Join Us for the New Release Book Blitz for Sons of Rome by Karrie Roman (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title: Sons of Rome

Author: Karrie Roman

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: October 28, 2019

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 77300

Genre: Historical, LGBT, PTSD, soldiers, military, age gap, disabilities, war, ancient Rome, virgins

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Synopsis

9CE Germania

Battle weary and fearless Centurion Drusus Tuscus has only three more years in the Roman Legions and then he can return home to the mother and young brother he was forced to leave behind seventeen summers ago. Drusus has suffered much during his years in the Legions: defeats, fallen comrades and excruciating wounds, but this time the stakes are so much higher. As he prepares to lead his warriors from the safety of their winter base, across the Rhine into the wilds of Germania, he awaits the arrival of new recruits to bolster his century. With these men he will face the ferocious barbarian tribes, many still chafing under the yoke of Roman subjugation.

When his friend and Optio returns with the new men, two faces in the crowd change everything for Drusus. His brother, long lost to him and now a man, stands before him and he brings with him a friend, a man named Caius. A man who stirs the long dead fires of Drusus’s heart. Two men, neither of whom Drusus is willing to lose to a barbarian blade.

As the campaign begins, whispers of betrayal and rebellion stoke a fear in Drusus, especially as his arrogant commander refuses to take heed of the warnings. As catastrophe stalks their footsteps Drusus must balance his duty to Rome with his love for Caius. He will give everything he has to save his beloved brother, and Caius, the man who has stolen his heart.

Two lives that mean more to Drusus than his own.

Excerpt

Sons of Rome
Karrie Roman © 2019
All Rights Reserved

Prologue
8 BCE

Of the many things he would miss about his life, Drusus could not decide which he would yearn for most—his mother’s sweet smiles or his baby brother’s happy babbling. Of course, he loved the land around his family’s farm and would miss the beasts as well as the hard, honest work he toiled at day after day. But his family? Oh gods, how he would miss them.

Only two years ago, having barely reached his eighteenth summer, Drusus had become head of his family after the death of his father. Little Calpurnius, his brother, was barely two summers into his life then, having come along as a great surprise to his parents after many years of failed attempts at a second child. With his loveable nature and adorable face, Calpurnius had easily become the light of the Tuscus family. The time between Calpurnius’s birth and the death of his father had been a happy time for Drusus’s family.

“Drusus, you take too much time,” his mother called.

Agrippina Tuscus was devastated by the loss of her husband, and now, so soon after, she was losing her eldest son to the Emperor’s legions. Drusus had been conscripted. They’d always known it a possibility—more of a certainty—but, nonetheless, Drusus and his mother felt the blow when they finally came for him.

Drusus was not a coward, and he had little fear of battle. He dreaded leaving his mother and little Calpurnius though. They had slaves to tend the farm, and he knew each of them to be loyal. But there was no man of blood here, no Roman man left behind to defend what was left of his family should the need arise. And his family in danger scared him more than any battle could.

“I am taking the land into memory, Mother, so I will not forget what I am fighting for,” he answered as his mother came to stand beside him. Drusus was an unusually tall man who stood above most but towered over his diminutive mother. She looked so fragile beside him, and yet he’d seen her turn into the lioness when the need arose, especially in the care of her children.

“You fight for Roma, son. For Roma’s glory and honour. For Emperor Augustus.”

“I fight for you and Calpurnius too. I fight to keep you safe. I fight for this.” He spread his arms wide and cast them over the panorama of their land: the rolling green hills heavy with wandering sheep, snow-peaked mountains far in the distance, cypress trees swaying gently in the breeze. The wildflowers were due to bloom soon, bringing with them their honeyed fragrance as well as the chirps of a thousand cicadas.

He’d miss it all. The aroma of Cassia’s bread as it baked on the hearth, and even the dry dirt that needed tilling for seeding—and got everywhere—would be missed. The melodious banter of slaves as they worked at the jobs he should be doing were it not for his conscription, the bleat of the sheep, the low calls of the cattle in the field: he’d miss everything. Wherever he went, he’d experience similar sights and sounds, but they wouldn’t be home.

