Friday, November 28, 2008

Love in Waiting by Jane Beckenham

Jane Seatoun has always wanted to see the historic places she loves to read about and when she wins a competition to travel from her home state of Massachusetts to York, within hours of stepping off the plane she finds herself in a crypt where run of the mill tourists aren’t supposed to be.

The history surrounds her and she breathes in the air of a thousand years, but is it only her imagination which whispers back to her from an ancient tomb. “You waited, Jayne.” Consigning the voice to her over-active imagination, Jayne ignores it at first but the voice persists and when a blank wall turns into an arched door, Jayne cannot prevent herself from stepping through it and into a place she doesn’t recognise.

Bewildered by the strangeness of her two rescuers, Callum Broderick and Thomas Seaton, the situation is further confused by the arrival of a reputed prophetess, Mother Shipton, who delivers a warning to Jayne that her life is forever entwined with Callum’s.

Jayne’s choice is clear, remain alone in a dark forest where wolves howled in the distance, well Callum told her it was wolves and who is she to argue? -or trust this strange but attractive young man with the odd way of speaking? She chooses her escort and he takes her to his home, Broderick Hall, although he almost abandons her when her twenty first century tongue repeatedly annoys him with not only an unmaidenly forthrightness, but her repeated demands for, a phone, a taxi, a station, and something called a train! The poor man starts to think he has rescued a madwoman and it’s only his gallantry which delivers Jayne safely at Broderick Hall.

However Jayne is unable to keep her mouth shut when she finds herself among a strange cult behaving like some English Amish village caught in the 1500’s and seeks a way out. Finally it dawns on her that something happened in the crypt and she is no longer in the time or place she thought she was and has stepped back into the year 1532.

As Jayne slowly comes to terms with what has happened, she confides to Laura Broderick, Callum’s mother, that her family vanished when she was a young child. A serving woman named Margaret makes oblique suggestions that she has met Jayne before, but still bemused by her surroundings, Jayne merely adds these comments to a long list of anomalies.

Jayne meets Alice, Callum’s sister and the love of Thomas Seaton’s life. Jane Beckenham drops the odd clue into the mix when Margaret says things like, ‘Don’t you go bothering her none! Which tells us Margaret too is from another time and her protectiveness towards Jayne bears this out.

Jayne discovers she doesn’t fit in well with a society where women are meek and submissive, and being a slow learner, she constantly speaks without thinking and repeatedly insults her host. She also seems unable to understand that to talk aloud about coming from another time, flying and travelling by car could easily get her burned as a witch in 1532. Her attitude worsens as she finds herself attracted to Callum Broderick, but her unwise tongue threatens to damage his growing attraction for her.

In order to control her, Callum sends Jane to work in the stables, although he regrets his twist of cruelty when Jane is injured by a pitchfork. Fortunately her wounded hands do not become infected, but when Callum hears again from Jayne that she is from the year 2008 - the girl simply cannot stop saying it, it is of course overheard by an embittered servant called Niall who feels he can use such outrageous information.

Preparations are made for a Yuletide fayre which sets up on the frozen pond, but Jayne finds no pleasure in anticipation. She wants to go home but has no idea how, but when Margaret makes another allusion to the future, this time the Declaration of Independence, Jayne is brought up short.

Callum, meanwhile proceeds to tease Jayne and makes it clear he not only desires her, but is aware she wants him too. His formerly gallant behaviour alters to that of a love struck schoolboy and he makes a few inappropriate remarks and some groping goes on which makes her uncomfortable. Whether this is due to his growing frustration I was unable to determine, but Jayne continues to rebuff him, although she too finds his masculinity disturbing. It is quite clear though that sexual desire aside, they do not like each other much, if at all.

During the Yuletide celebrations, Callum finally kisses Jayne and after a passionate night, she decides she is in love with him. Now the prospect of leaving Callum to return to her own time is as bittersweet as it is urgent.

Lord Tarquin arrives at Broderick Hall to issue King Henry VIII’s orders that Callum return to court and help him achieve his ambition of making Anne Boleyn his queen. Jayne is included in the procession to London, but after a night at The Bull’s Head Inn, Alice is kidnapped. Jayne fights off the attackers and is able to describe one of the men to Callum, who suspects Lord Tarquin is behind it.

At The Palace of Placentia in Greenwich, Callum seeks an audience with The King, who is ensconced with Archbishop Cranmer, a man Broderick suspects of being his enemy.

Henry VIII seems instantly taken with Jayne, much to Callum’s annoyance, and it seems Callum Broderick has enemies at Court willing to intimate to the king his loyalties are suspect. Jayne makes a tactical error of informing the King, the child Anne Boleyn carries is not the prophesied son, and puts herself in danger of being accused of treachery.

Callum leaves Jayne to endure the snide remarks and disparagement of Lady Maria Standish, who is quick to inform her she has been betrothed to Callum since childhood. Distraught, Jayne snubs Callam but still wants to help him and she pleads with King Henry to help find Alice Broderick. When he agrees, she impulsively kisses him. Unfortunately the gesture is seen by Broderick, who is furious.

