Please join me in welcoming talented author Laura Strickland to the Solar on this special day to celebrate the launch of her new book, The Mistletoe Heart. It is the latest entry in the Christmas in the Castle Series from The Wild Rose Press. Laura is a multi-genre writer, whose works include contemporary, Steampunk, and historical, especially medieval. Here’s a peek at The Mistletoe Heart.


Kneeling at her feet, he offers her his heart.

It’s the Christmas season at Clarendon, and Genevieve DeClare is determined to provide a joyful holiday for her mother and sister, despite the losses they’ve endured the past year. The castle is decked with greenery and she’s planned a lavish feast. Awaiting her guests, her heart longs for one more thing: the return of her betrothed, Maddox DeVille, who departed on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land a year ago.

But when an unexpected guest arrives, he’s a stranger. Tomas Monmercy, a knight newly returned from the Crusades, has traveled many weary miles to fulfill a promise and bring Genevieve the talisman she entrusted to Maddox—a mistletoe heart. Tomas considers it a sacred duty. He certainly never intends to fall in love with the beautiful maiden his friend loved so well.


A check in his step had him pausing. She could feel the intensity of his gaze marking her every feature, even if she could not see his face.

Her mother and her sister both exclaimed, and got to their feet. Like Genevieve, Gilliane started forward. Genevieve barely noticed. She reached him first and grasped for his hands.

They felt cold, cold as the grave, and they gripped Genevieve’s with frantic strength. In one movement, he went down to his knee on the flagstone floor and tossed the hood back onto his shoulders.

She found herself staring into the face of a stranger.

Not Maddox. Not her friend at all. He could not be more unlike.

This man had dark hair, a profusion of curls that tumbled down his neck and over his brow. He had a narrow face bracketed by lines in the cheeks, though he could not be above a score and five. His eyes, too, were dark and burned with a kind of passion Genevieve had never before beheld.

“Lady Genevieve DeClare?”

Genevieve tried to recoil but he held the hands she’d offered so eagerly, held them tight. Behind her, Gilliane cried out. Uncle Gervase exclaimed and started forward, but she could look nowhere save into those liquid, dark eyes.




Barnes & Noble:





Multi award-winning author Laura Strickland delights in time traveling to the past and searching out settings for her books, be they Historical Romance, Steampunk or something in between. Her first Scottish Historical hero, Devil Black, battled his way onto the publishing scene in 2013, and the author never looked back. Nor has she tapped the limits of her imagination. Venturing beyond Historical and Contemporary Romance, she created a new world with her ground-breaking Buffalo Steampunk Adventure series set in her native city, in Western New York. Married and the parent of one grown daughter, Laura has also been privileged to mother a number of very special rescue dogs, the latest of whom is a little boy named Tinker, and is intensely interested in animal welfare. Her love of dogs, and her lifelong interest in Celtic history, magic and music, are all reflected in her writing. Laura’s mantra is Lore, Legend, Love, and she wouldn’t have it any other way.






Twitter: Laura Strickland Author @LauraSt05038951



Join me in welcoming Jennifer Ivy Walker and her latest, Winter Solstice in the Crystal Castle, a book that’s part of a special Christmas in the Castle series from our publisher, The Wild Rose Press. I hope to spotlight many of the series’ entries. The series features stories set around, yes, Christmas, in various eras of history. If you’ve read any of Jennifer’s earlier three prizewinning books, you’ll know she loves to combine history, myth, and folklore with touches of fantasy and the paranormal. Her delightful new title follows in that tradition. Here’s a bit from Jennifer about a medieval Yuletide tradition and then a peek at the book.

La Bûche de Noël : A Winter Solstice Celtic Yuletide Tradition

The earliest bûche de Noël—the delectable chocolate yule log cake served as the traditional Christmas dessert in France– can be traced to medieval Brittany with the ancient Celtic tradition of celebrating the winter solstice.

On the shortest day of the year, the Celts would search for a large trunk of oak, beech, elm or cherry wood and burn it as a symbol of rebirth of the sun. During the Middle Ages, the logs themselves would be decorated with ribbons and greenery. The youngest and the oldest members of each family would carry the log into the house and set it aflame in the hearth–to help prevent sickness and protect against evil spirits. Over time, the tradition of burning the Yule log evolved into a log-shaped cake, served as a Yuletide dessert to holiday guests.

Today, la bûche de Noël is the traditional dessert served at le Réveillon, the French Christmas Eve feast.

In my novel, Winter Solstice in the Crystal Castle, la bûche de Noël is served to holiday guests as part of le Réveillon, the Celtic Yuletide feast.


Gabrielle is a flame haired, fire hearted French princess who dreams of becoming a Valkyrie warrior queen like her Viking ancestors from Normandy. Sent to Paris to learn the proper etiquette for a future French queen, she is called home to le Château de Beaufort for a forced marriage to a man she loathes when her father the king’s precarious health takes a sudden turn for the worse.

Chivalrous, solitary knight Sir Bastien de Landuc suffers an impossible love for Gabrielle, the unattainable princess he can never have. Without a title of nobility, he is ineligible to compete in the tournament for her hand in marriage, despite his unparalleled equestrian skills and inimitable swordsmanship.

