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Wednesday, 19 February 2014

THE DEEPENING NIGHT - Goodreads giveaway!

I have two paperback copies of THE DEEPENING NIGHT to give away on Goodreads!

To rule a kingdom requires sacrifice...

THE DEEPENING NIGHT is a gritty, historical romance adventure set in 7th Century Anglo-Saxon Britannia - a time when only the strong survived. 

Competition ends on 3 March 2014 - so be quick!

Click on the link below to enter.  GOOD LUCK!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Deepening Night by Jayne Castel

The Deepening Night

by Jayne Castel

Giveaway ends March 03, 2014.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter to win

THE DEEPENING NIGHT - available now on Amazon

After months of hard work, THE DEEPENING NIGHT is now available for purchase - both in Kindle and paperback format! 

THE DEEPENING NIGHT is a gritty, historical romance adventure set in 7th Century Anglo-Saxon Britannia - a time when only the strong survived. 

It was an era made for romance!

Read on to find out more

Spring, 630 A.D...

Annan of the Wuffingas is now King of the East Angles; following the kingdom's humiliating defeat to Mercia six months earlier.

He is attempting to make a new start for himself, and his people, when he receives an order from Penda of Mercia - the king he has sworn to 'bend the knee' to.

He must marry Penda's sister - the recently widowed, Saewara of Tamworth.
Saewara, free of one bullying husband, only to be promised to another, is filled with despair at the news.

Both Annan and Saewara are embittered by the sacrifice they must make for their kingdoms: Annan had been planning to wed another, a maid now promised to his brother; while Saewara, numbed by life, had planned to become a nun.

Wyrd, fate, has other plans for Annan and Saewara.

What begins as a forced marriage, develops into a slow-burning passion between Annan and Saewara; two proud individuals, who must come to terms with more than an unwanted marriage. THE DEEPENING NIGHT is a tale of adventure, love and courage that will change, not just their lives, but the course of history.

Read an excerpt from THE DEEPENING NIGHT:

Saewara blinked back tears and forced herself to raise her chin and walk with what little dignity she still possessed onto the dance floor. Fortunately, Annan did not look her way. His hand was warm and strong in hers. She did not want to admit it, but his warmth suffused her hand and forearm, and gave her strength. Her fingers tingled from contact with him; a sensation she had never felt when taking her late husband's hand. 

He had spoken to her harshly but there had been no roughness in the way he had pulled her to her feet. Despite all that had happened, Saewara felt a strange kinship with her betrothed. They were both humiliated by her brother's continuing delight in making sport of them in front of his ealdormen and thegns. 

There would be no respite until they left the Great Tower of Tamworth.

Saewara took her place, opposite Annan at the end of the row of dancers and fixed her gaze upon the center of his chest - easier than raising her chin to look him in the eye as he towered above her. 

The bone whistle and lyre, which had halted while Penda pressured them to dance, resumed their tune with renewed vigor. The watching feasters cheered and whistled. Ribald comments rose above the cheering and Saewara's cheeks burned even hotter at some of the filth her brother's men shouted out at them.

How I loathe this place, she thought, grinding her teeth in fury. She might have been going to a new home, one where she would be reviled, but the knowledge that she would only have to spend one more night under her brother's roof gave her a grim satisfaction.

The dancers exploded into movement, and Saewara had no more time to think on her humiliation, for suddenly, Annan had taken both her hands and was pulling her toward him.

Saewara's stomach dipped; an odd, dizzying sensation. 

I should not have drunk so much mead.

It had been years since she had danced. Egfrid had hated dancing, and once the obligatory courtship rituals had been taken care of, he had never taken part in dancing on feast days, or even at Beltaine or Yule. It had been just as well, since he had been a poor dancer, and his brutality that started soon after they were wed, made her loath to touch him.

A strange thrill went through Saewara when Annan's hand rested on her waist for an instant. Then, he twirled her away from him. Saewara's heart pounded against her ribs. The heat of his hand had reached her skin, even through the thick fabric of her tunic. 

Remembering the steps she had been taught as a girl, she dipped and curtsied before her partner, before circling coquettishly around him. 

The hall roared around her, but Saewara ignored them all, concentrating on the dance. She stepped back toward Annan, and he took hold of both her hands. Together, they ran down the archway of raised arms to the end, before raising their own arms together, while the next couple began their dance. 

Breathing heavily, Saewara finally raised her gaze to her betrothed's face. His gaze snared hers and for a few moments, under the privacy of their raised arms, they stared at each other.

Saewara stood, transfixed. A wave of need consumed her; a hunger that took her breath away. She had never experienced a sensation like it before in her twenty-five winters - the intensity of it frightened her. 

Intrigued and want to read more?

Saturday, 15 February 2014

Can you really set a romance in Anglo-Saxon England?

There aren't a lot of historical romances set in Anglo-Saxon England available. Viking and Medieval, yes - but not Anglo-Saxon. 

The Anglo-Saxon period covers from approximately 400 A.D. (with the departure of the Romans), until 1066 (with the arrival of the Normans). 1066 marks the beginning of the what we now call the 'Middle Ages'.

