Get the FREE Jayne Castel Starter Library

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

BARBARIAN SLAVE is now out on pre-order! Publication date: 31 January 2018. Book #2 of The Warrior Brothers of Skye is available on all Amazon stores.

This story picks up after Galan and Tea's happy ending in BLOOD FEUD, Book #1 of the series. It focuses on Tarl, Galan's hotheaded younger brother, and Lucrezia, the Roman noblewoman he takes as his slave after the 'Barbarian Conspiracy'—the attack on Hadrian's Wall in 467 AD. It's an exciting, action-packed tale!

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, she feels her youth 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.

Preorder your copy today!

AMAZON.COM

AMAZON.CO.UK

AMAZON.COM.AU

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Happy Yule ... and an excerpt from THE WHISPERING WIND

Christmas is one of my favorite times of year and Yule (or Mid-Winter Fire in my Pict stories) often features in my novels. 

Many of the traditions we have in the West hark back to these times. In my novel THE WHISPERING WIND I have my hero and heroine finally succumbing to their attraction for each other on the eve of Mother Night (24 December). It's one of my favorite scenes from my books ... and guaranteed to get you into the Christmas spirit!

If you haven't read THE WHISPERING WIND (or would like to re-read the scene), here it is below for you to enjoy!



 

Mother Night arrived with another heavy snowfall. Aelfwyn and Leofric trudged through three feet of snow on their way into town. Fat flakes fluttered down, frosting the surrounding trees and the roofs and walls of Lincylene before them. Smoke from cook fires rose into a washed-out sky. The aroma of roasting meat—boar, mutton, and fowl—reached them.

“I tire of this snow,” Aelfwyn grumbled as she struggled through a deep drift. Her legs were far shorter than Leofric’s, and she was having difficulty keeping up with him. “I want to see the earth again, and the grass.”
Leofric turned and smiled at her indignance. Then he reached back for her hand. “Come on—not much farther.”

Aelfwyn clutched his hand tightly, enjoying the warmth of his skin against hers, and attempted to quicken her stride. The heavy snow had rendered them housebound over the past few days. However, Cynn and Gytha had invited them to their home for the Yuletide feast, an occasion neither she nor Leofric wanted to miss.

They reached the town walls and passed into Lincylene under the Roman gate. The streets were deserted this morning, for all folk huddled around their firepits while they sipped mulled wine and waited for their noon feast to finish cooking. The aromas that Aelfwyn had smelled outside the town walls grew thicker within. She inhaled the scent of baking honey shortbread and apple and plum pudding, and her belly rumbled.

Boughs of holly and fir hung over the threshold of Cynn and Gytha’s hall. The mouthwatering aroma of roasting fowl greeted them as they ducked inside. Cynn and his family gathered around a long table. The girls sat, their round faces pink with excitement, helping their mother prepare the feast. The two eldest, Ealhgyth and Hilla, rolled out pastry and prepared the filling for an apple pie, while the younger girls chopped vegetables under Gytha’s watchful eye.

“Merry Yuletide!” Gytha bustled over to them with two steaming cups of mulled wine. “Come warm yourselves by the fire.”

A huge oaken yule log burned in the center of the fire pit, throwing out a considerable amount of heat. Aelfwyn shucked off her fur mantle and handed it to Gytha, who hung it up with Leofric’s near the door.

Sighing in relief to be out of the biting cold, Aelfwyn wrapped her chilled fingers around the warm cup.

For the first time since Leofric’s flogging, Aelfwyn felt welcome in Lincylene once more.

Of course Cynn and Gytha had been good to them, as had a few other townsfolk Aelfwyn and Leofric had befriended since their arrival here. However, she tired of the sniggers and stares whenever she and Leofric ventured into town to shop at the market. Leofric assured her it would stop soon enough, but their gawping galled her nonetheless.

“Your decorations are beautiful, Gytha,” she said, gazing around the cozy interior of the hall. Gytha and her daughters had decked the walls and heavy beams overhead with boughs of mistletoe, ivy, and witch hazel.

“Thank you,” Gytha replied with a proud smile. “The girls spent all of yesterday decorating.”

Cynn sat at the head of the table, his cheeks ruddy from warmth and wine. He beamed at them, and Aelfwyn smiled back. She shared Leofric’s opinion of Cynn, and had liked the meadhall keeper from the moment she met him. Cynn was a big-hearted man who had welcomed them into his home like kin.

“Sit down!” he called out to them. “The girls are baking shortbread. It should be ready soon.”

They sat down at the long table, upon a low bench. Seated side-by-side, Aelfwyn was aware of Leofric’s closeness. His arm lightly brushed hers as he reached out to steal a sliver of apple from Hilla’s pie filling. The heat of his leg next to hers made her breathing quicken slightly; a frisson of excitement igniting in the pit of her belly.

