An ancient druid pendant shows archaeologist Janet visions of Roman soldier Trajan. The visions are of danger, death, and love – are they a promise or a curse?
Her fiancé Daman hurts and abandons her before the wedding, her beloved museum is ransacked, and a robed man vanishes before her eyes. Haunted by visions of a time she knows long gone, Janet teeters on the edge of a breakdown.
In the shadow of Hadrian’s Wall and 2,000 years back in time, Janet’s past and present collide. Daman has vowed to drive the invaders from the shores of Britain, and march his barbarian hordes to Rome. Trajan swears vengeance against the man who threatens both his loves - Janet and the Empire.
Cindy Tomamichel is a multi-genre writer. Escape the everyday with time travel action adventure novels, scifi and fantasy stories or tranquil scenes for relaxation. Find a world where the heroines don’t wait to be rescued, and the heroes earn that title the hard way. The Druid’s Portal series is a genre blend of action, adventure, romance, time travel and magical historical fantasy. Set in Roman Britain. Sign up for my newsletter for oddments, news and random freebies: https://tinyurl.com/AdventureNews
"History may be just bones and ruins to you, but it is people, Janet. People loving, hurting, and dying.”
This is a story about love and time-travel, evil gods and evil people, magical and mundane events, all woven tightly into a brilliant multi-hued tapestry. Janet is an archaeologist working in a small museum at Hadrian's Wall in Northumberland. She was raised by nuns (this was something I raised an eyebrow at, but one assumes they got legal custody of her somehow) having been abandoned by her unknown parents. Her heart broken by her last, violent, boyfriend Daman, she starts having dreams of a Roman soldier following a break-in at her museum. Trajan is in deadly danger and she wishes she could help him. Then a portal opens her way to the distant past and she finds herself in Roman Britain.
What I loved most about this book is it highlights the way that when we look at the past, we often do so with a very patronising and diminishing filter. We really do forget that history is about what happened to real people living their real lives against incredible odds, with much less in the way of technology, but with just as much intelligence, skill and imagination as we have today - often more. This is a book that is about our concept of history as much as about the fictional events it describes and it makes a reader stop, think and question those kinds of assumption.
'That he had never heard of TV didn’t make her brighter or better. It wasn’t as if she could build one. She doubted she could even explain how it worked.'
The writing is good and the pace cracking - I found it hard to drag myself away from wanting to turn the next page. The characters are all well thought out and very convincing - even the evil Daman avoids being a stereotype and although unexplored in depth, the reader is left with a sense that he is in some ways as much a victim of events as those he persecutes. The clever blending of mythology, magic and hard history is truly a potent mix.
I really enjoyed the historical detail which is slipped into the story not in any heavy-handed way, but lightly in small daubs and dashes, where appropriate and fitting, to flesh-out the story and give depth and substance to the world in which the events unfold. But this is not straight-up history as much as it strives for - and to a high degree achieves - a sense of period verisimilitude. This is a fantasy, with all the potential of magic, with dark gods and soul stealing, mystical visions and of course, time travel.
“Without you, I’ll have to settle for some local girl—and who could measure up to a time-travelling goddess?”
So what if anything, is there not to like? Well for me very little. The only issue I had was with the classic romance format of Janet and Trajan's relationship. I don't normally read romance stories for this very reason as I never really understand why a romance has to be written that way. There has always to be inevitable misunderstandings and both people having some illogical internal dialogue in which they create false assumptions around the behaviour and words of the other - and then refuse to speak of it when one word or two would resolve the problem between them. Maybe that is how some people run their romances in real life, but to me, it always comes over as just a device to create tension in the story. But that is still a very minor gripe against the richly woven back-cloth to that romance and it is not there in sufficient quantity to spoil an otherwise wonderful read for me.
I loved this book. I'd recommend it especially to those who enjoy time-travel romance stories, as Cindy Tomamichel is giving Diana Gabaldon a run for her money. But I would also recommend it highly to those who enjoy a good historical read with added magic and anyone who enjoys Roman era books of all varieties.
