Courtesy of CK2S Kwips and Kritiques
Joy Nash's debut book for Dorchester shows the talent she has developed over the past few years in the small press arena.
Rhiannon, hidden queen of the Celts, desires to free her people from the invading Romans, but with as little bloodshed as possible. She longs to unite the clans and reach peace in their land, as soon as they can be rid of the Romans. When their powerful Druid Priest sacrifices one of the Romans to the horned god, she knows danger will draw even nearer as the invaders won't stand for such things.
Lucius Aquila does not believe the reports of his brother Aulus' demise, as they don't ring true; especially in light of the fact his brother's ghost is haunting him. When he travels north to investigate, he is caught by surprise at the strength and cunning of an attack by the native people, and is even more shocked to find that his captive is a vivacious young beauty with enough passion to set him afire.
Rhiannon and Lucius are attracted to each other from the first, but much stands in the way for them. Lucius begins to suspect that she has dark powers when he realizes that only she can free him from the agony of Aulus' spectral form, which has grown stronger and more troubling since coming north. Rhiannon is being commanded to lure him into her snare so her people can finish their rites to the horned god. What they don't realize is that their love can bring them salvation and maybe even peace between their people. Will they figure it out before it's too late?
Here is an intriguing premise for a romance, taking place in a time not often featured in this genre. Fans of the paranormal subgenre will love the plot line of Aulus' ghost. This reviewer liked Ms. Nash's own spin on the idea of ghosts and the way this character changed throughout the story line, with a shock to come in the climactic battle scene towards the end of the novel.
Rhiannon's character was interesting in how she was drawn. She is a very strong woman, with some special skills and abilities that come into play several times in the story. For as strong as she is, the author stayed true to the times with Rhiannon, who even though she is a queen in her own right, her people don't respect her as much as they will when she chooses her king. She has many internal battles to face as she longs to do what is right for her people, without compromising her heart and wisdom. She has a deep well of love to share, as can be evidenced in her relationship with her brother, Owein, and Lucius' young son Marcus, as well as in her passion for Lucius. It is also interesting to learn of her ancestress' history and how that permanently affected the clans. Rhiannon wants to be strong and brave as her grandmother was, but without endangering her people.
Lucius' character is vividly portrayed, as are his internal battles. He longs to get to the bottom of the mystery of his brother's death, so as to allow his spirit eternal rest. He knows his duty to his land, and knows what he must do, as much as he wishes he could have a different life. One will like seeing how he grows and changes throughout the story, with the evidence of them being found in the relationship he has with his son.
One very well done plot device was the use of religion to progress the story line. The pagan beliefs of the Celts, and their need for sacrifices, is crucial to the story, as is the lesson some learn about how power gained can corrupt a person. It was interesting to see the differences between the beliefs of the Romans and those of the Celts, and how their beliefs lead them on their chosen paths, as well as how they all come to terms with their faiths and how it affects them, in the end of the story.
Joy Nash is definitely one to be watched. She has great world building skills, and her own personal magic with the pen is guaranteed to make hers a very strong name on the market in the not too distant future.
© Kelley A. Hartsell, May 2005. All rights reserved.