Ancient Rome, a hotbed of decadence and political intrigue, profoundly influenced our modern world and has maintained an enduring hold on our imaginations. Though the Empire has fallen, its stories remain.
In this collection, we've gathered together two novels and two novellas that explore the breadth of the Roman Empire. From slave gladiators to senators, Roman sexuality to Roman politics, these stories reveal the lives and trials of those fighting for the Empire in one way or another—on the sands or in the villas, or even on the senate floor.
The Left Hand of Calvus #1
Former gladiator Saevius is certain fortune’s smiling on him when a Pompeiian politician buys him to be his bodyguard. But then his new master, Laurea Calvus, orders Saevius to discover the gladiator with whom his wife is having an affair. In order to do that, Saevius must return to the arena, training alongside the very men on whom he’s spying. Worse, he’s now under the command of Drusus, a notoriously cruel—and yet strangely intriguing—lanista.
But Saevius’s ruse is the least of his worries. There’s more to the affair than a wife humiliating her prominent husband, and now Saevius is part of a dangerous game between dangerous men. He isn’t the only gladiator out to expose the Lady Verina’s transgressions, and her husband wants more than just the guilty man’s name.
When Saevius learns the truth about the affair, he’s left with no choice but to betray one of his masters: one he’s come to fear, one he’s come to respect, and both of whom could have him killed without repercussion. For the first time in his life, the most dangerous place for this gladiator isn’t the arena.
First off I want to say, even though I have featured LA Witt's work on my blog before and even have a couple on my Kindle, this is the first time I've read her but it won't be the last. Her grasp of Ancient Rome is pretty spot on, the characters, the setting, the story all held my attention from the beginning. Those looking for erotica will be disappointed, in fact many would not label this as erotic romance, me on the other hand found it incredibly erotic, not because there is pages upon pages of sex, there isn't. No, I find the whole sub-genre of Ancient Rome amazingly erotic because the era was so open minded, even when it was behind closed curtains and LA Witt captures that from beginning to end.
He is Worthy #2
Rome, 68 A.D. Novius Senna is one of the most feared men in Rome. He’s part of the emperor’s inner circle at a time when being Nero’s friend is almost as dangerous as being his enemy. Senna knows that better men than he have been sacrificed to Nero’s madness—he’s the one who tells them to fall on their swords. He hates what he’s become to keep his family safe. He hates Nero more.
Aenor is a newly-enslaved Bructeri trader, brutalized and humiliated for Nero’s entertainment. He’s homesick and frightened, but not entirely cowed. He’s also exactly what Senna has been looking for: a slave strong enough to help him assassinate Nero.
It’s suicide, but it’s worth it. Senna yearns to rid Rome of a tyrant, and nothing short of death will bring him peace for his crimes. Aenor hungers for revenge, and dying is his only escape from Rome’s tyranny. They have nothing left to lose, except the one thing they never expected to find—each other.
Well written tale of Ancient Rome at the end of Nero's time that captures the fear most living within the city walls felt nearly perfectly while only centering on a few characters. The only downside is it is a little on the short side but the story is wonderful with characters that burrowed into my heart immediately. You can't help but feel Aenor's pain and even Senna's inner turmoil, being from Nero's inner circle is both feared and in fear of where life is headed, is captured in every page.
The City War #3
Senator Marcus Brutus has spent his life serving Rome, but it’s difficult to be a patriot when the Republic, barely recovered from a civil war, is under threat by its own leader. Brutus’s one retreat is his country home, where he steals a few precious days now and then with Cassius, his brother-in-law and fellow soldier—and the one he loves above all others. But the sickness at the heart of Rome is spreading, and even Brutus’s nights with Cassius can’t erase the knowledge that Gaius Julius Caesar is slowly becoming a tyrant.
Cassius fears both Caesar’s intentions and Brutus’s interest in Tiresias, the villa’s newest servant. Tiresias claims to be the orphaned son of a minor noble, but his secrets run deeper, and only Brutus knows them all. Cassius, intent on protecting the Republic and his claim to Brutus, proposes a dangerous conspiracy to assassinate Caesar. After all, if Brutus—loved and respected by all—supports it, it’s not murder, just politics.
Now Brutus must return to Rome and choose: not only between Cassius and Tiresias, but between preserving the fragile status quo of Rome and killing a man who would be Emperor.
Those who know anything about Ancient Rome, know that Brutus will not find longtime happiness but this story is not about the longterm so maybe he will be able to find some peace within the pages of The City War, but you will have to discover that for yourself because as most of you know I don't do spoilers. I've never read this author before but I'll be sure to keep the name Sam Starbuck on my watchlist. A wonderful installment in the Warriors of Rome series.