This was a really deep and well thought out book, I really wasn't so sure if I'd enjoy it, but almost from the first few chapters I was drawn in and couldn't put it down. I believe the author put a lot of effort into researching the past, both historically and in making the book as unique as she possibly could. Janet is a main character we can really get behind, flawed and yet still strong to find herself in this world that she knew so intently and yet still learned so much about herself and the past from. Excellent novel, some serious action and fighting and just the right amount of romantic interests. I hope there's more like this. Thank you.
Okay, so normally I don’t go out of my way for a romance. I fear spending a dozen pages talking about feelings and passion. I gave this a shot the synopsis sounded good. I was not disappointed! There was a mystery, a prick with a magic time traveling pendant, and lots of Roman and Celt sword fights. There was a strong romantic theme, but I’ve read plenty of stuff with this much romance that simply listed as fantasy, or action. Even my man Clive Cussler has Dirk Pitt playing kissey face when he isn’t being tougher, richer, and a better mechanic than you.
Kicking butt and secretly really wanting to read a romance while pretending I’m in it for just the sword fights is not the only draw here. I love the history lesson entwined into the story. The Roman invasion of Celtic Britain is a fascinating time and one I feel a connection to since most of my heritage (I’m an American mutt) is Celtic and I have a swirling blue tattoo.
Janet is an archaeologist specializing in Celtic and Roman history. She is helping her cop friend find out who has been robbing her museum. It’s her friend’s way of helping her get over her abusive ex-boyfriend and Druid scholar, Damon. After she prevents the burglar from stealing a pendant, she begins having a vision of Trajan, a Roman hunky dude, getting murdered. She falls in love, then the fun begins. There’s also a tasteful amount of time travel…
I received a free Advanced Reader Copy in exchange for a review. Any review. That fact that it’s a good one is because the book is good. Which has nothing to do with how awesome I am. You’ll have to find that out for yourself @S_Shane_Thomas on Twitter.
I was so stoked to read and review this book before its release that I downloaded the app eReader Prestigo, put Druid’s Keep in .mobi form into the app, and had the funky GPS lady read it to me while I drove as far north in Maine as you can go without stopping for taters and gravy. It was worth the trouble! I highly recommend this book if you love smoochie stuff, gory swordfights, magic, mystery, or simply a well-crafted piece of fiction.
“Druid’s Portal: The First Journey” by Cindy Tomamichel is a strange and engaging novel, well written and of a high technical quality. It holds adventurous romance, drama and thoughtful consideration of human issues which appear to be the same, although separated by nearly two thousand years, ranging between the 20th century and Roman Britain. As well as dealing with people problems, the book also opens the fantasy world of magic and the eternal conflict between the forces of good and evil, in settings which reveal the author’s considerable descriptive powers. The characters are strong and well-rounded. Even the minor actors in the drama are complete and distinctive. The main personalities interact in a series of often fascinating events, and from the outset the villain’s presence dominates the action, providing a focus for the heroine’s individual development. Any author takes on a difficult task when attempting to deal simultaneously with past and present, but in “The First Journey”, Ms Tomamichel employs two techniques with equal success. Memories and dreams are used with very effective precision, and material travel through a time portal is extremely well handled. The novel has been quite adequately researched, and the difficulties presented by a 20th-century character who descends on the distant past with all her contemporary knowledge and attitudes intact, do not result in unbelievable action. There is always the question of authenticity to be considered. The author makes a good decision to use the 20th-century tone in dialogue, with just slight and colourful hints that the historical characters would have spoken in a considerably different idiom. However, during the narrative one notices anomalies which, although necessary to the storyline, may cause readers who know about such things to give a blink or two. This is a fine novel, written by a person who is in full control of the techniques of writing and who knows how to engage a reader completely in an unusual and vivid narrative.
This lovely novel has a bit of everything: sci-fi elements (light sci-fi), romance, history, mystery, and time travel. Janet, an archaeologist and museum curator, opens a time portal that throws her in the past. She finds herself in Britain during the Roman domination and falls in love with Trajan, a Roman commander. Together, disguised as musicians, they travel beyond Adrian’s Wall to find a mysterious Druid who is rumoured to be able to steal people’s souls. The novel is full of action, interesting historical details, and a sweet love story.
