Dive into this complete Epic Fantasy Romance trilogy: full of magic, action, romance, and complex characters.
Find out more here: http://www.jaynecastel.com/fantasy
Dive into this complete Epic Fantasy Romance trilogy: full of magic, action, romance, and complex characters.
Find out more here: http://www.jaynecastel.com/fantasy
PATH OF THE DARK is live! I’m so excited to share Elias and Ryana’s story with you! It’s been quite a journey. I began Book #1 of the Light and Darkness three years ago, and it feels quite an achievement—and a little sad—to bring the series to its conclusion now.
Dive into Book #3 of this complete Epic Fantasy Romance trilogy: full of magic, action, romance, and complex characters.
Here’s what readers are saying so far:
★★★★★ “A riveting fantasy.”
★★★★★ “Full of great surprises and twists! Jayne has created a great world and it sucks you right in!”
★★★★★ “Another great book by a talented writer. Once I started reading, I couldn’t stop. The characters and plot were just perfect together.”
✔️A steamy, intense romance
✔️Rich fantasy world
✔️High action and adventure
He’s been sent to assassinate a princess … but a beautiful sorceress threatens to ruin his plans.
Get your copy here (the Kindle edition is currently at a special launch deal of US$2.99, although it will be going up to its full price next week):
I would love to know what you think of the novel, so please get in touch if you download a copy!
It’s been a while since I posted last—mainly because I was waiting for when I had something big to announce!
And I do!
Over the past few months I’ve been hard at work getting Book #3 in the Light and Darkness series ready for publication. We now have a release date for PATH OF THE DARK: October 17 2019. The novel’s also available on preorder (the links are below).
He’s been sent to assassinate a princess … but a beautiful sorceress threatens to ruin his plans.
Elias of Anthor failed to kill the last surviving member of an overthrown royal family when he had the chance. Now his father wants him to finish the job. Traveling north under the guise of peace, Elias’s task is straightforward: start negotiations, get close to the princess, and end her life.
It’s straightforward until he meets a woman who will challenge him on every level.
Ryana is an enchanter who prefers singing in crowded taverns to following the rules of the Order she’s sworn to. A woman with a dark past, she’s trying to keep out of trouble when she meets Elias. He’s the son of a dictator, sent to negotiate peace with her king, and she distrusts him from the first—but she can’t deny the pull between them.
The Anthor prince represents everything she’s sworn to avoid. He’s dangerous, yet she can’t keep away from him.
Time is running out for Elias. But when it comes time to kill the princess, he finds himself faced with the most difficult decision of his life. Does he do his duty, listen to his conscience, or follow his heart?
➡️Preorder your copy now and it’ll be delivered to your Kindle on October 17th!
The whole Light and Darkness series is getting a ‘new look’
To coincide with the upcoming release of Book #3 in the Light and Darkness series, a new edition of RULED BY SHADOWS (Book #1) is also coming! It will be available on Amazon by the end of the month (don’t worry … those of you who already bought a copy will be able to download the new version). If you can’t wait to read the ‘new look’ story, I have a limited number of Advance Review Copies available on Booksprout!
➡️ Get your ARC of RULED BY SHADOWS now!
What’s changed? The book is still an emotional fantasy romance adventure story, but biggest difference in this new edition is that our heroine, Lilia, is a shape-shifter! Read the new blurb to find out more:
🔥Her secret has the power to change the world.🔥
Lilia is a shifter—yet she lives in a world where her kind have been hunted to near extinction.
Desperate to escape her small-minded village, and ignoring her mother’s warnings, she moves to a bustling port for a fresh start. But her new life, and her real identity, are put at risk when an enigmatic stranger leaves a charm-stone in her safekeeping.
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.
On an epic journey into danger and discovery, Lilia flees assassins who hunt the stone.
Two men travel with her, both pledging to protect her. But which one can she trust?
The shadows are deepening and an ancient evil risks being unleashed upon the world. Lilia must face the darkness, and embrace who she really is … or there will be no going home.
➡️ Read an ARC of the new edition of RULED BY SHADOWS!
It’s 95,000 words, so a decent size for an Epic Fantasy Romance. I’m really pleased with the state of the first draft (often I know there’s still quite a bit of rewriting to be done … but it feels pretty cohesive this time around … famous last words!). This week I’m doing my pre-editing read-through. This is where I put on head phones and go through the whole manuscript, listening to each chapter on Word’s Text To Speech. This helps pick up errors, highlights any clunky speech, or areas that need improving. It’s a really good idea as listening to your story really makes things jump out at you. This process should take a week and then it’s off for a structural edit!