“I would have you stay, Drusus.”

“I cannot, Mother. It is a citizen’s duty to fight with the legions for Roma.” He pressed a tender kiss into her hair, the scent of olive oil and farm life potent in the strands.

“I know, son. I speak selfishly. I will miss you though. It will be many years before you return. Little Cal will not know his brother.” For twenty years, his life would belong to Roma; he’d be nothing more than another body in the cog keeping the Roman war machine turning.

Drusus saw his mother turn her gaze to where Calpurnius was playing with one of his kittens—exactly as he did—at the mention of his beloved brother. He watched the boy’s cherubic face light up in fits of giggles as the kitten rolled playfully all over him. With Cal’s white curls framing his pinked cheeks, he had the look of a god. All who met Calpurnius fell for his charms.

“Pray the gods I make it home before he is sent to the legions.” Drusus flinched at his thoughtless words, knowing they would cause his mother more pain.

As a true Roman woman, his mother ignored his insensitive words, stoically bearing Drusus’s departure instead. “Be safe, Drusus. And do not fear for those of us left behind.”

His mother wrapped her arms around him and held tight. Drusus mirrored her actions, doing his best not to think this may be the last time he held her—saw her. His sweet, kind mother.

He eventually pulled away and took her face in his hands, his gaze intent on her as he did his best to brand her image into his memory. Her dark curls and gentle eyes, the crinkles at the corner of them from years of laughter, her sun-kissed skin. She was still a beauty, even though youth had passed her. He had hopes she would find a good man to marry her one day soon, but he knew his father held her heart even from the afterlife.

Calpurnius was playing with his kitten when Drusus took leave of his mother and went in search of him for their goodbyes. He wasn’t sure Cal comprehended what was happening. The little boy understood Drusus was going away, but the idea of twenty years meant nothing to a child of four. Drusus wondered how long it might take for Cal to stop thinking every day maybe this would be the one his brother returned. How long before Cal forgot him entirely?

“Dru, kitten scratched my arm.” Calpurnius thrust his arm out to show him the offending wound as he approached. His little lip quivered as he looked at the tiny knots of blood left in the wake of the little cat’s sharp claws.

Drusus kneeled before his brother and scooped him into his arms. He kissed the scratch repeatedly until Calpurnius finally giggled and pushed him away.

“Kitten was only playing, Cal. He did not realise how sharp his claws are or how fragile your skin is.”

“You go now?”

“Yes, Cal. It is time for me to go.” He pressed a kiss into soft curls. “I want you to remember you are a Roman man. Earn your honour through your duty to Roma and your family. Treat others well, Calpurnius, and you will make our father proud.”

Calpurnius nodded, clearly intuiting this was an important moment but not understanding why. Drusus seared his mind with this image, too, as his little brother watched him with large blue eyes burning with trust and love.

“I will miss you, little one. Always remember somewhere in the world you have a brother who loves you.”

“You come back?” Calpurnius’s tiny hands rested on his cheeks, pushing them and pursing Drusus’s lips as Cal loved to do. Drusus was willing to give anything right then not to have to go. He understood his obligation to Roma, but the ache in his chest was making leaving to complete his duty so difficult. He’d be gone for so long.

“One day, Cal. Give your brother a kiss before I go,” he requested. Calpurnius dutifully delivered a sloppy kiss to each cheek before Drusus leaned forward and blew into the side of his neck, making the noise that so amused the little ones. He set his brother on his feet and patted his bottom. “Off you go now, and find your kitten. Be good to our mother, Cal. Her heart aches today.”

Drusus watched him for a moment before he turned and walked away from everyone and everything he’d ever known without looking back. He feared if he did so his feet would stop carrying him to the road he must now travel. He didn’t know which legion he’d be sent to or what part of the world he’d be shedding blood and tears in. All he knew was the ache in his own chest at leaving was so painful and crippling that surely no wound he might suffer in battle could ever be worse.