I don't usually read time travel romance but I have heard that it is a full-fledged genre. I think the main reason it generally doesn't appeal to me is the thought of having to live, as a woman, in a pre-feminist era. I don't think any love story would be worth that. But perhaps the better examples of the genre manage to find a way around or through this problem. Druid's Portal does.
The protagonist, Janet, is a history professor who knows a great deal about Celtic lore and the druids. I found this aspect of the book to be quite interesting and extensively researched. I had tended to think of druids as benign priests of nature, but the author here shows that their legends and lore have a dark side. She also invokes a deity, Bridgette, who takes the souls of humans who use the time-travel portal more than 3 times and for their own gain. Bridgette makes a powerful villain, but I have not been able to find anything about her in a cursory internet search. The closest that I have come is to reading about the Goddess Brigid, who, according to wikipedia is associated with the spring season, fertility, healing, poetry and smithcraft. This Brigid too seems like she could be a good, rather than destructive presence.
As the book opens, Janet is grieving the loss of her fiancee, Damon, who was abusive while they were together and who abruptly ended their engagement. She knows she is better off without him, but misses him nonetheless. After a break-in in the museum where she works, Janet finds an artifact that serves as a portal back to Roman times. She doesn't realize at first that that is what it is, and suffers from what she believes are hallucinations of a Roman soldier in battle. This soldier turns out to be Trajan, eventually her love and partner.
The obstacles to Janet and Trajan getting together are mostly external and circumstantial. First Janet has to believe that he is real and that she can travel back in time. Then she has to actually do so, and find a way to survive in Roman Britain. This is made exponentially easier for her when the soldiers she encounters, Trajan included, think she is a goddess when she appears. Being seen as a goddess exempts Janet from a lot of the indignities that a regular Roman or Celtic woman would have had to endure. No one takes advantage of her while she and Trajan are on the run, and she soon finds a job working in a bath house where the men are friendly and flirtatious, but they still don't take advantage of her.
She then comes up with a wild plan to help Trajan with his intelligence gathering for the Roman army, and they pose as minstrels visiting nearby towns. This expedition too, like working in the bath house, seems like a fun romp at first, and Janet and Trajan engage in hot, gracefully written, physical relations while they are out being minstrels. Their idyll comes to an abrupt end when they are found out by the enemy, and when Janet's ex-fiancee Damon starts stalking them.
Trajan is an appealing, if somewhat unrealistic, character. The author sets him up as a simple but honorable man in contrast to Damon's scheming and conniving persona. Janet and Trajan are able to communicate easily because Janet is fluent in Latin, and she tells Trajan stories about the future, stories that he is surprisingly accepting of. Some of the most poignant moments in the novel come when Janet is thinking about the parallels between her life and Trajan's, and also about what makes them different. He is in his early-to-mid 30's, presumably like she is, and she thinks at one point that he only has about 10 good years left if he stays in his own time. He had a wife and baby son years ago when he was young, but they were killed. Janet also tells him about how she and her museum colleagues study skeletons and remains of people from his time. This creeps him out and she feels bad about it. The decision to bring him back with her to her own time is easily made and accepted by both of them.
This is where Damon and Bridgette come in--to keep the lovers apart. Damon's will to power is reasonably well drawn and believable, but we could have used a bit more backstory. It seems somewhat crazy that he would sacrifice his soul to Bridgette's "dark creatures" when the payoff is so murky. He hopes to change history, but it is not completely clear what he would change it to and especially why. Janet simply wants a happy life with Trajan in her own time. Her journey could be viewed metaphorically as a wounded woman's healing from the scars of an abusive relationship, and I especially enjoyed reading the novel from that perspective. (However, the reader should not take this novel as saying that you have to go back to ancient Rome to find a decent man!)
This is the first book in a series and I would gladly read the next ones. But I'm a sucker for happy endings, history, and pretty much anything having to do with pre-Christian England. If time-travel romance is something that appeals to you, through the Druid's Portal is a good place to go.
I loved it! Its fast pace and intriguing story kept me reading until the very last page - in just two sittings. I could hardly put it down. Thank you for an entertaining read. The characters are well defined and real. It was easy to imagine Janet's pain and Daman's spiral into insanity. The author obviously put hours into her research about ancient Rome and Druid lore. Well done!
