Jayne Castel’s Dark Under The Cover of Night

Title: Dark Under the Cover of Night
Author: Jayne Castel
Publisher: Independently
Published Date: August 29, 2012
Page Count: 198
ASIN: B0093W11AY
Price: 99 cents eBook (I got this as an Amazon freebie)
Reviewer: Gwendoline SK Terry (15 Jan 2020)

Raedwyn–daughter of King Raedwald of the East Angles–has just wed one of her father’s ealdorman. Although highborn women wed to strengthen political alliances, rather than for love, Raedwyn still hopes for a happy marriage like that of her parents’. But her optimism is shattered on her wedding night, for her new husband is callous and rough.

Raedwyn’s life shifts unexpectedly when outlaws ambush her husband’s party on their journey back to his long ship. She finds herself captive of a bitter, vengeful warrior who has a score to settle with her father. Raedwyn is his bargaining tool.

Caelin, the outlaw’s enigmatic son, follows his father on his quest for revenge. Fiercely loyal to her own father, Raedwyn isn’t prepared for her wild attraction to Caelin–or for its consequences. Their love is forbidden–but it will not be denied.

Review – may contain spoilers!
Dark Under the Cover of Night was a great story. Raedwyn is the fictional daughter of real life King Raedwald of the East Angles. Castel masterfully wove historical fact into Raedwyn’s story, breathing life into people of the past and incorporating them into the dangerous yet beautiful world she has created.

Raedwyn, daughter of Raedwald, King of the East Angles, and Caelin, son of Ceowulf the Exiled, are both caught up in their father’s feud. During their few days together when Raedwyn is held captive by Ceowulf and his men, an undeniable attraction forms between Caelin and Raedwyn. Their love is forbidden, their path to being together is treacherous. They both understand the risks of them being together and try hard to stay away from each other, fighting what their hearts want, but ultimately they are drawn to each other despite their best efforts. Love always finds its way, however, and they manage to be together.

Now, for a historical romance, it was definitely light on the physical romance side of things. There were two sex scenes in the entire novel – the first Raedwyn’s disappointing ‘first time’ when she consummates her marriage to her first husband, Cynric the Bold, thus losing her virginity. The second was when she and Caelin, after a lot of sexual tension, finally enjoy each other. I kind of expected more love scenes, instead Castel seemed to focus on the forbidden part of Raedwyn and Caelin’s relationship rather than their actual being together.

Castel wrote an enthralling, emotive story. There were some parts that were slow (there always are slow parts in novels though, let’s be honest), but for the most part the novel was exciting and intriguing. Notably poignant was Raedwald’s death and burial – Raedwyn didn’t get her chance to make peace with her father before his death. I kind of liked this – the regret, the never spoken words – but I’m a psycho who likes ready depressing moments like that. I enjoy when not everything goes favourably for the MC by the end of the book. It’s a little bit of realism – life’s not fair, not even in fiction.

My heart broke when Raedwald didn’t believe Raedwyn over the words of his enemies, and my frustration with him turned to anger when he arranged a horrific marriage for Raedwyn (to a famously dangerous man rumoured to have killed his previous wife!!) just to spite her for ‘being a whore’. WHY did Raedwald believe his foes over his daughter who had never given him a reason to doubt her? Yes, his wife had cheated on him in the past, it hurt him, it started the feud between him and Ceowulf. BUT his enemies were the one saying his daughter whored herself to them … Despite any residual bad feelings he held towards his wife, the two situations were vastly different and, again WHY believe your enemies over your daughters? An obvious scheme to get under Raedwald’s skin, and as an experienced warlord he should’ve recognised that.

This novel was a beautiful historical romance, action-packed, historically accurate, with gorgeous romantic scenes. I didn’t understand why some readers complained of the oppression of women in the story; yes, the women were oppressed by the men, but this is accurate to the time period (the story is set in the 7th century). It’s a fact, at that point in time, women were told who to marry, their lives were mostly controlled by the whim of their fathers or other prominent men in their lives if their fathers were dead or absent. I dislike over-modernised characters in historical novels – Castel’s characters were believable and realistic because she kept their behaviour true to the time period.