I’m looking for ARC readers!

Just under two weeks until THE LOST SWALLOW is released: August 14, 2018!

This novel has been so much fun to write … even the editing process (which can be like sporking out one’s eyeballs, to be honest) was enjoyable. Each time I finish reading the book—and it’s been a few times now—I don’t want to leave the world, or the three main characters: Mira, Asher, and Ninia.

The novel is an Epic Fantasy Romance—so romance is hugely important to the plot—but it’s also an adventure story about duty, trust, and how the most important choices we make are often the most difficult.

Read THE LOST SWALLOW before anyone else!

Did you read RULED BY SHADOWS (it’s still currently free on Amazon, so grab yourself a copy) and love it? Are you a fan of Epic Fantasy Romance? Make sure you get on my Epic Fantasy Review crew list for THE LOST SWALLOW. All I ask in return is an honest review of the novel on Amazon and/or Goodreads. Book #2 in the Light and Darkness series will be released on August 14, and ARCs are going out soon!

To ensure you get your ARC, please:

  1. Sign up to my Epic Fantasy Romance mailing list (I send out monthly emails. No spam, I promise!)
  2. Then email me at: contact@jaynecastel.com, and put THE LOST SWALLOW REVIEW COPY PLEASE in the subject line.

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Read an excerpt from THE LOST SWALLOW

Not sure you want an ARC yet? Read this scene, where our main characters—Asher and Mira—meet, and decide if the story’s right for you.

***

He was about to move on when a woman on the other side of the market caught his eye.

Cloaked and hooded, her face partially obscured by the cowl of her cloak, she was talking to a crone selling fresh cheeses.

Another gust of wind raced across the walk—and this one tore the woman’s hood back off her face. She had long, black hair, a shade one rarely saw this far north, but it was her eyes he really noticed. Large, slightly slanted, and fringed in dark lashes, they were grey-blue. Dark, finely arched eyebrows slanted up from them, giving her an intense look. The rest of her features: a stubborn jaw, straight nose, and full lips were too strong to make this woman a classic beauty—yet she was striking.

An instant later the woman reached back and yanked her hood into place. Yet as she did, Asher saw the look of panic that flitted across her face. And then—even from yards away—she must have felt the weight of his stare.

Her gaze swiveled and met his over the busy crowd of shoppers and vendors going about their business. Their eyes met, and she froze.

The woman tore her gaze away and said something to the crone who’d been chattering away to her, oblivious. Then she turned and fled into the crowd.

A heartbeat later, Asher was after her.

She moved with the fluidity of a fox across the busy walk. Despite his height, Asher was lithe and quick on his feet—yet he almost lost her in the crowd. Up ahead he saw a flash of black from her cloak as she disappeared up Broad Walk. A moment later she turned onto one of the many walks leading off the thoroughfare.

Asher broke into a run. He hadn’t imagined the panic on her face earlier—this woman wanted to remain inconspicuous. She could be the Swallow he was looking for.

He entered Minnow Walk and spotted his quarry up ahead. She was walking briskly, her cloak flapping behind her. He saw she was dressed in leather breeches and boots, and as the wind raced down the narrow walk and snagged at her cloak, making it billow behind her, he saw that she carried a sword at her side.

His pulse quickened. This must be her.

She glanced over her shoulder then, her features shadowed by her hood. The sight of him in pursuit made her break into a run, and then she turned right down a side-alley.
Asher lengthened his stride. She’d increased her speed, her feet flying over the pitted planks. This alley was foul; someone had just emptied their chamber pot out the window. The walk and walls were splattered with excrement. The stench made Asher’s gorge rise. His boots slipped on something, and he nearly went over. Yet he managed to right himself and plow on. And all the while he kept his gaze fixed upon the woman who sprinted away from him.

Shadows, she’s fast.

At the end of the alley, a swing-bridge linked this wharf with the next one. The woman crossed it in long strides. By the time Asher was halfway across, she had disappeared into another alley up ahead.

Asher followed, crossing a walkway and entering an alley so narrow he could have reached out and touched the walls either side. A wall reared up before him, and he drew to an abrupt halt. He’d run into a dead end, and the woman had disappeared.