Yet, Yuletide wishes for a wondrous winter solstice in the glorious Crystal Castle might make impossible dreams come true.

Can the valiant knight win the coveted hand of his Viking Valkyrie


Seven years of holding her close, inhaling her rose scented, luxuriously long red hair.

Seven years of admiring the soft, porcelain skin he longed to touch.

Seven years of perfectly molding her strong, athletic body to his own.

Tantalizing, torturous torment.

“I shall be a warrior queen,” she’d told him, emerald eyes ablaze with fierce pride as she’d blocked and parried his blows. “A Valkyrie shield maiden, like my ancestor, Brunnhild.” Agile and graceful as a dancer, she’d spun with stunning elegance and surprising force, disarming him with a glorious, gloating grin. “And I shall defend this kingdom with my sword… thanks to you.”

She’d strolled across the heather blooms to pick up and return his fallen blade. And– long red hair whipping in the salty sea spray like a victorious Viking goddess– she’d kissed him, her full, sensuous lips bestowing a generous gift of gratitude.

And the promise of invigorating, intoxicating, impossible love.

L’amour impossible.

The courtly love of a chivalrous knight for a lofty Lady he could never have.

So, he’d worshipped her in his young heart, suffering in silence as she honed her impressive skills and shared her secret hopes for the future as a powerful, invincible queen.

A Viking warrior queen.

A valorous Valkyrie shield maiden.

A voluptuous vixen who danced in his daring dreams.

Jennifer’s Bio:

Enthralled with legends of medieval knights and ladies, dark fairy tales and fantasies about Druids, wizards and magic, Jennifer Ivy Walker always dreamed of becoming a writer. She fell in love with French in junior high school, continuing her study of the language throughout college, eventually becoming a high school teacher and college professor of French. Her new release, “Winter Solstice in the Crystal Castle”, is a steamy medieval romance between a flame-haired, fire-hearted French princess descended from Viking Valkyrie and the solitary, sullen knight who suffers an impossible love for her.

Readers who enjoyed The Wild Rose and the Sea Raven trilogy—a fated mates paranormal fantasy adaptation of the medieval legend of Tristan and Isolde, interwoven with Arthurian myth, Avalon, Elves, Druids, forest fairies, Vikings, and dark magic—will recognize several of the main characters in this new novel as well. Explore her realm of Medieval French Fantasy. She hopes her novels will enchant you.


Goodreads Author page:








Medieval Monday: A Slice of Hlaf

Welcome back to Medieval Monday at my blog “The Solar.’

This season, I hope to bring you a variety of information, from facts on medieval life to spotlights on old castles to something I had fun researching for my latest novella—Old and Middle English words.  And of course interviews with fellow authors spotlighting their books and their other interests.

In medieval castles, the solar was an upper story room, sometimes used as a sleeping apartment for the lord, sometimes as a retreat for the ladies. It was a place to get away from the general hubbub of the great hall.

According to the online etymology dictionary at, ‘solar’ meant a “‘living room on an upper story’ (also sollar)…from Old English, from Latin solarium…” 

It often contained larger windows allowing for more light in the chamber. This was possible because invaders were unlikely to be able to reach that upper story to gain entrance through the openings larger than the arrow slits, contained on the lower level—the great hall. 

Above is a photo of the solar at Stokesay Castle, Shropshire, England. Although the castle was originally built in the 13th Century (the 1200s), you can see that the current solar is somewhat modernized. But it gives you an idea of where ladies often gathered in medieval times to relax or to do handiwork necessary to castle living. Just use your imagination and see everything as much rougher—and that fireplace might have been a later addition. Some places heated with braziers—think a portable container made of a fireproof material like iron or metal in which fuel could be burned.  I can image that it wouldn’t be particularly safe in a tightly enclosed space because of the fumes given off.

‘Solar’ is one of the old words that have become familiar to readers of books set in the medieval period .

When the Normans invaded England in 1066 AD, they brought their language along with them. And for the next few hundred years, the nobles (read that the lords who served the kings, administered the lands, and manned the castles) spoke Norman French. On the other hand, nearly all the regular people, who were native to the land, still spoke the common language—English.

The smart knights and lords set about learning the native language, but many—perhaps even most—considered it below then to learn the speech of the common people. It was ostensibly up to the commoners to learn the language of their ‘betters.’

This sounds like a terrible stereotype, but to a certain extent it held true at the highest levels. Some of the medieval kings never bothered to learn the language of the people they ruled.

As I searched for one or two words for Annis to begin Hugh’s English lesson in The Right Knight (coming in December), I found a delightful site and I want to share some of those words with you. I hope you will enjoy them. The first one appears at the end of this blog.

One of my favorite classes was History of the English Language. I loved seeing how our current language was and is influenced by so many sources.

Although I couldn’t find a reasonable representation of an English medieval brazier, here’s a photo of an ancient floor model from Pompeii and another of a tabletop brazier, also from Italy.

Now—the Old English word for the month is –hlaf, meaning bread or loaf.