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Guest blogger: Allison Butler

13 January 2019

Have you ever searched for something?

The heroes in my Highland Brides series have all searched the rugged beauty of medieval Scotland for their origins. Callum, the hero of The Saint, due for release on 20 January, has travelled much of his homeland, but his story begins in the east coast town of Aberdeen. I’ve never been this far north along Scotland’s east coast and during my initial research of the area a strange name for a heritage path built by the Romans caught my attention. And so, my search for the Causey Mounth began.

I searched the web, contacted Aberdeen’s council and bought the out-of-print book they recommended from an American University Library. All provided wonderful information, but there’s nothing like being somewhere, seeing something and feeling it all in person. So, thanks to my amazing Scottish husband, off we went to a part of beautiful Scotland we hadn’t experienced before.

We hired a car, explored the county of Angus, said to be the birthplace of Scotland due to the signing of the Declaration of Arbroath. We visited priories, castles, villages, standing stones, cathedrals and picturesque seaside towns on our journey north. We also spent a soggy day soaking in the history of the magnificent Dunnottar Castle at Stonehaven. All the places Callum would travel in The Saint, as well as a few more. During our travels, the Causey Mounth sat ever in the forefront of my mind.

I’d learned that between Stonehaven and Aberdeen is a section of the Causey Mounth where a medieval coaching inn had offered shelter for travellers hundreds of years ago. My husband drove along dirt roads, no through roads, private roads, roads that resembled walking tracks, while I scanned the countryside in the hopes of finding the heritage path Callum and Isla travelled.

Hope faded as we seemed to be driving around in circles. We stopped in the middle of nowhere, in the centre of a tiny, deserted intersection. All I could think was it must be here somewhere. I looked to the left through my passenger window at the long grasses and trees and little else, then glimpsed at my husband’s tight, yet patient expression. Okay, there was no trace of patience on his face by then. My gaze shifted to the view out of the driver’s side window. That’s when I saw it. An undulating, crooked, grass-lined dirt road I’d seen somewhere before. Could it be?

We turned down that road and pulled over opposite a collection of houses, work and storage sheds to ask the man welding inside the nearest one if he could help us. He kindly told us the man who lived in the house at the back would be able to give us the information we wanted. And he did, forgoing his lunch to tell us his home was built on the site of the Jeally Branns (now Gillybrands) Inn. He then walked us down along the Causey Mounth to a stone bridge too new for medieval times and shared his knowledge about the history of the area. Sandy, I can’t thank you enough.

We’d found the Causey Mounth. Walked the same path Callum and Isla travel in The Saint. We were thrilled. Imagine the joy Callum will feel when he discovers his origins and finds his Happily Ever After!

May you find whatever you’re searching for!

Allison Butler xx

You can find Allison here: Website | Facebook | Twitter

 

My first glimpse of this section of the Causey Mounth through the driver’s side window

After leaving the site of the Gillybrands coaching inn, we explored the granite city of Aberdeen and when leaving to travel inland, stumbled on this sign indicating the most northerly section of the Causey Mounth.

Of course we drove it!

The Saint

He has chosen a chaste life, but he’s never been tempted like this …

Callum has two childhood memories: a stone cross, and the wanton behaviour of his mother, memories that drive him to a take a vow of celibacy at the age of fourteen. Now twenty-four, Callum takes leave from his laird for a year to find the source of these memories and, hopefully, his origins. Weary of finding nothing but disappointment and sorrow at every Kirk and Spital he visits, and with his allotted time fast running out, Cal is compelled to escort a dying man’s daughter south to Restenneth Priory. But he never expects the dark-haired woman’s hope and determination to tempt him to recant his oath or to make him question everything he believes in.

At the tender age of six, Isla Beaton learned a hard lesson about never giving up despite the challenges and grief that might come her way. Now orphaned and alone at nineteen, she has discarded her girlhood dreams of a love-match in marriage, but neither will she accept the betrothal arrangement set up by her father years before. Instead, she must rely on Callum, a stranger her father sends to her door, to deliver her to the priory where she will dedicate the rest of her life to God. But as their destination draws closer, the time she spends with Callum and the one kiss they share has her wondering if maybe there is hope for the treasured dreams of a girl after all.

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10 Comments leave one →
  1. 13 January 2019 9:08 pm

    Oh how absolutely wonderful… what an amazing find – I love this post! I can’t wait to read this next masterpiece of yours!!!

    • allisonbutler permalink
      14 January 2019 7:35 am

      Thank you so much, Amanda! It truly was amazing 🙂 xx

  2. 13 January 2019 5:43 pm

    Hi Allison

    Fabulous trip Scotland is one place I would love to visit can’t wait to read this one

    Have Fun

    Helen

    • allisonbutler permalink
      13 January 2019 6:39 pm

      Thanks so much, Helen. Scotland is beautiful and definitely worth a visit 🙂 xx

  3. 13 January 2019 3:44 pm

    What an amazing trip, Allison and I’m so glad you found the Causey Mounth! I can’t wait to read The Saint!

    • allisonbutler permalink
      13 January 2019 5:33 pm

      Thanks so much, Amy! It was such a thrill to find the Causey Mounth xx

  4. Cathleen Ross permalink
    13 January 2019 11:59 am

    Great blog, Alison. I’ve ordered the book.

    • allisonbutler permalink
      13 January 2019 5:32 pm

      Thank you so much, Cathleen! I hope you enjoy reading The Saint xx

  5. Melissa Smith permalink
    13 January 2019 11:47 am

    Fabulous post Alli. Loved hearing all about your Scottish travels and so wonderful you found the Causey Mounth. Can’t wait for The Saint to be out xx

    • allisonbutler permalink
      13 January 2019 5:31 pm

      Thanks so much, Melissa! Getting excited 🙂 xx

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