There is something inexplicably sexy about a man sired from the same fierce and proud stock that drove the entire Roman Empire away.
Strapping lads showing off muscled legs, holding a sword in one hand and your heart in the other . . .
I cannot recall the first romance novel I ever read, but at the edges of my conscience floats a memory of gallant warriors, hardened by the struggle to survive in a harsh environment, yet chivalrous in their service to others. My first real taste of such men was of the characters penned by author, Lynn Kurland in her MacLeod Series. They’re historically accurate, not to mention wonderfully rich with sexy, gallant Scotsmen.
Chivalry—or, more specifically, a chivalrous Scotsman in plaid—does it for me every time. Whoever said chivalry was dead, sadly, never had the fortune to know it or read of it in a good Highland Romance.
Basing its origins in the medieval institution of knighthood of training and service to others, chivalry is the idea of white knights and noble deeds, of men honor bound to protect their land, king, country and their women.
It’s the Braveheart factor.
The 1995 epic historical drama starring Mel Gibson told the story of a 13th Century Scottish knight, Sir William Wallace, a leader in the First War of Scottish Independence opposing Edward I of England.
Gibson’s portrayal of Wallace produced a surge of interest in the time period, not only for me, but for many authors and readers. What lass could resist a wounded yet determined Gibson traipsing about the countryside in nothing but his plaid?
From the stone keeps of Medieval Scotland in Kurland’s witty winsome tales to Diana Gabaldon's 18th Century Outlander series about Jamie and Claire, Men In Plaid possess a chivalry that pulls the reader back in time. Now don’t get me wrong, lads and lassies, I’m a 21st century lass through and through, yet there’s something sensual about a man wrapped in the colors of his clan who can also wield a mean sword.
Kurland and Gabaldon craft characters that exemplify seductive chivalry. Whilst Kurland is hard-pressed to compare to Gabaldon’s historical content and character development, there’s something to be said for a little awkward wooing and stolen kisses.
In Kurland’s novel, If I Had You, the hero Robin, a man of few words, can slay his enemy every conceivable way, and could no doubt expand upon it tirelessly. But wooing his lady love is as foreign to him as time travel; when asked to say something poetic about her eyes, his response is, “Well, she has two – ”
Jamie Fraser, from Outlander, however will melt your heart with: “I can bear pain myself, but I couldna bear yours. That would take more strength than I have.”
Can ye nae hear the rumble of Scottish brogue reading those words? Somebody open a window, it’s getting hot in here!
Kurland and Gabaldon craft love stories so enduring they transcend time, literally. Both use time travel in their books so subtly you forget the implausibility of such a thing.
And as with Kurland, once you read Outlander, you’re compelled to continue on; always in search of those Men in Plaid who say it like it is, use their swords for good, and don’t saunter into the Great Hall saying, ‘Do ye come here often, lassie?’
'Does it bother you that I'm not a virgin?'
He hesitated a moment before answering. 'Well, no,' he said slowly, 'so long as it doesna bother you that I am.'
He grinned at my drop-jawed expression, and backed toward the door. 'Reckon one of us should know what they're doing.'
—Jamie and Claire in Diana Gabaldon's Outlander
A gust of wind + plaid + muscular thighs = the best damn romance heroes to grace the pages of Historical Romance, and we’ve only just begun to peek underneath the kilt . . .
A.J. Wilson, Shark By Day, Lover Of All Things Plaid By Night, ajwilsononline.net