Spotlight, Excerpt, Author Interview & Giveaway : The Outcast Highlander (Highland Renegades, #1) by R.L. Syme (HR)

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Book Blurb & Info

The Outcast Highlander

(The Highland Renegades)
by R.L. Syme

Scottish Historical Medieval
Sweet Romance
254 pages, self-published

He's lost his family, his title, and his honor, but he can't lose her...

Kensey MacLeod returns home after a failed marriage alliance in France to find her world in turmoil: her best friend married to an English sympathizer, her mother at death's door, and her father imprisoned and thought dead. As an English lord descends to claim her father's lands, Kensey escapes north with her mother and brother, and runs straight into the arms of the outcast Highlander.

Driven from home and family by a crazed father, Broccin Sinclair refuses to stand aside while the English invade his beloved Scotland. But who should he champion? The freedom fighter who saved his life, the family who has forgotten him, or the woman who captured his childhood heart?

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Book Excerpt

“If it wouldn’t be too much trouble, may I ask why your horse grazes yonder when there are men who chase you?”

“Oh, stop, you impertinent fool.” Kensey shook his hand away and searched the area around her for something. “I was knocked off my horse.”

“What are you looking for?”

She sighed. “I would like to get up and resume my travels.”

So she looked for something to pull herself up with, yet ignored his help. How like her. He must be beneath her notice. Or her care.

“Let me help you.” He stood and offered both hands. She considered him for a moment and finally touched him again. He couldn’t deny a tiny thrill at having won the fight, or at having her hands in his. But her frustration continued.

She furrowed her brow and released his hands. First one step, then another. But on the third step, she began to sway and Broc had to follow quickly to catch her.

“You’re in no state to be walking.” He swept her into his arms, despite her protest, and stilled her grasping hands by hooking both of her wrists together in one grip. “Nor riding.”

He deposited her atop his horse and jumped up before she could make any more fuss. The Ross men obviously hadn’t followed them, but they would have to proceed carefully from here, knowing they may come back upon them at any time.

Broc urged his horse forward into a slow cantor, searching for the least dense path forward. In his lap, Kensey pulled on the dirty folds of her dress, dislodging bits of the forest floor that still clung to the delicate fabric.

“What are you doing here?” she demanded.

“Let’s get you out of here first, lass.” He glanced back into the thick canopy of stillness for a moment. “Ross’s men may be quick on our heels.”

Sitting against him as she was now, she felt tiny and vulnerable. His cloak had opened as he’d climbed onto Gaidel’s back and she was now sitting in the midst of it, against his nearly bare chest. She seemed to suck up all the warmth in his body as she curled against him. Her eyelashes blinked furiously, as though she tried to keep herself awake when sleep called. He reached down and wrapped the warmth of the cloak around her.

“You can sleep. It appears we’ve lost our pursuers and it will be slow progress back to the trail, if we even dare to follow it.”

“I’m not tired.” She yawned and her weight pressed even more against him. She would no doubt be asleep soon. His body tensed against the desire that tried to consume him. This was his brother’s intended.

He was merely delivering her back to him.

Not enjoying having her in his arms. Not at all.


Hi R.L.,

Thank you so much for sitting down with Toot's for an interview. If you don't mind, I have some questions for you about your series Highland Renegades, your new book, The Outcast Highlander, and your process for our budding authors as well as fans.

So first off, Your newest book is part of your series, Highland Renegades. Let's talk about the series as a whole....

In your own words, what is the Highland Renegades series about?

In the years of the first Scottish War of Independence (1296-1328), there were groups of Scottish fighters who chose, instead of battlefield tactics, to wage the war of the small, surprise attack. One of the most memorable leaders of this kind of warfare against the English was Andrew de Moray—he’s one of my favorite historical characters. This series grew out of my imagining what kind of men might have been with him in his band of renegade warriors.

How did you come up with the idea, title of the series and of the current book, The Outcast Highlander?

In thinking about Andrew’s best friend (whom I fictionalized to be Broccin Sinclair), I imagined a man who met Andrew at a very young age and needed him. He found purpose in the Scottish War of Independence, and he found purpose in helping Andrew. That’s how the story of Broc and Kensey came about. I was imagining what kind of woman could have captured Broc’s heart. He’s a deep, loyal, long-suffering type. It takes a special, lifetime kind of love to capture his heart.

Can you tell us a bit about the newest book in the series, The Outcast Highlander?

Broc has been exiled from his family by his insane father. As a result, he loses touch with Kensey, the girl he’s always wanted to marry. When his father dies (which is sort of the catalyst for many things that happen around here), Broc returns, hoping to feel out his family’s adherence to his late father’s edicts when he finds himself smack dab back where he once was, and in the middle of Kensey’s conflicts, as well. Oddly, he finds it’s right where he wants to be.

How does the new book, The Outcast Highlander, fit into the series?

