"Yet the only woman who intrigues him is Tiberia the Younger, who now needs his help. Protecting Tiberia places Alexius in the greatest danger he has ever known..."
Pages: 282 pages
Published: August, 2011
Form: E-book (review copy through NetGalley)
Genre: Historical Romance
Harlequin: Buy / $4.60
Amazon: Buy / $5.75
Book Depository: Buy / €3.83
Excerpt: Chapter 1
"Sworn to protect, compelled to love...
Triumphs in the Coliseum—and society bedchambers— made gladiator Alexius of Iolcos famous for his brutal skill and womanizing ways. Yet the only woman who intrigues him is Tiberia the Younger, who now needs his help. Protecting Tiberia places Alexius in the greatest danger he has ever known—from her vengeful father and his own heart…"
Tibi knows what she wants, and she's aware of her worth much to the disappointment of her father, who finally snaps and orders Tibi to the temple of Obis to be a priestess and out of his way. Tibi feels she's destined to marry for Love and not for the political gain of his father, not wanting to go to the temple she escapes to the friend of their family, a gladiator Alexius, a know womanizer.
Alexius had sworn to his friend, cousin of Tibi, that he was to not take Tibi into his bed, she's off limits, which is one of the reasons he feels so stongly about her, but now that she's at his gladiator school he can't help but fall just a little harder for the strong willed, chamelon like girl.
I loved this book! I love historical Rome, so this was a perfect match for me! The city and the customs are colored on to the page in a way that you don't for once forget where you are at and with who.
I loved Tibi's charcter even though she was still little green around the ears, but she was lovely, quick witted and brave, a very good match for Alexius who was smooth, suave and powerful - and um former gladiator. Yum. ;)
This was more of a sweet love story than a hot steamy read, there was plenty of forbidden touches, forbidden emotions and temptation, it was really all about the seduction and not the act itself.
If you love historical romance and Rome then this is for you, a beautiful love story definitely not lacking in passion, lust and expectations of the time.
Rome, AD 84
"You're useless, Tibi. You've been nothing but a disappointment since the day you were born."
Numb to her father's constant condemnation, Tibi stared out the open window of her family's Palatine home. Except for a few distant cook fires dotting the nearby hills, darkness covered Rome like a thick, heavy blanket. The night was still and silent as though it waited to learn Tibi's fate.
"Lepidus was the last man of good family willing to wed you," Tiberius continued to rant. "If he wanted to sample you before the wedding, who are you to object? Instead of welcoming his advances, as you should have done, you reaffirmed your willful reputation and denied him at every turn. Little wonder he stormed from here with no wish to see you again. No man wants a disobedient wife. Not even when her father is willing to pay a fortune to be rid of her."
Tibi winced, but remained silent. She'd stopped defending herself years ago when she realized that her father always sided against her.
"Why the gods cursed me with two daughters and took my adopted son is beyond my ken, but at least your sister over there had the decency to bring political connections to this house when she wed Senator Tacitus three years ago. As for you, you're a disgrace."
In the face of her father's condemnation, she'd forgotten that Tiberia, her elder, more winsome sister, sat in an alcove near the inner courtyard. Closing her eyes, Tibi breathed in deep to ward off an onslaught of total humiliation. The sweetness of her perfume mocked her earlier decision to forgo the formless linen tunics and comfortable shoes she preferred in favor of feminine silks and the bejeweled sandals now pinching her toes. Despite her father's belief that she went out of her way to foil all his plans for her, she'd prepared for tonight with care in an effort to please her family and make a good impression on her intended groom.
Shivering from the cool night air, she rubbed the tender spot on her upper arm where Lepidus had grabbed her. He'd cornered her in the shadows of one of the garden columns, then tried to force himself on her while the other guests cheered the gladiatorial contest her father had arranged for their entertainment. She'd narrowly escaped Lepidus's mauling by biting his lip and refusing to let go until he released her. Neither he nor her father had considered her self-defense justified. Lepidus had stormed from the house, vowing revenge on her shameless behavior and leaving her to bear the brunt of her father's wrath.
"Four broken betrothals, Tibi. Four. I'm at the end of my patience with you."
Tibi tightened her jaw to keep from scoffing. When had he ever been patient with her? As a child she'd wondered why he tolerated her elder sister, Tiberia, yet ignored her. She'd tried to gain his love by being quiet and obedient, two traits her mother assured her would lead to his affection, but he continued to regard her as less important than the rugs he trod upon.
As she'd grown older, she realized that she disappointed her father simply by being a girl. The knowledge killed any hope of winning his affection. Instead, she'd worked to earn his respect and shone in areas traditionally reserved for boys. She'd studied history, astronomy and philosophy. She knew how to read and write Latin, as well as speak Greek. She excelled at archery and practiced athletics at the bath's gymnasium. But she remained a failure in his eyes.
"Look at me," Tiberius demanded sharply.
Tibi forced her feet to comply and turned around to face him. Aware of the bitterness oozing from her soul, she avoided looking at him directly and studied the lantern-lit room beyond his shoulder. A whiff of incense was the last trace of the disastrous banquet held earlier. Slaves had cleared the colorful room of dishes and swept the mosaic tiles clean. The low couches the diners reclined on while eating had been restored to their proper places against the frescoed walls.
"Your mother coddled you, insisting I waste coin on tutors that gave you the mistaken impression that your opinion counts the same as a man's," he sneered. "However, if you were wise, you'd understand that at eighteen years old, you're well past a ripe marriage age. A girl is a drain on her family if she doesn't marry for connections. Since no acceptable man will have you, I'm taking you to the temple of Opis tomorrow—"
Both girls gasped in unison. Tibi's heart kicked with alarm. Her appalled gaze darted to her father's angry visage. As she expected, his narrowed eyes radiated his antipathy.
"Father, please." Tiberia, silent until now, rose elegantly from a bench placed beneath one of the archways leading to the garden. "Isn't that a bit extreme? Perhaps Antonius—"
"Quiet! If I want your counsel I'll ask for it, daughter. Your husband has already done all I can expect of him by arranging this gathering tonight. Even with his far-flung and lofty contacts, Tibi's reputation for humiliating men precedes her. It was no simple task for him to snare Lepidus's interest."
Like Jupiter condemning mankind from the summit of Olympus, Tiberius jabbed his index finger in Tibi's direction. "That…that girl has embarrassed me for the last time. If she won't bring honor to this house through marriage, I'll see that she fulfills her duty to this family another way and buy her a position as a priestess. Who better for her to serve than the goddess of abundance and fertility? She can attempt to garner blessings for all of us. Who knows? She might even be able to correct your failure as a wife and wrangle a child for you in the bargain."
Tibi's stomach churned. The threat of having to perform fertility rites caused her palms to begin to sweat. The room seemed to swirl. "No—"