This post was originally published on www.JoyfullyJay.com blog
Picture a Scotsman in Highland dress… a pair of finely shaped calves, strapping bare masculine thighs beneath a thin layer of Tartan, invoking the irrepressible urge in the viewer to take a peek. You know what I’m talking about!
The traditional kilt wearing Scotsman is a powerfully heady image that romance writers return to again and again, no matter if they write historical, fantasy or contemporary romances. What is it about a man in a kilt that makes us go all googly-eyed, weak at the knees, and wonder what lies beneath?
My journey into kilt adoration began with a story prompt…
I had wanted to take part in the Goodreads M/M Romance Group ‘Don’t read in the closet’ event for a while. I was juggling the writing of two novels and convinced myself I had no time for another story. But then, author Kaje Harper put a post on Facebook, saying that a writer had dropped out and a prompt was looking for a new writer. Curious, I clicked on the link and as soon as I saw the accompanying prompt photograph I was smitten. I decided I would find the time, and claimed the story prompt straight away.
The photograph in question was of two men dressed in Blue Tartan Highland dress standing by the counter of a bar, captured in a celebratory pose. The man on the left was in his twenties, blond cropped hair, boyish, tall and slender, athletic. The man on the right was older, say, his early thirties, dark hair with a brawnier physique. The older man had his hand on the younger man’s shoulder, squeezing. He held a tumbler of whisky and gazed mischievously at the younger man, as if he had just said something provocative to him. The younger man held his own whisky tumbler to his lips and looked down coquettishly, his gaze avoiding the camera.
This delicious photograph set my mind aflame, and then, when I saw the prompt letter that accompanied the photo, there was no turning back…
“Two days before the wedding we met my brother’s bride’s family ― including her handsome, smart, funny brother. I was immediately smitten, even if I wouldn’t have admitted it. It took us some time to come together. Could have been family, friends, relationships, culture, one of us was straight (or thought he was), jobs, distance ― whatever you see.”
Immediately, I went to Google images and discovered that the Tartan the men wore in the photo was Ramsay, and thus my Scotsman was named Declan Ramsay.
In “As You Wish” the novella written from the story prompt, Scotsman Declan Ramsay and Englishman Samuel Aiken are enlisted to share best man duties at their sibling’s wedding, at a castle on the banks of Loch Ness, Scotland. The images that are conjured by that line alone, speak of spectacular, rugged wilderness and endless romantic possibilities. The story virtually wrote itself in three weeks, and I knew while writing the first chapter that Sam and Declan had a bigger, wonderful story to tell.
There is an erotically charged scene in the book, set around the ritual of donning Highland dress. Scottish aficionados will know there is a certain way a man must put on his kilt. It is deeply ritualistic and goes back hundreds of years. And so, in this scene, thirty-two year old Declan Ramsay teaches twenty-three year old Sam Aiken the ‘right’ way to put on and arrange his Ramsay blue kilt, Prince Charlie jacket, and all of the accessories. I had such fun teasing out the seduction. The slow, erotic way the men dress each other, and the resulting sex scene has inspired many readers to write messages to say how much they love that scene, and how alluring the vision of men in kilts -- and removing them, is.
And so back to my question -- What is it about a man in a kilt? Apparently, the allure of ‘what’s underneath’ and the ease of access is a big draw. Personally, I would never attempt to find out if a kilt wearer were a ‘true Scotsman’, but I have witnessed the ear-splitting frenzy that some women -- and men exhibit when it comes to kilts and their wearers. For other’s, it’s the inches of bare hairy leg between the top of the stocking and the hem of the kilt that make them go weak at the knees. For me, it’s the whole package -- the masculinity of the man, married with clothing that, to be honest is a little girly. And yet there is nothing androgynous or feminine about kilts or their wearers.
And so my story began with men in kilts, and I found, in Sam and Declan, two delightful, funny characters who, whether they have their kilt’s on or off, smoulder for one another. Their kilt-less story continues in the sequel novel “Illuminate the Shadows” released on the 9th May, and following on a month later on 6th June the novel “Return to Zero”.
A Scotsman in Romance tropes is more than the kilt he wears. He is a romantic hero, with a huge heart, and he doesn’t do anything by halves. He loves big, he battles big and will suffer and fight for his love. He will never give up and never surrender. And from that description, I can tell you that my Scotsman, Declan Ramsay is most definitely the truest of Scotsmen!
©Isobel Starling 2016