I was keen to read Druid’s Portal because I love stories about time-travel. And, who doesn’t like ancient Rome or stories about Celts and Druids? My favorite is Household Gods, by Judith Tarr and Harry Turtledove. So, I dove right in to Druid’s Portal.
What I got was perhaps heavier on the romance and less on the time-travel, but there are some interesting time-travel concepts at work here, which I fully appreciated. Druid’s Portal is not an Outlander knock-off; instead it is a straightforward portal fiction romance between a Roman soldier and Druid scholar, Janet.
If anything, Druid’s Portal is perhaps too straightforward. There’s no real twist to the tale, no deviation from the standard, steamy romance story. I would have like to have seen the characters a bit more fleshed out. The antagonist needed to be someone who did more than sneer and cackle and call the heroine vulgar names. There was an opportunity to make the villain grounded and real, but it was lost in the twirling mustache and one-dimensional dialogue. Most character choices were made for the convenience of plot, with decisions often running counter to the character – for example, our Roman hero seemed adept at adopting modern morals, rather than acting as a Roman soldier. And Janet, a college professor, doesn’t figure certain things out until well-after an exasperated reader is yelling the answer at her.
I would have also liked to have seen a tighter focus in the narration. It’s written in third-person omniscient (think a camera hovering overhead) which made all the head-hopping a bit difficult. The dialogue, at times was off (though there are some really, really good lines that balance this out) and each character had an odd habit of talking to themselves for long stretches; telling the reader what they were thinking/doing. At the same time, the narration was also distant, quite often using phrases like ‘there was’ or ‘a sound of’ rather than creating an immediacy within the scene.
In general, the book is well researched (there will always be anachronisms that slip by), and I liked the path our heroine took, even if she played the damsel bit a bit too much. However, Janet’s journey changes her, and I quite liked the last bit of the book where the new Janet was on display (though the ending seemed to break a rule, or I was just confused). Druid’s Portal is a fun romp through time toward a steamy romance, where Celtic myth meets Roman bravado. 3 Stars for fans of SF and Time-Travel, 4 for Romance, where character counts less than steamy scenes.
The First Journey (Druid's Portal #1) by Cindy Tomamichel is a time-slip romance set in 3rd century Roman Britain's Hadrian's Wall in a time of unrest between the invading Romans and the Celtic Picts.
Janet Tempest, an orphan found by the nuns in a storm, is an archaeologist and lecturer recovering from an abusive relationship with her former colleague Daman. In an attempt to discover the identity of the thief robbing the museum of valuable antiquities, Janet comes in contact with an strange gold pedant which first gives her dreams of a third century roman soldier in deadly danger. Then, she is transported back into time at the right moment. Janet must find out how to get home and avoid falling in love with the muscle-bound Trajan. While Trajan needs military information about the Picts. Together, they find themselves going into deeper danger.
I enjoyed the reconstruction of the historical period, Janet's emotional journey to put the hurt and regrets of the past behind her and an interesting and complex plot that kept me guessing with an interweaving of temporal cause and effect worthy of Doctor Who. Okay, there was little doubt who was Janet's true love interest (with lots of sexual tension between them) but, with both coming from different times, did they have a future together, and would one or both of them survive the many dangers they faced? And there was more at stake than the romance, with a power-hungry villain willing to destroy everything in his way to get what he wanted. The villain has a more complex past and Trajan too must overcome a buried tragedy.
I did find the omniscient narration jarring at times, would have liked the prose to be tighter, wondered about finding wild tobacco in Scotland (as far as I know, imported to Europe from South America over a 1000 years later), and found the repeated emphasis on Trajan's muscles and manly physique (and only much later his brain and character) a bit off putting. Lots of blood and gore (with one paragraph lamenting a gruesome human sacrifice by the villain, in a few later detailing multiple equally gruesome but necessary killings by our hero).
Yet, some great plotting, immersive setting and a strong, emotional and gripping finish made this an enjoyable read.
