SWEET BLACK WAVES
The tale of Tristan and Iseult's epic romance has been told for a thousand years, but the bards didn't get the whole story: this is Branwen's story.
Cousin and lady’s maid to Princess Iseult of Ireland, nineteen-year-old Branwen is gifted with natural healing abilities and possesses a fiercely loyal heart. Orphaned as a child, Branwen isn't romantic by nature and will do everything in her power to end the war between Ireland and Cornwall that killed her parents.
When a Cornish minstrel washes up on the beach, she stitches his wounds with love-knots and he steals her heart. To her surprise, he reappears at the Irish court to win Iseult for King Mark of Cornwall. Branwen's wave-tossed poet is none other than Prince Tristan. Although Tristan wins Iseult's hand for his uncle, he asks Branwen for her hand himself.
Branwen is entrusted with safeguarding Iseult's virtue until her marriage to the King of Cornwall as well as the love potion they are to share on their wedding night. It's Branwen's fault when, during a storm on the voyage across the sea, Tristan and Iseult imbibe the potion and consummate their relationship.
Now it falls to Branwen to conceal the affair between her cousin and her own betrothed. If she reveals their disgrace, the fragile peace between the two kingdoms will disintegrate. Branwen must choose between honor and family, duty and passion. There must be peace at all costs, even if it means giving up the only man she’s ever loved––Tristan.
SWEET BLACK WAVES is Graceling meets Mists of Avalon in this retelling of Tristan and Iseult. It is a stand-alone YA Fantasy complete at 90,000 words with series potential. I hold a PhD in Medieval Literature from the University of Cambridge where I have taught the Old French Tristan legends to undergraduates. My first non-fiction book, The Myth of Morgan la Fey is forthcoming from Palgrave Macmillan.
When the sun hit the surface of the water just right, the ocean became a field of undulating velvet. This was six-year-old Branwen’s favorite time of day. She could taste the sweet black waves.
She’d stolen down to the shore, evading her nursemaid so that she might cup the night-rich liquid with her palms. She glanced up at Castle Tara, which stood proudly atop a craggy hill, as the spray of the surf teased her and tickled her brow. She squealed in delight.
As the currant-red sun began to sink below the horizon, Branwen began to dig. With the earnest concentration of a master builder, she hollowed out the sand into a circular moat. The first line of defense. Her people had been at war with Cornwall across the sea since before Branwen was born. She already understood the importance of protecting what you loved.
Lady Alana and Lord Caedmon were due back at Castle Tara this evening and she wanted to present them with a gift––a castle of her very own. She’d been very cross with her parents for not letting her travel with them to Leinster, refusing to say goodbye. She missed them terribly and wanted them to know how very sorry she was for how she had behaved. She longed for her mother’s embrace, to bury her face in dark mahogany curls. Lady Alana always smelled of lavender.