Have you come across Jolabokaflod before? The Historical Writers’ Forum is celebrating this Icelandic tradition throughout December, with members giving away copies of our books – make sure you’re following our page on Facebook, to read all the blogs, learn about us and our books, and of course, take part in any special offers or giveaways…
Today, I’m giving away three ebook copies of my border reiver romantic adventure, The Raided Heart.
To go into the draw for the chance to win, follow me on Twitter and Facebook, then simply tell me this: What’s your favourite Christmas song? For me, Christmas begins when I hear Slade’s Merry Christmas Everybody in a public place. One of my happiest memories was in London a couple of years ago, and hearing it as I looked into the gorgeously-decorated window of Selfridges. We’ll ignore the fact that it was tipping it down, and I’d just stepped in a puddle… Comment below to tell me yours!
In The Raided Heart, I did write about a Christmas, a family celebration for the Mathers at Long Ridge, the fictional village in which my novel’s set. Will and Meg’s affair has been growing, and here, Meg is lost in thought as the celebrations approach…
Meg sat at the table, stitching together garlands to decorate the main hall, whilst Hannah and Lizzie wove intricate designs from greenery: anything to brighten the room for as long as possible during the evening’s party, as the men in the kitchen and local cottages prepared the meat for cooking. Everyone was more jovial than they had been for months, she thought, looking around at the happy little group.
Then there was Will.
Despite their stolen kisses, and their growing openness with each other, she still wasn’t sure she could read him as well as she could the others. He was so good at switching from her charming handsome raider to just another of the young men of the village, boasting about their bravery: how they were sure they could take on the Grays and Elliots combined, and still come out victorious. She was certain she was more constant.
“More thread, my lady?” His words startled her.
“Will? Um, yes, thank you.” She took the offered thread, and added it to her pile.
“I would like to meet with you, this evening, during the celebrations. I might just have a Christmas gift for you.” Will grinned at her shyly.
“A gift? We didn’t say we were exchanging gifts, did we?”
“No… I mean… You don’t mind, do you? I could always give it to Hannah if you object?” The shyness had vanished, as his eyes sparkled.
“Judd might, even if I don’t,” Meg teased him. “But no, that will be perfectly acceptable. I’m sure I can find some trinket lying around that you might like. Somewhere.” She made a show of looking through the sewing basket.
“I shall look forward to receiving my needle and thread then. After the last course is served, out in the barn?”
“No. Will, we cannot go creeping about the outbuildings in the middle of a party. Imagine what people might think. I’ll be on the seat outside your sister’s cottage. In plain sight.”
“You don’t trust me? Or you don’t trust yourself?”
She batted him away. “Just go! I might see you this evening. Depending on the quality of your gift, I may permit you to dance with me.”
He winked as he walked away, leaving Meg painfully aware that she was blushing. Desperate to avoid any questions, she left her work and retreated to her curtained chamber. Once alone, and calmer, she reached carefully under the thin mattress to retrieve the small package she had brought back from Hexham. Nobody had seen her slip the contents into her basket as the ladies had perused the blacksmith’s wares, trying to find gifts for their menfolk on a limited budget. In the end, decorated pins had been purchased for her brothers, each with a carved image of a bastle-house at their end, a joint effort between blacksmith and carpenter. For Will, though, Meg had chosen something different. She hadn’t dared hope for a moment that he might have thought of her, but regardless, she had chosen a pin for him too, to keep his cloak close around him on colder rides. At the centre was a carved image, but one which she knew he would understand as referring to them and their relationship (such as it was), and theirs alone. A horse’s head.
Looking forward to hearing from you, and hope you have a lovely Christmas, full of books!