I loved the use of the wall and the Romans since that is a historical period in Scotland I enjoyed studying. The descriptions of the Roman fort were within the time period along with the dress of the Celts and Romans. I could almost feel like I was there with the realistic visuals the author wrote. I highly recommend this if you like any form of time travel books. It is different enough to keep you turning the pages to see what is going to happen. This book gets five stars from me for the enjoyment I had while reading and not wanting it to end as I followed Janet and Tajan, hoping Daman got his just dues. Reviewed by Barbara
I love a novel where everything falls into sync. At heart this is a romantic-action-historical novel, The love story is between Janet, a modern woman fresh out of an abusive relationship, and Trajan, a Roman Commander. This should be disaster waiting to happen, but for several things. First is the characters have depth. Janet might be reluctant to open her heart to a man after being beaten by her last boyfriend, that doesn't mean she won't use her charms to lure a barbarian away, then bash his head in. Trajan might be a proud Roman with no qualms about the place sex plays in Roman Society, but he exemplifies the phrase, “Quiet Confidence”. He has proved himself to his own self. So when he thinks a Goddess, Janet has come down to save him and then acts in a way that is unRoman towards him, it intrigues him rather than hurt his pride. The second thing that makes the love story work is the setting. Sci-fi, Fantasy, and Historical fiction is categorized as having the setting be as important as the characters. The love story worked as it took place on the northern edge of Roman Britain. If Janet had been plunked into the heart of Commodus' Rome the love story wouldn't have worked. Out on the border between the Romans and the Pict tribes, there was much less need for formalities. The third thing that makes the love story work is the action. There is plenty of action. This is the love story the writers of Raiders of the Lost Ark wanted to have. Luckily, Janet does a lot more than shout out, “Indy!” She'll bash skulls with Trajan if need be. So in between the fighting for their lives, they can really be themselves. Finally, The Druid time-travel Portal itself plays a big part of the romance. Not only do all these elements play a huge part in the romance, but if any of them were changed even slightly it would completely change the book. Like I said I love a novel where everything falls in sync. I'm giving it four stars because it hit all the right notes, and an extra one because everything worked well together. Overall Five stars.
Just a note on the historical accuracy, I'm not a historian but I like to think I have a good knowledge of history and I learned several things. For instance, I've often run across the saying, “Little is known about Britain between the end of the Roman Empire and the Anglo-Saxon invasion because the Celts had no written language.” Then right off the bat is a pendent with Celtic writing on it. I looked it up and the Celts had indeed written about 400 books in their language between the 1st and 9th centuries. Not as many as Asimov wrote by himself but still evidence the Celts had a written language. There were a few other times I ran into things like that and looking it up the author was correct.
A genre blend of action, adventure and romance - Druid's Portal is the first in a series of historical fantasy set in the time of Roman Britain.
Read some other reviews of Druid's Portal: Books & Benches “It doesn't take more than a page for the action to begin and leaving the reader to imagine what will happen next. Touches of history were mixed into the story at the right moments. The author brought to life the Roman Invasion into Britain during an interesting time in history…I'm glad I read it. Fans of time-travel, historical romance are sure to enjoy DRUID'S PORTAL.” Full review: https://www.booksandbenches.com/singl...
Historical Novel Society "The fast-paced story captures the history and culture of the ancient Romans and Picts. …Druid’s Portal is a unique historical romance, with elements of adventure and time travel, that readers might enjoy." Full review: https://historicalnovelsociety.org/re...
Romance Reviews Magazine "A thoroughly recommended read for time-slip fans of ancient romance themes with a touch of mystery and adventure amidst gruelling feats of endurance and battles."
Ind’Tale magazine “A most intriguing blend of history and time travel … alludes to the risks associated with time travel, which deserves appreciation, as this genre often romanticizes the journey and avoids the paradoxes. Dynamic characters that leap from the book into memory.” Full review: http://magazine.indtale.com/magazine/...
I love a good time-travel romance, and this one really delivered with everything from romance, beautiful historic descriptions of Northern Britain, sci-fi, and action scenes. Janet's one of those strong female protagonists you can really get behind, who has her flaws as well, and throughout the course of the novel, has such a great character arc. Trajan's a hero who is such without being the dreaded Alphahole!
