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Friday, 18 December 2015

THE DEEPENING NIGHT: free for two days only!

Every author has their favorite novel. Mine (so far...) is THE DEEPENING NIGHT. 

Each novel develops its own personality, its own uniqueness - and I love all the books I've published. However, THE DEEPENING NIGHT is the one with a special place in my heart. The novel has an emotional power that made it a joy to write.

It's the story of an arranged marriage between two strong-willed individuals. The tale of incredible love. Annan and Saewara captivated me from the beginning of their story. They are from warring kingdoms, and have every reason to hate each other - but, they are both more alike then either realize.

As a Christmas present to all my readers, who have not yet read this novel, I am offering THE DEEPENING NIGHT on Amazon Kindle for free, for two days only: 18-19 December 2016.

Here's what readers have said about THE DEEPENING NIGHT so far:

"I enjoyed this book way too much. So much that I was lost to my family until I was finished. It was an emotional roller coaster. The action was intense and the love is unforgettable. A heroine that proves herself in a man's world and a hero that can handle a strong woman. A battle for freedom and a battle to understand that love comes when we least expect it. This story has everything and the only disappointing thing about it was that it ended."

"Such an amazing book. Surely the best book I read this year and one of the best I've ever read. Beautiful story and I could sense the sadness and the happiness of the characters. I cried while reading, which always makes a book better for me! Loved it!"


Here's a bit more about the novel:

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 battle of wills, and 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.

Want to know more?

Here's a sneak preview of one of my favorite scenes from the book:

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.


Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Book review: The Hall of Tyr Book #4 of The Circle of Ceridwen Saga by Octavia Randolph

A fantastic conclusion to the best series I've read in years. The Circle of Ceridwen Saga had it all - coming of age, adventure, romance, intrigue and survival. 

The Hall of Tyr takes place on the Island of Gotland, where Ceridwen and Sidroc have made their home together. We follow their new life, and their deepening love in a richly drawn setting. However, their happiness is overshadowed by the past, and the people they left behind in Angle-land. 

This novel adopts a slightly different narration style to the rest of the series. Ceridwen is our narrator throughout the books, except for some chapters in this one, where we return to Four Stones, and to the people Sidroc and Ceridwen have left behind. These chapters are told by Aelfwyn, who must deal with the grief of losing her husband and best friend. She must also face Godric - Ceridwen's jealous and controlling brother-in-law - who will see Ceridwen returned to Kilton at any cost. 

I really enjoyed reading from Aelfwyn's point of view - and can envisage another series with her as the main character (hint, hint!).

A great series, and well worth getting lost in.

Five stars! *****

Buy a  copy of this book on Amazon.

Book Review: The Claiming (The Circle of Ceridwen Trilogy, #3) by Octavia Randolph

An exciting book, as Ceridwen's life takes an unexpected turn. This is by far the most gripping book of the series so far (and all of them have been riveting), with abduction, sea adventure, survival and romance all thrown together. 

I won't go into the details of the story, as anything I mention will spoil the book for those who haven't read it, but... I will say that this novel focuses on the relationship between Ceridwen and Sidroc (finally!)

A must read for anyone who loves richly drawn, character-driven, historical adventure novels!

Five stars *****

Buy a copy of this book on Amazon.

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Book Review: Ceridwen of Kilton (Circle of Ceridwen Trilogy #2) by Octavia Randolph

A great sequel to the first book in this series. 

Ceridwen of Kilton has a very different feel to the first book - due largely to the fact that Ceridwen is now a wife and a mother. She does not move from Kilton during the duration of the story. However this does not slow the plot down at all - plenty happens at Kilton to keep the reader engrossed! During the first novel, she is very young, optimistic and naive about herself and others. During this novel, she starts to mature.

Warning: a few potential spoilers ahead!

Ceridwen's new life is overshadowed by the threat of Viking attacks on Kilton, and she cannot forget the Dane, Sidroc, who she left behind in the north. Gyric, Ceridwen's husband, is a changed man when he returns to Kilton. The loss of his sight has stripped him of any sense of self-worth, and although Ceridwen initially ignores this, hoping that their love will conquer his maiming, it eventually starts to affect their relationship. To complicate matters, his brother reveals his obsession for her, which results in an odd - and slightly uncomfortable - episode between the three of them (I won't elaborate here, or I will spoil the story for those who have not yet read it!).

Once again, Octavia Randolph brings Anglo-Saxon England to life in this richly detailed tale of one woman's survival in a brutal time. The character development is excellent and, once again, I can't wait to read the next installment!

Buy a copy of this book on Amazon.

Friday, 13 November 2015

Book Review: The Circle of Ceridwen (Circle of Ceridwen Trilogy #1) by Octavia Randolph

I loved this book! It's set in a period close to my heart - Anglo-Saxon England - and evokes this era beautifully. 

The story is told in the first person, from the point of view of Ceridwen, a young woman from Mercia. She is orphaned and brought up by her uncle. After his death, she is brought up by local monks. At the age of 15, she has two choices: marry locally or take the veil. She chooses neither and rides away in search of a new life.

What I truly enjoyed about this book was that the author immerses us completely in the world of Anglo-Saxon England, at the time when the Vikings had invaded and were settling the land. The atmosphere is completely different to that of the medieval period, and Octavia Randolph has clearly researched every aspect of her novel, from what people ate and wore, to customs and beliefs. Every page rings true.

Ceridwen is an interesting, complex character. She develops a bond with the Danes she initially lives with, forming a particularly strong bond with one of the warriors, Sidroc. However, she is conflicted by her loyalty to her own people. She does make one or two decisions I didn't understand, but then that's to be expected as the story is entirely from her perspective - and she's not always honest with herself, let alone the reader!

All the relationships in this novel are complex, and this was something else that made it hard to put down. Danes and Saxons alike have their strengths and flaws, which makes the story all the more gripping. Also, I'd like to mention how beautifully edited this book was - not a word out of place!

I have already bought the second book in this series, and can't wait to read it.

Highly recommend - Five stars!

