SATURDAY SPOTLIGHT: The Beltane Choice by Nancy Jardine

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AD 71.

Banished from the nemeton, becoming a priestess is no longer the future for Nara, a princess of the Selgovae tribe. Now charged with choosing a suitable mate before Beltane, her plan is thwarted by Lorcan, an enemy Brigante prince, who captures her and takes her to his hill fort. Despite their tribes fighting each other, Nara feels drawn to her captor, but time runs out for her secret quest.

As armies of the Roman Empire march relentlessly northwards, Lorcan intends to use Nara as a marriage bargain, knowing all Celtic tribes must unite to be strong enough to repel imminent Roman attack. Nara’s father, Callan, agrees to a marriage alliance between Selgovae and Brigante, but has impossible stipulations. Lorcan is torn between loyalty to his tribe and growing love for Nara.

When danger and death arrive in the form of the mighty Roman forces, will Nara be able to choose her Beltane lover?

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A Guest Blog by author, Nancy Jardine

Why Selgovae and Brigante tribes for my historical romantic adventure The Beltane Choice?

Many aspects of the Roman invasion of Britannia fascinate me. The successes, and failures, on the western fringe of the massive Roman Empire make wonderful reading. The inability of the Roman might to completely subdue the northern Britannic tribes, and keep them suppressed, holds particular appeal. No historical period is easy to research, but some fascinate me more than others do. Celtic Roman Britain is one of those eras.

Evidence written by affected Celtic tribes would have provided incredible information, but sadly, doesn’t appear to exist. Accounts by Roman historians, like Tacitus, must be read with prudence since they tend to only reveal a conquering Roman viewpoint.

When I set out to write the first draft of The Beltane Choice, I was using various research materials for teaching the 11-12 year olds in my primary class about the Roman Invasion of our local area. I live in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, and find it stunning that ten thousand Roman soldiers were encamped a couple of hundred yards from my doorstep! As a result of the fantastic adventure stories my class wrote about Romans attacking the Celtic hillfort in my village, (remains exist of a hillfort) I decided to write my own novels. A time-travel novel for early teens was written, based in the Aberdeenshire of AD 210, during Emperor Severus’ campaign in the area.

The Beltane Choice is set in AD 71. The location is mainly Brigante territory – on the English side of the borders between England and Scotland. My hero, Lorcan, is a Brigante, and my feisty heroine, Nara, is of the Selgovae of southern Scotland. I’d read many historical and a wealth of romance novels, but I wanted my adventure to straddle both of those sub genres of fiction. I wanted to be truly historically accurate with plenty of sound details, and yet also focus on the romantic elements. Novels on Celtic and Roman Britain are not plentiful, but many tend towards a military focus. I wasn’t aiming for anything like that and yet some military engagement couldn’t be avoided either.

The Beltane Choice focuses on the campaigns of AD 71 when the Brigantes battled a number of times with the Roman Empire (according to Tacitus). The story almost ends on the aftermath of my fictitious battle at Whorl. Whorl is real place in northern England, but I’ve no evidence that a battle really did take place there, although the location isn’t very far away from the documented stronghold of the Brigante King Venutius, at Stanwick. However, the battle at Whorl is critically important in The Beltane Choice, and yet is not described at all!

Back to the plot for The Beltane Choice – What did I use to bring the tribes together in amity? A marriage bargain is a very common theme, but it was excellent to create a situation of accord between what were constantly warring Celtic tribes. A Selgovae princess and a Brigante prince? Yes. Elevated members of the tribe made it easier for them to move from their home territory, and gave me ideas for why their first interaction could take place.

Though my work is entirely a piece of fiction I used recorded evidence as much as possible. There are many little twists and turns before my hero and heroine are together near the end of the novel- the HEA- it is a typical romance in that respect. Tribal loyalty and the frailties of people in general are to be read in The Beltane Choice. Making sound decisions and living an alternative lifestyle from the one she thought she would live is central to the plot for Nara of the Selgovae. Coming to terms with the expectations of his tribe and the way his heart dictates drives the actions of Lorcan of the Brigantes. What evolved is a sensual novel with plenty of accurate detail.

There’s reference at the end of the book that after ‘Whorl’ the Brigantes came to the negotiation table with the Governor of Britannia – Quintus Petilius Cerialis Cesius Rufus. I call him ‘Petty’ for short though he is generally named Cerialis. There is documented evidence that a peace of sorts reigned for around seven years, till Gnaeus Julius Agricola (The father-in-law of historian Tacitus) became Governor of Britannia. Agricola was determined to conquer the whole island – in the Emperor Vespasian’s name, of course! The Agricolan campaigns of AD 78 -84 were those very campaigns which brought his armies so close to my garden.

It’s extremely convenient that my burning desire to write about Agricola has borne fruit. I began the sequel to The Beltane Choice but found I couldn’t stop. What was intended as a follow-on novel became two. The book launch of After Whorl: Bran Reborn, December 16th 2013, will be followed by a third novel in my Celtic Fervour series, After Whorl: Donning Double Cloaks, publication date around March 2014. Novel number three takes the action of my Beltane Choice characters all the way up to my part of the world, Aberdeenshire, and to what has been called ‘The Battle of Mons Graupius’ – the most famous battle of the Agricolan campaigns (again according to Tacitus). (Although, truth be told the actual name of Mons Graupius is likely to have only been coined during Victorian times)

Is there romance in all of these novels? – Yes. Are there described battle scenes? – Yes, in books two and three, yet the romance is still at the heart of the tales.

On the writing table is at least one more novel … and maybe two in my Celtic Fervour series.

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About the Author

Nancy Jardine lives in the fantastic ‘castle country’ of Aberdeenshire, Scotland, with her husband. She spends her For CCweek making creative excuses for her neglected large garden; doesn’t manage as much writing as she always plans to do since she’s on Facebook too often, but she does have a thoroughly great time playing with her toddler granddaughter when she’s just supposed to be ‘just’ childminding her twice a week.

A lover of all things historical it sneaks into most of her writing along with many of the fantastic world locations she has been fortunate to visit. Her published work to date has been two non fiction history related projects; two contemporary ancestral mysteries; one light-hearted contemporary romance mystery and a historical novel. She has been published by The Wild Rose Press and Crooked Cat Publishing.

You can find Nancy at her website, her blog, Facebook and Twitter – @nansjar .

3 thoughts on “SATURDAY SPOTLIGHT: The Beltane Choice by Nancy Jardine

  1. Thank you so much for featuring The Beltane Choice, Book 1 of my Celtic Fervour series, today. It’s a pleasure to visit you and I’ll pop back later and respond to any comments.

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