Wednesday, January 5, 2011

A Cursed Island's Romantic Reprieve

by Nancy Lee Badger

The art of writing a historical novel of any kind must start with a period in time. When I conceived the basic plot for DRAGON’S CURSE, I needed something to tie my characters to an actual historical event. Otherwise, I would consider my entire story a fantasy. History was never my favorite subject, but the internet has opened my eyes to the easy access to information. In addition to surfing the web, I researched several books and consulted a colorful clan map of Scotland. I found the perfect, horrific story, set on the island of Eigg.

Horrific? How can I call a story that horrified me perfect? Besides sympathetic characters and action packed scenes, every romantic novel needs a conflict. Conflict either keeps the hero and heroine at odds or breaks them up the moment it is revealed. Eigg’s 16th century history would work nicely, so I took the liberty of adding it to my novel. When my first Scottish historical novel was released by Whispers Publishing, the hours I had spent researching historical facts were worth it. DRAGON’S CURSE is a paranormal romance, but my addition of fact-based occurrences added a layer that makes my romance ‘pop’.

I stumbled on the story of how a band of Macleod’s massacred an entire village of Macdonalds in 1577. Wait a minute: a massacre as a plot line in a romance novel? There is a reason I pursued this avenue. Here is what happened. A small band of Macleod’s visited the island of Eigg and were accused of doing something nasty to some island ladies. The Macleod’s were tied up and sent adrift so they might return to their homeland on Skye if the lord so willed it. They survived and later returned to have their revenge. The islanders saw them coming and hid in a cave. The Macleods could not find any of the 400 or so islanders, so returned to their boats.

This is the part I refer to in my story. One of the islanders left the cave to watch their departure. Unfortunately, he was spotted. The Macleods returned to shore, covered the cave entrance, and smoked the islanders to death. Nasty. I used artistic license to make my hero, Draco MacDonald, accused of causing their deaths. A vengeful witch levies a curse that makes Draco change into a dragon at inopportune times.

Hiding out for fifteen years in a huge cave on the real Scottish island of Staffa, he meets Brianna Macleod when she accompanies a boatload of hunters. They have come to drink, carouse, and hunt the various beasties. Little do they know a dragon watches their every step! Close to Staffa, the island of Eigg sits surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean near the Isle of Mull and is easily reachable from the mainland of Scotland. The Cave of Frances, known back then as Uamh Fhraing, is known today as Massacre Cave. Moss, undergrowth, and a waterfall hid its tiny entrance, but hikers follow easy maps to find it and visit.

Eigg, Gaelic for ‘notched Island’, is part of a group of islands in the Highlands local authority known collectively as the Small Islands. It stretches some four miles long from end to end, and supports about 70 inhabitants. Along with its picturesque homes, village shop, post office, and school, tourists also visit the lovely beaches, craft shops, and restaurants. Birders visit in order to spot the Golden Eagle, Peregrine Falcon, Long-eared Owl, Cuckoo, Kestrel, and many more. A favorite stopping point is the Bay of the Singing Sands, named for high-pitched notes that the sands make when they are walked on once they have dried out. But, it is the infamous Massacre Cave that gives this lovely little island its historical prominence.


Sometimes a special gift and an unwanted curse cannot keep destined lovers apart.
Brianna Macleod has accompanied a shipload of her guardian’s friends to a remote island off the coast of Scotland. She eludes these Highland hunters to keep her innocence…and her gift of sight. Her attitude against falling for womanly desires changes when she nearly drowns. Saved by the talons of a terrifying winged beast, she awakens—naked—in a cave, beside an unusual man.

Cursed by a vengeful witch to transform into a dragon at inopportune times, Draco MacDonald hides on this deserted island to live alone: until he plucks a servant girl from certain death. Fueled by jealousy, and tempered by fear for her safety, he succumbs to an unfamiliar desire to mate. Her kisses propel him to dare to make her his own.

Set in 1592 Scotland on the Scottish island of Staffa, the cursed hero battles a ghostly witch, a hunter set on rape, and his own growing desire for a young woman with premonitions of his death. Her kisses propel him to dare to make her his own.


He tasted of salt and the sea, causing a laugh to bubble up from between her bruised lips.
“What, pray tell, have I done to amuse ye?”
“Ranald smells of blood and dung and tastes of ale. Ye smell—and taste—delicious.” She pulled his head back down and drank him in. The soft cries of seabirds mingled with the gentle boom of breaking waves. The salty breeze swept over her and cooled the heat rising from her body.
His fingers thrust inside her secret place repeatedly. Passion rose and she nearly swooned. When his gentle touch disappeared, she groaned her displeasure. He chuckled.
“What is so funny, sir?” Her words came out weak and breathy.
“I plan to taste ye as well.”
“Ye have already accomplished this, sir. Have ye forgotten so soon?” His response, another low chuckle, caused her brow to furrow, and when he dropped kisses on the tight fabric of her frock, just below her breasts, she nearly asked the man why he headed in the wrong direction. Then, he placed a kiss on the meager piece of thin chemise covering the sensitive juncture of her thighs.
She froze.
“Relax, sweet one. Accept my offering and enjoy the moment. Ye will thank me, when the task is complete.”
The man spoke in riddles. She closed her eyes and relaxed her thighs. I trust him. He will no’ harm me, this I know.
“Ye honor me, sweet lass.”


Nancy Lee Badger writes fulltime and lives with her husband in North Carolina. She is a member of Romance Writers of America, Heart of Carolina Romance Writers, Fantasy-Futuristic & Paranormal Romance Writers, Celtic Heart Romance Writers, and Sisters in Crime. She also writes contemporary romance and romantic suspense as Nancy Lennea:

DRAGON’S CURSE is available from Whispers Publishing
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  1. Sounds delicious, Nancy! Best of luck with the book.

  2. Wonderful post, Nancy! What fascinating and tragic history. I love being inspired by things like this.

  3. Gorgeous blog site! Loved the write-up & excerpt.

  4. Thanks for the comments. I lucked out finding this horrific little peice of history. Scotland is a vast fountain of great plot ideas.

  5. Compelling post. Enjoyed the excerpt. Good luck with the book!

  6. What a GREAT background story for your novel! Well done. I like the use of actual historical events in a paranormal. Great post.
    Liz Arnold
    Message to Love
    The Wild Rose Press

  7. Research is a part of writing, when writing either fiction or non-fiction. I am lucky in that I have a bookshelf full of books on Scottish culture, live within 2 miles of a fine library, and love 'surfing the net'. Thanks for the nice comments.

  8. What an informative blog, Nancy. I love all things Scottish and know I will love your story. It is fun to use parts of history to give a good background to our stories. I live where the 1849 Gold Rush happened and use anything I can from what is around me to help add flavor to my stories.

    Best of luck with all kinds of sales.