He stepped forward a few paces and glanced around, frowning. Then he looked up at the blue sky filled with fast moving clouds above. There were no doorways or windows in this alley, just a high timber palisade at one end.

Where did she go?

Asher turned around, planning to retrace his steps, and found himself facing a cloaked and hooded figure.

It took barely an instant to realize that she’d somehow managed to get behind him. Then she struck out, hitting him hard in the solar plexus.

The force of her punch knocked Asher back against the wall. A heartbeat later, she had a cold blade pressed to his throat.

The woman was shorter than him and had to look up to meet his gaze, but she didn’t appear remotely cowed by his greater size or strength. She pressed the blade close to his windpipe. Her hood had fallen back, her dark hair whipping around her, and her eyes were narrowed and dangerous.

“What do you want?” she asked, her voice a low growl.

Asher held her gaze and inhaled slowly and carefully. She had a murderous glint in her eye.

“To speak to you,” he wheezed, still recovering from her punch. “I’m a friend.”

Liar. If the woman knew what was good for her, she’d end him now.

Her mouth twisted, and the pressure on his throat increased. Asher felt a sting as the tip of the blade dug into his flesh.

“Try another answer.”

***


The Lost Swallow_Cover5Sounds exciting but I’d rather buy a copy

THE LOST SWALLOW is currently available on preorder so if you’d prefer to buy yourself a copy, follow one of the links below to your Amazon store.

Book review: The Final Empire (Mistborn #1) by Brandon Sanderson

 

I’ve been trawling Amazon and Goodreads for Epic Fantasy Romances to immerse myself in, but have had difficulty finding those I like. Many are too YA for me. So … in the meantime I picked up this book—and I’m glad I did. It does have a touch of romance in it … but for the most part it’s an Epic Fantasy coming of age story.

68428Loved this novel. Everything worked for me in this story. Great setting and world building, memorable and sympathetic characters, and a strong plot with enough twists and turns to keep me guessing. The magic system – whereby allomancers use different metals to enhance their strength, perception, vision and other senses – was highly original and believably drawn.

However, it was the premise of the novel that drew me in first: what if the dark lord had won?

What if Sauron had succeeded in taking Middle Earth? I mean … you have to read the story now, right?

Hundreds of years after the Lord Ruler siezes power, we see a world where ash falls from the sky, where the masses are enslaved and hopeless. In this brutal world lives a girl named Vin. Abandoned by her brother, she lives with a group of thieves, waiting for the day her ‘luck’ will run out. But when the leader of a band of thieves, an allomancer named Kelsier, saves her life and takes her into his band of men who now plot against the Lord Ruler – her life changes forever.

Both Vin and Kelsier are fantastic characters. We really get a feel for what motivates them, and what their weakness and demons are. Vin’s transformation from a frightened child, to a strong gifted woman is great to see. There’s a touch of romance in this story – and I must admit I would have liked to see more – however, there’s also a lot of emotion. I really felt for what was at stake for Kelsier, and what had driven him on his path to bring down the tyrant responsible for the death of his wife.

Highly recommend this novel. It’s well-written, brilliantly paced, with a magical vivid world I can’t wait to return to.

Five stars!

Check it out on Amazon.

Update on Book #2 in the Light & Darkness series

Book #2 now has a name: THE LOST SWALLOW. I’m now 20% into the manuscript, and with other writing projects out of the way (two Historical Romances set in Dark Ages Britain and Scotland), I can now focus my attention on my Epic Fantasy Romance series once more (happy dance!).

Naturally … I’m excited about THE LOST SWALLOW.

The first installment, RULED BY SHADOWS, was a coming of age story about a young woman who must face her greatest fears in order to save her world. It’s an epic journey, both physically and emotionally. However, this tale is darker. It’s about a renewal of hope, of redemption. Lilia (the heroine of Book #1) starts off fragile and gains strength as the story progresses whereas the heroine of Book #2, Mira is more streetwise. Her story is more about a lost soul finding her purpose.

Orphaned, Mira starts life scrounging a living on the streets of Veldoras before the Queen of Thûn plucks her out of the gutter and gives her the chance of a new life. Only such generosity comes at a price … 

Here’s a sneak peek at the PROLOGUE to give you an idea what’s coming. Enjoy!