Buy a copy of this book on Amazon.

Thursday, 12 November 2015

Bringing Sutton Hoo to life in fiction

Nearly 1,400 years ago, a king was buried in a treasure-filled longship on the banks of the River Deben in Suffolk, England. Welcome to Sutton Hoo - one of the most spectacular archaeological discoveries ever made.

Many historians believe it is the burial site of Raedwald, the charismatic king of the East Angles. But, the truth is, we will never know for sure who was buried among the treasures of Sutton Hoo. 

When I visited Sutton Hoo over ten years ago. As I wandered over the gently undulating land under the wide East Anglian sky, the seed for a story took root in my mind. I imagined the tale of a great Anglo-Saxon King, and a series of events that took place during the last year of his life. The premise for my first novel set in Anglo-Saxon England, Dark Under the Cover of Night was born.

Today, you can view the Sutton Hoo treasures in the British Museum.

Watch the story of the discovery and subsequent restoration of the Sutton Hoo treasure.

Live the history of Sutton Hoo

A king's daughter, the son of his sworn enemy - and a reckoning...

Discover the stories of the men and women who lived in 7th Century Britannia, through the eyes of Raedwyn - King Raedwald's headstrong daughter. 

Dark Under the Cover of Night (Quarter Finalist in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award, 2013 - Romance Category), will be available for free on Amazon, for 3 days only, from 12-14 November 2015.

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Heroine on the run: Deleted scene #2 DARKEST BEFORE DAWN

Nearly every one of my novels has a scene where I have the heroine running away.

It's a strong theme throughout my historical romances set in Anglo-Saxon England. My heroine is either escaping from danger, running in defiance, fleeing towards freedom, or running to someone's aid.

In a world where men ruled and woman had little say in their fate, often escape was the only way a woman could show her defiance.

In DARK UNDER THE COVER OF NIGHT, Raedwyn escapes an outlaw who is using her to blackmail her father. In NIGHTFALL TILL DAYBREAK, Freya tries to escape a life of slavery by running away from her new master, the King of the East Angles. In THE DEEPENING NIGHT, Saewara runs away from her domineering brother, Penda of Mercia, who is forcing her to marry the enemy. And in THE BREAKING DAWN, Merwenna runs away from her parents' home twice  first, in search of her betrothed, who went off to war and never returned, and then to warn the Prince of Powys about a plot to assassinate him.

In my current novel, DARKEST BEFORE DAWN, my heroine is possibly the most strong-willed and feisty of any woman I've written about so far. Alchflaed is actually based on a real historical figure  a 7th Century Northumbrian princess who was married to the King of Mercia in order to weave peace between the two warring kingdoms.

On the journey south from Northumbria to Mercia, I originally wrote a scene in which Alchflaed escapes her Mercian escorts, and the man she is helplessly attracted to  Maric  in an attempt to ride north and seek aid from her mother's kin in Rheged. However, after realizing that this wasn't going to sit well with her confrontational character, I have deleted it. Alchflaed will try to resolve her problems in other ways...

Here's the scene – enjoy!


Alchflaed peeked her head out of her tent and glanced up at the sky. A full moon rose above the tree tops to the east, casting a silvery veil over the world. She noted that the moon had a shimmering halo around it – a sign that bad weather was coming.
Hopefully, I will be on my way to Rheged before it arrives.
It had been an agonizing wait. Alchflaed was so tense that she could feel her pulse beating in her ears. Still, she had made herself be patient. She needed to make sure that the men slumbered deeply before making her move. There would be warriors taking their turn at the night’s watch, but the later she waited the better.
With the glowing moon cresting high into the night sky, Alchflaed stepped out of her tent and wrapped her woolen cloak about her shoulders. It was a chill night, so none would question her bringing it with her while she relieved herself. She had left all her other belongings behind, except for her seax at her waist, and her slingshot looped next to it on her belt.
Alchflaed forced herself to shuffle, as if half-asleep, towards the edge of the encampment. The fire pit had burned down to glowing embers, although a few pitch torches burned around the perimeter. A shadow in the darkness, Alchflaed moved towards where the horses had been tied up for the night.
The man’s voice close by nearly made Alchflaed cry out in fright; her nerves were stretched taut and it took all her will not to let fright show on her face. A warrior, a tall, bald man with a craggy face stepped forward, bearing a torch.
“Where are you off to?”
“I drank too much ale with supper,” she replied, feigning an embarrassed smile. “There are some trees behind the horses, I won’t be long.”
“Aye,” he grunted, appearing satisfied by her response. “Make sure you aren’t.”
Alchflaed continued on her way, her heart now skittering against her ribs. She had seen the warrior’s shrewd expression; he would be awaiting her return. She would have less time than she had hoped, for he would be the first to go looking for her when she did not re-emerge from the shadows.
Stepping out of the circle of torchlight, she headed to the line of horses. Her pony was the last in the line, she had deliberately tied it at the end so that it would be easy to find in the darkness. Ahead, she spotted the outline of a man’s form; another warrior who had been posted to watch over the horses. He would have to be dealt with, but Alchflaed had come prepared.
She could have used the seax her father had gifted her, but she had no wish to kill a man in order to escape. Instead, she withdrew a heavy stone from inside the lining of her cloak. She had dug it out of the ground inside her tent using her knife.
Holding her breath, Alchflaed crept forward. She moved swiftly towards the guard  the man never saw his assailant coming. Alchflaed clubbed him hard, on the back of his head and he fell like a sack of barley to the ground. She had judged the blow carefully – just hard enough to knock out, not hard enough to kill. Over the years, she had watched her father’s men spar enough times to know the difference.
Not wasting a moment, Alchflaed skirted around the fallen man and rushed to the end of the line of horses. The beasts sensed a disturbance and some of them shifted nervously, while others snorted, the whites of their eyes gleaming in the moonlight.
Fortunately, Alchflaed’s pony was not of nervy temperament. It nickered a soft welcome, recognizing her scent immediately. Moving as quickly as she could without making a noise, Alchflaed undid the rope that tied her pony and looped it over the beast’s neck, tying the other end to the rope halter the pony wore. There was no time to saddle her mount, she would have to ride north bareback.
Alchflaed sprang lightly up onto the pony’s back and reined it away towards the trees. She sucked in a deep breath upon reaching the deeper shadows under the towering ruins of the Roman fort. 
I did it.
Away from the torchlight, she had only the moon to guide her.
It would be enough.

