Author: Kim Iverson Headlee
Narrator: Lillian Rachel
Length: 13 hours and 45 minutes
Publisher: Pendragon Cove Media
Released: Aug. 2, 2018
Genre: Historical Romance
How hard would you fight for a chance at impossible love?
From the critically acclaimed, award-winning pen of Kim Iverson Headlee comes the thrilling, poignant tale of love across a vast social divide.
Winner of the 2015 International BooksGoSocial Best Book.
Betrayed by her father and sold as payment of a Roman tax debt to fight in Londinium’s arena, gladiatrix-slave Rhyddes feels like a wild beast in a gilded cage. Celtic warrior blood flows in her veins, but Roman masters own her body. She clings to her vow that no man shall claim her soul, though Marcus Calpurnius Aquila, son of the Roman governor, makes her yearn for a love she believes impossible.
Groomed to follow in his father’s footsteps and trapped in a politically advantageous betrothal, Aquila prefers the purity of combat on the amphitheater sands to the sinister intrigues of imperial politics, and the raw power and athletic grace of the flame-haired Libertas to the adoring deference of Rome’s noblewomen.
When a plot to overthrow Caesar ensnares them as pawns in the dark design, Aquila must choose between the Celtic slave who has won his heart and the empire to which they both owe allegiance. Trusting no man and knowing the opposite of obedience is death, the only liberty offered to any slave, Rhyddes must embrace her arena name, Libertas – and the love of a man willing to sacrifice everything to forge a future with her.
Kim Iverson Headlee lives on a farm in southwestern Virginia with her family, cats, goats, Great Pyrenees goat guards, someone else’s cattle, half a million honey bees, and assorted wildlife. People and creatures come and go, but the cave and the 250-year-old house ruins—the latter having been occupied as recently as the midtwentieth century—seem to be sticking around for a while yet. Kim has been an award-winning novelist since 1999 (Dawnflight first edition, Sonnet Books, Simon & Schuster) and has been a student of Arthurian lore for more than half a century. Her novel LIBERTY was a 2007 HOLT Medallion finalist for its first edition (HQN Books, Harlequin, 2006; writing as Kimberly Iverson), and its second edition won the international BooksGoSocial Best Book award in 2015.
Born in the United Kingdom, Lillian grew up in East Anglia and moved north to Durham before marrying my US military man and Atlantic hopping between Europe and North America, with many side trips to far flung countries along the way. She’s now settled in the Washington D.C. area.
After reading thousands of hours of literature-based lessons with children, and leading a range of adult education classes, her passion for storytelling and training continues. Lillian now performs behind the mic in projects as diverse as audiobooks to eLearning. There’s not much she loves more than telling your story in the most engaging way.
Headlee has created a great romance but I’m not too sure about the historical context. A lot of the words in the novel are pretty modern even some of the slang the characters say. I get not wanting to bore readers with old speech, but I would definitely cut down on the slang talk at least. The characters themselves are very entertaining and I appreciate the developing love story. I’m not sure that some of the events that transpired would have really happened back then but I’m alright with suspending disbelief. Overall good story and had exciting twists. Would give it a 4/5 stars.
Narration wise I don’t think it could have been better! Overall loved the pacing and voices for each character. 5/5 stars.
I received this audiobook as part of my participation in a blog tour with Audiobookworm Promotions. The tour is being sponsored by Kim Iverson Headlee. The gifting of this audiobook did not affect my opinion of it.
Name: Marcus Calpurnius Aquila
Birthplace: Rome, Italia
Profession: politician in training
Marcus has the body of a football quarterback: muscular but not overly bulky. In present-day terms he tops 6’ in height, 220 pounds, and has a fading tan from having spent the past two years living under the paler northern sun of Britannia Province. He has some minor scars from his arena bouts, but nothing specifically mentioned in the book as being an issue for him.
Q&A with Kim Iverson Headlee about Marcus Aquila
- Who is the significant other in your character’s life?
- The woman who empowers his soul is Rhyddes, a gladiatrix-slave whom he knows by her arena name “Libertas.”
- Tell us about this significant other character, please.
- Libertas is the first woman Marcus has ever known who does not swoon over his wealth, charms, or looks. She sees him for who he is: a man struggling to free himself from the bonds of duty, and he comes to appreciate that very much. He recognizes in her a kindred spirit in that regard, for she is oath-bound to obey her masters too. Although her beauty attracts him to her, it is her unconquerable spirit that ultimately leads him to want to sacrifice everything to win her love.
- How does your hero dress?
- In a toga on the Senate floor, and in scanty armor on the arena floor. He prefers the scanty armor, and so do his legions of female admirers.
- Is the character book-smart, self-taught, widely-experienced?
- Marcus has had all the educational privileges offered to Rome’s aristocratic citizens, so in that regard he possesses a fair degree of “book smarts,” but he is also widely experienced because of his arena exploits… and the epic after parties.
- What is your character’s viewpoint on wealth?
- Unlike most Roman aristocrats, Marcus believes that his wealth and status should be used to help people rather than to control and exploit them.
- On what special skills does your character rely?
- Although his being an aristocrat exempts him from fights to the death, he is a highly skilled swordsman in his own right—and he would never have believed that this skill would save his life and the life of the woman he loves.
- Are any of his skills a source of pride or embarrassment, and if so, which ones and why?
- His predilection for arena combat is an extreme source of embarrassment for his family, particularly his father, Governor Agricola. In fact, it becomes a major point of contention between them, and Marcus’s desire to consort with Libertas further widens the rift.
- Is he close to family?
- Marcus enjoys a very close relationship with his mother, Lady Loreia, who in the way of all mothers understands him better than he understands himself at times.
- Can your hero keep a secret (why or why not)?
- Marcus must keep his budding relationship with Libertas a secret, for to do otherwise would cause him to be banned from polite Roman society. He doesn’t care about that so much, but he knows it would stain his family too, and he has no wish to inflict that pain upon them.
- What is your character’s biggest need at the beginning of the story?
- Marcus needs his father to accept him for who he is, not for how he can enhance Agricola’s political career.
- If your character could make any one thing happen, what would it be?
- Once he decides that Libertas is the woman with whom he wants to spend the rest of his life, he will stop at nothing—even sacrificing all of his wealth and power—to make marriage with her possible.
- To honor the person who chose to share your story, please answer the following questions.
- Why do you think your writer chose to write about you?
- She chose to write about Libertas—Rhyddes. I am merely a facet of Rhyddes’s story.
- What do you wish your writer had not told others about you?
- I wish that she had not gone into such detail about my strained relationship with my father. That is a sensitive personal matter for me, and one I do not readily share with anyone.
- What other character from your book do you think your writer should write a book about, and why?
- I would like to know more about Rhyddes’s brother Owen. Of all her brothers, Owen is the closest to her in age and spirit, and I imagine his story is a fine one too.
- Why do you think your writer loves to write?
- Who can say? But if I were to venture a guess, it would be that she must love to entertain people with her words, much in the same way that I love to entertain people with my swordplay.
- Is there anything you’d like to say to your writer?
- Thank you, Kim Iverson Headlee, for rising to the challenge of presenting the story of Rhyddes’s life in such a faithful and poignant manner.
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