Fri
Mar 18 2011 6:00pm

Built for the Kilt: Sexy Scotsmen in Romance

With Every Breath by Lynn KurlandThe motto of chivalry is also the motto of wisdom; to serve all, but love only one.
—Honore de Balzac

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.

Mel Gibson in BraveheartBasing 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 Whilst Kurland is hard-pressed to compare to Gabaldon’s historical content and character development, there’s something to be said for a little awkward wooing and stolen kisses.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 – ”

Outlander by Diana GabaldonJamie 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?’

Rather,

'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

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15 comments
Linda Young
1. qladyhawke
Oh, yeah!! It's getting hot in here!! Highlanders are the best and my favorite. Always will be.
Charli Mac
2. CharliMac
Oh, Lassie, ye had me at highlander!

I love, love me some Jamie Fraser. His words and his actions steal my breathe away. I am not well read in historical romances but I must agree with you on the chivalry factor. Gets me everytime. Damned sexiest thing about a man.

You have me thinking to ask the hubby to don a kilt this evening....
Donna Cummings
3. Donna Cummings
Sigh. I love stories with Highlanders. I just finished Monica McCarty's "special ops in kilts" books, and can't wait for more of those.

And I'm giggling over the ‘Do ye come here often, lassie?’ line. Hilarious!
Megan Frampton
4. MFrampton
I remember reading that, "Well, she has two" line. Awesome! Loved that one.
AJ Wilson
5. AJ Wilson
*Waves* at everyone, and thank you's all around for stopping by my first post with H&H.

@ Ladyhawke - Aye, that it is!

@ Charli - I'm glad I could pop your 'Highland' cherry, you'll never look back.

@ Donna - Monica McCarty is one of my fav highland authors. Lachlan & Fiona from Highland Unchained are two of my most favorable characters!

@ Megan - Kurland's books are light, witty, and great whislt sitting in a chaise at the cottage!
Olivia Waite
6. O.Waite
Alec from Julie Garwood's The Bride was my first romance-novel crush. I walked around wishing I had violet eyes for the next (embarrassingly large number of) years.
Virginia Campbell
7. VirginiaCampbell
Highlanders are brawny, brave, intense Alpha males. The “Alpha” male is the dominant leader of the pack. They have qualities and strengths which make them “number one”! Along with all that greatness can come arrogance, a “my way is the only way” attitude, and a sometimes ornery personality. However, their fierce devotion to their loved ones, their loyalty and their innate honor all go together quite nicely to smooth the rough edges. I love big, grumbly, tough men who have even bigger hearts and an inner core of compassion. I also appreciate intelligence and humor, but kindness is the essential quality. At any moment of any given day, I prefer the gruff, but genuine, gentlemanliness of a Highlander wearing his clan plaid! Especially if he has great legs : )
AJ Wilson
8. AJ Wilson
@ O Waite - Julie Garwood is legendary, I adore her historicials.

@ Virginia C - If ornery is one of my hero's traits I can bear it in favor of " genuine, gentlemanliness of a Highlander wearing his clan plaid!" anyday.
Do any particular males come to mind when yout think of the Men in Plaid?
AJ Wilson
9. Virginia C
Here's a link to a wonderful photo of my favorite Scotsman, Gerard Butler. It's Gerry and his Mum at the Glasgow, Scotland premiere of "Law Abiding Citizen". GB looks splendid in his "formal dress kilt":

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_LPPfbJ8pZeQ/SwGADxXzmcI/AAAAAAAABC8/dqTDsP4Y1Qk/s1600/gerard-butler-kilt-law-abiding-citizen-glasgow-10.jpg

I wrote this response to a comment made by a blogger who is not a big fan of GB. Looking at my words now, I see that much of the content also applies to larger-than-life literary Highland Hunks:

Rough around the edges, sometimes raw, always very real. Not a pretty boy. A gorgeous man. A green-eyed Scottish devil with more charm and talent than one man needs. Working hard, staying at the top of the list, providing jobs and income for many people that he will never meet. Always in the public eye. Every shining moment and every shade of embarassment. Frustration at what it means to have it all, what it takes to keep it all. A complex man who is larger than life, loves his family, is close to his "Mum", and finds he can no longer be just Gerry hanging out with his chums. Giving back when others are in need. Sharing his golden talent. Making mistakes and being wonderfully human and imperfect. THANK GOD!!! He is a HUNK--a hunk of man, and a hunk of humanity.
Cheryl Sneed
10. CherylSneed
Ooh, love me some brawny, kilt-wearing Scotsman murmuring, "Dinna fash yerself, lassie." YUM!

And, how cute is Gerry with his mum? Too cute, that's how cute.
Charli Mac
11. CharliMac
@Virginia, hold onto to your panties. I met Gerard Butler while filming Law Abiding Citizen in Philly. They filmed a bulk of it at historic City Hall, where I work. They used my office, even my desk in the movie. It's the room used as the DA's office.

Gerard was filming the court room scene and he took a break, walking by me to the little boys room. I stopped him like a giddy school girl. I lost all the cool points I'd been saving up my whole life. He actually chatted with me for a few minutes about Philly and my fave movie of his, Dear Frankie. He was so nice, cordial, witty, and damn near one of the most beautiful men I'd ever met.
Virginia Campbell
12. VirginiaCampbell
CharliMac....Ye, Gods, Woman!!!


"Dear Frankie" is also my fave GB film : )
AJ Wilson
13. Kim in Hawaii
Aloha! I adore Scotland but temporarily live too far to visit it. Yet Hawaii reminds me of Alba - the volcanic mountains, tribal (clan) focus on family, and men wearing skirts!

Plus Scottish immigrants helped shape the Hawaiian kingdom once Western influence was introduced. Princess Kauilani was half Scottish.
Donna Cummings
14. Donna Cummings
CharliMac, whatever cool points you lost -- well, I'd say you've regained them by sharing that story. *swoons* Maybe you can tell it to us every week, at least until the jealousy kills us off. :)
AJ Wilson
15. Renee Vincent
@Charlie Mac ---> I met Gerard Butler while filming Law Abiding Citizen in Philly. They filmed a bulk of it at historic City Hall, where I work. They used my office, even my desk in the movie. It's the room used as the DA's office.

Gerard was filming the court room scene and he took a break, walking by me to the little boys room. I stopped him like a giddy school girl. I lost all the cool points I'd been saving up my whole life. He actually chatted with me for a few minutes about Philly and my fave movie of his, Dear Frankie. He was so nice, cordial, witty, and damn near one of the most beautiful men I'd ever met.

UM hello!!! That is so unfair! I am so jealous of you! OMG what I wouldn't give to meet Gerard and talk with him. And you did better than me...I probably would've have followed him right into the little boys room, completely unaware of what I was doing...or perhaps maybe I knew EXACTLY what I was doing. (I'll never tell.)
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