In the meantime, I’ve been busy getting other aspects of the book ready for publication. I’ve had a new cover designed (the previous one wasn’t quite right) and am really happy with this new version. Here it is:
I’ve also been working on the blurb/Amazon description:
Can she follow her heart without betraying her people?
Ryana, an enchanter of the Order of Light and Darkness, has given her life to serving others. However, when she meets the son of a dictator sent to negotiate peace with her king she realizes that there’s something important missing from her life: love.
Elias of Anthor’s mission isn’t one of peace—he’s been sent to kill the king of Rithmar. But once his assassination attempt goes awry, Elias soon sees that the only one who actually cares if he lives or dies is an enigmatic sorceress: one who both tempts and frustrates him.
As a great battle between their kingdoms looms, Ryana and Elias both find themselves at a cross-roads. If they survive the coming war, a chance for a new life beckons. However, it will require them to have the courage to give up their old identities forever.
In addition to focusing on PATH OF THE DARK, I’ve been looking at the series as a whole. It has been a couple of years since Book #1, RULED BY SHADOWS, came out. Since then I’ve had feedback about RULED BY SHADOWS. The consensus is that although readers have enjoyed it, the heroine, Lilia, is a bit tOo fearful and timid for most readers. With that in mind, I’m doing a second edition of Book #1 (yes, I know that’s a lot of work!). I’m currently half-way through edits and am delighted with how it’s shaping up. I’m planning a relaunch to coincide with the launch of PATH OF THE DARK. This should be mid-September 2019 … so not far away!
Back soon with a pre-order link and launch date for PATH OF THE DARK!
In this post we get into the details of actually setting up a romantic subplot in your story!
Every genre has it’s ‘tropes’. Fantasy is full of them: the wise mentor, the young protagonist that comes of age, and the evil sorcerer who wants to rule the world—just to name a few. Romance also has its tried and true themes. However, romance tropes tend to focus on the type of relationship rather than character tropes. There are loads of them, which of course you should put a twist on (just like with Fantasy tropes—no one wants a LOTR rehash!).
Here are just a few romance tropes that can work well in Epic Fantasy. You might smile at some of them, but before you scoff remember they are popular for a reason:
Like I said above—and I’m going to repeat it because it’s so important—the trick is to put a TWIST on the trope (or tropes … you can use more than one), to make it fresh, exciting, and truly your own.
For example, your trope might be Protector/Savior. However, ‘what if’ your hero was actually sent to kill the heroine but pretends that he was sent to protect her instead? ‘What if’ she’s not the sort of woman who needs protecting, a trained killer herself. This was the premise behind my novel, The Lost Swallow. It provided plenty of conflict, both for the plot and the romance.
Don’t be afraid to play with the tropes a bit. Keep asking yourself ‘What if?” and try to mix a couple of tropes together to create something original.
Of course, all of this is easier to do BEFORE you start writing. If you’ve decided you want a forced marriage subplot as part of your Epic Fantasy story you’ll find it easier to achieve if you incorporate this at the planning stage!
The marriage should be an integral part of the plot, not just a vehicle for romance (Grave Draven’s Radiance does this really well). Political intrigue, assassination attempts, royal advisers with their own agendas—let your imagination fly!
In The Lost Swallow, my hero is an enchanter, an expert in the healing arts. This makes him an unlikely choice of assassin. However, his superior wants rid of him as he’s a threat to her power. He naturally falls into the role of protector later in the story but he has huge hurdles to cross before he does. He’s been charged with killing a young woman and her female bodyguard … and of course things are complicated further when he falls for the bodyguard!
It’s a good idea to ‘echo’ the main themes of your story in both your romantic subplot as well as your main story. E.g., in The Lost Swallow, the theme was ‘the most important choices are the most difficult’. I made sure this theme resonated for both the romance and the main story.
Characters aren’t static. They develop and grow. They start of with things they need to learn and flaws they need to rid themselves of. Make the romance subplot part of that.
Think what finding love does to us. We become softer, wiser (or more foolish!), braver, more honest and self-sacrificing. Choose characters who need to learn these things.
Love makes us vulnerable, but we often resist that vulnerability. Show your characters resisting what’s happening to them. Maybe changing who they are puts their goals in jeopardy, which means at some point they are going to have to make a difficult choice
Your characters have to have objectives. These will often change throughout the story. A character might shift the goal posts every few chapters, depending on what’s happening in the story, and that’s fine. But they always need to want something.