***

THE GIRL DUG her hand into the mud, her fingers fastening around a small, round object. The slimy river silt gave up its treasures reluctantly, and made an obscene sucking sound as she pulled her find free.

Mira straightened up, her bare feet sinking into the cold mud. She held the caked object aloft, squinting at it in the bright noon light. Disappointment pricked at her when she wiped away the grime to find a smooth, pale-pink surface underneath. It was a seashell, a pretty conch, but not something that would earn her a meal.

The shell wouldn’t even buy her a crumb of bread.

Mira’s stomach growled, reminding her that she needed to find something she could barter for food—enough to take the edge off the hunger that clawed at her belly and made her legs tremble underneath her.

Inhaling deeply, Mira stuffed the shell into the pocket of her filthy leather vest and looked about her. She stood up to her ankles in sludge, around five feet from the edge of the Brinewater Canal, the sun glinting on the dark river flats. A hump-backed bridge made of pitted grey stone reared to her left. The Bridge of the North Wind was a good spot for mudlarking, for this was one of the richer areas of the city—and wealthy folk crossing the bridge might accidently drop something valuable into the mud.

Mira wasn’t alone here. A scattering of other Mudlarks—children who combed the riverbed at low-tide looking for treasures—picked through the mud around her. Like Mira, they were a scrawny, filthy bunch; clad in rags with eyes too big for their thin faces.

Mira sighed. Standing here feeling sorry for herself wouldn’t buy her a hot meal. She was about to bend down once more, when she spied the roof of a gilded carriage as it rumbled onto the Bridge of the North Wind.

She watched its passage, her gaze tracking it across the bridge’s arch … and when the carriage stopped half-way, a smile stretched across Mira’s face.

A nobleman had come for some easy entertainment.

She watched two individuals—a young man and woman—climb out of the carriage. They made a fine couple: he was tall with long black hair, a dashing cape hanging from his broad shoulders; and she was slender with hair the color of gold, wearing a becoming jade dress.

Mira stared at the woman, transfixed; she looked like a princess from one of the stories her mother had told her. It seemed like a lifetime ago, those nights when Mira’s mother would sit next to her by the fire and tell her tales of ladies and lords, warriors and enchanters, and great adventures. Both Mira’s parents had died, taken by the Grey Ravage four years earlier. Now, at the age of ten, Mira survived by scavenging a living on the streets and waterways of Veldoras.

The man sauntered to the edge of the bridge and cast a smirk over his shoulder at his companion, beckoning her to him.

Smiling coyly, the young woman approached the walled side of the bridge. She looked down, her gaze sweeping over the collection of urchins picking through the mud below, and her pretty nose wrinkled. The stench of the canal at low-tide, the eye-watering odor of rotting weed and refuse, was a smell that offended many of the citizens of ‘The City of Tides’ as Veldoras was known. However, Mira had lived amongst the stench for so long now that she barely noticed it.

The man dug into the pocket of his jerkin and pulled something forth, before leaning out over the edge of the bridge. “Children,” he cried out, grinning. “Come give us some sport!”

And with that, he flicked the object he held high into the air and watched it plummet toward the muddy flats below.

Mira watched it to, caught the glimmer of yellow that told her he had just thrown a gold talent, and felt her empty belly contract.

A gold talent was a fortune, enough to buy her food for a week.

Time slowed. Desperation soared within Mira when she realized that she was not standing where the coin would fall. Rowan, a weedy boy of her age, had been scavenging directly under the bridge would catch it. Realizing his good fortune, Rowan let out a whoop and reached out his thin arms toward the coin, his face screwing up in concentration.

Mira dove for him.

Rowan caught the talent, an instant before Mira collided with him. The two of them went down in a tangle of limbs.

“No!” Rowan wailed. “It’s mine!”

But Mira ignored him—so deep was her desperation that all she could think about was the hot soup, the fresh bread, and the wedges of salty cheese that gold talent could buy her. She didn’t care about Rowan, or about the other Mudlarks.

No one needed that money as much as she did.