A grin spread out over Alchflaed’s face then, and excitement ignited in the pit of her belly. This was who she was – brave and free. Beholden to no man. By morning she would be far from here.

Friday, 16 October 2015

Book review: ROGUE KNIGHT by Regan Walker

I enjoyed the historical background to this novel – historical romances that use actual historical events and characters to help drive the plot make for exciting reading.

Rogue Knight is set in the early medieval period, three years after the Norman invasion of England in 1066. It is the second installment in the Medieval Warriors series, in which Norman knights end up falling for the charms of fiery, independent English women.

Rogue Knight is set in York, and the author has gone to a lot of trouble to bring the Viking roots of this city to life. Our heroine, Emma, is of proud Danish stock, and her father was an actual historical figure – a rebel who helped marshal the Danish help in retrieving York from the Normans. Our hero, Sir Geoffroi, is a Norman Knight who is part of the occupying force in York. He meets Emma on the battlefield, after a bloody exchange between the locals and the Normans. She is initially hostile towards him, but after he shows considerable kindness towards her, and her family, she gradually grows to trust, and love, him.

This novel had a lot of promise but what it provided in rich historical detail, it lacked in romance. Emma and Geoffroi’s love story is a gentle one, but as the plot is driven almost entirely by events out of their control, they both appear a little passive at times.

Geoffroi is a kind, decent man – the epitome of a gallant knight – and Emma is strong and brave, but apart from the obvious ‘enemy’ divide, there was little else keeping them apart. I would have liked to have seen a little more conflict between them – especially since Geoffroi so readily forgives Emma after he discovers her real identity, as the daughter of a rebel leader. Still, that said, it was an enjoyable read and I liked being able to take a peek into the Norman conquest of England.


Book review: THE KING'S MAN by By Elizabeth Kingston

I loved the grittiness of this historical romance.

It can be difficult to portray a ‘warrior woman’ in romance, without resorting to cliché or creating a parody or watered down character who could never have, in reality, survived. However, our heroine is a tough young woman who has been groomed by her mother to one day lead the Welsh against the English king.

Gwenllian of Ruardean learns early on how difficult it is to be a female warrior in a man’s world; in order to maintain her position as a leader of men, she had to prove herself to be stronger, faster and cleverer than any man – a struggle that exhausts her.

Our hero is Sir Ranulf, an English knight with a dark past. Gwenllian had been promised to marry Ranulf’s step-father, but that never came to pass as Ranulf murdered him. Years later, she is still bitter about the future she believes he took from her. They meet after Ranulf is badly injured by Gwenllian's men. Once he has healed, Ranulf is rude and dismissive towards Gwenllian and when she bests him in a physical fight his resentment grows. However, as the story progresses a tense but all-consuming bond develops between the two of them.

The romance between Ranulf and Gwenllian is intense and sexy. Gwenllian is strong and determined but secretly vulnerable and lonely, whereas Ranulf only lives in self-imposed isolation, as he is plagued by the terrible events of his childhood and the murder he committed.

This historical romance was refreshingly free of stereotype, was beautifully written and had memorable, flawed characters who both undergo considerable change throughout the story. If I had one issue (albeit a small one), I would have like to see our hero truly lose his self-protective shell at the end; he never really lets his guard down which prevented the resolution from being as intense as it could have been.

I recommend this novel to anyone who likes their historical romance with a bit of realism and grit.


Friday, 4 September 2015

Book review: Shards of Ice by Catherine Mede


I enjoy reviewing books - but don't post reviews as often as I'd like to. This Sci-Fi Romance was a fun read, and despite some flaws, had a lot to like about it.

Catherine Mede


This novel certainly has promise.

Here's what I liked about it:

1. A big fan of space opera and love stories set in space, I really enjoyed the setting of Shards of Ice. In many ways, I would have enjoyed more insight into the ice planet where this story takes place.

2. The plot is fast-paced and action-packed, which is a plus for me as I tend to prefer romances which don't just have the developing romance as the primary focus of the story. A gripping story can really amplify the romance, if done right.

3. The cover is gorgeous - one of the best I've seen in a while.

However, there were a couple of things that prevented me from giving this novel a higher rating.

1. The characterisation. Vyvica is certainly a memorable character. She's one arse-kicking lady, and it's good to see a strong female lead. However, her tendency to solve all arguments with her fists - especially towards the hero, put me off her. I lost count of the number of times she punched him in the face! Her character is a little uneven, and her aggression and stubbornness jarred with her insecurity. These are all character traits that could work well together, but they need to be handled more subtly. Kelvaras was a difficult character to get a sense of. Initially, I pictured him as a bit of a Han Solo - a cocky 'gun for hire'. However, he appeared to drift for much of the story and came across as a bit weak next to Vyvica's hostility. Both characters had promise, they just needed to be rounded out more so that the reader has a clear sense of their personal journeys.

2. Lack of emotional connection between hero and heroine. The relationship between Vyvica and Kelvaras lacked depth. This comes from the characters themselves not gelling properly. There's a lot of attraction - although it's all external. When the couple finally get together there isn't any emotional punch.

3. There was a bit too much 'telling' rather than 'showing' throughout the novel. This tends to kill suspense and makes the story one-dimensional. It also stops the reader from drawing their own conclusions and fully engaging their imagination.

The good and the bad said, I read this book quickly over a couple of days, and was keen to know what happened next - a good sign! All the ingredients are there, and if the characters had been developed a bit better, and the developing romance between them made more real, this could have easily been a five-star read!

I look forward to reading more from this author and I get the feeling she's just get started!


Tuesday, 1 September 2015

New Goodreads giveaway for THE BREAKING DAWN!

