Follow on Bloglovin

Welcome to my place in the blogosphere!
feel free to explore the Flight Deck and check out my books and website.
Then fasten your seatbelts, sip a glass of something sparkling and let's chat awhile!
I hope you'll stop by again for guest authors and spotlights from time to time.

Beloved Enemy joined Starquest and Children of the Mist to continue the Destiny Trilogy and I'm thrilled to announce was shortlisted for the R.N.A. RoNA Awards 2017, awarded 2nd Runner up in the RONE Awards 2017 and was the winner in the SF/Fantasy category of the 'Best Banter Contest'.

Friday 26 August 2022

Hidden In The Mists by Christina Courtenay -Spotlight, Giveaway and Review

HIDDEN IN THE MISTS is a dual time story set in Scotland, featuring Vikings, ghosts and hidden treasure. Here is a short blurb:-

A love forged in fire lives on through the ages.
Skye Logan has been struggling to run her remote farm on Scotland’s west coast alone ever since her marriage fell apart. When a handsome stranger turns up looking for work, it seems that her wish for help has been granted. But echoes of the distant past won’t leave them alone, and it seems that the ghosts of the past have secrets . . . and they have something that they want Skye and Rafe to know. 

I'm thrilled to be part of this blog tour for Christina Courtenay's new novel Hidden in the Mists and to have been given the chance to review it. Thanks to Christina and Rachel's Random Resources.

I love Christina Courtenay's writing and have always had a fascination with Vikings and Nordic legends, so was looking forward to reading this book. I was not disappointed.The book follows two timelines and two sets of characters, each beautifully drawn and easy to relate to. One pair of characters live in the present time and one pair in a Viking settlement in the 9th century, and a clever touch is a gold bracelet that links the two timelines.  The action flows seamlessly from one timeline to the other and is easy to follow. The historical events, as well as descriptions of traditional crafts such as wool dying, spinning and weaving are obviously thoroughly researched and completely convincing.

There are several similarities between the two sets of characters and events which seem to mirror each other. There is also a hint of the supernatural, which is always in the background without being overdone. On one level, this is a ghost story, but not the blood-chilling scary sort, rather, there is a sense of eeriness and a hint of other-worldliness and maybe reincarnation.  Add to this, page-turning tension and a sense of mystery, not to mention the excitement of an archaeological dig with a possibility of buried treasure. Then, with not one, but two engaging romances, you have a gripping novel full of intrigue, that kept me turning the pages late into the night. For me, this is one of those stories that will remain in the memory long after the book is finished. (Five stars)

This is what the author says about her book:

I absolutely loved Scotland from the very first time I visited, and it has always felt like a magical place to me. The landscape, so often shrouded in mist, is stunning and atmospheric, and ideal as the backdrop for a dual time story. When I was casting around for new ideas for my next book during lockdown, it seemed perfect in more ways than one.

Normally, whenever I start writing a new book, I try to travel to the places where my stories are set, but obviously during the pandemic that wasn’t possible. As I’d been to Scotland before, it wasn’t strictly necessary. I also have a lovely friend who lives on the west coast of Argyll and she was willing to help me with the background details whenever my memory failed me. Add to that the fact that I knew the Vikings had once occupied large swathes of the West Highlands and islands nearby and everything started to fall into place.

The Vikings had already established themselves on Shetland and Orkney, and from there it was only a short journey to the Hebrides, or Western Isles, which was to the south. The Norsemen therefore called the islands the SuĂ°reyar – the South Islands – while after the mid-ninth century the Gaels apparently referred to them as Innse Gall – the Isles of the Foreigners. The Vikings would have set up raiding bases on the islands at first before they eventually became permanent settlements. It can’t have been long before they also established themselves on the mainland, which is where my story takes place.
In the end, I was lucky enough to make it up to Scotland for a visit after lockdown finally finished, so I was able to check the locations for myself. All in all, it seemed as though the Norse gods were with me and this story was meant to be.

Here is an extract from HIDDEN IN THE MISTS:-

‘Damn it all, move, you stupid thing!’

 Skye heaved with all her might, but succeeded only in shifting her rowing boat a couple of inches. It had been placed upside down on trestles the previous autumn and covered with a tarpaulin, but she’d recently made sure it was watertight by painting the hull with water resistant paint. However, all that work would be for nothing if she couldn’t get the annoying thing into the sea.

‘Come on!’ She tried one more time and managed to lift one end. If she couldn’t set it down carefully, though, chances were she’d smash all the bones in one or both of her feet, and then where would she be? This was useless.

‘There’s got to be a way,’ she muttered. She could try to push the trestles over with a broom handle, but what if the boat crashed to the ground too heavily? It would break, and she couldn’t afford to lose it. Either way, it was upside down and she still wouldn’t be able to turn it over. She needed it in one piece.

‘Would you like a hand with that?’ The deep voice came from right behind her, and Skye jumped and swivelled around, her heart turning somersaults inside her chest.

‘Jesus! Where did you spring from?’ She brought up a hand to push against her ribcage, where her heartbeat was going nineteen to the dozen.

