The Romance

gandyThat little spot in your heart that still believes in fairy tales, in the prince in shining armor who will swoop in and make everything right—that spot lives on in women no matter how life’s disappointments have crushed us down. That man who cheated on you, hurt you, left you with debt and children and heart-stopping pain? That man who never lived up to his promises, your expectations? Those men are out there. We know them.

But surely there’s one man, one perfect man, waiting just for you.

This is the lure of romance. This is the duty romance writers must fulfill. It’s a daunting task.

On one hand, the fictional hero must be suitably flawed—irascible, a little too proud, bullheaded. He’s impossibly unattainable, not our type, completely out of our league. Despite his supremely arrogant demeanor, deep inside he’s suffering. He needs our love even if he doesn’t yet know it.

We can’t turn our back on him even when we try.

On the other hand, our hero must be exquisitely capable of seeing through our defenses and, against his intent, is drawn to the task of making us happy. He’s ruggedly handsome, his body sculpted like a Greek god. He’s intelligent and sensitive, thoughtful and kind. Above all, his sexual prowess leaves us without recourse.

He is specially made just for us. The soul mate. The man who fits us inside and out.

Not all woman are alike. Thankfully neither are authors of romance. For every author who tends to write the strong silent type, there are others who create male leads with a talent for witty banter and intellectual pas de deux. There are heroes in hard hats and those who carry Viking swords. Rich men with tortured pasts, lost men clinging to the shambles of their lives.

For every story that follows a woman burdened by life’s tragedies and unable to continue, another story reveals a woman too hardened to give a man a chance. Stubborn women. Faltering women. Terrified women. We’re all in there.

The plot takes us through the journey, scenes of seduction that thrill us, scenes of rejection and conflict that remind us of what we’ve suffered. In these stories, we look for something to believe in, some revelation, some escape. The knight on the white horse may not be on our doorstep but maybe the heart and soul of such a man lingers inside the furnace repair man or the man staring at us across the McDonald’s parking lot.

It’s the possibility that tempts us, makes us believe enough to pick up yet another book and indulge in the fantasy. It’s a sacred task, this spinning of tales that revitalize us, inspire and comfort us. I for one am an author who cherishes the opportunity to participate in this world of magic.

Long live the dream!

Free — Limited Time Offer!

CaerII cover ebook
Free E-Books to THREE WINNERS!
 
For your chance to win an ebook copy of the newly released Caerwin & Marcellus PLUS an ebook copy of the first book in this two-book story, Caerwin and the Roman Dog, subscribe to Liz’s Hot News! This e-newsletter arrives in your inbox once a month full of sexy shorts, special offers, and much more. No obligation, no cost–this newsletter will quickly become one of your favorite hot spots.
 
To subscribe and enter to win, visit http://eepurl.com/bHOyS9

In one day’s time, Caerwin’s life changes forever. Everything she knows is lost in a vicious bloody battle—her family with its network of kinsmen, her home at the bustling hillfort of western Britannia, her ancient way of life as a Celt. Reeling in shock, her wrists and ankles bound, she faces the man responsible.

She spits at his greeting and vows to kill him.

Marcellus, commander of Rome’s Legion XIV Gemina, spares this fiery young beauty from the slave traders who take away survivors of her tribe. War hardened and even more inured by Imperial Rome’s dissolute ways, he’s drawn to her innocence.

He wants her. He’ll make her his no matter what it takes.

Contest ends at Midnight Saturday July 30. Adults only due to explicit and occasionally dark sexual content.

Discounted til July 20

her brother's voice

Limited Time Offer! During pre-release period for Caerwin & Marcellus (Book II), Book I Caerwin and the Roman Dog is reduced to 99¢. During the pre-release period, Book II is also discounted to $2.99. These two great novels complete Caerwin’s story at prices you won’t see again.

Your personal time travel to experience firsthand the conquest and glory of ancient Rome! Pick up these books and read your way through this breathtaking saga of brutal warfare, BDSM rough sex, and tender romance that grows in the wake of devastation.

