Druid's Portal, by Cindy Tomamichel

“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!