Three paperback copies are up for grabs of THE BREAKING DAWN on Goodreads. Giveaway contest starts in 5 days time, so make sure you mark it in your diary!

This is an epic historical romance set in 7th Century Anglo-Saxon England and Wales. So if you love romance, adventure, and a bit of danger, don't miss out!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Breaking Dawn by Jayne Castel

The Breaking Dawn

by Jayne Castel

Giveaway ends September 15, 2015.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter Giveaway

Thursday, 27 August 2015

Epic historical romance BOOK TRAILER

Five books so far, spanning one century: 7th Century Anglo-Saxon England. Let's take a closer look...

Anglo-Saxon England isn't a common choice for historical romance. Some readers are put off by the idea that this was a brutal era.

I assure you it was no more violent than the Medieval period that came after. Perhaps the fact that it was a largely pagan period has earned it a dark reputation in the history books - but in reality it was a time of great growth, a culturally rich era that was made for epic romance!

Find out more about this fascinating period in my new book trailer below.


Wednesday, 12 August 2015

DARK UNDER THE COVER OF NIGHT - free on Amazon for 5 days only!

DARK UNDER THE COVER OF NIGHT is currently available free on Amazon (Kindle), for the next 5 days.

This novel is the first of my KINGDOM OF EAST ANGLES series. I wrote it after visiting the Sutton Hoo burial site in Suffolk. The idea of a king being buried in his long ship sparked my imagination. I've always loved the Anglo-Saxon period, and set out to write a story set in this era.

DARK UNDER THE COVER OF NIGHT was only meant to be a one off - but I had so much fun writing it that I found I couldn't stop! The novel was a quarter finalist in the 2013 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards (romance category).

Download your free copy of DARK UNDER THE COVER OF NIGHT.

Want to know more about the story?

A king's daughter, the son of his sworn enemy - and a reckoning... 

The year is 624 AD and Raedwyn, the fiery daughter of Raedwald King of the East Angles, has just been married to a man old enough to be her father. It is a political alliance and on her wedding night, Raedwyn realizes with disappointment that theirs will be a loveless marriage. 

However, fate has other plans for Raedwyn the Fair. 

Outlaws ambush her new husband's party on their journey back to his long ship and Raedwyn finds herself captive of a bitter, vengeful warrior - Ceolwulf the Exiled. Ceolwulf has a score to settle with King Raedwald and Raedwyn is his bargaining tool. 

Caelin, Ceolwulf’s enigmatic son, follows his father on his quest for revenge. Fiercely loyal to her own father, Raedwyn isn't prepared for her wild attraction to Caelin - or for its consequences. 

Theirs is a passion that could tear a kingdom apart...

Download your free copy of DARK UNDER THE COVER OF NIGHT.

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Author's cut #1 - Maric's scene

For DARKEST BEFORE DAWN, I'm keeping a record of the scenes I 'cut' - not just from the final draft, but from earlier ones as well. To give you a 'taster' of what's to come, I'll be sharing some of the most interesting bits and pieces from work in progress. 

The following scene, which I've cut from the first draft, gives a bit of background to the hero of the story, Maric. 



Maric rode up the incline towards the gates of Bebbanburg. His gaze shifted east, where he could make out the low, rocky outline of Farne Island, out to sea – and immediately regretted doing so. The wide seascape, wide swathe of pale sand and dunes brought him swiftly back to that day, two years earlier, when he had arrived here with Penda.
That day, he had ridden up to Bebbanburg with joy in his heart and hope for the future. Osulf and Elfhere had ribbed him mercilessly about his buoyant mood; the rest of them had complained about sore arses and empty bellies, but he had only noticed the fantastic scenery.
He had been a different man then. Now, he was aware of his tired limbs, chilled feet and hands, and hunger. Today, the view merely appeared cold, bleak and lonely. There was no joy in his heart; no hope for the future.
Maric rode towards the end of the Northumbrian fyrd, well behind the king and his ealdormen and thegns. He rode with a small group of Mercian warriors, all of whom were still recovering from their battle wounds. After a splitting headache for two full days, Maric’s only injury was the laceration to his upper arm, which had been tended and bound. Now, seven days later, the scab itched mercilessly as it healed.
Osulf and Elfhere had not travelled north with him, as Maric would have liked, for they were both too badly injured. Elfhere had been fighting a raging fever when Maric rode away from the River Winwaed, and Osulf had lost his injured eye. If they survived their injuries, Maric would be reunited with them both at Tamworth.
Maric rode into the fort, one of the last to do so, and followed the tide of men and horses up towards the inner perimeter. Already, he could hear the shouts of victory, the blasting of horns welcoming Oswiu and his men home. Folk had gathered on the side of the wide dirt road leading up to the Great Tower, their cheers deafening. Maric saw the happiness and pride on their faces and wondered at the scene in Tamworth, when Paeda arrived home, puppet to a new lord. It would be a much more somber welcome, if any at all.
Inside the wide stable yard, Maric dismounted, stretching his legs and back, stiff from a long day in the saddle. Then, he led his horse – a stocky bay mare who had once belonged to a Mercian ealdorman – into the large byre that flanked one side of the yard.
Inside, chaos reigned as men and horses jostled for space. Maric joined the other Mercians at the far end. They were a sober lot, the look on their faces – a blend of misery and humiliation – reflecting what he too felt. He unsaddled his horse and rubbed it down, tuning out to the raucous voices around him. The Northumbrians deserved their victory but he was in no mood to join them.
The mare began helping herself to mouthfuls of hay, while Maric took an armful of stale hay from the bottom of the manger and made a bed for himself at the far end of the stall.
He settled down on to it, sighing in relief, and trying to ignore his protesting belly. He had not eaten since dawn, and the smell of roasting mutton that wafted into the byre from the spits opposite, caused his mouth to fill with saliva.
I will eat later, he promised himself, once the celebrating has died down and my gloom does not appear so out of place here.
With that, Maric lay down on his side, the sweet smell of hay and horses filling his nostrils. Then, he closed his eyes, blocking out the world, and welcomed the heavy curtain of sleep.


