Friday, December 12, 2014

"The Briton and the Dane" by Mary Ann Bernal

The Briton and the Dane
(The Briton and the Dane Book 1)
by Mary Ann Bernal

Today we feature The Briton and the Dane, which has recently been released as an audiobook. This is the first in our special feature on Mary Ann Bernal's audiobook series. Keep an eye out for another book next month.

Narrated by Sebastian Lockwood
Length: 11 hrs. and 30 mins
Unabridged Audiobook
King Alfred the Great has thwarted the Viking threat against his kingdom of Wessex. Signing a treaty with the formidable Danish King Guthrum, he succeeds in pushing the heathen army back to the rolling fens of East Anglia.
An uneasy peace holds sway: The King establishes a standing army under Lord Richard, who takes command of the citadel at Wareham.
Richard and his army are accompanied by his daughter, Gwyneth, an impetuous and reckless young woman - at once striking, intellectually gifted, but dangerously vain and imprudent.
While Richard broods on the Viking threat, Gwyneth falls in love with an enemy prince - only to discover that she has been betrothed to a Saxon warrior twice her age.
Refusing to countenance her grim fate, she flees the fortress, but is soon kidnapped by a Viking warrior and taken to the camp of King Guthrum while Saxon search parties scour the land.
In captivity, a hostage to fortune, and the focus of political intrigue, Gwyneth is submerged in a world of expediency, betrayal, and black treachery. Slowly, she realizes the truth is suspect, nothing is what it appears, and her reality cannot be trusted.
And all the time, against this background, she desires nothing more than to be reunited with her dashing Danish prince.

Book Video

Chapter One
Gwyneth walked towards the formidable Keep, nodding to the guards patrolling the wall-walk once she reached the top of the tower.  She breathed in the sea air, admiring the beauty of the land as the sun disappeared below the horizon, mesmerized by the rich and colorful hues of the darkening sky.  She was comforted by the melodious sound of breaking waves crashing against the rocky cliffs, which was a calming respite from the throes of a violent world.
As the blackness of night shrouded the earth, Gwyneth pondered the fate of her ancestors whose belief in Christ Jesus had cost them their lives, and she thanked God for having been born into a time when Christians were no longer persecuted for their beliefs.  Yet, she did wonder about the people who still worshipped pagan gods, gods that demanded blood sacrifices to appease alleged offenses.  She had been taught to love oneself, and one’s neighbor, seeking peace, and not war.  However, war was inevitable since the formidable Norsemen continued to raid the rich, fertile island of Britannia.
Once Gwyneth became accustomed to the darkness, she was able to distinguish recognizable forms and shapes as she glanced upon the gentle waves caressing the sandy shore. She did not see the figure on the beach in full view, but from the corner of her eye, a shadow of a man walking towards the fortress walls, or was he heading towards the sea?
That person could be lost,” Gwyneth thought.
Gwyneth could not contain her excitement as she succumbed to her curiosity and adventurous spirit.  She left the protection the fortress walls afforded and followed the old Roman tunnel to the base of the cliff.  The starless night and intermittent moonlight did not impede her progress as she crossed the rocky terrain since she had explored every inch of the surrounding countryside when she had first arrived at the citadel.
As Gwyneth ran towards the shoreline, she was well aware that she was alone, in the darkness, without any hope of rescue. If, indeed, there was a person walking the beach, would the encounter be safe? But then, a single person would not pose a threat, not really. She could defend herself if need be, but what if she was overpowered? She did not have a knife or sword, and the heathen threat was real, but not likely, yet, it was not prudent to venture out alone at night. She had acted on impulse, once again, and she admitted, somewhat reluctantly, that her brother, David, would not be pleased.
However, Gwyneth’s inquisitiveness and daring nature prevailed as she quickened her pace. She smiled when she remembered David telling her, on more than one occasion, that she had more courage and nerve than some of the aspiring warriors being trained.  She noticed the crystalline grains of sand sparkling in the moonlight as a gentle wind scattered the feathery clouds, and she heard his labored breathing echoing in the stillness as he walked towards her.
“He is wounded and favoring his left side,” Gwyneth thought.
He was close enough to touch when he stumbled and fell to his knees. Gwyneth noticed the arrow in his shoulder as she rushed to his aid, and surmised that the shaft had split when he had tried to remove the tip. She was overcome with compassion as she attempted to help the injured stranger, and gave little thought to his nationality.
“Are you awake?” Gwyneth whispered. “The fortress is not far, and there are healers.”
Gwyneth sensed the tension and heard the urgency in his voice when he replied.
“No! It is not safe! My life is at risk! No one must know my whereabouts!”
“I can hide you,” Gwyneth told him as she tried not to speculate about what his words meant.  However, she could not control her thoughts.“What if he is outlawed? Could he be the enemy?”
Surely there was a simple explanation of his plight. What if he had been caught in a tryst with a married woman, or what if he had been banished by his father and sought forgiveness after he had returned home? There were many innocent situations to consider, why must her thoughts always focus on the most treacherous?
With a degree of effort, Gwyneth was able to help him to his feet.  She put his arm over her shoulder and headed towards the base of the cliff, but found it difficult to maintain a steady pace once they reached the rocky terrain.
“The cave entrance is not far,” Gwyneth said as he stumbled upon the loose stones.
Wall sconces placed throughout the hidden corridors securely held the blazing torches so that shadows obscured by the darkness became flesh and blood figures in the soft light. Gwyneth did not feel threatened as she gazed upon a man who was not much older than her brother.
“This passageway ends near the tower and chapel,” Gwyneth told him. “The hidden room is straight ahead.”

Featured Review
Would you consider the audio edition of The Briton and the Dane: Second Edition to be better than the print version?
I loved being able to listen to this descriptive story on audio book. It really takes you in. I found it relaxing to listen to the story.
What did you like best about this story?
The author knows how to take you back in time. You feel like you are witnessing it all.
Have you listened to any of Sebastian Lockwood’s other performances before? How does this one compare?
I think Sebastian Lockwood does a fabulous job. He has a very expressive voice and told the story so well.
Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?
There were times I was practically sent to tears. In a good way. It was very easy to get involved with the characters and storyline.
Any additional comments?
My review.
The Briton and The Dane is the first book in a trilogy that takes place in the ninth century. This book caught my attention right away. It was easy to get swept away into the drama and intrigue. I was amazed over all the deception that took place during those time periods. This book also has a very seductive side which made the story even more captivating and entertaining for me.
I love how Mary Ann Bernal writes. She is wildly talented and has a real gift for telling a colorful story. The characters are very lifelike and the dialog is impeccable. I loved how the scenes keep shifting around throughout each chapter. I had to pay attention but it was so spellbinding and alluring at the same time. It is all very comprehensible and clever.
I loved all the history along with the romantic side to this novel.

About the Author
Mary Ann Bernal, author of The Briton and the Dane novels, is an avid history buff whose area of interest focuses on Ninth Century Anglo-Saxon Britain during the Viking Age. While pursuing a degree in business administration, she managed to fit creative writing classes and workshops into her busy schedule to learn the craft, but it would take decades before her "Erik the Viking" novel was ultimately published.
Mary Ann is also a passionate supporter of the United States military, having been involved with letter writing campaigns and other support programs since Operation Desert Storm. She has appeared on The Morning Blend television show hosted by KMTV, the CBS television affiliate in Omaha, and was interviewed by the Omaha World-Herald for her volunteer work. She has also been a featured author on Triangle Variety Radio, The Phil Naessens Show, and The Writers Showcase, and has been interviewed extensively by American and European bloggers.
Mary Ann currently resides in Omaha, Nebraska.