It was becoming unbearable—day after day cooped up inside the tiny hut, just the two of them. Leofric appeared unflustered by it, but the enforced closeness was starting to become slow torture for Aelfwyn. The hunger that knotted in her belly now had nothing to with the coming Yule feast.

She did her best to ignore the yearning but when Leofric sat this close to her, it was impossible to ignore.

“Here.” She smiled at Hilla and picked up an apple from the bowl in the center of the table. “Pass me a knife and I’ll help you get that pie ready for the oven.”

The girl beamed and nodded. “Thanks, Aeaba. I could do with some help.”

“She’d have the pie done by now, if she wasn’t so busy gossiping with Ealhgyth,” Cynn complained.
“Oh stop your grumbling,” his wife replied before giving Hilla a fond smile. “Let the girls be—it’s Yuletide.”


***

Gytha’s Yuletide feast was one that Aelfwyn would never forget.

She was a splendid cook, better even than Aelfwyn’s mother, who was the yardstick by which Aelfwyn judged good cooking. The table groaned under the weight of the magnificent roast fowl and a platter of roasted and braised vegetables, cheeses, pies, and sweet treats. They ate and drank slowly, enjoying the celebration of being able to eat such rich, delicious food. Now that they had little gold to see them through the winter, Aelfwyn and Leofric ate plainly. One cauldron of pottage would need to last three days, and there was very little meat in their meals.

After the feast, they joined the family on comfortable furs piled around the fire pit. Aelfwyn sat curled up against Leofric. Their friends believed them to be a wedded couple and perhaps wondered why they did not show much affection between them. The warmth and hardness of Leofric’s chest against Aelfwyn’s back was distracting to say the least, but her belly was full of good food, and the wine had made her drowsy. She dozed against Leofric’s chest, and was aware of him gently stroking her hair as he chatted to Cynn and Gytha.

She could have sat like that all night but, eventually, the time came for them to take their leave.

Aelfwyn climbed to her feet and stretched sleepily. Yawning, she turned to Gytha and hugged her. “Thank you so much. I have never felt so welcome in someone’s home.”

Gytha hugged her back. “And you always will be.”

Aelfwyn crossed to where Leofric was holding out her cloak. With a smile, she turned, letting him place it over her shoulders.

“Look!” Ealhgyth squealed. “They’re standing under the misteltān!”

Aelfwyn started slightly at the girl’s outburst before craning her neck up. Indeed there was a sprig of mistletoe hanging overhead.

“Now they’ll have to kiss!” Cynn’s eldest daughter clapped her hands together with glee before she and her sisters burst out into tittering laughter.

Smirking, Cynn gently cuffed Ealhgyth around the ear. “They’ve been waiting all afternoon for you two to stand under it.”

Aelfwyn felt her cheeks warm. She glanced over at Leofric who merely raised an eyebrow, his eyes twinkling mischievously. “Come on then,” he said softly. “We don’t want to disappoint them.”

He stepped close to her, before reaching down and cupping her face gently. Then he stooped, his lips brushing hers. He drew back slowly, meeting Aelfwyn’s gaze as he did so.

“Give her a decent kiss, man,” Cynn goaded him. “Or do you want Gytha and me to show you how it’s done.”

Leofric cast him a sour look, causing Cynn to bellow with laughter. “I don’t need any lessons from you on how to kiss my wife.”

With that, he drew Aelfwyn into his arms and kissed her deeply.

Aelfwyn melted into him, her arms coming up to encircle his neck. For a moment she forgot where she was. His kiss set her on fire. When they broke apart, both gasping for breath, the hall had fallen silent. The girls were all blushing, although Cynn and Gytha both wore smug grins.

“That’s better, Lenred,” Gytha congratulated him with a wink. “That’s how a woman likes to be kissed.”



That's all from me until 2018! I'm hard at work on BARBARIAN SLAVE (Book #2: The Warrior Brothers of Skye), and have just finished the first draft! I should have a release date available soon. :-)

Have a wonderful Christmas and New Year!

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

WIND SONG is available!

Launch day is here!

WIND SONG (Book #2: The Kingdom of Northumbria) is now available for purchase on all the Amazon stores.

Friends to lovers, unrequited love, a romance between two people from warring kingdoms and different worlds—this novel has it all!

Meet Hea and Bridei. She's a low-born flower seller and herbalist, the daughter of a seer who has inherited her mother's gift. He's a cocky Pictish prince, sent to foster at the Northumbrian stronghold of Bebbanburg. What begins as a childhood crush for Hea, develops into something much more serious when she and Bridei meet again after eight and a half years apart.


Here's what two of my Advance Reviewers thought of the novel (the full reviews are on Goodreads):

"The details of Jayne Castel's historic Iron Ages novels flow by like a river. Before you know it, you are immersed in another world ..."