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Monday, 20 July 2015

How to create historical romance heroines that readers love

Readers tastes have changed. It used to be that a swooning, simpering heroine who lacks backbone, was not only commonplace in historical romance, but also acceptable to readers.

These days, that just won't fly.

Modern women are independent, self-directed and increasingly focused on interests beyond finding romantic fulfillment and Mr Right. Many just aren't interested in reading about women who lack spark - these days feisty is in, passive is out!

For historical romance, the challenge for authors is to create a female lead who is both true to the time, and someone modern readers can actually relate to. No easy task.

I write historical romance set in a brutal age - 7th Century Anglo-Saxon England. I don't shy away from the grittier details of the time, or the fact that women in that period were the property of men. My readers demand realism, they don't want stories tied up with a pretty bow. However, at the same time, they don't want to read about subjugated, abused women who have no rights, freedom or autonomy.

It's a challenge I enjoy...

I love creating believable female leads that my readers can relate to... and here are three guidelines that help me do just that.

  • USE ARCHETYPES NOT STEREOTYPES: women have been women throughout the ages. Just because our heroine lives in a time where women didn't have many rights doesn't mean she's a doormat. Feisty females have always existed - it's just that many didn't make it into the history books! Write about women you feel you could know. It doesn't matter what time she lives in, most women want friendships and a sense of fulfillment in life. Most of them want to love, and to be loved in return. Many have insecurities about their looks, weight or intellect. Stay away from cliche and make your women real.
  • FIGURE OUT WHAT SHE WANTS: whether she lives in a castle or a hovel, your heroine is not going to exist in a vacuum.What are her hobbies and her pet-hates? What are her goals, aspirations and dreams?  How do events, other characters, and the hero conflict with them?
  • DEVELOP RELATIONSHIPS: it's not just about the love story between the heroine and hero that matters. We learn a lot about someone by seeing how they relate to those around them. Siblings, friends, servants and pets - ensure your heroine has a network around her, so that the reader sees her as a 3D character.
I write about women who rarely get to choose their husband - yet none of my heroines are wimps. Even if it appears that our female lead has few choices at all in life. she still can retain her emotional and intellectual independence. Sometimes, she can also rebel.

Every time I pick up a historical or fantasy romance, I want to read about a heroine I can relate to on some level. Grace Draven, who writes fantasy romance, does a great job of this - I love her heroines. Sure, we live in completely different worlds to the heroines in these stories, but we're all women. Are we really that different?

And since, the majority of romance readers are also women, it makes sense to write for them!

Sign up to Jayne's monthly newsletter and receive a FREE copy of NIGHT SHADOWS (PDF format). Newsletter subscribers will also get sneak previews of upcoming novels, behind the scenes 'extras', snippets about Anglo-Saxon England, and podcasts from Jayne!

Saturday, 4 July 2015

The Battle of Winwaed - the defeat of Penda

On 15 November 655 A.D., Penda of Mercia met a grisly end. 

I'm a bit sad about that as Penda has been my favorite 'bad guy' over the past four books. He's cold and ruthless, and a warmonger, but I'd become fond of him. But, since my novels are following actual historical figures and events, I cannot avoid his death.

The Battle of Winwaed took place on the 15th day of blod monath, or Blood Month - the month we now recognize as November. It was the date that marked a shift in power between Mercia and Northumbria. After decades of tension and battles between the two kingdoms - Northumbria finally prevailed.

Penda had been attacking the northern borders that autumn, and had refused to accept treasure from the Northumbrian king, Oswiu, as a bribe in order to leave them in peace. After his campaign, Penda had headed for home. Unfortunately, he had left it too late, for winter was approaching and the weather had taken a turn for the worse. Instead of heading across the marshes, which had flooded due to heavy rains, Penda was forced to take his army east on higher ground - and that's where it all started to unravel...

Things went pear-shaped when he reached the River Winwaed.

Historians aren't really sure where this river actually was, although many think it was a tributary of the Humber, possibly somewhere near Leeds. Penda had been planning to cross the river, but found it a raging torrent, and impassable.

King Oswiu of Northumbria had been waiting for this moment.

Unbeknown to Penda, the Northumbrians had been tracking his army south, biding its time. With the river at their backs and the higher ground before them, the Mercians were in a terrible position, strategically.

They had a significantly bigger army. Penda had a fyrd (a king's army) of 30 warlords, but the Mercians had some significant desertions upon the eve of battle: Gwynedd, a welsh ruler who would be hence-forth known as the 'battle-shirker;, and King Oswiu's nephew, Aethelwald, who had sided with the Mercians but then pulled out of the battle at the last moment. It's thought that Penda's own son - Paeda - also sided with the Northumbrians - the ultimate betrayal.

On the morning of battle, it was pouring with rain, and the two armies would have fought in mud and soft clay. The Northumbrians pushed the Mercians back into the river, where many of them drowned.

Why is the Battle of Winwaed important in my novel?

This battle is vital to DARKEST BEFORE DAWN because it signifies the agreement that Oswiu of Northumbria makes with Paeda of Mercia. He agrees to allow Paeda rule over southern Mercia, and also agrees to led him wed his daughter Alchflaed - the heroine of our story.

The hero of this novel, Maric, is a Mercian warrior who survives the Battle of Winwaed but is forced to follow Penda's treacherous son. Paeda instructs him to travel north to collect Alchflaed from Bebbanburg (now Bamburgh Castle) and escort his bride-to-be home to Tamworth.

Hence, this battle sets in the entire plot of DARKEST BEFORE DAWN in motion!

Sign up to Jayne's monthly newsletter and receive a FREE copy of NIGHT SHADOWS (PDF format). Newsletter subscribers will also get sneak previews of upcoming novels, behind the scenes 'extras', snippets about Anglo-Saxon England, and podcasts from Jayne!

Saturday, 13 June 2015

Work on the next novel begins...

