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Old Story Ideas: Seven Brides for Seven Highland Brothers | #amwriting #amwritingromance

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

In keeping with my February theme of raiding my old writing archives, here’s a partial synopsis for the first of what was supposed to be seven stories (novels, novellas?) inspired by the musical Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, transported to the 14th century Scottish Highlands. From 2013–2014.

This time, I’ve also included the images of the actors cast in the roles of the main characters, as that was a major part of developing the idea!

Seven Brides for Seven Highland Brothers: Sophie and Angus

Sophronia Gilchrist’s father died 12 months ago, and her younger brother is now anxious to get rid of her because the woman he wants to marry refuses to go through with it as long as Sophie is still there. So he puts word out (medieval Scottish Craigslist?) that he has doubled her dowry and will accept all comers. And many do come—mostly fortune seekers—but she manages to run them all off.

When an offer comes in from Sir Angus MacCairain to take her, sight unseen, the brother accepts, given Sir Angus’s standing, wealth, favor with King Robert, and distance from the Borderlands.

When Sophie refuses, he has her starved and beaten (this is new—a tendency that her father kept in check while he was alive, knowing it would be even harder to get rid of her if she showed signs of having to be beaten into submission) until she relents just to get away from him, though she fully expects to face the same, or worse, at the hands of her Highlander betrothed.

On the trip to Wester Ross, the Gilchrist men give Sophie little food and keep her tied to her horse at her brother’s orders, to stop her from running away—which strengthens her resolve to do just that.

When they arrive at Castle Cairain, she is shocked to find not only a large, imposing fortress, but that inside, even though the buildings look in good repair and the keep is being expanded with a new tower being built, it is unkempt, disorganized, and dirty. Though she fought against her mother’s, and then aunt’s, attempts to teach her the household arts, the lessons stuck and she much prefers a clean, organized home over the chaos now surrounding her.

A history of being denied food and/or verbally abused by her father and, more recently, beaten by her brother’s man at arms, Sophie has grown even more stubborn and resolute and determines that she will escape and try to make her own way in the world, possibly even disguised as a man. She’s done it before, and was gone for almost a month before her father/brother found her.

The elderly woman who shows Sophie to her room seems as if she’ll be easy enough to slip past when she offers to stay and help Sophie bathe and change clothes. More than anything, Sophie is hungry, but refuses to say anything, not wanting to show any vulnerability. Plus, she’s accustomed to being starved, so what’s a few more hours without food? She’ll wait until after supper to sneak away—to learn the layout of the castle better and to eat and sneak away some food.

She’s surprised to learn from the old crone that the crone is one of the only women living in the keep—that the men have managed to run the women off, either back to their cottages outside the keep or back to their own families with their children. Not ever having been close with any of the women at home, this doesn’t bother Sophie, but it does explain the unkemptness of the castle. She is worried to learn Angus has a fourteen-year-old daughter and ten-year-old son. She doesn’t know how to deal with children and has never felt called to being a motherly type.

The crone implies that there is some issue with Angus’s son, Alec, but won’t say what, intriguing Sophie before she remembers she’s not going to be around long enough to care.

After being bathed and dressed and having her thick, long blonde hair exclaimed over—before it’s covered with an appropriately modest veil—Sophie follows the crone down to the great hall, where the smell of food nearly makes her pass out.

When the six men gathered by the hearth turn to greet her, she sees the familiar expressions of shock and surprise at her height, but the expected disappointment isn’t there. Meaning none of them is Angus. Sure enough, a few minutes later, another man enters. He looks older than she expected, hardened and scarred from battle, with silver at his temples.

At his uncle’s suggestion, Angus has agreed to marry. He doesn’t need children, and he doesn’t really need a wife. But, as his uncle pointed out, his brothers do. And they need wives with land/money so that they can make their own ways in the world. So when word reached him of a Lowlands heiress whose brother seemed extremely anxious to get rid of her, Angus agreed, knowing it wouldn’t matter what she looked like or how she behaved. He would marry her no matter what, invest her dowry in the expansion of the keep and hiring/training/outfitting more soldiers should King Robert have need of them again, and do his level best to ignore her should she be unpleasant in form or figure.

When he enters the great hall the night of her arrival, he first sees his brothers, gathered at the hearth, smiling at each other with curiously happy expressions. Angus comes fully into the room and stops short upon seeing the woman standing at the other end of the trestle table, if he can truly call her a woman. While the old crone beside her isn’t tall, she is dwarfed by the seeming giantess.

Steeling himself for a very unpleasant evening, given the severity of the expression on his bride-to-be’s face, Angus crosses the room to greet her, realizing as he approaches that she is a full three inches taller than he, at least, and he is no dwarf at six feet tall. He welcomes her and, when she greets him in return, he is pleased to find her soft- and well-spoken.

Introducing Sophie to his brothers, he sees that only Brannan is as tall as this woman, but as each greets her with joviality, her expression begins to ease.

That is, until the food is served. Angus, his brothers, and the soldiers fall upon the food like ravenous wolves. Sophie pushes back from the table a few inches to avoid having food splashed on her only dress (her only other clothes being men’s tunics and braies). While she may have spent her life railing against the “feminine arts,” she is disgusted by the behavior of these men. By the time she has acclimated herself to this display of poor manners (though Angus seems least ill-behaved) and reaches for a dish to serve stew into her own trencher, she discovers that it is all gone—either eaten or spilled out on the table with the rough way the dishes were grabbed and slid/tossed down/across the table. . . .

[And that’s as far as I got!]

Sophronia Gilchrist = Gwendoline Christie
Angus MacCairain = Dougray Scott
Brannan MacCairain = Gerard Butler
Callum MacCairain = Alastair Mackenzie
Dougal MacCairain = Ewan McGregor
Ewan MacCairain = James McAvoy
Fergus MacCairain = Sean Biggerstaff
Gordon MacCairain = Richard Madden

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Sherrinda permalink
    Tuesday, February 19, 2019 8:14 pm

    Mmmmmm, Richard Madden! Very nice! I think you should totally write these. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wednesday, February 20, 2019 2:05 am

      Let’s just say that it took me several hours to get this post done, because I got caught up in the idea/research/characters as soon as I opened that OneNote file. This one is going onto my list of definite possibilities of something to work on soon!


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