Halloween in history

Halloween. Spooky and creepy, yet somehow romantic. A night when you can dress up as your imagination dictates. Beg sweets from strangers. And best of all, get a year’s worth of revenge on grumpy neighbours and not be punished!

Halloween developed from All Saints, a Christian feast celebrating the saints and martyrs. I say Christian feast day, because the word Halloween is a semantic drift from All Hallow Eve. But the festival itself has a much longer history. In an effort to uproot pagan traditions, the Christian church coopted existing holidays. In the 9th century, Pope Gregory moved the feast to the first day November, the date of Samhain, an ancient pagan festival with roots going back before written history.

Samhain was one of the four great Celtic festivals. The first day of November was the start of year for the ancient Celts, the end of the harvest when the goddess Bride, the incarnation of summer, was replaced by Cailleach, the incarnation of winter. On the eve before the New Year, the boundary between our world and the Otherworld became blurred. Fairies came out, and ghosts roamed the land. Fires were lit and sacrifices made to appease them so they wouldn’t play pranks the living. Men would dress as animal spirits to trick the fairies and stop their souls being stolen. The community came together in celebration, drinking and feasting for up to six days.

Turning Samhain into All Hallow Eve didn’t remove the pagan traditions, but they did change over the centuries. Community fires became smaller bonfires to protect farms and families from witches and ghosts. Sacrifices became offerings of food left outside the house for the fairies. Dressing up as animal spirits became guising or mumming—young men would don costumes and go from house to house, singing in exchange for cakes. Halloween pranks, once blamed on spirits and fairies, became part of the trick or treat tradition.

Since childhood, Halloween has been my favourite holiday. How could it not be? The night when the wall between the human world and the magic world can be breached! The night when fairies roam at will! Of course, in Celtic mythology, fairies are usually tricksters who don’t do humans any good at all. But in my childhood fancies, fairies were beautiful, kind, and gave awesome presents.

And, did I mention, free sweets?

Happy Halloween, everyone!

Renegade Widow – get your copy now!

I’m proud to announce my latest release! Set in New Mexico in the time of the John Kinney gang and Billy the Kid, Renegade Widow is a spicy menage romance featuring the feisty Belle, the haughty Cord, and the masterful Wilder. Get your copy of Renegade Widow here!

Can Cord and Wilder tame this redhot redhead?Cover Renegade Widow by Jules Radcliffe
Belle baulks at a marriage of convenience when an accident robs her of her memory. Yes, Cord is rich and handsome, but how could she have agreed to marry a man she’s never met? And while his fiery nature sets her heart pounding, she’s enraged by his arrogance. Not like his friend, Deputy Sheriff Wilder, whose gentle charm captivates her.

Taking a destitute widow he’s never laid eyes on to wife suits Cord perfectly. He has a dark secret—he and Wilder are in love, and this marriage will protect both of them. But Cord finds himself intrigued by Belle’s sensual beauty even while her obstinance infuriates him.

As for Wilder, try as he might, he can’t hate his rival. The feisty Belle stirs him in a way no one but Cord ever has. He might even be in danger of falling in love with her.

Belle, defiantly independent, takes a job at the local saloon. She’s desperate to leave the town of Maraña and the two men who raise uncomfortable feelings about wanting to settle down. Cord and Wilder are horrified she’s willing to risk her reputation. But she’s about to turn their former peaceful existence on its head as there’s only one way they can stop her. This scorching triangle is set to explode.

But when a gang of outlaws, a New York City crook, and a bounty hunter all converge on Maraña, it seems Belle’s misdeeds have caught up with her.

Is Belle innocent of wrongdoing, or is she a renegade?

Click here for a sneak peek at Renegade Widow

The Penitent Pirate on sale now!

The Penitent Pirate coverI’m thrilled to announce that book four of the Pirates of Port Royal series, The Penitent Pirate, is finally back out in the world! It was previously published with Loose Id, but it’s been reviewed, revised, and given a spiffy new cover.

Click here to buy The Penitent Pirate from your favourite ebook store

The Penitent Pirate picks up Perry and Quinn’s story after the hair-raising events of the summer. Though months have passed, Quinn can’t shake the trauma of his imprisonment…

Will Perry follow his heart? Or his duty?

After peaceful months ashore, Perry and Quinn are ready to return to the life they love—roving with the Brethren of the Coast aboard the pirate ship Audacious. But Quinn is still haunted by his torture in a Spanish dungeon. Perry hopes being back at sea will restore his matelot to his old self.

But to Perry’s dismay, Raphe Ashburn of Night Hawk has returned to Port Royal.

Charming, aristocratic, witty—Captain Ashburn is everything Perry wishes he could be. Once, he and Quinn burned up Port Royal with their passion. Now he wants Quinn back, and he’s not above any nasty trick to achieve his aim. But with England on the brink of war, Perry is reluctant to challenge, and perhaps lose, a valuable ally in the coming conflict.

And then a rival from Perry’s old ship reappears when he’s least expected. Perry is forced to return to the navy and renounce his pirate brethren. And he can’t tell anyone the truth lest he puts them in grave peril.

