Christmas at Dalgaard Castle by Grace Augustine @mallidalli is a Christmas and Holiday Festival Pick
Title: Christmas at Dalgaard Castle
Author: Grace Augustine
In this sequel to Secrets of Dalgaard Castle, mystery surrounds the annual Yule festivities. War looms, and King Anwan of Osig, leader of the Fire Dragon Guard, will stop at nothing to gets what he wants – Taydaryn.
Safely tucked away within the walls of the castle, Queen Brenna and her family decorate for the holiday, but nightmares plague the Queen – an ominous foreboding of things to come. Will the kingdom survive an attack from the dragons that circle overhead or will Taydaryn fall by years’ end?
As dragon Brenna Dalgaard sat on the mountain outside her kingdom of Taydaryn, silhouettes of long forgotten creatures streaked across the bleak winter sky. Yule came in a few short weeks and war was looming, she was sure of it. That wasn’t something she wanted to think about. Her husband, King Tirdon, and her brother-in-law, King Martrand of Marenth, had been gone for two weeks now, trying to settle the rift with the rogue Fire Dragon Guard.
It had been five years since she’d arrived in Taydaryn. Five years of peace. Five years of the residents of Taydaryn living their lives without fear of war, without looking over their shoulders waiting for attack.
Brenna didn’t have a good feeling about the latest demands, ones she was sure could not be met. It was absurd for her to even think of abdicating the throne.
A lot had happened since she was crowned Queen of Taydaryn: her mother’s death, reconciliation with her sister, marriage to Tirdon, having her own child. The most important, though, was that her beloved kingdom was at peace for the first time in decades because the residents believed in her. They believed in Tirdon.
Brenna took flight back to the castle, shifted once she set foot in the garden, and entered through the secret passage. Once her cloak was hung and her boots were off, she headed for the den.
Dane grabbed his mother’s hand. “Momma? Why are you so sad?”
Kneeling in front of her son, Brenna took the boy in her arms for a tight hug. At that moment, something leapt inside of her… a fire, a knowing, a love so deep that tears formed in her eyes.
“My sweet Dane, I miss your daddy.”
“Don’t be sad. He and Uncle Martrand are mighty warriors. You said so. I’m sad Daddy isn’t here ‘cause it’s almost Yule. Will they be back before then?”
Brenna hugged her child to her again. In her heart of hearts she hoped her husband and brother-in-law would soon be home. She didn’t know how to answer Dane. The annual Christmas/Yule gathering would be soon, and it wouldn’t be right if Tirdon wasn’t present.
“Let’s go make some cookies. I know Daddy and Uncle Martrand will be hungry when they come home.”
Still holding his mother’s hand, he gave it a little squeeze and smiled up at her.
“Don’t worry, Momma. I am here. I can protect you and Auntie Eldra and Jonna.”
A smile crossed Brenna’s lips. She bent, kissed the top of his head, and continued walking to the kitchen, swinging arms as they went.
You most precious little boy. The gods and goddesses blessed me tenfold with you. Some day you will protect me and all the residents of Taydaryn. You will be a mighty warrior like your father.
Upon entering the main kitchen, Dane ran to Eldra, who was already at the counter rolling out gingerbread dough. He wrapped his arms around her leg.
“Auntie! What are you making?” Realizing his cousin, Jonna, was next to her mother, he greeted her as well, but was more interested in what was on the counter that smelled so delicious.
“Bren, get a chair for Dane and, he can help Jonna cut out the gingerbread boys and girls.”
Picking up a chair from the table, she placed the back of it against the counter. Dane climbed on the seat before she set it to rights.
“Dane! Please wait until I get the chair in place. You know I can’t move both of you. I’m not strong like you and your daddy.”
The boy nodded and frowned.
“Honey, your mom is right. You mustn’t climb on the chair until it is completely placed, or you may fall and hurt yourself. That wouldn’t be a good thing this close to Christmas, right?” Eldra grazed Dane’s head with her lips.
The women exchanged glances. They knew each other so well and knew what thoughts were mulling around inside each other’s heads and hearts.
“I know, Bren, I know.” Eldra sighed. “I needed to busy myself, too. I’m tired of waiting.”
“It’s been two weeks,” Brenna poured herself a cup of coffee and topped off her sister’s. “I don’t understand what’s keeping them. I haven’t heard a word, have you?”
“Not a word. Not a thought. Nothing.”
Jonna and Dane were growing more impatient by the minute, each poking thumbprints in the rolled- out dough. Their giggles filled the kitchen and their mothers couldn’t help but join them.
“Keep an eye on Dane?” Brenna asked her sister.
Eldra knew exactly where Brenna was going when she left the kitchen. To the far corner of the rear grounds by the woods where their parents were entombed. She sighed. There were days she longed for the wisdom of her mother, to be as intuitive and caring. But that simply wasn’t her. She was the fiery one, the one who spoke before thinking and acted on her thoughts before contemplating the consequences.
“Mother, when are we cutting the dough?” Jonna asked, moving her head back and forth to feel the swaying of her long auburn ponytail.
“Soon. I’m almost ready for your help.” Eldra shoved a container of cookie cutters in front of each child. “They don’t all have to be boys and girls. You can make whatever shape you want. When they are finished baking and have cooled, we will frost and decorate them.”
That seemed to appease the young ones. Eldra didn’t mind watching Dane. He and Jonna were weeks within the same age and got along well when together. They never argued over toys and neither had a mean streak, which is more than Eldra could say about her memories growing up with Brenna. She was thankful the children were totally opposite!
Share a holiday family tradition:
Now that my children are adults (37 and 33) there are few traditions. I still make sure there are special cookies for treats, and we attend Christmas Eve Services together. It makes it difficult when one son is several thousand miles away. My dream is to someday have both boys home at the same time again. I know chaos will ensue!
Why is your featured book perfect to get readers in the holiday mood:
Christmas at Dalgaard Castle is the perfect melding of modern holiday decorations and old-world Norwegian folklore. The characters are believable, and you can almost smell the cookies baking in the kitchen of Dalgaard Castle.
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Runs December 1 – 31.
Drawing will be held on January 3, 2020.
Editor and internationally known author, Grace Augustine, was raised in Montana. Her hobbies include music, acrylic painting, container planting, and old romantic movies. She resides in Iowa and is the mother of two adult sons and an adorable feline.
Social Media Links:
Editing Website: www.editswithatouchofgrace.weebly.com