A man stood a few metres away, glancing from her to the boat and back again. His expression wasn’t threatening, but he was tall, and the tight T-shirt he wore emphasised a powerful torso as well as muscular arms and shoulders. She swallowed hard. Calm down. Breathe! Visitors to her remote place were few and far between, but she had prepared herself for this eventuality. In an outside pocket of her combat trousers she carried a switchblade, in case someone arrived who wasn’t friendly. And she knew how to use the weapon; a former boyfriend had seen to that. He’d wanted her to be able to defend herself, should the need arise. Still, the reality of being confronted by an intruder was a lot scarier in real life than in theory only.

He held up his hands in a peace gesture, calming her a fraction. ‘Sorry, didn’t mean to scare you. I parked my van down the lane and walked the last bit. Don’t know if you’ve noticed, but your potholes are more like small craters.’ He gave her a disarming smile. ‘Wasn’t sure it was worth the risk to my tyres. Thought you heard me coming, but I guess you were busy.’

Down the lane? He must mean the rough mile-long track that led to her remote cottage. If he’d walked along that, his footsteps should have been clearly audible on the crunchy gravel. Where the heck were her guard dogs, and why hadn’t they barked to let her know someone was approaching? This was the second time in as many days they’d failed her, which was unheard of. Although she couldn’t really expect them to hear a ghost . . . She pushed that thought aside and whistled for them. They came bounding over, wagging their tails at the stranger, who stooped to pat them both in turn. The sight shook her, as it had never happened before. The traitors! They were normally wary of visitors, but this guy had them enthralled. Perhaps they had barked initially, but she’d been so focused on the boat she hadn’t noticed. Still, they shouldn’t be so friendly with anyone unless she told them to. This was worrying.

She stared at the man again. Was he real? Her mind returned – as it had done several times today – to the ghostly figure she’d seen by the shore yesterday. No, he was not a figment of her imagination. For one thing, he was too good-looking. Long golden-brown hair twisted into a messy man bun, big blue eyes under arched dark brows, a perfectly proportioned nose and a mouth surrounded by at least a week’s worth of stubble. The fact that his long-sleeved T-shirt was faded and his jeans ripped and worn didn’t matter – he’d have rocked any outfit, she was sure. The point was that he wasn’t dressed as a Viking, nor was he as insubstantial and shadowy as that woman had been. He couldn’t possibly be a ghost.

She tried to get a grip. She was clearly overreacting a wee bit here. Yes, understatement! But handsome or not, he was big and male, and she was all alone with him. Ghosts were one thing, they couldn’t hurt her, but this man most certainly could if he wanted to. Her hand hovered over the pocket that held the switchblade. The knowledge that it was there calmed her.

She cleared her throat. ‘Why are you here?’

His mouth twitched up further into a smile that made the corners of his eyes crinkle attractively. ‘Someone in the village said you might be wanting to hire some help for the summer months. I’m looking for a temporary job. Thought I’d come and ask in person.’

‘Oh. Who said that?’ She’d been careful not to tell anyone that Craig no longer lived here. It was safer that way. People talked, and it was a small community where everyone liked to know everyone else’s business.
The guy shrugged. ‘The owner of the village store.’

That made sense. Mr Fraser must have remembered that they’d hired someone last year to help out for a couple of weeks. God knew she could do with an extra pair of hands, but she couldn’t afford it.

‘This is Auchenbeag, right?’ he added. ‘Whatever that means. And I probably didn’t pronounce it correctly either.’

He hadn’t, and the way he’d massacred the Gaelic word made her want to smile, but she resisted the urge. She shouldn’t find anything about him charming. He was a stranger. Potentially dangerous . . . She shook her head. ‘Yes. It means “little field”, but sorry, I don’t—’

As if he’d read her mind, the man interrupted her. ‘I’m happy to work for nothing but food and free Wi-Fi. No salary necessary. And I brought my own accommodation, a camper van. That is, if I can get it down that bumpy track. But perhaps you need to consult with your husband? Or should I go talk to him myself?’

‘Um, no, that’s not . . . I mean, he’s not here right now. Family emergency. He might be a while.’
Yes, like for ever. But she couldn’t tell him that. And she shouldn’t have mentioned that Craig wasn’t here – now he’d know for sure she was all alone. What was wrong with her today?

‘Right. Well, would you like a hand with that boat, and then maybe we can talk some more?

‘And yes, please, I could definitely do with some help here.'

She’d be stupid not to accept his offer, because there was no way she’d ever get this boat off the trestles and into the water by herself.


Author bio:-

Christina Courtenay writes historical romance, time slip and time travel stories, and lives in Herefordshire (near the Welsh border) in the UK. Although born in England, she has a Swedish mother and was brought up in Sweden – hence her abiding interest in the Vikings. Christina is a former chairman of the UK’s Romantic Novelists’ Association and has won several awards, including the RoNA for Best Historical Romantic Novel twice with Highland Storms (2012) and The Gilded Fan (2014) and the RNA Fantasy Romantic Novel of the year 2021 with Echoes of the Runes.  Hidden in the Mists (timeslip/dual time romance published by Headline Review 18th August 2022) is her latest novel. Christina is a keen amateur genealogist and loves history and archaeology (the armchair variety).

Social Media:-

Giveaway to Win a signed copy of Hidden in the Mists,

 Viking tea-towel andViking carved butter knife (Open INT)

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize

 a Rafflecopter giveaway


For insider news and subscriber-only info, subscribe to my occasional Newsletter. I promise not to spam and your in-box will only see an email from me every 3 or 4 months or so - unless of course I have something really Newsworthy to share! I also promise that I never have and never will share your information or email address with anyone or any organisation.