An ambitious Roman commander captures a fiery maid of Britannia and forces her to his will. A story of conquest and love set in the glory days of empire, their struggle to meet each other’s needs and expectations exposes the underbelly of Rome’s legal system, its dependence on slavery, and sexual secrets from Marcellus’ past. Can young Caerwin survive unexpected challenges to her womanhood?

Book I
https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/611102
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B016LA6ZVA

Book II
https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/644340
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01H9EBZCQ

A Scene in the Forum

forum

Image of Rome’s Forum circa 312 AD. A rendering developed through the auspices of the University of Texas, Austin. See http://teachingwithoutpants.blogspot.com/2015/05/the-ruin-of-rome-or-something-happened.html

Once the priests had offered prayers and the sacrifices had been made, the crowd moved slowly outside. With his arm firmly wrapped around Caerwin’s waist, Marcellus stopped on the temple steps looking over the brightly garbed crowds still thronging the plaza. Surrounding the Forum, the great temples, statues, and official buildings of the Roman Empire stood like sentinels. Fountains splashed in brilliant sunlight. In the distance, the hills of Rome gleamed with their buildings, streets, and greenery.

Nothing in her life had been this overpowering. The city, the empire, all of it seemed summed up in this man standing beside her with his strength and beauty, his internal conflicts and passions. His easy use of violence. His knowledge of all things. His absolute power to conquer and hold her.

They descended the steps and walked a short distance. His head turned sharply and he looked down on her as if to speak. His face, which had become thinner in the last weeks, lightened with a tender expression. For a breathless moment, Caerwin thought he would kiss her or speak words of love.

She would say what she longed to say. “Marcellus, I…”

His gaze shifted to a person standing nearby and his face hardened. “Vedius,” he said, raising his voice over the clamor. “Yo Saturnalia!”

Excerpted from Caerwin & Marcellus, the sequel to Caerwin and the Roman Dog. Coming soon! Watch for a special offer.

Caerwin and Marcellus

CII banner

COMING SOON! Release date to be announced soon.

Finished! A week ago, I finished writing the last page of the second novel about Caerwin. I’ve been sad ever since. How do you live with two compelling characters for over two years and not get attached? I’ve watched them grow, fight, suffer, and grow some more. Now they become part of my past. I’ll miss them.

Truth be told, I’ll miss more than Caerwin, Marcellus, and supporting cast. I’ve been immersed in Imperial Rome with all its triumphs, perversions, violence, and accomplishments. The fascinating world that was Rome endured a thousand years. Looking back on those years, the progress of their culture, and the countless ways in which we today follow in their footsteps is both depressing and exhilarating. It’s impossible to imagine where we would be today without Rome.

While I sing Rome’s praises, I also recognize how much better we are today than the people of Rome. For one thing, we don’t accept slavery as the norm. Rome’s social class system included the ‘noble’ classes (patricians and equestrians) who considered work beneath them. They held the bulk of the empire’s wealth, controlled its government and industries, and owned both city houses and country villas. The plebian class, roughly equivalent to our middle class, were the freeborn men or freedmen who worked every day to sustain the modest circumstances in which they lived.

Then there were the slaves, vast numbers of persons captured in Rome’s relentless military expansion over most of the known world. Wealthy household might have as many as 300 slaves. Slaves were like livestock or furniture–zero rights. Could be raped, branded, or killed without consequence. Yet they could also become part of a family, cared for, and often freed to live as freedmen (and women).

So while we can thank Rome for establishing the foundations of our legal system, our economic system, our tradition of the arts, social customs, and more, we can also thank the people who came after–from the Dark Ages to the Middle Ages to the Renaissance and down to those who fight each generation for better working conditions, more social justice, refinements of law and wage equity for the conditions we live in today. It’s a sobering perspective.

And this, dear friends, is why writing historical fiction will always be part of my writing experience.

Writing Historical Fiction

wrestlers

I’m deep into the second novel of my Roman story of Caerwin and Marcellus. Everything I do is seen from the perspective of 50 AD Rome, which is kind of disconcerting when you’re driving down the highway. Anyway, I thought you might enjoy a snippet of the work as well as a few observations about writing historical fiction.