Perry fears he’ll never see his matelot again, for Quinn is not the man to brook such a betrayal. And the dashing Captain Ashburn is waiting in the wings…

The Penitent Pirate is a thrilling adventure filled with dashing deeds and perilous secrets. Get swept overboard by the fierce passion of two men who would give up everything for the other.

Click here for a sneak peek at The Penitent Pirate

The Penitent Pirate – available now for pre-order!

The Penitent Pirate coverI’m thrilled to announce that book four of the Pirates of Port Royal series, The Penitent Pirate, is finally finished! It was previously published with Loose Id, but it’s been reviewed, revised, and given a spiffy new cover.

Releasing on 28 August, The Penitent Pirate is available for pre-order now from your favourite ebook store.

The Penitent Pirate picks up Perry and Quinn’s story after the hair-raising events of the summer. Though months have passed, Quinn can’t shake the trauma of his imprisonment…

Will Perry follow his heart? Or his duty?

After peaceful months ashore, Perry and Quinn are ready to return to the life they love—roving with the Brethren of the Coast aboard the pirate ship Audacious. But Quinn is still haunted by his torture in a Spanish dungeon. Perry hopes being back at sea will restore his matelot to his old self.

But to Perry’s dismay, Raphe Ashburn of Night Hawk has returned to Port Royal.

Charming, aristocratic, witty—Captain Ashburn is everything Perry wishes he could be. Once, he and Quinn burned up Port Royal with their passion. Now he wants Quinn back, and he’s not above any nasty trick to achieve his aim. But with England on the brink of war, Perry is reluctant to challenge, and perhaps lose, a valuable ally in the coming conflict.

And then a rival from Perry’s old ship reappears when he’s least expected. Perry is forced to return to the navy and renounce his pirate brethren. And he can’t tell anyone the truth lest he puts them in grave peril.

Perry fears he’ll never see his matelot again, for Quinn is not the man to brook such a betrayal. And the dashing Captain Ashburn is waiting in the wings…

The Penitent Pirate is a thrilling adventure filled with dashing deeds and perilous secrets. Get swept overboard by the fierce passion of two men who would give up everything for the other.

For a sneak peek at The Penitent Pirate, click here

Pirate Master – at last!

Pirate Master coverI’m thrilled to announce Pirate Master is finally out in the world!

The story picks up immediately after Perry finally succumbed to his bitter enemy, the gorgeous Gabriel Quinn…

Last night was one of scorching passion, but will it last? Have Perry and Quinn finally got each other out of their systems, or will something deeper come of  their reluctant longing for each other?

Quinn has never met anyone quite like Perry, who sees him as no man ever has. But there are sinister goings-on in Port Royal, and too many secrets he can never tell—not even the man he loves.

Perry has his career to think of, and his family back in England who rely on him for support. Can he risk all for the love of a pirate?

Pirate Master will sweep you away with adventure and betrayal, dashing duels and derring-do, and the fierce passion of two men with the courage to be true to themselves.

Pirate Master, available at your favourite ebook store now.

For a sneak peek at Pirate Master, click here

Pirates of Port Royal series update

Photo by Austin Neill on Unsplash

Image courtesy of Austin Neill on Unsplash

The Pirates of Port Royal are about to set sail again!

I’m pleased to announce that, under the imprint of Sinnamon Press, all previously published novels will shortly be back on the market. Since they were taken off the shelves, I’ve been revising and editing the original works to make them even better than before.

All four books will be published in April in their brand new editions with brand new covers. For release day specials and free reads, sign up to Scribblings & Musings, my regular newsletter.

Four books? I hear you say. Does this mean there’s a brand new Pirates of Port Royal book?  Well, that’s a bit of a story…

When I received my rights back from Loose Id, I quickly republished A Summer Pursuit and The Winter Trail. However, I decided the Pirates of Port Royal series needed a closer look. Amongst other things, I wanted to better incorporate the story arc—murder and espionage in the seventeenth century Caribbean!

And those of you who know me know I feel very strongly about using American spelling and grammar in what is essentially a British story. (I really am too pedantic for my own good sometimes.)

Pirate’s Promise and The Penitent Pirate only needed a light rework, but I was never happy with the published version of The Puritan Pirate. As Keren Reed, my long-suffering editor at Loose Id, may remember! At the time, I felt the story wasn’t ready to go out, but market forces intervened, and I rushed its release.

Having the leisure of no publishing deadline, I thought I’d try to craft the book into what I originally wanted. And that was two books, because it really is two distinct stories—the story of Perry and Quinn discovering each other, and the story of Perry realising he values love more than he values his career.

I thought long and hard. I tore chapters apart and knitted them back together. I wrote substantial new material to round the manuscript out into two standalone stories. And then, I made the plunge. I split it into The Puritan Pirate and Pirate Master.

So, readers, while there’s a wodge of new chapters across both books, giving deeper insights into Perry and Quinn, Pirate Master is not a new release as such. But I’ll let you in on a not-very-well-kept secret! There is a new Pirates of Port Royal book coming soon, but more on that in another post.

As an author, I learned two lessons from this experience.

The first: Trust your instincts. I knew The Puritan Pirate wasn’t ready, but I published it anyway. I knew it needed to be two books, but I listened to well-meaning friends who said it was great the way it was.
The second: Never rush a release! You’ll always regret it, as I did.