The time-travel "device" via an ancient artifact is a nice touch, and I loved when the heroes had to disguise themselves as minstrels in order to help Trajan.
Well researched time-travelling adventure with a tough but vulnerable MC who has to overcome her naive upbringing to find her real character and finally get what she deserves in life. A wealth of period detail and vivid descriptions of Roman and Celtic life and the culture clashes between the two serve to heighten the experience as Janet tries to find her nemisis Daman in the twisted strands of time accompanied by her new love, Trajan, the Roman commander. Excellent pacing and scene setting and three dimensional characters.
“Men got scars in times of war, but women often suffered wounds that did not show on the outside.”
Janet is an archaeologist whose fascination with ancient Roman and Celtic Briton stems from the surprising discovery of a two thousand year-old stone from Hadrian’s Wall that bears her name. Chasing a museum thief, she recovers a pendant with mystical powers that allows her dreams and visions of a Roman soldier, Trajan, beset by savage Picts, close to death. A chance accident on Samhain, the ancient pagan feast of the Dead, turns dream into reality for Janet, who suddenly finds herself in a world both familiar and strange, pitted against the man she thought she loved in order to save the man she’s realizes she loves.
I loved the visceral reality of first century Roman Briton—Tomamichel has clearly done her research and provides additional reading lists for those interested in finding out more at the end of the book. The life is hard, and very physical—Janet misses things like hot showers and chocolate—but there is a refreshing clarity of purpose and connection with nature that makes the 21st century look equally strange from her new vantage point. The highlight of this book, for me, was Trajan, the stoic Roman soldier she rescues. (Any hero who speaks Latin was going to win my heart!) He is capable of handling this rough life and enduring as a matter of course what for us would be unimaginable suffering, and yet there is a vulnerability to him because the life-expectancy in his time is so short. He has already lost his wife and son to the plague, and Janet, as a student of history, knows to well the short, bloody fate that befalls men like him. I highly recommend this book and am very excited to find out there is a sequel coming out!
Here is a beautifully written time-travel romance: a story of a modern day young archaeologist, Janet, who has always wondered about a stone in Hadrian's wall with her name carved on it in Roman letters. After the breakup of her engagement and a break-in at her small museum near the wall, she has dreams of a Roman soldier lying near death at the wall. On Samhain at a costume party, the pendant she is wearing activates and she is suddenly in Roman Britain. There, she meets the Roman. They band together to help each other. She wants to find a time traveling thief and to somehow prevent Trajan, the Roman's death.
As their relationship develops she realizes the truth of Trajan's quote from the book. "History may be just bones and ruins to you, but it is people, Janet. People loving, hurting, and dying.”
The story picks up speed and moves at a page turning pace because there's a time liomit on how long she can stay. When the moment comes, will she be able to leave? If she does, will they ever be together again or will centuries separate them? Excellent in every way.
Although the core of this story is a kind of fish out of water time travel venture, the time and place picked being one I was fully aware of, the focus is the relationship between Janet and Tajan, two interesting characters with their own quirks and past that match well. This is what I liked. The writing style breaks a few conventions that I let a few authors get away with (e.g. Neil Gaiman) but I did sometimes find the POV swapping a little jarring. Many of the scenes were well written and I prevented myself from looking up anything historical to break my emersion, but that being said the "sexy" scenes did have me flipping through thinking "okay, something's got to give here". In the end, the time this novel is set and what happened in it made me feel like a tourist through eyes of Janet, that is the nature of such fish out of water stories, but at least we got some characters that thought differently and react as such.
While time travel isn’t a genre I generally read, I really, really enjoyed this story especially shortly after the main character Janet literally dropped in on a sacrificial ritual saving the lone survivor of a Roman scouting party who just happened to be the commander. I loved the historical aspect of the story and how the author related the hero Trajan to Marcus Aurelius. That kind of grounded me in the time period and even piqued my interest more into early Roman history. She also made a connection to the Antonine Plague. I loved the fantasy aspect of the mystical Druids and the Arwen Pendant. If you are a reader of science fiction, fantasy, and/or have an appreciation for ancient history, this story will not disappoint! I highly recommend. I received Druid's Portal ARC from Silver Dagger Book Tours for an honest reeview.