Research is at the heart of any historical fiction. Without details of place, dress, and social customs, an author can’t create a believable story. Unfortunately, the further back you go in time, the harder it is to find information. For my current research on Rome, I’m regularly frustrated by gaps in the record. I want the story to be as accurate as possible. How do I know if I’ve got the right information?

I confess. Without Google searches, I’d have to fold up my tent and go home. One thing I’ve learned, though, is not to take one Google search as the whole story.

For example, one academic source insisted that women in Rome did not drink wine. Initially, I found a few other sources that affirmed that information. Then I uncovered a new more specific historical survey that explained the wine thing.

Yes, in early Rome, in the nearly six hundred years of its early formation and its existence as the Roman Republic, the Senate made laws and oversaw government operations. Conservatism ruled the day. But in the mid-first century BC, Julius Caesar wrested control from the Senate (for which he was assassinated) and became the first emperor of the Roman Empire. Another four hundred years would follow under the rule of emperors.

Social norms relaxed in the empire. Wine-drinking for women was no longer a crime punishable by death. Whew!

Notoriously, the empire also saw sex scandals, blood sport in the arena, and other excesses which have become the hallmarks by which most of us remember Rome.

As an author, I want to entertain readers with compelling stories about fascinating people. But I also want my stories to reflect the truth about those times. This means the work takes longer. Sometimes hours, days, even weeks elapse as I try to uncover some obscure detail. I’m hoping for a late summer release on the book.

~~~

true-colors-of-greek-statues-4

Augustus Caesar ruled from 27 BC until his death in 14 AD

We might have guessed that a warrior culture destined to conquer the known world would produce some hot bodies. All those marble statues were trying to tell us something. Now researchers have learned that the original marbles were painted with lifelike colors and features.

The colors are not being arbitrarily added–a combination of ultraviolet, infrared and X-ray spectroscopy can apparently divine the approximate hues these statues were painted in. Personally, I like the one on the left. (More info here.)

~~~

Here’s an excerpt from my current work in progress, a continuation of the story of Caerwin and Marcellus. In Book I, released last November, Caerwin is taken captive by Marcellus as his Roman legion crushes her native tribe in Rome’s quest to seize Britannia.

~~~

Caerwin and the other women waited in the carriage. Outside her window, she watched Marcellus. The baggage wagon had pulled forward so that both conveyances waited in the shade of tall trees. A cluster of taverns and eating places lined the wide roadway.

Antius attended Marcellus who stood fully in her view outside the front of the carriage as he began divesting himself of his weapons. No one could enter Rome bearing war gear. Antius received each item, making a stack that she guessed would be put away in the trunk: the sword, the red sash around his midsection, the wide leather straps he wore across his chest bearing his medals of commendation. Caerwin shifted uncomfortably as her mind raced ahead to the inevitable conclusion of this process. Surely he wouldn’t…

4-old-paintings-by-bryanThe segmented torso armor clanked as it joined the pile, reminding Caerwin of all the nights she had watched him undress from the comfort of his bed. Or discomfort in the certain knowledge of what would come next. She wriggled on the seat, unable to look away.

Marcellus pulled his tunic over his head. Her mouth went dry. It had been weeks since she’d seen him undressed. He stood in the dappled sunlight in nothing but the cloth that wrapped his loins. The gods! Had there ever been a man of such beauty as this? Muscle curved across his shoulders and chest. A narrow line of body hair descended briefly down his lean abdomen. The wound on his bicep left a puckered red line along the bulge. His hands, his forearms, the line of his jaw…

She licked her lips, absorbed fully in this vision of manhood standing just yards away. Everything about him incited her. Her breath came in short light bursts. Her pulse throbbed in her throat—and in less modest places. Moisture crept between her tightly clenched thighs.

Antius unfolded the long white yardage of Marcellus’ toga then sorted out the tunic with its two red stripes. Marcellus paused, standing fully facing Caerwin and meeting her riveted gaze. She gasped at the unmistakable knowledge in his dark eyes, the slight smile curling his lips. By the goddess Sabrina! He had intentionally positioned himself to disrobe in her view. He had purposefully captured her attention to display himself.

He turned slightly and shifted his hips so that the front of his loincloth gave full evidence of his pleasure in her attention. Her eyes closed in the sensation of him over her. She could feel him in her. She squirmed. Her nipples hardened. Her hands filmed with sweat. She wanted him in ways she’d never known possible.

“What mystery holds your adoration?” Junia said. Her forehead wrinkled as she gazed at Caerwin. “I must know.”

Caerwin’s face heated as she tore her gaze away from Marcellus. Just as he had placed himself in her view, he had also made it impossible for Junia or Porcia to see him. Unless Junia came to Caerwin’s position in the carriage.

“I…It’s…” Caerwin stammered. What could she say? Marcellus meant this for her, not to be shared with Junia.

Against her intention, her gaze drew back to Marcellus. The moment had passed. Marcellus had already shrugged into his tunic and Antius had begun to wrap the toga. “An eagle,” she said finally to Junia. “Powerful animal. Quite beautiful.”

“Indeed,” Junia said suspiciously.