Mark of the Gladiator #4
After an inconvenient display of mercy in the arena, the gladiator Anazâr is pulled from the sands and contracted to nobleman Lucius Marianus to train his new stable of female gladiators. His charges are demoralized and untested, and they bear the marks of abuse. Anazâr has a scant two months to prepare them for the arena, and his new master demands perfection.
Anazâr is surprised by how eager he is to achieve it—far more eager than a man motivated only by self-preservation. Perhaps it’s because Marianus is truly remarkable: handsome, dignified, honorable, and seemingly as attracted to Anazâr as Anazâr is to him.
But a rivalry between Marianus and his brother sparks a murder conspiracy, with Anazâr and his gladiatrices caught in the middle. One brother might offer salvation . . . but which? And in a world where life is worth less than the pleasures of the crowd or the whims of a master, can there be any room for love? As a gladiator, Anazâr's defenses are near impenetrable. But as a man, he learns to his cost that no armor or shield can truly protect his heart.
Ancient Rome was usually no place for mercy, especially when a gladiator displayed it without permission, and Anazâr finds that out, which is where the story begins. Mark of the Gladiator is filled with conspiracy, deceit, violence, training, sex, and there are moments where love is discovered in the least likely place and time. This story has everything that defined the era and done so with close accuracy and passion, I hated to see the last page come but all stories must end. Heidi Belleau is another author I have featured here before but never read, well it won't be the last time I find her work open on my Kindle and I look forward to checking out Violetta Vane's work as well.
Warriors of Rome #1-4
The Left Hand of Calvus, a gladiator sent undercover to another ludus must decide which master to betray.
He Is Worthy, a Bructeri slave and a Roman patrician make strange—and literal—bedfellows in the plot to assassinate Nero.
The City War, Senator Marcus Brutus must decide what he's willing to do for his lover—and for Rome. A stable boy with a secret and a leader-cum-tyrant push Brutus onto a path from which he can never return.
Mark of the Gladiator, a disfavored gladiator is bought to train a group of female warrior slaves for the arena. Thrust into the middle of a murder conspiracy, Anazâr must find a way to protect his charges—and his heart—from his new master and a patrician family feud.
L.A. Witt is an abnormal M/M romance writer who has finally been released from the purgatorial corn maze of Omaha, Nebraska, and now spends her time on the southwestern coast of Spain. In between wondering how she didn't lose her mind in Omaha, she explores the country with her husband, several clairvoyant hamsters, and an ever-growing herd of rabid plot bunnies.
She also has substantially more time on her hands these days, as she has recruited a small army of mercenaries to search South America for her nemesis, romance author Lauren Gallagher, but don't tell Lauren. And definitely don't tell Lori A. Witt or Ann Gallagher. Neither of those twits can keep their mouths shut...
Lisa credits her love of reading to her grandfather, who had stacks of books in every room in his house, and to her parents, who couldn't afford a television when she was child.Lisa lives in Australia, and shares her house with too many pets. She still devours books today.She also has a television.
Sam Starbuck is a novelist and blogger living in Chicago because he enjoys trains, snow, and political scandals. By day, he manages operations for a research department at a large not-for-profit, and by night he is a pop-culture commentator, experimental cook, advocate for philanthropy, and writer of fiction.
He holds two degrees in theatre, which haven't done much for his career but were fun while they lasted. His love of ancient cultures and art crimes makes him a very strange conversationalist at parties.
His novels include Nameless, Charitable Getting, and Trace, published independently, and The City War, published with Riptide Publishing.
Heidi Belleau was born and raised in small town NB, Canada. She now lives in the rugged oil-patch frontier of Northern BC with her husband, an Irish ex-pat whose long work hours in the trades leave her plenty of quiet time to write. She has a degree in History from Simon Fraser University with a concentration in British and Irish studies; much of her work centred on popular culture, oral folklore, and sexuality, but she was known to perplex her professors with unironic papers on the historical roots of modern romance novel tropes. (Ask her about Highlanders!) When not writing, you might catch her trying to explain British television to her newborn daughter or standing in line at the local coffee shop, waiting on her caramel macchiato.
Violetta Vane grew up a drifter and a third culture kid who eventually put down roots in the Southeast US, although her heart lives somewhere along the Pacific coast of Mexico. She's worked in restaurants, strip clubs, academia and the corporate world and studied everything from the philosophy of science to queer theory to medieval Spanish literature.
EMAIL : firstname.lastname@example.org
The Left Hand of Calvus #1
He is Worthy #2
The City War #3
Mark of the Gladiator #4
Warriors of Rome #1-4