Make your hero and heroine’s goals opposing. He wants to kill the princess and she wants to protect her. He wants to escape and she wants to keep him prisoner. He wants peace and she wants war.
The more at odds you make the goals of your love interests the easier it will be for you to create chemistry, longing, and emotional intensity in your story. Contrary to what those who criticize romance often say, it’s these elements (not steamy sex scenes) that makes a romance a romance. These are the things that keep readers coming back for more. The longer you can keep the lovers apart, the more opposing their goals, and the more obstacles you throw in their way, the more epic the romance will be.
My next post, Blog #3, is all about how to build emotional intensity and how to approach sex scenes (if you decide to go there at all).
As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas. Please leave your comments below.
Romance can also add a lighter element to your story – for although you might make your characters suffer for love and put them through the emotional wringer, you will need to give them a HEA (Happy Ever After) or at the very least a HFN (Happy for Now) ending. If you don’t, it isn’t a romance but a love story. Love stories often end tragically – thank Gone with the Wind and Titanic.
Some stories just don’t need luuve. 😉
If your novel features a really young protagonist who comes of age during the story, then the focus is more likely to be on their maturation and development. Romance would only muddy the waters. Seriously flawed protagonists can also make romance a challenge. If ‘love’ is part of their redemption then it can work, but if it isn’t then once again adding romance might just confuse or irritate your readers.
Of course, my personal opinion is that just about any story can be improved with a touch of romance. Before I started writing romance I noticed that the Epic Fantasy and Historical Adventure stories I liked to read all had a strong romantic element that enriched the plot for me. My first attempts at writing Epic Fantasy were very traditional, but somehow romance still crept it there.
I’ve made my name as an author if Historical Romance set back in the mists of time. As a self-published author I was able to set my books in a non-traditional time period for Historical Romance: 7th Century Anglo-Saxon England, and 4th Century Scotland. Although I used what historical evidence I could find for my novels, writing this far back (especially for the Pictish novels) allows me to enter the realms of fantasy.
These books, especially The Warrior Brothers of Skye series, have done well for me, but my heart always returns to Epic Fantasy Romance. In my opinion, Fantasy is more difficult to right than Historical. You have to build an entirely new world rather than research an existing one, and the plot tends to be more complex.
The two novels I’ve published so far in the Light and Darkness series are both romances, although I approached each one differently. In the first, Ruled by Shadows, romance is a strong subplot, integral to the story but slightly overshadowed by the main action. In my second novel, The Lost Swallow, the romance holds equal weight to the action. Both are high-octane stories, but I handle the romance differently in each. I’m now 30% into Book #3 in the series and am letting the romance drive this story as well.
Handling romance well in a story requires confidence, respect for the genre – and a little knowledge. People who don’t read romance often think it’s formulaic and cheesy. If you believe this, you might find it hard to incorporate a successful romantic subplot into your story.
You can’t fake romance. You either feel it or you don’t.
I’ve been writing romance for the past seven years and with each passing year I love it more. I was never a ‘romance’ reader in the past but I love how romance allows a writer to add emotional depth and conflict to a story. Sure a good romance has to have certain elements to work properly but that doesn’t make it formulaic – and if you write from the heart your romantic subplot won’t be cheesy.
In the coming posts I’ll be covering how to set up your romantic subplot, how to approach emotion and sex scenes, how to structure the romance arc in your story, and how to achieve a satisfying emotional confusion to your romantic subplot.
Any questions or comment about this post? Please feel free to comment below!
Anyone who has never written romance before and then tries to incorporate it in a story often gets a shock (as I did initially) about just how hard it is to get right. Actually … it’s only hard if you’re fumbling blindly ahead of you. Once you know how romance works, and what the key ingredients are to making it shine, it’s a lot easier.
Of course there are lots of sub-genres within Epic Fantasy (grim-dark, high, Arthurian, heroic, sword and sorcery just to name a few). Most of these can benefit from having a romantic subplot added to the story. The romance can be very slight, to the point where the attraction is barely hinted at and the characters don’t even kiss, to being a fully fleshed out romance that runs alongside (but is still secondary to) the main story.
So …. to start this series off let’s take a look at why you should include a romantic subplot at all? Do you actually need one.
I loved this story. Finally after 6 installments, the adventure concludes. And what a conclusion!
