Do you remember your first highlander? How old were you when you succumbed to the lure of the kilt, and were sucked into the world of the irresistible Scot? I was 23 (late bloomer here), and my first highlander was Alec Kincaid from author Julie Garwood’s The Bride. By the time author Jennifer Ashley let the riveting Lord Ian Mackenzie loose on the romance world, it was too late to save me. I was hooked on highlanders.
It’s not just about the kilts, though. That’s a Scottish romance myth. If it were just about the kilts, my husband would be wearing one right now.
Now, I’m not saying kilts aren’t a good look for bare-chested, brawny heroes, but there’s more to the Scottish ethos than taut abs wrapped in tartan. Remote castles on wildly romantic Scottish moors? Fierce, rugged warriors risking everything for land, clan and their lady? Loyalty, lawlessness, and proud Scottish lairds? Kilt-clad men rolling around in the heather?
They do that, y’all. I saw it on Outlander.
Romance readers have a special place in our hearts for all of our captivating clansmen, but there are a few Gaelic heroes who really put the ‘hot’ in ‘Scot.’
I know what you’re thinking. Jamie Fraser, right?
Full Disclosure: I won’t be waxing poetic about Jamie Fraser today.
You might be wondering why I’d dare to leave out the kilted king. Do I question the hotness of the quintessential Scot? Do I have something against ginger heroes? Am I angry because I can’t pronounce Lallybroch?
None of the above.
Jamie’s out because discussions about his place on the Scottish hero hotness scale are like discussions about water being wet, or the sun being hot, or whether or not haggis is best avoided. It’s a done thing. An immutable fact. Asked, and answered. Jamie’s is the kilt most of us want to crawl under. Once that’s out there, there’s nothing more to say.
Now we’ve settled the Jamie question, it’s time to move onto Anna’s Scottish Superlatives. That’s right, superlatives. You know, like in high school, but sexier. There won’t be any “Cutest Smile,” or “Most Likely to Succeed” categories here, but if you want to know which Scottish hero is “Most Likely to Ravish You,” then read on, because this is the list you’ve been waiting for.
Most Beloved Scottish Hero:
Winner: Lord Ian Mackenzie, from author Jennifer Ashley’s The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie.
I have yet to meet a Scottish romance lover who doesn’t fall into raptures over Lord Ian Mackenzie. He’s beloved among readers for challenging our preconceived notions of sexiness and changing the landscape of historical romance. He’s unusual, raw, intense, and eccentric. He turns us on with his blunt sexuality, then breaks our hearts with his endearing flaws. Lord Ian Mackenzie is a true original, a hero rendered perfect by his imperfections.
Honorable Mention: Gabriel Hume, hero of The Duke, by author Katherine Ashe.
Best Remote Scottish Castle:
Winner: Dougan Mackenzie (aka Dorian Blackwell), hero of author Kerrigan Byrne’s The Highwayman.
Ben More isn’t just any old castle. It’s an isolated fortress buried deep in the wilds of the Scottish Highlands. It’s the kind of castle where a hot, angsty Scottish villain/hero takes his kidnapped heroine so he can do naughty things to her in private. And if those naughty things happen to include slippery frolics in one of Ben More’s oversized bathtub, well, we should all be so lucky.
Honorable Mention: McHugh Keep, from author Maya Bank’s Highlander Most Wanted.
Winner: Alec Kinkaid, from author Julie Garwood’s The Bride.
Between the bloodthirsty warrior thing, the mysteriously murdered wife thing and the threats on the life of his new wife thing, Alec is pretty much in a “be barbaric or else” situation. To be fair, under his ferocious exterior lies a much softer, gooier Scot than one would imagine, but when the situation calls for it, Alec knows how to get his savage on.
Honorable Mention: Dageus MacKeltar, from author Karen Marie Moning’s The Dark Highlander.
Most Likely to Save Your Virtue:
Winner: Laird Duncan MacRae, from author Amy Jarecki’s The Highland Chieftain. He’s big, he’s broad, he’s brawny. He’s a Highland Games Champion and a bad-ass on the battlefield, and he single-handedly saves his heroine from a passel of nasty redcoats. Yes, a passel.
Honorable Mention: Aulay Buchanan, hero of author Lynsay Sands’s The Highlander’s Promise.
Most Likely to Ravish You:
Winner: Bowen MacRieve, hero of author Kresley Cole’s Wicked Deeds on a Winter’s Night.
Bowen isn’t just Scottish — he’s a Scottish werewolf, and everyone knows how horny they are. Bowen’s a lusty one because he’s a Scottish stud who hasn’t had any action since his fated mated died about two centuries ago. The full moon gets him all hot and bothered, and all that pent-up passion has to go somewhere, right?
Honorable Mention: Lachlan MacRieve, hero of author Kresley Cole’s A Hunger Like No Other.
Most likely to Turn Dark and Broody:
Winner: Hamish MacRae, hero of author Karen Ranney’s To Love a Scottish Lord. He’s been tortured, he’s gravely injured, and he’s alone in a ruined castle on a remote island off the Scottish coast. The man has reasons to mope. Now, it’s not unusual for Scottish heroes to brood darkly, but Hamish elevates everyday Gaelic angst to sexy Byronic heights.
Honorable Mention: Hamlin Graham, Duke of Montrose, hero of author Julia London’s Tempting the Laird.
Most Likely to Stab A Villain with a Claymore, Most Unruly Clan, Most Seductive Scar — I could go on, but I think we’ve seen enough to agree that our love for our highlander heroes is about more than just the kilt, no matter how much we may want to sneak a peek beneath the tartan. Especially Jamie Fraser’s.