Forbidden (The Druid Chronicles, #1) By Christina Phillips

Carys and her people, the druids, are in hiding from the Roman barbarians that have taken over their land. As a healer and princess, Carys wants to care for those that are sick, but if she is caught by a Roman soldier, she fears being attacked and raped. She prays to her goddess for answers, but hears nothing in return. She is walking a dangerous line when she watches a Roman bathing near a waterfall. She is strangely attracted to him and fantasies about becoming his lover. When the Roman spots her, she doesn't run in fear, but welcomes his touch.

Tiberius Valerius Maximus is one of the Roman centurions who has invaded this land and practically enslaved the people there. When Maximus spots Carys spying on him, he is both curious and aroused. He won't force himself on Carys as so many of his counterparts do. Instead, he will court her with respect and kind words until she will only want him and no other.

Carys knows that being with Maximus is dangerous. Her one time lover and the high priest, Aeron, is obsessed with having her for his own and uses magic and the power of the gods to show him how to make her love him. But Carys has never loved Aeron, or even enjoyed sex with him, because of his selfishness and greed. She turns to Maximus for fulfillment although she knows they can never have a future together. Soon Maximus will go back to Rome and most likely marry. And since Carys refuses to leave her suffering people, she will stay behind.

As Carys and Maximus's passion for one another continues to grow, Aeron becomes even more unstable and has a plan to not only kill Maximus but make Carys pay for refusing him.

Forbidden is a passionate tale about enemies who become lovers. Maximus is the type to take what he wants, but even though he is a hardened soldier, he is still merciful and simply longs for peace. He finds this peace with Carys, who is insightful to his needs, as well as her own. Carys is very spiritual in her search for advice and choosing the correct path to take. She soon realizes that all that matters is being with Maximus and even defies the gods to be with him.

The setting is rich with mysticism, ancient customs and sensual love scenes between Carys and Maximum where a Roman bath is put to good use. Aeron is a nasty piece of work who has no redeeming qualities and is one of the many obstacles facing Carys and Maximum.

Christina Phillips has a nice way with words and setting up a story. Her love scenes have just the right amount of heat and should appeal to those readers who like a little more spice and passion. Forbidden was an enjoyable read by an author who can really tap into the emotions of her characters and the world around them. For a solid reading experience, I would recommend Forbidden. 388 Favorite Quote: Gods, if he didn’t get relief soon, his balls would explode.

Carys, a powerful Druid can’t help herself as she watches a very sexy Roman centurion, her enemy, bathe in a waterfall. She is mesmerized by him, although she she thinks she is being sly hiding, he discovers her watching. It is lust at first sight for both of them, but their lust is complicated. They come from opposing sides – both trying to decimate the other. If she were to become enslaved by the Romans, bloodshed of an extreme magnitude would erupt. But they cannot deny the other and they will soon discover there is a greater evil that lurks out in the beyond, waiting to destroy them all.

What really drew me to Forbidden is the cover. I think it is beautiful, but it also deceived me. This is a Berkley Heat book, and I should have expected erotic sex to be a big part of it – but the pretty, unique, modest cover made me forgot about the “heat” part. So when I read the first few pages of the book, and the hero is bathing in a waterfall as the heroine secretly watches and rubs her boobies on a tree to get off, I was a little taken aback. In fact, the first quarter of the book is all about the hero with his balls about to explode, and an engorged shaft that makes it difficult to walk. It was a little excessive, although damn sexy. However, the hormones do calm down a bit and after I finished the book, I can look back and enjoy the explicit beginning much more.

Christina Phillips gives us quite a fun, adventurous story that I really ended up enjoying. Maximus is described as barbaric by his enemies, but it is actually a pretty accurate term. Maybe I should say he is a “barbaric gentleman.” He has the “she is mine forever” attitude pretty much from the moment he spies Carys, and it takes a lot for him to let her go at the beginning – but he does act with honor. Carys is no virgin and wants at her Roman. I enjoyed her as a heroine – she is not shy in telling him what she wants, and although their people are enemies, and they have a lot riding against them, their love story is pretty straight forward and mature.

Carys has to hide the fact that she is a druid from him, and for as smart as Maximus claims to be, I thought he might have figured it out sooner than he did. There are some big clues he conveniently doesn’t pursue for a good part of the story. I also thought a bigger confrontation between the two of them when he did discover what she truly is should have played out in a more dramatic fashion.