The Breaking Dawn has been available on Amazon for over a month now, so it's time for me to start on the next book in The Kingdom of Mercia series: Darkest before Dawn

I like to use a common word in the title of each series, which bring all the books together. My first series (The Kingdom of the East Angles), used the word 'night' in each of the four titles - and the first three books of the Mercian series will include the word 'dawn'.

Here's the quote, from Longfellow, which inspired the title of my next novel.

“The nearer the dawn, the darker the night.”

-Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

They say truth is stranger than fiction 

These novels are set in 7th Century Anglo-Saxon England - and it seems that with each book I write, I draw increasingly closer to real history and further from fantasy. Right from my first novel (Dark Under the Cover of Night), I centered by story around a famous historical figure: King Raedwald of the East Angles. After that, a number of historical events and figures have cropped up in my stories, including King Penda of Mercia - who has appeared in three of my books so far!

So, there have plenty of famous men featuring in my books, but I've not yet based a story around a famous woman.

That's all about to change!

My current novel (set in 655/6 A.D.) focuses on the life of Queen Alchflaed of Mercia.

Who was Alchflaed?

She was the daughter of Oswiu (King of Bernicia), and sister of Alchfrith (King of Deira). Her father and brother arranged for her to marry King Penda of Mercia's eldest son, Paeda, in order to settle peace between Northumbria and Mercia.

All of the above isn't that remarkable, or story-worthy, but wait. What makes Alchflaed's tale unique is that history blames her for the assassination of her husband, a few months after their marriage.

There is no historical record of what happened to her afterwards.

This blog post gives a detailed overview on Alchflaed's life and the historical records we have about her.

A historical romance is born...

Reading about Alchflaed, I was inspired to base Darkest before Dawn around her.

Alchflaed, a pawn in her father and brother's game, agrees to wed the young Mercian king: Paeda. Her father also instructs her to poison her new husband, as soon as the time is right.

Charged with this dangerous task, she travels south with a Mercian escort. However, along the way she develops a bond with one of her betrothed's most trusted retainers, Maric of Tamworth.

Tough, embittered, but fiercely loyal to his lord, Maric is a seasoned warrior who swore off love after his wife betrayed him years earlier. Initially, he resists the allure of the proud, willful Northumbrian princess - but events on the journey back Tamworth, the seat of the Mercian king, bring them closer than either expects... or wants.

Will the Northumbrians carry out their plot to kill the King of Mercia?

Will duty or love determine Alchflaed and Maric's futures?

Watch this space for more details on Darkest before Dawn!

Sign up to Jayne's monthly newsletter and receive a FREE copy of NIGHT SHADOWS (PDF format). Newsletter subscribers will also get sneak previews of upcoming novels, behind the scenes 'extras', snippets about Anglo-Saxon England, and podcasts from Jayne!

Thursday, 9 April 2015


THE BREAKING DAWN has been available for pre-order for the last week - but as of today (10 April), the Kindle edition is live for purchase!

Over the last few days I have had a few giveaways running on Amazon and Goodreads - four paperback copies up for grabs, to celebrate the launch.

If you'd like to know more about the historical romance, and what inspired it, read on below:

Interview with Jayne Castel about THE BREAKING DAWN

1. What inspired you to write the BREAKING DAWN?

Like all of my historical romance novels set in Anglo-Saxon England, THE BREAKING DAWN is based on real historical figures and events. As it's a romance, I keep the focus on the developing love story - however, it's fun to use real events to drive the plot forward.

THE BREAKING DAWN begins with the Battle of Maserfield (Maes Cogwy in Welsh), in the summer of 641 A.D., a famous battle in which the united strength of Mercia and Wales defeated the Kingdom of Northumbria.

The hero of my story, Prince Cynddylan of Powys (Wales), was a real historical figure. 'Dylan' was the catalyst for the entire plot. I really enjoyed bringing him to life, and developing his character. Read about 'Dylan' in another one of my blog posts.

The heroine, Merwenna, was a character I had wanted to write about for a while. I had already introduced her in a previous story; she is born at the end of NIGHT SHADOWS -  the novella that began my Kingdom of the East Angles series.

2. How is THE BREAKING DAWN different from your previous novels?

Each of my novels has a different feel - and I let the developing story dictate the novels unique atmosphere. It's what makes writing so much fun. What makes THE BREAKING DAWN quite different from the other books I've written so far is the 'epic' feel to this novel. The first half of the book is set in the Kingdom of Mercia, and the second half is set in Wales. The characters don't just undertake an emotional journey, but a physical one.

3. How would you describe the love story between this novel's hero and heroine?

Each of my historical romances takes on a difference 'theme'. From 'second chances' and 'forced marriage' to 'forbidden love'. Cynddylan and Merwenna's love story is all about 'different worlds'. He is arrogant and ambitious. She is innocent and grieving the loss of the young man she was supposed to marry. They come from opposing world's and classes. How can a Welsh prince and a young woman from a quiet Mercian village make their love work?


Buy yourself a copy of THE BREAKING DAWN on Amazon!

Kindle edition: $3.99.
Paperback edition: $12.99

Sign up to Jayne's monthly newsletter and receive a FREE copy of NIGHT SHADOWS (PDF format). Newsletter subscribers will also get sneak previews of upcoming novels, behind the scenes 'extras', snippets about Anglo-Saxon England, and podcasts from Jayne!

Sunday, 5 April 2015


As part of the launch of my latest novel - THE BREAKING DAWN - I'm running giveaways on both Amazon and Goodreads. Four lucky winners will receive paper back copies of the novel.

THE BREAKING DAWN is a historical romance set in 7th Century Anglo-Saxon England. It tells the unforgettable love story between Cynddylan and Merwenna -  a Welsh prince and a Mercian village girl.

First up is the Amazon Giveaway - click here to get the chance to win one of two paperback copies of THE BREAKING DAWN.

The Goodreads Book Giveaway will also be live in a few hours. Enter below and get the chance to win one of two paperback copies of THE BREAKING DAWN. The contest ends on 10 April so enter now so you don't miss out!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Breaking Dawn by Jayne Castel

The Breaking Dawn

by Jayne Castel

Giveaway ends April 10, 2015.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter to win

The Breaking Dawn - Sneak Preview #2

After a year of hard work - which also involved moving country and buying a house - my latest historical romance, THE BREAKING DAWN, is now available on Amazon.

THE BREAKING DAWN is the first novel in the Kingdom of Mercia series, following my Kingdom of the East Angles novels: Dark Under the Cover of Night, Nightfall till Daybreak and The Deepening NightSet in 7th Century Anglo-Saxon England, these novels blend epic romance, adventure and rich historical detail.

Kindle edition - available on 10 April 2014 
Pre-order a Kindle copy.

Paperback edition - available now for US$12.99
Buy a paperback copy.

What's the novel about?

You cannot fight fate 

A Mercian village girl and a Welsh prince. When two worlds collide, an unforgettable love story unfolds. 

It is the summer of 641 A.D., and the Kingdoms of Mercia and Northumbria are about to do battle. 

Merwenna of Weyham accepts the hand of a young warrior who is about to march to war. But when her betrothed does not return, she takes matters into her own hands and goes in search of him. 

Welsh battle lord, Prince Cynddylan, leads a host of warriors to help Mercia fight Northumbria. In doing so, he forms a fragile alliance with one of Britannia’s most ruthless warlords – King Penda of Mercia. 

In the wake of the Battle of Maes Cogwy, the lives of many will change. 

Merwenna travels to Tamworth, the seat of the Mercian King, in search of Beorn, her betrothed – only to discover the bitter truth. 

Cynddylan and Penda return to Tamworth from battle, victorious – but fall out in its aftermath. 

From the moment Merwenna and Cynddylan meet in the Great Tower of Tamworth, their paths are entwined. 

In a journey from Tamworth, through the green heart of Mercia, and into the woods and mountains of Wales – Merwenna struggles between grief for the man she has lost, and her powerful attraction to this battle lord who appears to love only power and glory. 

Cynddylan is also torn. With each passing day, he finds himself increasingly captivated by this courageous young woman. Merwenna makes him question the world, and his place in it. Suddenly, he is not so sure what is worth living, or dying, for. 

Can two lovers from such different worlds, ever be together?  


Read the Prologue for THE BREAKING DAWN - and step back over 1,300 years to Anglo-Saxon England...

The Promise
The village of Weyham, Kingdom of Mercia – Britannia
Spring 641 A.D.

“Will you marry me?”
Merwenna’s breath caught. Had she heard correctly – had he really uttered those words?
“Excuse me?”
“Merwenna,” Beorn stepped close to her, his gaze longing, his voice tender. “Will you be my wife?”
The young couple stood alone in the woods, surrounded by skeleton trees.
Warmth had not yet returned to the world, although it was early spring, and nature still lay dormant. They had both donned heavy fur cloaks for their walk, as the morning air held winter’s bite – yet Merwenna did not feel the morning’s chill. Joy bathed her in warmth as if she stood next to a roaring fire.
A smile broke across her face and she flung herself into his arms. She had not been dreaming. The moment she had longed for had finally come.
“Of course I will!”
Beorn laughed, his relief evident. His arms tightened around her and he pulled her close. “Thank Woden – for a moment there, I thought you would refuse me.”
The feel of his young, strong body against hers made her pulse quicken.
Beorn pulled back slightly and met her gaze. As always, she was struck by the blueness of his eyes, and the beauty of his chiseled features.
“Refuse you?” Merwenna stared at him, incredulous. It had taken her nearly three years of gentle encouragement to reach this point. “I was beginning to think you would never ask!”
Beorn flushed slightly, embarrassed, and looked away. They both knew he valued his freedom highly. Like her father, Beorn served Weyham’s ealdorman. They were warriors who farmed the land around the village by day, but would ride to war with the ealdorman, if commanded. However, unlike her father, who had lived a warrior’s life for many years before wedding her mother – Beorn was young, and chafed at the thought of spending the rest of his days in Weyham.
Merwenna gazed at her betrothed, drinking him in. Wavy blond hair fell over his shoulders and since autumn he had worn a short beard, which suited him.
She waited for him to say something else. She expected an excuse for making her wait so long. Yet, he remained silent.
“Beorn?” she said finally, realizing that he was still avoiding her gaze. “Is something the matter?”
The young man looked up, and shook his head. “The thing is…,” he began hesitantly, “the handfasting itself will have to wait.”
A chill stole over Merwenna at these words, and her joy dimmed.
“The king is gathering a fyrd,” Beorn continued, the words rushing out as he gained momentum. “He intends to march north and face King Oswald of Northumbria. I’ve decided to join his army.”
Merwenna stared at him. Her shock turning to upset.
When she did not respond, Beorn’s face grew serious. “Merwenna?”
“You ask me to marry you,” Merwenna replied, her voice quivering as she struggled to stop herself from crying, “and then in the next breath announce that you are going to war. Why did you even bother to propose?”
“Because I love you,” Beorn took hold of her hands and squeezed gently, his gaze earnest. “I want us to be married. It’s just that we shall have to wait a little.”
Merwenna took a deep breath, cursing the tears that stung her eyelids. She always cried too easily; it made her look feeble. “And I love you,” she answered, blinking furiously. “But, I have just passed my twentieth winter. At this rate, I shall be an old maid before we wed.”
“Just a little longer,” Beorn replied, squeezing her hands once more. “Then, I will return to Weyham and we shall be handfasted. I promise.”
“You’re going to war,” Merwenna’s tears spilled over as desperation seized her. “You can’t make that promise!”
She ripped her hands from Beorn’s. Then, she turned, her cloak billowing, and started to run in the direction of Weyham. Dead leaves squelched underfoot and the chill air burned her lungs, but Merwenna paid it no mind. She had almost reached the outskirts of the village when Beorn caught up with her.
“Merwenna, wait!’ he grabbed her arm and pulled her up short.
She turned, tears streaming down her face, and tried to shrug him off. “Let me be!”
“I made you a promise and I intend to keep it,” Beorn insisted, his gaze imploring. “I will return to you!”
Merwenna’s tears flowed without restraint now. Sobs welled up and she had to choke them back. “You don’t know that.”
“Yes, I do,” he set his jaw stubbornly.
“Men die in battle,” she reminded him, “and when two king’s armies meet there will be a great slaughter, surely you realize the danger.”
“Penda’s the greatest king Britannia has ever known,” Beorn countered with the supreme confidence that only young men possess. “His fyrd will be mighty. The Prince of Powys is also sending a large company of warriors to join our army. The Northumbrians won’t withstand our combined might.”
Merwenna wiped away her tears and shook her head wordlessly. She cared not if the whole of Britannia was rallying at Penda’s side. The thought that Beorn would go off to battle and might never return made her feel as if she was being buried alive.
“Penda is a mighty king,” Beorn insisted, staring down at her with fire in his eyes. “He will be victorious.”
Merwenna stared back at him. Her cheeks stung from the salt of her tears and it took all her self-control not to start sobbing uncontrollably. This was folly – why could he not see it? However, it was clear Beorn’s mind was made up.
“When will you leave?” she asked, her voice barely above a whisper.
“Tomorrow morning.”
Merwenna stared at him. If he had punched her in the belly, it would have hurt less. Suddenly, her world was crumbling around her. Just moments ago, her heart had been bursting with joy. Now, her future looked bleak.
The man she loved was riding to war, and there was nothing she could do to prevent it.