There’s everything here for those who love high fantasy adventure, battles, love-stories, and magic. It had all the elements I adore in fantasy, plus it brought three yet to be resolved romances to their emotional conclusion. Maas seamlessly includes ALL the major players from previous stories in for the grand finale, and she does so in the way that had me caring about all the threads, and all the characters. Quite an achievement!
The fantasy world is richly drawn, with sweeping settings. This story truly was epic in scale in every sense, and the battle scenes were fantastic. I particularly enjoyed the witch towers – terrifying!
It’s a big book (and the concluding chapters could have been shortened a tad, in my opinion, without losing any impact) that has a lot of questions to answer, and many subplots to tie up – but like I said, Maas does a great job of it. This is definitely a book I’d read again. Here were my highlights (hopefully none of these should be spoilers):
– Aelin’s imprisonment and torture … no I’m not ghoulish but I thought this section was incredibly well done.
– Dorian’s trip to Morath …. this section had me on the edge of my seat. Nail-biting!
– The conclusion of Aedion and Lysandra’s, and Elide and Lorcan’s love stories. These were highly emotional!
– Dorian and Manon’s developing relationship … two conflicted souls who are actually meant for each other.
– The final showdowns with the Valg, Erawan and Maeve. Great baddies in this series!
There were plenty of other parts of the story that I loved (too many to go into here) and the writing was fluid and engrossing. I can’t wait to see what new series Sarah J Maas has in store for us next!
Over the last year, while working on my own Epic Fantasy Romance series, I’ve read three romantic fantasy adventures which were really stand-out for me. I’d like to share them with you (along with my reviews) here.
Epic Fantasy Romance is a sub-genre of Epic Fantasy, but one where the romance and developing love story needs to be ‘as important’ as the adventure story. Many Epic Fantasy novels have love interests or romantic subplots. However, Epic Fantasy Romance takes the romance one step further. Although these stories often have plenty of high-stakes adventure, magic and the forces of good and evil, they are also hugely character driven—which is what makes them so much fun to read (and write!).
Here are three Epic Fantasy Romances you don’t want to miss:
An excellent start to an exciting Epic Fantasy Romance series. It’s often hard to find good Fantasy Romances which aren’t Young Adult or Paranormal. But there’s nothing better than a sword and sorcery adventure with an emotional love story woven through it!
Definitely a five-star read. Here’s what I loved about it:
Blade and Rose is an epic novel – both in size (it’s over 700 pages long!) and in scope. Miranda Honfleur builds a credible world built on European civilisations and an exciting magic system. The characters are well-drawn and with enough flaws to make them seem real. Rielle is a complicated heroine, a mix of strong kick-ass sorceress and painful insecurity. She doesn’t have any trouble attracting men into her life, only she has been terribly hurt by them. When she meets Jon, a man she has sworn to protect, she struggles between her attraction to someone she can’t have, and her own fears of being hurt or hurting those she loves.
My favourite character in the book though (and I’m not sure if the author intended this) is the werewolf, Brennan. He’s a really mixed-up guy, and does some dispicable things during the story, yet we never totally lose sympathy for him. He is conflicted and as the story progresses starts to gain a little self-knowledge. As the series progresses, I imagine he will have a pivotal role … well, I hope so.
The writing flows smoothly and is highly readable. The author doesn’t get bogged down in lengthy description but at the same time manages to create a richly-drawn world that fantasy readers expect!
Any niggles? Only a couple of tiny ones that didn’t detract from my rating. The book was very long … and could have been trimmed in a couple of places without affecting the story. Rielle and Jon’s relationship sometimes felt a little bit like ‘instalove’. I would have liked to have seen a bit more angst and conflict between them in the beginning. However, their emotional journey was depicted well and leaves plenty of scope for the next book in the series.
An engrossing Epic Fantasy Romance read!
A fun, lighthearted Epic Fantasy Romance read!
This is the first book I’ve picked up by Lindsay Buroker. I really enjoyed her fluid, fast-paced writing style and the humor that’s laced through the book. The main characters, Jev and Zenia are both fun, flawed and interesting. They kept my attention throughout and the chemistry between them was great.
Although this is definitely a romance, the actually romantic story (sorry, Spoiler!) doesn’t get resolved at the end of this book. We’ll have to read the next one to find out how the relationship develops. I thought I’d be irritated by this but I think that it works as the two leads aren’t ‘ready’ yet to take the relationship further. Although there’s a lot of witty banter between them, they’re both very emotionally guarded and have both had difficult pasts, despite their different backgrounds. I particularly liked Jev; he’s a handsome charmer who came back from war with both physical and psychological scars.