It’s the first book in the series, although there will be a prequel novella of sorts. But Broccin and Kensey are where the whole thing starts.

How many books are planned for the series?

Right now, I’m planning on seven full-length novels. I would like for the series to last all the way from the very first skirmishes and invasion in 1296 to the treaty that ended the first war in 1328. That’s a lot of love stories. 

What was your favorite scene to write for your hero or heroine in The Outcast Highlander?

Oddly, my favorite scene to write was quite late in the book. There’s a point where the hero follows someone to Berwick to search out someone who is being held there and he can’t stop thinking about how much he wants to be back with Kensey. It was a very poignant scene.

What was the hardest scene to write for The Outcast Highlander?

Probably the love scene. I didn’t want it to be overly flowery, or graphic, but I really wanted to convey the depth of their connection. It’s really hard to do that without sounding strange or flowery or use euphemic language. It was definitely the hardest.

What is your favorite line or quote from The Outcast Highlander?

That’s a hard one… I think probably the last line of the love scene, where Kensey realizes just how far she’s fallen.


Do you recall how your interest in writing originated and what made you decide to pursue it as a career?

I started off as a voracious reader. I think my first desires to write novels came about because of a particularly amazing story that I’d read. The first books I tried to write were thriller/mystery or fantasy kinds of books. Eventually, I decided I’d like to write romance because I love the happy endings. And that’s where I ended.

What inspires you to put the pen to paper or fingers to the keyboard?

Characters. It’s definitely these people that make me want to write about them. Almost all of my stories begin and end with the characters.

What are some of the elements in/of your writing process?

I do a fast draft, usually, and then edit, edit, edit. Now that I’ve done Margie Lawson, my editing process is deeper than it used to be, but I still like to fast draft.

Are you a Plotter or a Panster?

Pantser, for sure. But I’m starting to do some plotting. I suppose that makes me a Plotser.

Have you released anything under a different pen name, and if so, is there any difference between them?

I have. The other books I’ve written are extremely different. Either science fiction or Westerns. Very different from what I’m writing right now.

What's next for you?

I’m working on the other books in this series. Book Two is currently under construction. I’m also working on a YA Historical that has been the bane of my existence lately. Rewriting and rewriting and rewriting. One of these days, it will be good enough. 

Personal questions......

Now I know this is like asking you to choose between your own children, but out of all your amazing characters, who is your favorite and why?

Broccin, for sure. He’s such a complex guy, and he’s just so deep. He loves so deeply and he feels and commits so completely. He’s just fantastic.

Are there any of your stories or characters that hold a special place in your heart?

I think this series is the closest I could come to a “book of my heart” kind of experience. I’ve spent so much time with these characters, with these scenes and stories, I just love them. They are like my family.

If the book or series had to have a theme song, what would it be?

That’s a good question. There’s a fair amount of loss, but there’s also a lot of hope. I would say something strange and ethereal, like E.S. Posthumous, because there’s a complexity of emotion, but also a lot of depth of passion.

Is there anything from your own life or experiences that has been worked into the book?

Not really. Not in this one, anyway. The experiences that Broc and Kensey have are quite far from my own, but there are elements of my life in some of the subsequent books, for sure.

Lastly, let's steal an idea from the magazines.....What 5 things do fans not know about you and 5 they don't know about the book?

Hmmmm. Five things you may not know about me.

1. I am addicted to watching fashion shows. I watch all of Fashion Week on YouTube now.

2. I have never flown across an ocean.

3. I once drove behind the President of the United States.

4. I lied about having a dog when I was a kid.

5. I know how to knit and crochet, and I do both voraciously.

And five things about the book.

1. Originally, it was full of dinna ken, but I changed it after doing some research about languages spoken in Scotland at this time.

2. Broccin’s name used to be Ian, until I read another medieval romance about an Ian Sinclair.

3. The original version had an epilogue where I explained what happened to both Duncan and Malcolm. Now, there are a series of books instead.

4. The original title was “Whispers in the Night”, but I changed it when I judged an entry in a contest with the same title.

5. Initially, there were five or six other scenes in the book. One at Andrew’s castle, another chapter at Assynt House with Kensey’s mom, one in the carriage with just Kensey and her father, and two more scenes on the Highlands with Broc and Kensey.

6. Kensey is the only main character I’ve never renamed.

THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU for taking time to answer some questions. Congratulations on the new book and I can't wait for everyone to read it!

Thanks so much for having me. What a blast!

Author Info

R.L. Syme works at a youth theatre, teaching kids performing arts and musical performance classes/camps when she's not writing. Otherwise, she's putting her Seminary degree to good use writing romance novels. Let not all those systematic theology classes go to waste...



2 great prizes !!
  • Grand Prize: R.L. is giving away a Kindle Paperwhite. 
  • As a secondary prize, she would like to give away a set of Scottish Historical romances from some of her favorite authors.
~To Enter~
Please fill out the rafflecopter below

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