There is an excellent villain in this book, one that you will love to hate. Also, the supporting characters, in particular Maximus’ friend, is set up well and I really want his story, which comes out in the sequel.

Forbidden starts with a bang – literally. Then calms down and there is a nice plot, and still quite steamy action. Christina Phillips has a nice voice and I look forward to more from her.

Rating: 3.5/5 388 A nice change of pace from the usual historical romance offerings: A Roman Centurion, Maximus, and a Druid Princess, Carys. Two lovers caught on opposite sides of a war. What a delicious set up for a romance!

And what opposites they are. Carys - A Druid Princess from a matriarchal line. A cultural that holds women in high esteem, honors their Goddesses above all, doesn’t believe they need a man’s permission. Maximus - Roman, alpha, protective, possessive, sees women as property, patriarchal. It’s these differences that Ms. Phillips puts to work….overtime.

He towered over her, his wood nymph, his Celtic lady, his Carys. “Why do you never do as you are bid?”
“Because”--Carys gasped as she flexed her thighs and dug her heels into his backside--“I’m not your slave, Maximus. I’m your woman.”


Maximus and Carys truly care and love each other, regardless of the consequences or conventions of what their peers and social standing require. They will do whatever is necessary to protect each other from the ravages of war.

I’m not a big fan of magic, and I felt at times it was excess baggage. One incident occurred when Carys entered into a drug-induced dream state to commune with her Goddesses. Another was during the destruction of the “spiral”: Was this an explosion or an implosion? I know Druid magic is an integral part of the story line and Carys’s way of life, but I just couldn’t wrap my mind around some of this.

And because of that, I was really undecided on a 3 or 4 howl. Oh - The roman bath scene. Okay, a 3.5 Howl!
388 I was really drawn to this book when I first read that it was set during the Roman conquest of Britain, and I am always on the lookout - and a fan – for unusual settings and premises for historical romances. I am also a fan for romances that feature a hero and heroine on opposing sides which Forbidden uses as a backdrop, so when I had read the first couple of pages, I was instantly hooked!
Whilst her land has been conquered by the Romans, Carys, a powerful druidess, is being pressured to stop caring for her patients by her head druid, and she is struggling to fulfil her duties as a healer to the people she serves. However, she soon finds herself being fascinated by a Roman soldier, Maximus, who is second in command of the Legion stationed close to where she lives. When Carys sees him regularly bathing near where she works, she finds herself spying on him to catch a glimpse of the man she soon yearns for, but is unable to act on her attraction. But when Maximus discovers her, and realises that she is related to the rebel Druid clans, he also can’t help his growing attraction, and both find themselves drawn to each other first sexually, and then emotionally.
Forbidden is a refreshing take of a tale of prohibited love between two people who are sworn enemies. Unlike most books with this premise, the taboo of loving an enemy did not feel forced – or the fact that the characters spent a lot of time blaming and angsting with each other about their opposing backgrounds.
Within their first meeting, Carys’ and Maximus’ romantic and sexual tension is palpable. If their relationship was like the mercury in a thermometer, it would have blown it apart! The sexy elements of the book did not overpower the plot or the characterisation, but added to their love story. The real heart of the book is the emotional elements between them, and I really liked how that was played out throughout the book. Although the well written love scenes added a sensual layer of heat and passion, and *fans self*, I will never think of Roman Baths the same way again.
Carys is a strong and independent women and it was really interesting to see how she interacted with Maximus about her status as an independent woman in her own right, while he was more accustomed to submissive women from his own culture. What I really liked – which really fleshed out their romance – was the fact that Maximus gave her the space and did not try to overpower, or dominate her. He respected her culture, but he also didn’t lose his own Roman sensibilities. But as well as facing their inner conflict about their different cultural backgrounds and stance about the war, Carys faces exile or even worse from her own people if they discovered her relationship with Maximus.
This then leads to the mystical and magical elements of the book, such as the Druids way of life, and their Gods and Goddesses influences on the Druids lives and the people around them. I loved this aspect of the book! It was so detailed and well thought out and I could tell that Christina Phillips paid attention to detail about the beliefs of the Druids, but with her own take. I have to state, though, that I found it ironic that her former lover, the head druid, Aeron, was more domineering and oppressive than the Roman’s rules were to Carys’ duties, but there is a good reason why this is the case.
Forbidden is a solid historical romance with fleshed out characters against a setting that is not commonly explored in this genre. Because of this I found it was refreshing, passionate and imaginative. Although Maximus and Carys were on opposing sides, there was no forced angst or obstacles that made the book feel forced or melodramatic. And with a strong focus on the romance and relationship against a magical and mystical setting, you can’t go wrong with picking up Forbidden. If you have a hankering for a really passionate romance that is magical within the romance – as well as with the tone and atmosphere of the book – Forbidden is the book for you. 388 Forbidden is a sensual journey, a dance between Carys and Maximus as they negotiate the chemistry between them in a time when they are supposed to be enemies, not lovers. It's also a story of how two very different people from very different backgrounds can find common ground with this thing called love.

