UPDATE: Brenda Taylor is giving Donamurree Holmes a free copy of Highland Pearl!
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Thank you Delilah, for hosting me on your fantastic blog today, and giving me the opportunity to introduce a new sweet romance in the Highland Treasures series. The series is set in the 16th century Scottish Highlands. I will give away a digital copy of A Highland Pearl, the first book of the series to a commenter. A Highland Ruby is available for pre-order and the information is included in this post.
The Highland Pony
The Highland pony or garron (English) and gearran (Gaelic) is a hearty pony bred in the Scottish Highlands. The pony is one of the oldest breeds in Great Britain. Some maintain that the Highland Pony is descended from the ancient wild horses that migrated from Asia in the Ice Age. The breed is known for its great strength and docility. The garron was traditionally used as an all-purpose pony by the Crofters, tenant farmers. It is also used by deer hunters as a sure-footed carrier of game from the steep, rugged mountains.
Most Highlanders in the 16th century, the time of A Highland Ruby, rode garrons. The Highland ponies were used for war and work during the Highland clan period. Some of the nobility and clan chiefs may have imported horses from continental Europe, but at great expense. Many times the imported horses were bred with the garrons to introduce various bloodlines into the breed.
In A Highland Ruby, Chief Andrew Munro, rides a black Friesian war horse or steud (Gaelic) imported from the Netherlands. His brother, Gavin, rides a steud of a Friesian and garron mix. Possibly, Chief Andrew breeds his stallion, Scara, with a garron to produce a breed of greater statue and strength, yet with the temperament and mobility necessary for use in the Highlands. Other mounted warriors in the story and Flora ride garrons.
The Highland pony is a native Scottish pony, and is one of the largest of the mountain and moorland pony breeds of the British Isles. It was once a workhorse in the Scottish mainland and islands, but today is used for driving, trekking and general riding. They are very hardy and tough, they rarely require shoeing, and are very economical to keep. They are generally free from many equine diseases.
The Highland Pony is one of the three native breeds of the Scottish Highlands and Islands, the others are the Shetland pony and the Eriskay pony. Over many centuries the breed has adapted to the variable and often severe climatic and environmental conditions of Scotland. The winter coat consists of a layer of strong badger-like hair over a soft dense undercoat, which enables this breed of pony to live out in all types of weather. This coat is shed in the spring to reveal a smooth summer coat. This essential hardiness is combined with a kindly nature and even temperament.
A Highland Ruby
She must choose between a life of adventure with the man she loves or a settled, secure life with her betrothed. Flora Vass forced Gavin Munro out of her heart and mind until he returned to Scotland after an adventurous five years in the New World. Gavin leaves no doubt he returned to make the bonnie Flora his own and intends to fight for her. Flora’s betrothed, Iain MacKay, and Gavin’s brother, Chief Andrew Munro, have other plans. Andrew needs her to marry the MacKay and bring peace between the two clans. Iain MacKay desires an heir. War with England looms on the horizon, forcing Flora to make crucial decisions.
A Highland Ruby Excerpt:
A band of warriors on steuds broke through the trees and approached the place where Gavin sat. The deerhound ran ahead of them with his long legs flying. The animal ran to Gavin and licked his wounded leg. He pushed the large shaggy head away, then took a step to meet his brother. Andrew, with his untied raven hair flying, reined in his horse, dismounted, and hastened to Gavin.
“Brother, what have you gotten yourself into this time?” he asked, picking up Gavin’s arm and examining the bloody bandage. “Bha sibh treun thar glòir.” Andrew’s grey eyes darkened with emotion as he searched Gavin’s.
“Aye,” the warriors agreed in unison.
“He was brave beyond praise,” Erskin added.
Stepping back Andrew said, “We brought you a fine horse to ride.” He motioned to the large grey steud Erskin led—Gavin’s warhorse he had left behind at Fàrdach five years earlier. Maith appeared the same except for a few more grey hairs around his nose.
Gavin nodded toward the luchd-taighe. Erskin immediately dismounted. “Sir Gavin, may I assist you in mounting the horse?” One corner of his mouth turned up and a twinkle lit his eye. “I imagined you were hiding with the band of outlaws. Instead you’re out here in the forest of Fàrdach fighting wild animals.”
The other nine men, including Andrew chuckled. The hound licked Gavin’s hand. He immediately jerked it away. Andrew patted the large dog’s head. “Rab helped us find you, and Flora.”
“He came to me on the morn, then left when someone whistled. A lot of leading he did.” Gavin placed the foot of his good leg in Erskin’s strong cupped hands.
“Aye, but he led Flora to Torey. The boy had Rab out running deer for the hunt when the hound ventured off, found Flora, then led her back to the lad. I suppose Rab thought you unable to go with him this morn, but he knew exactly where to bring us later.”
Gavin patted Rab’s large shaggy head. “He’s a good dog, I reckon.” Turning to Erskin, he said, “Ne’re you mind about me fighting wild animals, ‘twas a small thing, really. And you’ll find its carcass in the woods.” Erskin gently lifted, placing Gavin across Maith’s saddle. Gavin bit his lip with pain and weakness but did not cry out in front of the warriors.
A Highland Ruby is available for preorder:
About the Author
The desire to write historical fiction has long been a passion with Brenda B. Taylor. Since elementary school, she has written stories in her spare time. Brenda earned three degrees: a BSE from Henderson State University, Arkadelphia, Arkansas; a MEd from Sam Houston State University, Huntsville, Texas; and an EdD from Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas; then worked as a teacher and administrator in the Texas Public School system. Only after retirement could she fulfill the dream of publication.
Brenda and her husband make their home in beautiful East Texas where they enjoy spending time with family and friends, traveling, and working in Bethabara Faith Ministry, Inc. She crafts stories about the extraordinary lives of ordinary people in her favorite place overlooking bird feeders, bird houses, and a variety of blooming trees and flowers. She sincerely thanks all who purchase and read her books. Her desire is that the message in each book will touch the heart of the reader as it did hers in the writing.
Brenda’s Contact Information: