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Thursday, 22 February 2018

BATTLE EAGLE is underway!

I'm currently around 35% into the first draft of Book #3 of The Warrior Brothers of Skye series—BATTLE EAGLE.

I'm loving writing this book, perhaps even more so since we met the hero and heroine back in BLOOD FEUD, Book #1 of the series. It's about time I told Eithni and Donnel's story!

Readers have been really enthusiastic about this series so far, which makes Book #3 even more exciting to write. This is an emotional roller-coaster of a book though, and wrenching at times to write. Both characters are damaged, and will have to undertake quite an emotional journey in order to find love. Get out your tissues!

The cover is now ready and I'm excited to share it with you here. The warrior is exactly how I picture Donnel ... dark and brooding!

Here's what BATTLE EAGLE about:

BITTERNESS HAS MADE HIM CRUEL—ONLY SHE CAN SAVE HIM.

Eithni believes herself too damaged to ever find love, and Donnel vows he will never love again. Can they find their way out of the darkness together?

A healer upon Dark Ages Isle of Skye, Eithni enjoys her life with the tribe of The Eagle. However, the scars of the past—and harrowing memories of the man who stole her innocence—make it impossible for her to find happiness.

The 'Battle Eagle', Donnel, is a warrior of renown. Only bitterness has soured his character. He lost his wife in childbirth and now can't even bear to look at his son. The infant is a reminder of the woman he loved and lost. These days Donnel is intent on wreaking vengence upon the world.

Although cowed by his anger, Eithni challenges Donnel about his bitterness. She's determined to bring father and son together—even if he rejects her help. The Gathering of the Tribes upon the isle that summer changes Eithni and Donnel's lives forever. A chain of events brings them together, forcing them both to change and to open their hearts. But is love enough to heal the wounds of the past?

_____________________________________________

BATTLE EAGLE should be ready for release mid-2018.

Scottish folklore on the Isle of Skye: The Old Man of Storr

The Old Man of Storr (Wikipedia image)
While researching a setting for BATTLE EAGLE (my current work in progress, Book #3: The Warrior Brothers of Skye), I came across The Old Man of Storr—a unique stone formation on the north of the island.

Actually, this landmark has some fascinating stories attached to it, which have inspired me! I have my characters going to a Gathering of the Tribes here.

I'll get to the folklore in a minute, but first, some detail about what this land mark actually is.

Situated off the west coast of Scotland, the Isle of Skye is known for its beautiful scenery and unique land formations.The 160ft tall pinnacle stands below the 600ft cliffs of the Storr itself. The spectacular ridge of hills (the result of a massive landslip) that runs for about 30km, form the backbone of the Trotternish peninsula in the north east of Skye contains one of the islands most recognisable landmarks, the Old Man of Storr (in Gaelic ‘Bodach an Stòrr’).

Giants, brownies and fairies

Brownie (source: Wikipedia)
There are plenty of tales attached to The Old Man of Storr. One story goes that the Storr is the thumb of a giant who then became buried in the earth after his death. Another version of this is that while fleeing from attackers two giants—husband and wife—made the error of looking back and turned to stone.

Another story features a brownie. In this tale, a man saved the life of a brownie but never asked for anything in return. The pair became good friends and after the man died (of a broken heart following the death of his wife), the brownie carved two stones, one became the Old Man of Storr, and the smaller one his wife.

The brownies, fairies (or the Fair Folk as they're named in my books) are often found in Scottish folklore. The are both beautiful and terrifying, and often trick humans. In this story, the fairy folk offer an elderly man the chance to always have his wife with him. Previously, the man would walk up to the top of a hill with his wife, but she is now too old. The old man accepts but it is a trick and the fairy folk turn both he and his wife to pillars of rock, ensuring that they would indeed always remain together.

Find out more about these fascinating stories on The Haunted Palace Blog.

Sunday, 4 February 2018

Hadrian's Wall - the setting of BARBARIAN SLAVE

I had a lot of fun researching Book #2 of The Warrior Brothers of Skye. BARBARIAN SLAVE begins at Hadrian's Wall during the 4th Century.

Although my Scottish Historical Romance BARBARIAN SLAVE is set back in the Dark Ages, a time we have only scant records of, the story hinges on a real historical event: the clash between the Picts and the Romans. The Great Conspiracy of 367 AD (also known as the Barbarian Conspiracy) is one of the most dramatic events in Romano-British history.

In the winter of 367 AD, a group of tribes north of the wall (the Picts, the Attacotti and the Scotti—and they may have even have had help from Saxons to the south) banded together and attacked Hadrian’s Wall. At this time, the Roman Empire was in turmoil and the garrison at the wall was weakened, and ready to fall.

At the beginning of the story, we spend some time at the ancient Roman fort (or castrum) of Vindolanda, just south of Hadrian's Wall. Located near the modern village of Bardon Mill, it guarded the Stanegate; the Roman road from the River Tyne to the Solway Firth. The heroine of this story, Lucrezia, is the wife of a high-ranking Roman garrison soldier living in the fort. These days, this fort is noted for the Vindolanda tablets. This is the site of some of the most important finds of military and private correspondence (written on wooden tablets) found anywhere in the Roman Empire.

Here are a few facts about Hadrian’s Wall to give some historical context:

  • Hadrian's Wall was a stone barrier built to separate the Romans and the Pict tribes in Scotland. 
  • Hadrian's Wall was built on the orders of the Roman emperor Hadrian, who was born in Rome in AD 76. 
  • The Romans began building the wall in 122 AD. It was constructed by three legions of soldiers. 
  • It allowed Roman soldiers to control the movements of people coming into or leaving Roman Britain. 
  • Every Roman mile along the Wall there was a milecastle; a fortified gateway which allowed Roman soldiers to go on patrol to the north of Hadrian’s Wall and control other people passing through the Wall. 
  • During the building of the Wall, it was decided to add forts. There were 16 forts in total along the length of the Wall. These meant that even more Roman soldiers were based along the wall and the frontier was more effectively controlled. 
  • It was 117 kilometers (73 miles) long across the narrow neck of England, from the North Sea to the Irish Sea. 
  • The wall was eight to ten feet wide and fifteen feet high. 
  • It took about 14 years to complete Hadrian's Wall. The largest structure ever made by the Romans.

Thursday, 1 February 2018

Return to Dark Ages Isle of Skye!

BARBARIAN SLAVE has been released! 

This emotional tale about a Pictish warrior and a Roman noblewoman was released yesterday (January 31, 2018).  Already I've had some amazing feedback about the novel—it seems as if readers can't get enough about Dark Ages Scotland.

I've already started on Book #3 of the series, BATTLE EAGLE.

Here's what some early reviews are saying about BARBARIAN SLAVE so far

"Great story, bold characters, strong heroes and beautiful but also strong heroine. It was an emotional journey with several twists and turns." (Kathy, Goodreads) ★★★★★

Jayne Castel has an immersive style of prose. She builds a world full of texture and main characters and side characters that seem real for all that they are the heroes and heroines of their day. Her villains always have a chance of winning, and that is what makes the story so thrilling. Add in a love story that ties emotions to actions and consequences, and you have the components of a great story. Bury yourself in the past with this great book." (Celestine, Amazon/Goodreads) ★★★★★

"Loved it! This story had a very good storyline and a strong female heroine! Could not put it down." (Karen, Goodreads) ★★★★★


BARBARIAN SLAVE

He takes her as his warprize--but she enslaves his soul. Pict and Roman culture collide in this epic Historical Romance set in Dark Ages Scotland.