However, the Anglo-Saxon era can be divided between the post and pre-Viking periods. The 'North Men' began attacking the east coast of Britannia, on 793 A.D - when they destroyed the abbey of Lindisfarne on the North-east coast. This marked the beginning of the 'Viking Age' - that led up to the Norman conquest.

Now, there are plenty of Viking romances available. A quick search on Amazon will bring up a wealth of titles for anyone who loves reading historical romance set in this period. There are lots of steamy tales about blond Viking warriors abducting maidens, taking them home as slaves and then falling in love with them. Many romance readers can't get enough of these stories.

So why aren't there plenty of Anglo-Saxon romances available as well? 

Does this period not lend itself to love-stories as well as the Viking era?

I believe it does.

Anglo-Saxon Britannia is a period shrouded in a lot of mystery. It is not very well documented historically, as much of records of this period were destroyed during the Viking raids. Much of what we have learned about this era has come from epic poems, such as Beowulf. Writing in this period requires a touch of fantasy, a love for writing about raw emotions and big themes - with a touch of violence and bloodshed. These were gritty times, after all!

I write my historical romances exclusively in this era - 7th century Anglo-Saxon Britannia - and I love setting my romance adventures in this period. In fact, I'm always looking for books to read, set in this era!

My current series is set during the 7th century - during the last years of the dominance of the Kingdom of the East Angles before the rise of Mercia as a dominant power. My first book in the series, Dark Under the Cover of Night, was inspired by, and based around, the last year in the life of King Raedwald - the king thought to be buried in the famous Sutton Hoo longship in Suffolk. This novel's love story centers around Raedwald's daughter and her forbidden love for the son of her father's arch-enemy.

Dark Under the Cover of Night, in turn, inspired the following two books in the Kingdom of the East Angles series (which can all be read as stand-alone novels). The second novel, Nightfall till Daybreak, is centered around the reign of King Sigeberht (Raedwald's stepson), who comes back to Britannia to claim the throne from a usurper, after many years exile in Gaul. Here, the love story is between Sigeberht's most trusted retainer, and one of the king's slaves.

The third book (due to be released on Amazon in the next couple of days!) is The Deepening Night. This novel's love story is centered around King Annan of the East Angles (who takes the throne after Sigeberht is killed). Annan has been forced to 'bend the knee' to Mercia - and must marry the sister of a man he loathes in order to ensure peace for his people.

There are an endless supply of ideas for stories in the Anglo-Saxon period. 

It was a brutal time, in many ways; a time when men were warriors and women had to be very strong to survive. It was a time when Christianity was beginning to make in-roads into the local culture, conflicting with pagan beliefs, and bringing with it new ideas and influences. It was a time of powerful emotions: love, honor and vengeance.

If you love this period as much as I do - and enjoy reading character-driven, adventure romance set in a time when only the strong survived - why not give my novels a try? I love to hear from my readers, so please let me know what you think!



Out on Amazon in the next two days!

Monday, 10 February 2014

Historical accuracy in novels - rabbits and getting your facts right

I'm in the final edits of my latest historical romance, set in Anglo-Saxon England (The Deepening Night) - and part of that process is doubling checking my historical facts.

I write historical romance that's set in a sketchy period of British history: 7th century Anglo-Saxon Britain. Many of the details we have about this period were actually recorded a few centuries (mostly by monks) after the events actually took place. The Viking raids on the eastern coast of England destroyed what few written records there were, and so historians have had a tricky job of pasting it all together.

This misty historical period can be both a blessing and a curse! It's a blessing in that, since I write historical romance, I can 'play' a little with history - shift one or two dates, and adapt historical figures and events to suit the purposes of my story. However, it can be a curse because checking details such as weaponry, food, habits, clothing and building materials can send an author round in circles. Everything is open to interpretation.

Take, for example, the issue of rabbits.

Now, I took it for granted that there were ALWAYS rabbits in the British isles. Rabbits play a huge role in my books set in the 7th century. Chicken wasn't part of the Anglo-Saxon diet, and foods such as potatoes, tomatoes, wheat and sugar would not enter Britain until much later. I mention rabbits as a major meat source, especially for the poor. Yet I also write about clothing and wall hangings made from rabbit skin. It was a fact I felt pretty sure on - but then I read something that made me break out into a cold sweat...

Some historians believe that the rabbit was not introduced to England until the Norman conquest.

Arggh! This meant that my references to bunnies - in all three of my books - was wrong!

Panicking, I dug a little deeper, before realizing - with enormous relief - that not all historians believe rabbits arrived after 1066. Instead, many insist that rabbits came with the Romans, who kept them fenced off in warrens and harvested them for meat and fur.

Here's an interesting article from the Telegraph, explaining the archaeological evidence that proves that rabbits - or 'conies' as they once known, arrived with the Romans.

Massive sigh of relief - I had not been putting my readers after all!

This might not seem a big deal but getting historical details right is important, both for authors and readers. Don't be fooled into thinking readers of historical romance don't know their history - they do! However, for writers of historical fiction, it can be easy to get your facts wrong - especially when dealing with everyday details, facts that we take for granted.

Hence, I will never look at the humble bunny in the same way again!