BY: JANE JORDAN
Annabel Taylor, a beekeeper’s daughter, grows up wild and carefree on the moors of England in the late 1860s, following in the footsteps of her mother, a beautiful witch. Annabel’s closest friend is Jevan Wenham. The son of the blacksmith, he lives his life on the verge of destruction. His devotion to Annabel is full of twists and turns as brutality melds with deepest desire. But when Jevan is forced to travel to London to receive an education, Annabel is devastated.
Then Alex—heir to the Saltonstall legacy and son of Cerberus Saltonstall, the wealthy landowner of the foreboding Gothelstone Manor—comes into her life. Alex is arrogant and self-assured, but he cannot stop thinking about the outspoken girl he encounters on the road to Gothelstone. Not only is he bewitched by Annabel’s beauty, he feels drawn to her by something he can’t explain. Alex and Annabel are socially worlds apart, but that doesn’t stop him from demanding her hand in marriage. When Annabel refuses, she is forced into an impossible situation. Jevan believes she has betrayed him, regardless of the fact that her decision saves him from the hangman’s noose.
As a devastating love triangle unfolds, disturbing revelations thrust Annabel into a startling reality, where nothing is as it seems. Now both her life and Jevan’s are in danger, and her fledging powers may not be enough to save them…
TAYLOR JONES SAYS: In The Beekeeper’s Daughter by Jane Jordan, Annabel Taylor is the daughter of a beekeeper in 1860s England and, like her mother, has special powers. Annabel and Jevan Wenham are childhood friends and inseparable. But when they are teenagers, Jevan is forced to accompany his mother to London. Annabel is devastated and hurls angry words at him. He is gone for over four years, and when he finally returns, Annabel is being courted by Alex Saltonstall, the local noble’s son, a situation that becomes dangerous for Annabel and Jevan alike.
The plot is strong and complex, full of twists and turns, and the character development is superb. If you like historical sagas, The Beekeeper’s Daughter is a must read.
REGAN MURPHY SAYS: The Beekeeper’s Daughter by Jane Jordan is the story of love, pain, and betrayal. Set in England in the late 1800s, the story revolves around Annabel Taylor and Jevan Wenham. She is a beekeeper’s daughter as well as a witch, and he is the son of a blacksmith. Soul mates, the two grow up together and are joined at the hip until Annabel turns sixteen. Then Jevan is forced to leave and journey to London with his mother, who wants to live with her sister and brother-in-law, who is quite wealthy. Annabel is broken hearted, sure that Jevan will forget her and marry some high-bred city girl. They fight and harsh words are said. Jevan leaves before Annabel comes to her senses and can apologize. When he finally returns four years later, the local rich boy wants to marry her and Jevan’s life is in danger. Annabel is caught up in a web of lies and betrayal, with only one way out.
The Beekeeper’s Daughter is a complex, intriguing, and suspenseful romance/thriller. Filled with interesting and well-developed characters, this fast-paced story is a great read.
The natural world is full of extremes, and not everything has rhyme or reason. If the mind is open to possibility, then a witch can bend reality and create magic. For the sake of love, some are willing to open Pandora’s Box. After all, evil is a point of view, and what may be acceptable to one, will repel another.
Dark magic does not follow the path of the wise. It is a corruption of the craft–except that, when faced with adversity, sometimes the rules have to be broken.
The crowd surged forward, straining their necks to get a better view. Venomous whispers carried ominously through the air, and the words on their lips were full of condemnation. Most of the villagers played their part in this madness. Only a few saw through the falseness. They prayed silently and held back tears of sorrow. This small number hoped their presence might be of some comfort. They had not come to gloat or gain satisfaction at the spectacle. They came to witness the injustice.
Morning dew was still evident. With the earlier mist nearly gone, weak sunshine penetrated through low-hanging clouds, throwing a subtle light across the young woman’s face. Her breath came in sobs, clearly audible to the people closest to her. She could not control the trembling of her body or the cold stark fear that caused sweat to run down her brow. Long dirty streaks, caused by earlier tears, marked her cheeks. Long, matted hair obscured her face further. Her eyes darted amongst the villagers as disbelief invaded her mind.
There was no justice in the world, and she could not depart on these terms. Lifting her head higher, she shook the hair out of her eyes and stared at the restless crowd in defiance. Reality was before her and fear numbed any more emotion.
From the back of the crowd, a figure pushed through to stand before her.
Coward. She thought, as his eyes refused to meet hers. After a few moments pause, a sudden hush came over the gathering. Then her accuser’s voice filled the cold stagnant air with terrifying prose as he read from the indictment.