Lucrezia is the wife of a Roman soldier posted on the northernmost reach of the Empire. Locked in an unhappy marriage upon a desolate outpost, her hopes for happiness are slipping away. However, her life changes forever in the winter of 467 AD. Barbarians from the north band together and attack Hadrian's Wall.

Tarl mac Muin is a Pict warrior with a thirst for battle and glory. He's part of the Barbarian Conspiracy that will change history. But when he takes Lucrezia as his slave, he sets off a chain of events that neither of them could have foreseen.

In an epic adventure that starts at the Roman fort of Vindolanda at Hadrian's Wall and takes Lucrezia north to the wild shores of the Isle of Skye--she discovers love and happiness when she least expects it. Only, a shadow from the past risks ruining everything.

Get your copy here:

AMAZON.COM
AMAZON.CO.UK
AMAZON.COM.AU


Sunday, 17 December 2017

Book review: Eirik: A Time Travel Romance (Mists of Albion Book 1) by Joanna Bell

Gripping story ... Four and a half stars.

I usually avoid Time Travel romances - Diana Gabaldon has set the bar too high - but this one was a real surprise. The writing style grabs you from the first page, and the story is great.


The heroine, Paige, is one of the book's highlights for me. The story is told entirely from her point of view but I never got tired of being in her head. We don't get to know the hero, Eirik, as well as we do Paige, but he's definitely a great hero: strong, powerful, and ruthless when necessary, but with a deep, kind and chivalrous side.

I loved the setting too. The author brings 9th Century Anglo-Saxon Britain to life brilliantly. The Kingdom of the East Angles and the Viking raids are realistically drawn with just enough description to make the setting seem authentic without going into too much historical detail. Paige's 'portal' between the two worlds - a tree on her father's property - works too. It's simple, but unlike some other time travel romances, I could believe it could exist.

I thought Paige's back-story was beautifully drawn, the loss of her mother, and her father's depression, followed by visits to psychologists. You really want this girl to find happiness!

The only thing that didn't work for me in the book (which is why I've given it 4.5 instead of 5 stars) - was the use of language. In 9th Century Britain, the Angles would have been speaking Old English, and the Vikings, a form of Norse. However, our heroine slips from 2017 North America to the 9th Century without any language difficulties. Maybe I missed it, but she just thinks her new Angle friends speak a little differently to her. Plus, Eirik would not likely have spoken the local tongue either - there would have been two new languages to learn! Outlander works because Claire only goes back a couple of centuries to Jacobean Scotland, where the same language (apart from the local Scottish Gaelic) is used. It's quite a big detail not to get right! If the portal equips travelers with some Tardis-like language device, the reader needs to know that!

However, the story is so strong, the plot so exciting, the writing so vivid, and the characters (even the minor ones) so richly drawn that I will just overlook that issue ...

I highly recommend this novel, and look forward to more in this series.

Buy a copy on Amazon.com

Saturday, 16 December 2017

A Pictish Lament

Here's another passage from BARBARIAN SLAVE (to be published on 31 January 2018). This one is sad though ... a Pictish lament for the dead. In the past in Celtic and Anglo-Saxon culture people would sing laments for their dead as a way of revering those they had lost ... but also to help mourners release their grief. This passage comes from near the end of the novel—I won't say more, or I risk spoilers!

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Inspirational quote from BARBARIAN SLAVE

My novels are Historical Romance - and as such you might think that means they're light and fluffy. However, if you've read any of my books you'll know all of them have deeper themes all related to the human condition. 

Love doesn't arise in isolation ... and romance is much more poignant when mixed with a little darkness.

My upcoming Scottish Historical Romance, BARBARIAN SLAVE (to be released 18 January 2018), is no exception. The story hinges on the relationship between a Pict warrior and the Roman noblewoman he takes as his slave ... but it's also about searching for our place in the world, and about the power we have to take control of our own future ... even if we live in a harsh world such as Dark Ages Scotland!

Here's my favorite quote from the novel ... I hope you enjoy it. :-)