Wes hāl!” Greetings! (in Old English).
My latest historical romance, Nightfall till Daybreak, is now available on Amazon Kindle - and the paperback will be also be available in a couple of days on Amazon!
This love-story is set in 629 A.D. in Anglo-Saxon England, and is Book #2 of the Kingdom of the East Angles series. These three books are set around the lives of actual East Anglian Kings: Raedwald, Sigeberht and Annan, and spans eight years, from 624-631 A.D. - at a time when the East Anglian kingdom's power was beginning to wane under the threat of Mercia.
Nightfall till Daybreak (which can be read as a standalone novel) takes place five years after the first story, Dark Under the Cover of Night. This story is centered around King Raedwald's stepson, Sigeberht, who returns to Britannia from exile in Gaul to take back the East Anglia throne for the Wuffinga family. This is the tale of Freya and Aidan, a slave and a warrior, and of the king who rules their fates.
Although the lovers: Freya and Aidan are purely figments of my imagination (even if I'd like to think they really did exist), many characters within this novel are based on real historical figures. All of the following 'real people' play an important role in the novel: King Sigeberht; his co-ruler, Ecgric; the monks, Felix of Burgundy and Botulf of Iken; Sigeberht's step-cousin Annan; and the bloodthirsty Mercian King, Penda.
Of course, in the name of telling a good story I have stretched a few facts, embellished events and shortened timelines. Botulf set up his monastery at Iken a few decades later than in this story and Sigeberht actually ruled from 629-634 A.D; but for the purposes of my tale I pack his six-year reign into one eventful year.
Nightfall till Daybreak is based around Sigeberht's actual life; in fact it was his story that gave me my first inspiration for this novel. The lovers came later - it was Sigeberht who initially caught my attention.
Sigeberht gets a mention in Dark Under the Cover of Night, the first novel in my Kingdom of the East Angles series. He was King Raedwald's stepson, who the king had exiled to Gaul when Sigeberht was still a youth, fearing that the young man might try to claim the throne over one of Raedwald's own sons. Sigeberht lived in Gaul for many years. Nightfall till Daybreak begins after the murder of Sigeberht's step-brother, Eorpwald, the current King of the East Angles. The 'usurper', Ricberht, had taken the throne and Sigeberht sailed across the water to Britannia, to take it back for his family.
Sigeberht killed Ricberht, took back Rendlaesham and was crowned. However, Sigeberht's new life did not sit well with him. In Gaul, he had dedicated himself to religious studies and he eventually left Rendlaesham to set up a monastery and Beodricesworth (now Bury St. Edmunds). He left a relatively unknown individual - Ecgric - to rule in his stead. Sigeberht eventually abdicated, took his vows and dedicated himself to teaching young boys how to read and write Latin - but, unfortunately, he could not throw aside his responsibilities so easily. When the Mercians, led by King Penda, attacked East Anglia, Sigeberht was dragged from his monastery and onto the battlefield. He refused to bear arms and went into battle carrying only a staff. The rest, as they say, is history...
Many years later, Sigeberht was sainted. His feast day is on 29 October.
In all my novels set in the Anglo-Saxon period, I enjoy using actual historical events and figures to drive the story forward. Although these are romances, with the love story as the enduring theme, there is something exciting about reliving (or rewriting) history. This period of British history is shadowy and not particularly well documented. The main source for this period came from Bede's Ecclesiastical History of the English People, which was not completed until the 730s, and was written from a religious perspective - however I found this lack of detail freeing rather than constricting. The fate of the lovers, Freya and Aidan, is intertwined with Sigeberht's. Freya is his slave and Aidan is one of his most trusted retainers. Sigeberht's choices directly affect them; either driving Freya and Aidan apart or bringing them together.
Find out more about this story by clicking on the cover image below, or visit my website: www.jaynecastel.com
Book #2 Kingdom of the East Angles
Book #1 - Kingdom of the East Angles