"The plot was exciting, intriguing, and very well written. I enjoyed the romance of the story ... I very highly recommend this book and thoroughly enjoyed it."




Buy your copy of WIND SONG here:

amazon.com
amazon.co.uk
amazon.com.au

 


Get a copy of THE WHISPERING WIND for just 99 cents

To celebrate the launch of WIND SONG, I'm doing a special offer on Book #1 of the Kingdom of Northumbria series. Usually priced at US$3.99, THE WHISPERING WIND (Kindle edition) is available at 99 cents for a limited time only— don't miss out! 

She depends on him for survival ... while he is her reluctant protector. But neither of them expected to find love.


Get your 99 cent copy of THE WHISPERING WIND here:

amazon.com
amazon.co.uk
amazon.com.au

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Read a free sample of WIND SONG!

Book #2 of The Kingdom of Northumbria is available on preorder, and due for release n 15 November 2017. However, as it's on preorder, Amazon doesn't let you read a sample of the book.

To remedy that, I've put the first three chapters up on Instafreebie!

It's really easy to claim your copy. Just put in your name and email address (no sign up required) and they'll send you a sample to read on your Kindle, e-reader, tablet or computer.

Claim your copy on Instafreebie.




WIND SONG (Book #2: The Kingdom of Northumbria)

He rules the north, but she rules his heart. Two kingdoms collide in this epic tale of destiny, longing and love set in Dark Ages Britain.

Northumbria, Britain--684 AD. Hea isn't like other women. The feisty daughter of a seer, she lives alone in the fort of Bebbanburg and survives by selling flowers, herbs and potions. However, she has also inherited her mother's gift--and when King Ecgfrith requests her skills she can't refuse him.

Ecgfrith, the ruler of Northumbria, is having trouble with the Picts, the warlike people to the north. He needs a seer's guidance in dealing with them. The Pictish king, Bridei mac Beli is demanding freedom from his Angle overlord.

Hea and Bridei know each other. Bridei fostered at Bebbanburg, and Hea has longed for him ever since. Eight years later they meet again, and sparks fly. Arrogant and ambitious, Bridei is used to getting what he wants--and Hea discovers he's the only man she can't refuse.

Yet he's a Pict and she's an Angle. Bridei will do anything to win back his people's land from Northumbria, and Hea has sworn her loyalty to her king. As the shadow of war looms, it seems any chance they have at love is lost ... or is it?

Intrigued?

Claim your copy on Instafreebie now.


Sunday, 5 November 2017

Author interview: eight questions for Jayne Castel


1. Tell us what you write and why?

I write romance: predominantly Historicals set in Dark Ages Britain (7th Century Anglo-Saxon England and 4th Century Scotland). I have also recently started writing Epic Fantasy Romances, and have published a few contemporary romances set in Italy. 

My fascination with early British history and my love of Epic Fantasy have dictated my choice of setting. I wrote the contempories set in Italy as an experiment, but in doing so realized that I prefer writing stories in forgotten or new worlds! These days I am trying to find a balance between pleasing my own interests and filling the needs of a hungry romance readership!

2. Why romance?

Why not!

Seriously though ... the search for love is a central part of what it means to be human. Romance is one of the most popular genres (if not the most popular) for a reason. I write romance because although I've never been a reader of the more traditional 'frilly' romance, I adore stories with an emotion-filled, angsty love story in them! A bit of romance makes any story better.

3. Which book inspired you to begin writing?

Two Epic Fantasy books: The Lord of the Rings, and The Sword of Shannara inspired me to try and write my own stories as a teenager. I've always enjoyed reading adventure stories where the characters undergo a huge personal transformation along the way. For romance, my major influencers have been the Outlander series (Diana Gabaldon), A Knight in Shining Armor (Jude Deveraux), and The Circle of Ceridwen series (Octavia Randolph).

4. Do you have a day job other than being a writer? And do you like it?

Yes, I do have a day job - I'm a freelance copywriter! I divide my time between writing fiction and writing marketing and web content. The day job has actually been invaluable for my fiction, as being a self-published author I have to do all my own marketing. I do enjoy my copy writing work, although writing stories is my first love!

5. Can you tell us about your current projects?

Happy to! :-) I have two novels on the go and the moment, and one about to be released. My Historical Romance set in Dark Ages Britain, WIND SONG (Book #2 in the Kingdom of Northumbria series) is available on pre-order and will be released on November, 15 2017. This is the second-last novel I'll be writing in 7th Century Anglo-Saxon England. When I finish the next (and final) book in the series, there will be 9 books set in this world .... split into three 3-book series!

I've also 20% into Book #2 of my Epic Fantasy Romance series: Light and Darkness. I'm still deciding on the name for this book, but the working title is THE LOST SWALLOW.

