Have you come across Jolabokaflod? At first glance it might look a bit like the result of an explosion in a Scrabble factory, but in fact it's the Icelandic tradition of giving books as gifts on Christmas Eve. In English, it means "Christmas Book Flood".
This December, members of the Historical Writers' Forum are celebrating this lovely tradition by offering free or discounted copies of our books. Make sure you're following our Facebook page to keep up to date with all the offers and giveaways - or click here to see a complete day-by-day list.
Today it's my turn, and here's my gift to you.
Heathcliff (from Emily Bronte's classic Wuthering Heights) must surely be one of literature's most famous and most mysterious anti-heroes. But have you ever wondered what might have happened to him during the three years when he disappeared from the original story?
Here's your chance to find out. For today only, the Kindle edition of my novel Heathcliff: The Missing Years is available to download COMPLETELY FREE.
Click on the link above, or go to Amazon and search for "Heathcliff: The Missing Years." In the meantime, here is a short snippet.
The following scene takes place shortly after Heathcliff returns to Yorkshire, and a few months after his beloved Cathy has married his despised rival Edgar Linton. John Burgess and (Matthew) Trelawney, who are mentioned during the extract, are characters Heathcliff had met during his three-year absence.
It is now almost three months since I returned to The Heights, and Christmas is upon us. The weather has been cold, wet and windy, and I heard from Nelly that Cathy has been quite unwell. As a result, I have not been to The Grange for several weeks. But Cathy and Linton have invited both Hindley and myself to join them for Christmas luncheon. I am sure that in both our cases, the invitations were more her doing than his. Linton has almost as low an opinion of Hindley as he has of me, but he would hardly be in a position to refuse hospitality to his own brother-in-law. I have no idea what kind of ruse Cathy would have employed in order to have the invitation also extended to me. Maybe she just did it without telling her husband. That would not have surprised me in the least.
When we arrived at The Grange and Nelly bade us enter, I took the opportunity to enquire after Cathy's health.
"She is much improved, thank you, Mr Heathcliff, considering her condition," Nelly answered - though I could not help but think she appeared a little embarrassed.
Her condition? What could Nelly mean? I was puzzled, but my question was soon answered. As Cathy threw herself into my arms and I held her close, I could not fail to notice the gentle swelling of her belly as it pressed against me.
Recalling what I had learned from John Burgess, I was consumed with jealousy. Here was real proof, if any were needed, that my darling had given Linton what by rights should have been mine. And I wanted that child to be mine. I wanted to watch her grow, month by month, with the fruits of what we've always been to each other.
But as she drew back and looked into my face, I read the message in her eyes. Then I knew I could take some small comfort from the knowledge that, although Linton might have possessed her body, he would never have her heart, her soul or her spirit. Those would remain mine for ever - not merely in this life, but also in whatever might lie beyond.
In the meantime, I must harden my heart yet again. Trelawney's rule has served me well during the past three years. I had hoped I would not need to call upon it again, but it seems that fate has conspired otherwise.
Revenge, I believe, is a dish which is best served cold...