Surrounded by informers, jealousy and spite, Jayne and Callum have to find their way through the maze of court life and in her quest to be of use, Jayne tells Callum her knowledge of the future may be able to help him and she tells him about her world. However, there is someone else eager to enter the twenty first century to obtain skills yet unknown and he is willing to do anything to make Jayne take him there.

Jayne finally discovers how to return to her own time, but does she want to go? Would she prefer to stay with Callum in 1532, or return home to her own time without him. Does he still want her when he is betrothed to Lady Maria Standish? How can she foil Callum’s enemy and yet prevent herself falling into the man’s power? And will she ever discover why some occupants of Broderick hall seem to know more than they should about her and the future?

In ‘Love in Waiting’, Jane Beckenham has delivered a lively romp into another time with an unconventional heroine who cannot resist being inappropriate and a gallant, olde world hero you cannot help warming to when he discovers this unpredictable stranger has captured his heart.



Excerpt of, 'Love In Waiting'

Chapter One

Jayne Seatoun vacillated. It felt sacrilegious to be treading over this ancient spot and yet she had to be here, the pull to enter so great she could not have retreated from the threshold. Hands trembling she reached out and trailed icy fingers across the engraved tombstone. In a hushed whisper, she read the inscription.
The past and the present so long entwined.
Where hearts shall meet, time shall wait
And to love, is to mimic life
Take hold. I wait for thee.
Amid the silvery blue lights of a shadowed moon filtering through the crumbling crypt walls, the words, cast in stone, were almost ethereal.
Her eyelids lowered and she repeated the words, each one more alive than the next. The tips of her fingers caressed the engraved stone. Pitted by the passing years, it felt warm to the touch.
Her eyes flicked open.
“Don’t be fanciful, Jayne,” she chided aloud. How could stone be warm? The recently excavated crypt, hidden for hundreds of years from the warmth of the sun emitted a chill that sank deep into her bones.
No life stirred here.
Only the forgotten tombs of death, lives loved and lived, remained.
But it was ancient and that alone filled Jayne with an excitement nothing could vanquish. York and its stone walls were filled with so much history compared to her home in the States. There, old meant barely two hundred and fifty years had past. But the York Minster with its Gothic window, housed behind the city’s stone walls had been built before the United States even existed.
Here, history surrounded her. The past hadn’t died and that was exactly as she wanted it. She wanted to see the history, feel it.
“You waited for me, Jayne.”
An instant guilty heat stained her cheeks and she pirouetted.
Caught out again, Seatoun! Sneaking where you shouldn’t.
Goose bumps skittered up and down her spine as she peered into the eerily lit crypt. “Who’s there?”
But only silence replied. The small tomb containing one of England’s long-forgotten titled families was, except for her, empty.
Cradling her bag to her chest she hugged it tightly as if it would offer a semblance of security and circled the room once more.
Still nothing.
She frowned. She had heard a voice. A man’s voice. Strong. Expectant. You waited, he had whispered.
A fractured laugh slipped past her lips. “He?” He…didn’t exist. And she was alone. Yet Jayne didn’t feel alone. And that scared her. Fear coiled in her belly, tangling with a heightened anticipation, sensations capturing her the moment she spied the crypt…and entered.
Her gaze traveled around the small room. Situated several feet below ground level, the room had taken on the musky scent of dank earth. The stone walls, most of which were brittle, rose at least ten feet to a shingle roof crumbled from age.
Old. Dilapidated. Jayne shook her head in awe. Yet, so full of memories, of lives lived, loved, lost forever. But it was the headstone of an ancient lord, which held her spellbound…and the words engraved into its weathered surface seemingly speaking to her.
Where hearts shall meet, time shall wait.
Wait? Wait for her?
The verse brought a tear to her eye. Silly girl. Emotional. Whimsical. She brushed the teardrop away roughly.
“You came, Jayne.”
She spun round and round and round. Blank walls. Broken tombs. Dust and grime from a long forgotten age, cobwebs shrouding it all.
Empty. No one.
“Where are you? Who are you?” she called into the gloom, not really expecting a reply but desperately wanting one.
“The one who waits for you.” Jayne swallowed hard and peered into the dim recesses of the crypt. Most of the headstones were broken loose from their bases and rested against a wall. Except the one with the verse. That single headstone stood clear of the others, as if it…waited.
Jayne half expected…and half wanted a gaggle of children to jump out and laugh at her expense.
No one came.
And still she couldn’t rid herself of the feeling she wasn’t alone.
Huddling next to the headstone, she rested her head against it, drawn by the surprising heat radiating from its roughened surface and took comfort in its closeness.
What the heck was she doing…hugging a stone? She pulled back a fraction, staring confusedly at the tombstone.
“Don’t go, Jayne.”

She should have run. Right there and then. Got up, hitched up her skirt and got her tail right out of the decaying remnant of history.
But oh no. She, the girl with stories in her head, the girl with dreams and fantasies that if she’d recited would have labeled her more than simply whimsical.
Instead, she dropped her cheek against the stone again, fingers caressing its textured surface, teased by the almost yearning call she heard in the ghostly voice.
“I’m here,” she whispered, surprised at her response, though certain they were the correct words.