I'm not a fan of enemies to lovers stories for the most part but the setting of this story intrigued me. I am a huge history buff and I love Ancient Rome and the mysticism surrounding the Druids and their culture. Ms Phillips manages to weave a sensual love story filled with intrigue, politics and opposing loyalties when two warring cultures clash and two people find love. The passion between Carys and Maximus sizzled off the pages.

Carys is a princess and a high born noble in her Celtic world. She is a Druid and a beloved one, revered and honored by her people. She's also a very proud Celt. Strong willed, independent, intelligent. Perhaps a little too proud. Carys frustrated me. Her tendency to run and her resistance towards Maximus got tedious after a while. She was constantly berating herself for wanting Maximus, and yet she was not willing to let him go but wanted him for herself nonetheless. I thought she was being very unfair towards Maximus with all the things she was hiding from him, constantly citing their differences in culture and understanding as her reasons, while taking what she wanted from him. I didn't think Maximus deserved her disdain and her reticence considering he showed her nothing but kindness, generosity and understanding. Carys was as close-minded and uncommunicative and evasive, as Maximus was open-minded and understanding. For the most part, I understand the position Carys is coming from but it bothered me that much of her internal dialogue treated Maximus as though he was beneath her despite her feelings for him.

As for Maximus. I adored Maximus. Tiberius Valerius Maximus. Even his name sounds noble and commanding. Maximus was wonderful right from the start. He was noble and honorable, and he did everything he could based on his understanding of Carys' culture and the situation to treat her with respect and care. He even put her in a position of safety and protection (after she needed rescuing several times!) while Carys continued to resist him and all she was worried about was how her people will think of her and how their mighty princess has fallen for consorting with the enemy. There were moments when Carys said things to others which caused Maximus unease, making him wonder if she was similarly dissembling and omitting things in their conversations and hiding the truth from him and I really wished I could yell into the book and tell Maximus YES, SHE IS!! I really didn't think Carys deserved Maximus considering how poorly she treated him.

In spite of me heartily disliking Carys more and more as the book progressed, Ms Phillips managed to captivate me with her thorough research of the Ancient Roman and Celtic culture. The story felt authentic and real. I enjoyed what I learned about the Celts in particular but I confess I had a moment of cheekiness when I read about Carys taking a root of some sort to put her in a trance and to get visions from the gods. I couldn't help but wonder if someone way back when had wandered into the woods, got hungry and decided on gnaw on a tree root which had hallucinogenic properties and went on an almighty trip. Then said fellow decided that the trip so good and he was communing with the gods and decided it was restricted only to the special priests and druids. Of course, I do not mock their culture and beliefs since the stuff fascinates me but I couldn't help the magic mushroom reference as I was reading that particular scene. But seriously, Ms Phillips did a fantastic job of showing the other side of the Roman occupation, of a people and a way of life being progressively obliterated and assimilated into the Roman culture to make way for the future, and how desperately those people clung to their heritage and did everything they could to resist though they were fighting a losing battle.

And speaking of special priests and druids, I need to give an honorable mention to Aeron, designated bad guy of the story. What a delusional fellow he was. I'm told the name for people like him is a narcissistic sociopath. He had a very special way of justifying some rather heinous acts as sanctioned by the gods and therefore perfectly acceptable. There's a special place in hell for people like him. I enjoyed seeing him get his just desserts!

I thoroughly enjoyed this world Ms Phillips has created and I look forward to reading the next books in the series. Hopefully, I will like the other heroines more.