~~~

Check out my Roman Pinterest page for some fascinating images and facts about that long lost world.

 

Caerwin II – work in progress

DSC_7914.NEF

Dear Readers — I haven’t forgotten about you! Thanks for all the great reviews on Caerwin and the Roman Dog. Just to show my appreciation, here’s an excerpt from the second novel in the Caerwin series. Love, Liz

Her horse spun as she wheeled around trying to stay outside the reach of the attackers. By now Marcellus and the legionaries had dismounted to form into tight knots, fighting outwards with their backs together. As she watched, one after another of the thugs fell back clutching mortal wounds.

A man ran up to her and seized her horse’s bridle. A dense beard covered his lower face. He wore a dark cloak thrown over his shoulder. A knife glinted in his hand. She plunged her boot into his chest. He grabbed her foot, but she yanked away. She kicked the horse’s sides but the man’s grip didn’t relent.

Another man appeared on the other side of her horse. “Your gold,” he yelled in coarse Latin. “Give it.”

“Curses on you!” she shouted, trying again to pull her horse free.

The horse circled the man, rearing as she kicked its sides. Its front hooves nicked the man’s legs coming down and the man cursed as he lost his hold on the bridle. The second man grabbed her clothes as he tried to pull her from the horse.

Caerwin leaned forward to urge the horse to run, but the first man grabbed her leg and pulled her from the horse. She fell sideways, hitting the ground hard on her side. For a moment, she couldn’t breathe.

He stood over her with his knife held to her throat.

“We’ll take it then,” he said, crouching beside her.

She felt the knife blade press her skin. She watched him with a strange detachment. His breath stank. A scar marked his cheek. His hair hung around his face in oily strands. Yet there seemed to be some questioning in his stare. He hesitated.

“You’re of the tribes, are you not?” he said. As he spoke, the other man seized the familiar gold band. It yielded to his grasp, twisting off her neck. Visions of the salt man rose in her mind. This time she had no knife to defend herself.

The second man’s hands skimmed her breasts and down past her waist as he searched for more valuables.

“She’s got nothing,” he said.

“Go on then,” the first man said.

The second man ran away with her torque. Sounds of fighting continued. Dimly, she heard men shouting from the woods. Had all the legionaries died? Had Marcellus?

“Are you of the tribes?” the first man repeated.

“Cornovii,” she said hoarsely. “Of Britannia.”

His eyes flickered. She had thought he would mount her, but he stood up, holding the knife loosely as if he hadn’t decided what to do. She licked her lips.

He turned at the sound of a horse approaching at full gallop. Before she could speak, before she could even comprehend what was happening, a sword flashed through the air and the man’s head flew off his body. His torso bent slightly as he fell backwards.

The horse’s hooves skidded to a stop, throwing up dirt. In moments Marcellus knelt beside her, his eyes black as night.

“Are you harmed?” he said.

Stay tuned for more excerpts as this project rolls forward! So excited to see what happens next!