This story has elves and dwarves – the first I’ve read of this type in a while. I cringed initially, but soon realized that Buroker’s elves and dwarves are original enough to to make weigh the story down in stereotype. They are actually a lot of fun in this story.
I absolutely loved the fantasy world: the warm climate surrounded by mangrove swamps and crocodile infested waters. I also enjoyed the magic system, which I imagine will be developed further in the next books.
Loved the cover too!
A fun read for those who like a bit of romance with their Epic Fantasy!
I really wanted to give this novel five stars … as I’m a huge Grace Draven fan. Radiance and Master of Crows remain two of my favorite books!
However, although there were things I absolutely loved about this novel, it fell short of the mark in a couple of areas. That said, it’s a really good read and well worth the (long) wait for!
Firstly, here’s what I loved about it:
The start is great. Draven drops you straight into the drama. A gladiator planning his escape, and a young woman who makes a yearly journey that takes a terrible toll on her. Azarion is the gladius prime, and also the empress’s pet. But he’s the only one who sees through Gilene’s yearly illusion when she joins the other ‘Flowers of Spring’ who must burn. He blackmails her into helping him escape and then abducts her.
I loved the scenes where they take refuge in a haunted city, after just escaping the capital. The city is eerily depicted and the scene where they have to run for their lives from a horrifying creature is really well done.
I liked the shades of LOTR with the barrows—complete with a barrow wight—where our hero and heroine take shelter on the ride to his homeland. I also liked the influence of Game of Thrones in the Savatar (Azarion’s people). Their customs and gods reminded me of the Dothraki a bit.
I loved the ending—really high action and edge of your seat stuff. Gilene finally takes action … and it was worth waiting for!
Now, here’s what I thought it lacked (and I only note these things because I liked the book so much but wanted to love it!):
Gilene is a bit too passive for my liking. For most of the story she’s a captive, and it’s only at the end we see her show some true spine. For the rest of the novel she seems at the whim of others. She complains a lot at the beginning, and it was a relief when she finally changed her attitude toward the hero.
Gilene was also a bit two-dimensional. Out of the two main characters I had more sympathy and understanding for Azarion. We find out about the ordeal of his life as the empress’s plaything but I never really ‘felt’ the hardship of Gilene’s upbringing. She’s described as sour and angry at the start of the story, but she comes across (to me at least) as a little cold.
The love story lacked the sizzle and emotional intensity of Grace Draven’s earlier works. Now, this is something that she excels in so it surprised me. I enjoyed the romance but it didn’t wow me the way Radiance and Master of Crows did.
Even these gripes withstanding, I still really enjoyed the book. Grace Draven is a masterful writer who knows how to bring a richly detailed fantasy world to life. I look forward to more in this world!
Four solid stars
So those are my three top Epic Fantasy Romance reads of the last few months—how about you? Please share your discoveries in the comments below. 🙂
⭐⭐⭐ Cover Reveal! ⭐⭐⭐
Here’s a sneak peek at the cover for PATH OF THE DARK, Book 3 of my Epic Fantasy Romance series, which is due out in 2019!
PATH OF THE DARK
A woman with a dark past and the son of a dictator meet on the eve of war. Dive into a high-stakes Epic Fantasy adventure filled with flawed, complex characters, and an emotional slow-burn romance.
The Four Kingdoms of Serran stand upon the brink of open war.
Ryana is an enchanter in the Order of Light and Darkness. Restless, with an independent and a rebellious spirit, she struggles with the path she has chosen in life. However, when she meets the captain who has been sent to negotiate peace between two kingdoms of the brink of war, she is reminded of her shadowy past—one she’d rather forget.
Elias of Anthor has been sent to assassinate the King of Rithmar. It’s a mission his father gave him as punishment for disappointing him, and Elias doesn’t expect to survive. Succeed or fail—either way, he’s a doomed man. But when the assassination attempt goes awry, Elias finds himself, not dead, but a prisoner of the enemy.
Enraged by the betrayal, the King of Rithmar launches a campaign to the south, to bring down the dictator who threatens not the peace of their kingdom, but that of the entire continent. It’s a campaign as bold as it is risky. Elias and Ryana travel with the army. He’s a prisoner and she serves her king, yet a bond neither of them expects grows between them. And as a great battle between looms Ryana finds herself considering an impossible choice.
Will she betray her own people once again for love?