Accusing murmurs mounted, and bile rose in her throat. She stared blindly into the mass, unable to believe they so easily succumbed to the lies. These people were neighbors and friends. She had known them all her life, yet, even their betrayal paled into nothingness compared to her mounting hatred for him.
His voice was booming in her head, drowning out any other noise or sensible thought, his intention to intimidate and threaten. It was incredible that he appeared to be a complete stranger to her now. No longer the man she once loved. As more lies spilled from his mouth, the gnawing sickness of moments before vanished. With his provocation enraging her further, something altered. Her mind let go of the fear and replaced it with pure unbridled hatred.
Instinctively, she pulled harder against the chains. They were unyielding, just as before. In the mob, a few called upon their God to have mercy. It was an illusion. Their pious cries did nothing to conceal the suspicion in their eyes.
Another man approached. His identity was of no consequence. Her gaze tore from her accuser and rested upon the fiery torch the other man held. He came closer. The breath caught in her throat. Terror rendered her body rigid as he bent and lit the pile of faggots beneath her.
Blood coursed through her veins, making her feel light-headed, and her heart pounded so heavily that it brought physical pain. Tears found renewed energy and streamed down her face. The heat seeped up, slowly at first. Then faster, surrounding her legs as the faggots smoldered for a few moments before catching alight.
A terrified gasp escaped her lips, as the first wisps of smoke invaded her nostrils. She twisted her body, fighting against the chains that bound her to the stake. The metal links were unrelenting. They cut deeper and deeper into her flesh. The heat intensified, engulfing her torso and making her cough. The fire took hold quickly and crackled ominously beneath her. Her tears, now a steady stream, clouded her vision. She felt the first tiny shocks of pain, as the flames licked her soles.
“God save me!” she screamed, panic besetting her.
Frantically, she searched faces in the crowds, still believing someone would show compassion. Somebody would speak up and free her. As her eyes burned into theirs, she saw no reprieve. Instead, the crowd grew quieter and settled down. They watched in morbid fascination as her flesh seared and pain surged through her.
Summoning courage, she tried to withstand the pain, but terror thwarted her spirit. The fire began to spew the sparks that caught hold of the hem of her ragged clothes, and an uncontrollable force made her shake violently. Smoke began to billow from the pyre, forcing the congregation to move backward. Only her accuser stood his ground.
“God will not save you!” he cried, “for thou shall not suffer a witch to live!”
A faint murmur of agreement rippled through the crowd. She was unable to look at them anymore. Terror had a firm hold on her psyche as flames beat at her feet and lapped her legs. She screamed again, a terrible sound that rang through the village square. The torture was unbearable. She could no longer stand it. Blinking the oppressive breath of the fire out of her eyes, she prayed for the end.
Death was not far away. Suffocating slowly, and unable to scream anymore, she was slipping into unconsciousness from the agony. She managed to lift her head one final time and silently beg God for a merciful release. The smoke cleared for a few seconds in front of her face and, quite by chance, she caught his eye. It took only a second to register that he was actually smiling.
Rage pulsed through her. She battled against the constriction of her throat and the creeping, burning agony that was melting her flesh. Her heart pounded so violently against her ribcage that she feared it would surely burst from her chest. Then on the verge of death, her unbroken spirit gave her the power to raise her voice once more.
It was surprising, shocking even, that her words rang so clearly across the gathering. The God-fearing peasants clutched at each other, seeking reassurance, afraid of her words and the unnatural power she appeared to possess. With her final scream echoing through their heads, they watched the hungry flames engulf her body. Some cried out in pity, others uneasily marked themselves with the sign of the cross. Only one looked on in satisfaction.
The witch was dead.
© 2016 by Jane Jordan
Dr. Phil Jason:
Wednesday, March 1, 2017: The author’s stage setting is enormously powerful. Her descriptions of nature, architecture, furnishings and garments are vivid and evocative. As characters scurry back and forth to meet one another, they move against a very real, if remote, landscape. They are defined by their meeting places and by their emotion-driven actions. Suspense is maintained through the ups and downs in the relationship between Annabel and Jevan, in the battle for power in and out of the marriage between Alex and Annabel, and between Alex’s father and anyone who stands in his way—especially Annabel. This ultimate battle is on the supernatural plane, and its sensory pyrotechnics are amazingly vivid. While the windings of hope and despair are dramatized in ways that are somewhat repetitious, Ms. Jordan’s luxurious prose keeps readers enticed, as does the bravado of her heroine.~ Florida Weekly, Phil Jason, Ph.D. READ FULL REVIEW