My second work in progress is a Scottish Dark Ages Romance: BARBARIAN SLAVE, Book #2 of my Warrior Brothers of Skye series. It's set in 4th Century Isle of Skye - the world of the Picts.

6. What about future writing projects?

I have a thousand ideas in my head, all fighting to be written about! My short-term plans are to finish the three series I'm working on at the moment. I'd love to write more set in Scotland ... maybe Medieval Isle of Skye ... and more Fantasy Romance ... but I will see where the muse leads me!

7. How productive are you? Do you think it's possible to write fast, and well?

At the moment I aim to publish around 4 novels a year. This can be quite a stretch, and I do have to work hard to achieve it. I don't think an author should ever 'rush' a book, but I do believe that you can write quickly without affecting the quality of the novel. Actually, I find that when I'm really into a story, and lost in that world, I write both faster and better. I get carried away by the tale, especially once I reach the last third of the first draft.

I think that if you write in other genres, such as Historical fiction of Epic Fantasy, readers don't expect more than one book a year from you. However, Historical Romance readers are voracious - some of them read 3-4 books a week! If an author doesn't produce novels steadily, they get frustrated!

8. Do you have any advice for someone wanting to become a writer?

Be clear on what you want to get out of writing from the very beginning. Is it a hobby and nothing more? Is it a hobby with a bit of pocket money? Is it a part-time job? Would you like it to be your main source of income? Do you want to win awards and recognition? 

The reason for establishing your goals early on is that it frees you from the expectations of others ... and from your own insecurities. There's nothing wrong with writing for pleasure only, and not caring if no one besides your family and friends read it, but there's nothing wrong either with aiming high! If you do aim to make this your career though, you will need to treat it like a job from the very beginning ... and that means improving your craft, learning everything you can about all the aspects of the writing, editing and publishing process (especially important if you're self-publishing), and sorting out a writing schedule. 

Sorry ... none of this advice is particularly sexy. I used to have quite a romantic idea about what being a writer entailed, but now that I am one I realize that even if you are in it for love it's really hard work!




Tuesday, 10 October 2017

What inspired my Kingdom of the East Angles series?

Sutton Hoo ... a window into Dark Ages Britain.

Check out this replica of the Sutton Hoo helmet. The real one is at the British Museum, London.

The Anglo-Saxons buried their once rich and powerful dead, with treasures for the after-life. Sometimes the burial included a warrior’s horse, or even a ship. A wonderful example of this is at Sutton Hoo, Suffolk. There are 18 burial mounds, with barrows for Anglo-Saxon East Anglian royalty. The most famous of all, is the barrow for King Raedwald of East Anglia, who was buried in 625 with a huge hoard of riches, including his ship and this magnificent helmet.

After visiting Sutton Hoo (which is located near Woodbridge, Suffolk, where my mother's family still live), I decided to write a novel set in 7th Century Anglo-Saxon England.

My Dark Ages Historical Romance, Dark Under the Cover of Night (currently free on Amazon, Kobo, iBooks and Barnes and Noble) is set around the last year of the life of King Raedwald. It's a love story, but I did a lot of research to make sure the story's historical background 'feels' authentic.

East Anglia was extremely powerful during early 7th Century Anglo-Saxon England. Recently archaeologists discovered the remains of an Anglo-Saxon settlement in Suffolk during the development of a wind-farm.

Watch a BCC video about the find.

Friday, 22 September 2017

Goodreads Giveaway for RULED BY SHADOWS

Great news for bibliophiles ... Goodreads are running a paperback giveway for RULED BY SHADOWS!
Enter to get the chance to win one of three paperback copies of my new Epic Fantasy Romance, RULED BY SHADOWS. Giveaway ends on October 2, 2017 so don't miss out!

What's RULED BY SHADOWS about?

In a land ruled by shadows, the fate of all lies in the hands of a girl who is afraid of the dark.

Meet Lilia, a young woman who is afraid of ... everything.

Lilia's life changes the day a stranger walks into the tavern where she works as a cook. Handsome and darkly mysterious, Saul leaves a charm-stone in her safekeeping. Only, what appears to be a humble Hag Stone--used by folk to ward off evil spirits--is in reality a powerful talisman. One that a secret brotherhood has spent five-hundred years searching for.

Life will never be the same for Lilia again.

Her shadow begins behaving strangely--and when The Shade Brotherhood come after her, Lilia must leave her sleepy isle to embark on an epic journey into danger, discovery ... and love.

The shadows are deepening and an ancient evil risks being unleashed upon the world. Lilia must face the darkness, and her own fears--or there will be no going home.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Ruled by Shadows by Jayne Castel

Ruled by Shadows

by Jayne Castel

Giveaway ends October 02, 2017.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter Giveaway