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Monday, March 8, 2010

Amanda Forester Guest Blog

Struggles of an Arranged Marriage
The Highlander's SwordThanks for inviting me to join you today and chat about the struggles of an arranged marriage. Back in medieval Europe, an arranged marriage was common place, particularly for the upper classes. In fact, the notion of finding a love match during those would have seemed as odd to them as an arranged marriage seems to us today. In those times marriages were based on forming a political alliance or enhancing wealth and property. The personal feelings of the individuals involved were not a consideration.

In my debut novel, The Highlander’s Sword, Aila expected to enter the convent and has prepared her whole life to do so. After the death of her brother leaves her an heiress, everything changes. Here’s how she discovers marriage is in her near future:
Aila entered her father’s solar with some difficulty, her feet growing heavier with every step. Confirming her fears, MacLaren stood next to her father. The two imposing men stared at her, saying nothing. This could not be good. Her father folded his large arms across his massive chest and turned to MacLaren.
Aila was struck at the change in MacLaren. She had known him years ago when he had been a friend to her brother. The warrior now before her hardly resembled the braw, cocksure young man who had left Scotland to fight the English in France. He looked older, his slate eyes cold. A red scar carved a wicked path from the corner of his left eye down to his chin.
“Well?” demanded her father.
MacLaren looked her up and down in a manner that brought heat to her face.
“Aye, I’ll have her.”
Aila’s mouth dropped open, and she stared at one then the other. MacLaren frowned and turned to Laird Graham.
“Ye’ve no’ told her then?”
“I’ve told no one,” replied her father. “Watch yer back, laddie. I warrant there will be some what will take offense to yer marriage.”
© Amanda Forester, Sourcebooks Casablanca, 2010
Poor Aila doesn’t have much preparation for this and finds herself married to a Highlander in short order. Her story is not unlike many ladies of that era whose entire future depended on their father’s decision, which often had more to do with political ambitions or military pacts than a desire to see their daughter happily wed.
The history of Europe is full of examples of marriages being used to seal political agreements. In 1328, the Treaty of Edinbugh-Northhampton, in which England recognized Scotland’s independence (at least for a little while) was sealed with the marriage of the son of King David I of Scotland and the sister of King Edward III of England (they were age 4 and 7 at the time of their marriage). In 1295, the treaty between France and Scotland, later known as the Auld Alliance would be sealed with an arranged marriage between the King of Scotland’s son and the King of France’s niece. Whether the marriage was a happy one is unknown, but the Auld Alliance remained intact for hundreds of years until 1560.

Some arranged marriages ended in disaster. King Henry II married Eleanor of Aquitaine in 1152. Despite producing several children, their relationship became so fractious that she often urged her sons to rebel against their father. She was kept in virtual imprisonment for the last 15 years of her husband’s life, a story which inspired the movie, The Lion in Winter.

However, not all arranged marriages were unpleasant for the marriage partners. Notably, King Edward I was reported to have a happy marriage with his wife Eleanor of Castile. She even accompanied him on crusade from 1270-1273 and gave birth to two of their sixteen children while abroad. When she died in 1290 Edward was so heartbroken he erected a series of memorials in her honor.

In my own novel, the story of Aila and MacLaren is a rocky one at first. They have a lot of distrust and false assumptions to overcome, but over time love blossoms. What do you think of an arranged marriage? Do you think it is possible to find love this way?
A quiet, flame-haired beauty with secrets of her own...
Lady Aila Graham is destined for the convent, until her brother's death leaves her an heiress. Soon she is caught between hastily arranged marriage with a Highland warrior, the Abbot's insistence that she take her vows, the Scottish Laird who kidnaps her, and the traitor from within who betrays them all.
She's nothing he expected and everything he really needs...
Padyn MacLaren, a battled-hardened knight, returns home to the Highlands after years of fighting the English in France. MacLaren bears the physical scars of battle, but it is the deeper wounds of betrayal that have rocked his faith. Arriving with only a band of war-weary knights, MacLaren finds his land pillaged and his clan scattered. Determined to restore his clan, he sees Aila's fortune as the answer to his problems...but maybe it's the woman herself.
Amanda Forester holds a PhD in psychology and worked for many years in academia before discovering that writing historical romance novels was way more fun. She lives in the Pacific Northwest outside Tacoma, Washington with her husband, two energetic children, and one lazy dog. You can visit her at


  1. This book sounds really interesting.

    Of course, it's possible to fall in love after an arranged marriage - this system is still commmonplace in India.

    Of course, everybody has the right to say no, and marriage is no longer for marriage & dowry, but a modernized version still exists :)



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