Beorn of Weyham struggled to tighten the saddle’s girth. He nudged his shaggy pony in the belly with his knee, until the stubborn beast exhaled. Then he tightened the girth another notch. The last of his preparations dealt with, Beorn turned to the small group of kin and well-wishers who had gathered to see him off.
He had not been looking forward to this. Good-byes were not something he had a lot of experience in. His mother and sisters were all weeping, a sight which upset him. His father, at least, was stoic.
“Serve the king well, my son,” Horace stepped forward and clasped Beorn in a bear-hug. “Make me proud.”
“I will, fæder.”
Behind him, Beorn could hear the other warriors gathering; the low rumble of their voices, the snort of their horses. It was just after dawn. A light frost covered the ground and the lightening sky promised a day of good weather ahead. They stood in Weyham’s common, a stretch of grass in the center of the village. A collection of squat, wattle and daub homes with thatched roofs surrounded them. It was the only home he had ever known, and shortly he would be leaving it – perhaps for a long time.
Beorn stepped back from his father and took a deep breath. He was anxious to be off. Saying goodbye was harder than he had anticipated.
Yet, first, he had to see Merwenna.
She stood a few yards away, patiently waiting. When he turned to her, Merwenna stepped forward to speak to him. Her eyes were red-rimmed, but that did not detract from her loveliness. In her build and coloring, she resembled her winsome mother – small and brown haired with startling blue eyes. However, there was a seriousness to her face that gave her some of her father’s look. One of her most startling features was her beautifully molded, rose-bud mouth.
Beorn had always been captivated by her lips, and her breasts, which were impressively full for such a small female. They gave her a womanly look on an otherwise girlish frame.
 “Farewell, my love,” Merwenna spoke, her voice quivering from the effort it was taking her to hold back tears. Despite that she was swathed from neck to shin in a heavy rabbit-skin cloak, he could see she was trembling. Suddenly, Beorn felt as if his heart had lodged in his throat. She was not making this any easier.
Although Beorn was eager to ride south-east to Tamworth and join the king’s fyrd, he was also sorry that he and Merwenna could not be handfasted first. He longed to bed her, to tear the clothes off that delicious body. He could have wed her before leaving, but she deserved better. When he returned to Weyham, victorious, their joining would be all the sweeter. He wanted to make her proud of him; he wanted to come back to Weyham sporting silver and gold arm rings, prizes from the king for his valor. He wanted to be worthy of her.
 “Goodbye, sweet Merwenna,” he pulled her against him and hugged her tightly. “Wait for me. I shall return.”
Drawing back from his betrothed, Beorn cupped her face with his hands and stooped to kiss her, not caring that half the village was looking on.
“I must go,” he murmured. “Wait for me, my love.”
“I will,” she whispered back, her eyes huge on her heart-shaped face.

Beorn moved over to his pony and prepared to mount it. He was too big for the beast, but fortunately the pony was sturdy, and it had been the only horse his family could spare. Frankly, he was fortunate to be riding at all – most of the kings’ fyrd would arrive inTamworth on foot.
His mother started wailing then. She broke free from her daughters’ embrace and rushed toward her son. Beorn enfolded her in his arms as she sobbed.
“My boy! Don’t go – I’ll never see you again!”
“Enough, Arwyn!” Horace hauled his wife back. “You’re embarrassing the lad. Control yourself!”
“Farewell, mōder,” Beorn said hoarsely, struggling to hold back tears of his own. He had never seen his mother so upset. “Don’t worry – you will see me again.”
His assurances only made his mother sob even louder. Turning away from his parents, Beorn mounted his pony and quickly adjusted the stirrups. He rode away feeling wretched; his mother’s heart-rending wailing was almost more than he could bear.
It was a relief when he could no longer hear her.
Beorn joined the throng of men leaving Weyham, glad to be finally on his way. His hamlet sat on the heavily wooded western fringes of the Kingdom of Mercia. It was nestled at the end of a long valley, in the shadow of dark hills that rose to meet the sky. Beorn rode through his village, passing the ealdorman’s timbered hall along the way. He listened to the crunch of frozen leaves underfoot, the creaking of leather and jangling of horses’ bridles, and felt his skin prickle with excitement.

A warrior had to be able to say goodbye without shedding tears. He had done well this morning, yet it was nothing compared to what lay ahead. He rode toward battle and glory – toward his future.


Get yourself a copy of THE BREAKING DAWN

Kindle edition - available on 10 April 2014 
Pre-order a Kindle copy.

Paperback edition - available now for US$12.99
Buy a paperback copy.