Rowan fought her, his limbs flailing, but one vicious, bony knee to the belly brought him down. She heard the boy’s breath rush out of him, as he sank into the mud. Then, she pried the coin out of his hand.

A moment later, she was on her feet and running as fast as her trembling legs could carry her. The sucking mud slowed her down but a few strides took her to the banks of the canal, and the row of mildewed stone steps that led up to the embankment above.
Her foot hit the first step and she heard a howl behind her, followed by a string of filthy curses.

Rowan was coming after her.


Hope you enjoyed the preview of THE LOST SWALLOW. There will also be a cover reveal for the novel coming soon!

RULED BY SHADOWS 99 cent offer!

Usually priced at US$3.99, Book #1 of the Light and Darkness series (Kindle edition) is available at 99 cents for a limited time only— don’t miss out! At 330 action-packed pages, this Epic Fantasy novel (written under my pen-name Jayne Castel) is a fantastic deal.

What’s RULED BY SHADOWS about?

An unforgettable Epic Fantasy adventure brimming with action, emotion and romance–for readers who loved Throne of Glass! 

“If I could give this more than 5 stars I would. This was an exciting, action-packed and emotion-filled tale.” ★★★★★

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

Tired of living a small life, Lilia makes a fresh start by moving to a bustling port. Only when a handsome, enigmatic stranger walks into the tavern where she works as a cook–and leaves a charm-stone in her safekeeping–her neat, ordered world crumbles.

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.

Get your 99 cent copy today!

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


Meanwhile … work continues on Book #2! 

The second installment of the Light and Darkness series now has a name: THE LOST SWALLOW.

I’m 20% into the manuscript, and love being able to return to the world of The Four Kingdoms of Serran. It’s also great to further develop characters introduced in Book #1: Asher and Ryana especially. I’m bringing in some new protagonists as well, and some exciting plot twists!

THE LOST SWALLOW is the story of Mira and Asher. She’s a streetwise bodyguard. He’s a jaded enchanter of the order of Light and Darkness. Both loners, outsiders, Mira and Asher meet in the shadow of an escalating war that threatens to tear their world apart. When a chance comes to end the conflict, they both choose to embark on a journey into the heart of danger … one they are likely never to return from.

Sounds great … but I haven’t read Book #1 of the series yet

Here’s your chance—get your 99 cent copy of RULED BY SHADOWS.

Happy reading!

The Palâdnith Chronicles is available as a complete series!

Exciting news! The Palâdnith Chronicles: The Complete Series is now available.

If you’re into Epic Fantasy adventure on a grand-scale, this series is for you! The box-set contains all three books in the series (Journey of Shadows, The Citadel of Lies, and The Well of Secrets), plus the prequel novella, Deep-Spire. The e-book edition of the complete series costs USD$4.99 — it’s a great deal since each of the full-length novels retails at US$2.99, so if you buy them in the box-set you’re saving around $4.00!

What’s the series about?

Three brothers. One epic destiny. Get lost in the world of Palâdnith, and embark on an Epic Fantasy adventure.

Thirty years after the mysterious disappearance of their mother, cataclysmic events force Seth, Eni and Val Falkyn to abandon their old lives and identities, and run for their lives. Hunted by assassins, each brother embarks on a journey across a land torn by political turmoil and the threat of war.

Along the way, each man must face his personal demons and fears. Help comes from unlikely sources but, in the end, it is Seth, Eni and Val’s own strength, determination and courage that will decide their fates.

The Palâdnith Chronicles: The Complete Series contains Journey of Shadows (Book One), The Citadel of Lies (Book Two), and The Well of Secrets (Book Three) — as well as Deep-Spire, the prequel novella to the series.

Fans of classic Epic Fantasy Adventure and High Fantasy in the style of J.R.R Tolkien, George R.R Martin and Terry Brooks should enjoy immersing themselves in a unique fantasy world.

Where can I get a copy?

You can buy an e-book edition of the box-set at one of the following online bookstores:

Amazon.com
Amazon.co.uk
Smashwords

If you read the series, please do consider leaving an honest review on Amazon and/or Goodreads — it would mean a lot to me and would ensure others find the book too!

Thanks so much for your support.

Best wishes,

Samantha