say plaid? The gown that Edie (my heroine) wears has less tartan than this one, but it’s still very traditional, with a lovely sash in the colors of Alasdair’s clan pinned to the dress with the clan badge (like the badge on the shoulder of the mannequin).


Picture Five: Edie’s shoes. Too much? I have to say, I kind of want them. I think they look pretty hip!