A man, with ‘azure eyes’, interrupted me during my journey to Paris. He assisted me with my tartan suitcases then handed me a letter from Elizabeth Gates. I broke the wax seal on the envelope. The gentleman disappeared while I admired the script on the letter. I pondered whether I should return to Scotland.
I am delighted to present The Wolf of Dalriada, introducing with this extract, the series’ hero, Malcolm Craig Lowrie and his ‘azure eyes’. This historical adventure novel – run through with sparkling and unashamed romance – draws its characters from the Scottish Isles and the Palace of Versailles and Robespierre’s Paris – with all the bloodshed and glamour that implies. A blend of mysticism and intrigue with humorous social commentary, it’s the ideal read for popping in your handbag for that long train ride.
I hope you enjoy reading The Wolf of Dalriada as much as I enjoyed writing it.
I searched for Elizabeth Gates on Facebook and beseeched her to tell me more about the novel. Mysteriously, she hopped on the train at the next stop, in Ashford. She opened her novel and read to me.
Dalriada, Argyll, Scotland 1st January 1793
GAELIC CALLS spin a web through the mist in arcs of soft sound. Fear unsteadies the unseen flocks on the scrub heather hillside as men and dogs weave a trap around them in the darkling night. Once the flocks are penned, then the lanterns are turned towards the south. The watchers wait in silence.
Meanwhile, down below, at Crinan Loch-side, a horse’s muffled hooves slither on the cobbled apron before the Castle Craig Lowrie gate. The slope is steep and wet with winter but the horse keeps moving forward. Then, at the forest’s secret edge, the muffles are removed, swiftly, deftly. The rider – dressed in groom’s clothes and wrapped in a stolen plaid – climbs into the saddle. Which way? They take the track north from Dalriada towards Oban.
Watching from castle battlements, eyes – azure, intelligent – pick out the moon-cast shadows as the rider moves away in dusky night. ‘Safer out there than here, at present,’ Malcolm Craig Lowrie thinks. ‘I will know where to find her – when I need.’
He pauses for the tiniest shard of a split moment. He wonders how it would feel to love and be so loved – as that young girl is. Then he turns back to his task in hand. A laird with five hundred armed men at his call, he is waiting – as always – for yet another attack.
Jessie: The man with ‘azure eyes’ was not from our world. Tell me more about the historical context and the plot.
Elizabeth: It is 1793. Revolutionaries plan to execute the French Queen Marie Antoinette and, watching events unfold alongside the whole of Europe, King George III of Great Britain fears French-style rebellion in his Scottish lands.There, fractured truths, torn loyalties and bloody atrocities are rife and, in Argyll, the Craig Lowrie clan desperately need someone to keep them safe. Malcolm Craig Lowrie, the handsome, murderous ‘Wolf of Dalriada’, rises to the challenge. Then, with Adelaide de Fontenoy – a beautiful young Frenchwoman fleeing from debauched lawyer, Sir William Robinson – Craig Lowrie finds love and his dilemmas become as unforgiving as the land of Argyll itself…
Jessie: What do the reviewers think about the novel? I expect they were thoroughly seduced by the plot and characters.
Elizabeth: I have been very pleased with the positive response.
‘Just stunning writing, historical turmoil and romance at its very best’ – Rhona Whiteford, novelist and independent publisher.
‘As Scottish as whisky’ – Deborah Jones, Novelist.
‘You won’t want to put this down’ – Carol Fenlon, Novelist.
Jessie: How did you feel when you had finished writing the novel?
Elizabeth: I was quite bereft when I finished writing ‘The Wolf of Dalriada’. As I couldn’t imagine life without the riveting character of Malcolm Craig Lowrie and the urbane and evil Robinson, I immediately started my second novel, due out this year. I’m now creating a series.
The Wolf of Dalriada sounds captivating. The laird certainly sounds charming. I hope you are tempted to visit Craig Lowrie and his dilemmas.