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388

Not my thing

I forced myself to get through this for the RATA challenge. The sex scenes were hot, but I did not like nor could I relate to any of the characters. 388 3 ½ stars – Erotic Historical Romance

The premise of “forbidden” love between a Roman centurion who’s charged with leading the fight to eliminate enemy tribes in Britain and the princess of a powerful Druid clan who’s gifted with magic seemed like a unique concept for an erotic romance. And I thought it sounded a little bit like the movie King Arthur with Clive Owen and Keira Knightley, which I loved.

It started off really good, and the star-crossed love affair between battle scarred warrior Maximus and beautiful, ethereal Carys was intensely erotic from the beginning. But then somewhere along the way, the story started to drag a bit, and there was a lot of time spent on talk of goddesses, clan politics, magic, and spells. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but it just got a bit boring and repetitive at times and took away from the romance. It’s labeled as an erotic historical romance and although it’s definitely steamy and the love scenes between Maximus and Carys are indeed passionate and sensual, it’s not overly explicit. In fact, I was in the mood for a little less talk and a lot more action, so I would have liked it even better had there been a bit more heat.

It’s an interesting idea and time period for a romance, and I liked the author’s writing style. I’ll definitely check out the next book, Captive, when it comes out. 3 ½ stars. 388 2 stars for managing to keep my attention.

Besides the confusing druid-gods-Rome-conquering-everything plot, this book's view on sex really bothered me. The heroine's people believe having sex honors their gods (or something like that, it was confusing shit). They talk about sex openly and know who's doing who. And yet the heroine only has sex to offer her virginity to a goddess. She's not even attracted to the guy. It's no surprise the hero has no such problems. This book is double standard galore.

Although the h was not a virgin, she is still the picture of virginity according to various side characters. The H forces the heroine to tell him how many guys she's slept with (1), gets absolutely angry that other men have touched her; but when she asks how many women he's been with, he basically says, Don't worry about it babydoll. I'm a man. And that's that. He ignores her questions. For almost the whole book he's trying to figure out how to keep her as a mistress after he inevitably marries to beget an heir. Romantic stuff here. 388 💝FREE on iBooks today (10/24/18)!💝
388 Updating my review from 2nd April 2016 (see Safe Gang section)

A warning: This is a very passionately sexually charge romance...expect this:

And this....

And more of this...

Seriously my head was spinning from all that sexual charge in the book and I have never read such passionate romance sexually and emotionally at the same time! For those who like their romance with a mix of fantasy and history throughout look no further and the good thing is that this book is focused entirely on the romance development, so you can witness the thriving love between both protagonists! It was definitely a case of insta lust and then insta love, but, hey no complaining...it worked perfectly here, as both characters were enemies and it took them some time to accept each position. The Hero was a Roman General, but a noble one nonetheless, he respected the heroine and acknowledged her intellect which was very refreshing and there was absolutely no OW for this Hero as soon as he laid eyes on the heroine! He was a bit of a jerk at the beginning, but that would justify the fact he was the heroin's enemy, but if you pass that you will see his possessive and jealous side he just wanted the heroine for himself....She's mine

For the safety Gang: 388

Christina Phillips ☆ 2 Read

Forbidden

Between a warrior and a princess comes an all-consuming love that transcends the hatred between their warring worlds…

Determined to do whatever she can to rid her beloved land of the barbarian Romans, Carys, a druid acolyte, defies the order of her High Priest to remain within their safe enclave. She escapes to help her oppressed people, only to be captured by a dangerous, battle-scarred centurion.

Charged by his emperor to eliminate the powerful Druids in Britain, Maximus doesn’t expect his mission to be thwarted by the clan’s ethereal princess, Carys. Unaware of her true heritage, he’s enchanted by her beauty and intrigued by her bravery, and while he wants nothing more than to protect her, he reluctantly releases her.

Shaken by the encounter, Carys can’t forget the fearless warrior and is convinced her beloved goddess brought Maximus to her for a reason. Although he’s the enemy of her people she can’t stay away, but their clandestine assignations threaten more than their lives.

As Carys’ loyalties are twisted, and freedom is no longer her single-minded obsession, the avenging High Druid plans to crush Maximus’ people into oblivion. With time running out, Carys and Maximus must overcome the devastation of war and face the ultimate sacrifice if their forbidden love is to survive.

Previously published by Penguin US in 2010 Forbidden (The Druid Chronicles, #1)