By Regan Walker
Genre: Historical Romance, Medieval, Scottish
Released: May 17th, 2016
The Norman Conqueror robbed Steinar of Talisand of his noble father and his lands, forcing him to flee to Scotland while still recovering from a devastating wound. At the royal court, Steinar becomes scribe to the unlettered King of Scots while secretly regaining his skill with a sword.
The first time Steinar glimpses the flame-haired maiden, Catrìona of the Vale of Leven, he is drawn to her spirited beauty. She does not fit among the ladies who serve the devout queen. Not pious, not obedient and not given to stitchery, the firebrand flies a falcon! Though Catrìona captures Steinar’s attention, he is only a scribe and she is promised to another.
Catrìona has come to Malcolm’s court wounded in spirit from the vicious attack on her home by Northmen who slayed her parents and her people. But that is not all she will suffer. The man she thought to wed will soon betray her.
When all is lost, what hope is there for love? Can a broken heart be mended? Can a damaged soul be healed?
The medieval era spanned the period from the 5th through the 15th centuries and marriage in many places, including Scotland, changed over the course of the centuries.
My newest medieval novel, Rebel Warrior, is set in Scotland in the late 11th century. When Malcolm, King of Scotland, met the beautiful Saxon Princess Margaret of Wessex, sometime around 1068-1070, he had already been married to Ingebiorg, the widow of Thorfinn Sigurdsson (“Thorfinn the Mighty”), Jarl of the Orkneys.
It is generally assumed that Ingebiorg, who bore Malcolm three sons, died sometime before 1070. History does not tell us what happened to Ingebiorg. Some accounts hint at the possibility of poisoning. However, Malcolm would not have needed to dispose of her that way if he was of a mind to be free. In the 11th century, wives in Scotland were “put away” on the slightest pretense. The dissolution of marriage being a lax affair at the time, it could be that Malcolm merely put away his first wife to marry Margaret. We may never know.
In any event, King Malcolm was smitten and he and Margaret were married before the chapel at Dunfermline, the Culdee Bishop of St. Andrews presiding. Margaret was a devout believer who was raised in Hungary and England and followed a routine of prayer and confession such that she would have wanted the church to bless her marriage though it was not essential to make the marriage valid. (The hero and heroine in Rebel Warrior are married on the steps of the same chapel, which is generally where a couple would wed if a church was involved.)
There would have been a ring. The exchange of the rings was a main feature in Scottish wedding ceremonies from ancient times.
By the late medieval era, they could have married by merely affirming their intent to wed. Witnesses were not needed either. Such an affirmation would suffice per the Roman Catholic Church, which by then had a hold on Scotland. The Culdees (the Scottish clerics) after the 12th century were folded into the Roman church.
In the medieval era, handfasting represented the betrothal of the intended couple, not the actual marriage itself. Handfasting as a “trial marriage” is first referred to in the 19th century and, though romance writers love it, some scholars doubt it was used for marriages.
Women could marry from the age of 12 (for boys it was from 14) and, while many girls from the upper ranks of society married in their teens, by the end of the medieval period most in the Lowlands married in their twenties. This allowed them to acquire the resources needed to form a household.
Of course, if you were noble born, your father might have betrothed you to your future husband when you were quite young. Women of the aristocracy were desired for their dowries. Their land and wealth was a means of securing greater wealth and political power for the combined families. However, in all levels of society, an economic agreement between the two families would be reached before the marriage.
Unlike in England, where kinship was derived through both males and females, in Scotland, women retained their original surname at their marriage. The extensive marriage bars for kinship meant that most noble marriages required a papal dispensation, which could later be used as grounds for annulment if the marriage proved politically or personally inconvenient, although in this period in Scotland’s history, there was no divorce. You were married until one of you died or, in the earlier centuries, you were just “put away”.
The only way out was to prove you were never legally married, that is to have the marriage annulled. The grounds would be that one or both of them were either too young, they were too closely related to each other, the man was impotent at the time of their marriage, one party was insane at the time of marriage, or already married (or betrothed) to someone else at the time of their marriage. Even if you married too young, if you continued to live together as man and wife when you cam of age (12 for women, 14 for men), then you were considered legally married (continuing to live together was considered to be an affirmation of intent to marry, much like our Common Law marriage). It was not until the Reformation (which officially occurred in Scotland in 1560) that divorce and remarriage became a possibility. So one had to make a good decision.
There was definitely action and adventure in the Medieval times and this story embodied that. It was full of action, battles, and love. The love story was sweet and endeared me to all of the characters. Each have their love story to tell and their heartbreak to get through. The heartbreak was never too far and it had me tearing up from time to time. Especially in the beginning. The author sure does know where to hit you with the emotions, which seem to strike from the page as the story progresses.
Steinar and Catrìona take a while to come the realization that they love each other. It was an instant attraction kind of love, but it grew as they spend time in each others’ company. It seemed that it was a doomed love as the King of Scots has the say on whom they should marry. It was a constant worry for me, because I didn’t want them to suffer the unfairness that their world gave them. I knew there would be an HEA, but the anxiety for the characters was forefront in my mind. Part of the tease, was Catrìona’s trust issues towards men, because of the swine she was betrothed to.
However, it was inner monologue like this, that made me sigh at the romantic aspect of it all.
“She watched him go through the door. He takes my heart with him.”
If not the chivalry that is prevalent in the Medieval times, it’s the romantic sigh worthy words and actions.
Since this is book three in the Medieval Warriors series, it can be read as a standalone. But I highly recommend reading the others, just because of the world in which the author introduces the reader to. The research is well done and it feels like the reader is there on the battle field or in the towns interacting with the characters. Who all seem to have a life of their own.
“He was only a scribe, a rebel warrior who had been exiled from his country, but she could not want a better man.”
*I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review*
“Master storytelling transports you to medieval Scotland!” – Paula Quinn, NY Times Bestselling Author
And the others:
“Rebel Warrior is beautifully layered with true historic figures, facts and authentic history of Scotland woven into a creative and intriguing fictional story. A spectacular, riveting adventure … 5 Stars!” –Tartan Book Reviews
“Touching and well written and my favorite by any author. The storytelling and world building are phenomenal and the romance between Steinar and Catrìona will have you cheering as well as shedding a few tears. Very well done!” – The Reading Cafe
“Ms. Walker has written another WOW, Medieval Romance. Fast paced, action packed story of betrayal, passion, destiny, fate, healing, romance and finding peace and a HEA. Walker is a talented storyteller, who pulls readers into the story and holds them transfixed. A page turning Medieval Romance!” – My Book Addiction
“Spellbinding and Expertly Crafted”… “The path to true love is never easy, yet Regan Walker leads the reader to an entertaining, realistic and worthy HEA. Walker’s characters are complex and well-rounded and in her hands real historical figures merge seamlessly with those from her imagination.” – A Reader’s Review
Regan Walker is an award-winning, bestselling author of Regency, Georgian and Medieval romances. She has five times been featured in USA TODAY’s HEA column and four times nominated for the prestigious RONE award (her novel, The Red Wolf’s Prize won Best Historical Novel for 2015 in the medieval category).
Regan writes historically authentic novels with real history and real historic figures where her readers can experience history, adventure and love. She lives in San Diego with her Golden Retriever who she says helps her to smell the roses every day.