Purchase

NineStar Press | Amazon | Smashwords | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

Meet the Author

Karrie lives in Australia’s sunshine state with her husband and two sons, though she hates the sun with a passion. She dreams of one day living in the wettest and coldest habitable place she can find. She has been writing stories in her head for years but has finally managed to pull the words out of her head and share them with others. She spends her days trying to type her stories on the computer without disturbing her beloved cat Lu curled up on the keyboard. She probably reads far too much.

Website | Twitter

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Review: Chateau d’Eternite by Ariel Tachna

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Rating: 3.75 stars

Chateau 2nd editionRuss Peterson receives a mysterious invitation in the mail for a vacation at a chateau in the south of France and his curiosity compels him to accept. Once there, Russ is astonished to find out that his last physical exam showed a genetic marker that identifies him as a time traveler, and therefore a member of an exclusive society located at Chateau d’Eternite.  As a historian, it is a dream come true for Russ, but being a time traveler has its rule and risks along with the gift of being able to visit any era on any geographical place in the world.

When Russ travels back in time to Roman Gaul, he is almost killed by a wild boar when he is rescued by Quentus Maximus, second in command to the Legate of Nemausus.  Before he knows what is happening, Russ is traveling back to Quentus’ estate as his lover and companion.  Russ finds that the more time he spends with Quentus Maximus in Rome, the more he feels at home and alive than ever before.  Soon Russ must return to his time as the end of his vacation draws near and he must make a decision, should he stay or should he go?  Which will win, his heart and lover of Rome or his head and his future life?

I love Ariel Tachna’s stories and was looking forward to her take on time travel so I am surprised to find myself as conflicted as Russ over his story.  First let’s address the elements I loved.  I think the idea of a chateau filled with time travelers makes a wonderful basis for a series.  Any number of people are appearing and disappearing at any given time, so the potential for a variety of characters and stories is unlimited as the eras they can visit.  Great idea, and the caretaker of the Chateau is a real enigma whose story should be told as well.

Secondly, I liked the characters and settings in ancient Roman Gaul.  Quentus and his close circle of friends are both interesting and nicely layered.  Tachna has done her homework on the time period and it shows in her details from their clothing to the designs of their households. When Russ, called Rastus, and Quentus visit the baths or alone in the estate, her descriptions enable the reader to visualize the setting with ease. All these elements contributed to a story I enjoyed reading,

However, I did have some issues with sections of the story that blunted my enjoyment with Chateau d’Eternite.  First off, I found it hard to believe that historian Russ would accept with equanimity the fact that he carried (or even that there was such a thing) a genetic abnormality that made it possible for him and a small percentage of other humans to travel in time.    Russ doesn’t even break stride as he goes from one revelation to the next, each more outrageous and unrealistic based on his current knowledge.  The caretaker has Russ’ personal information, ie, results of his last physical and Russ doesn’t throw a fit?  Russ is told that he can time travel and is taken on a short trip to prove it.  Does he think he is hallucinating? Not really, again, he is affable and almost nonchalant in his reactions to seeing Versailles being built.  I just didn’t get that at all, nor did I believe it.   Russ reacts in the same way when visiting ancient Rome and meeting Quentus.  They move almost immediately into a sexual relationship with overtones of D/s, and later, Russ argues with his Roman lover over the modern concept of equality within their partnership that would not have been possible during that time period.  I just had a hard time suspending my doubts about their relationship and the character of Russ in particular.  As a historian, I think he would have been scrabbling around looking at everything, picking things up, making drawings, in awe of his situation. I mean, here is his passion for the past in front of him, where is the giddiness I would expect from someone who has made historian the focal point of his life? But I never got that feeling from Russ’ character, and I was disappointed in that aspect of his character.  I would have loved to have seen this from the viewpoint of someone truly amazed to find himself in these circumstances.

One thing that might bother some readers is that the ending is somewhat “bittersweet”.  We find out exactly how long Russ and Quentus have together in the past while missing out on the details of their life together.  I thought it very realistic but others may have a problem with it depending upon how they define HEA.

Pick it up if you like time travel stories, ancient Rome, and the works of Ariel Tachna. This is an expanded version of a short story published earlier.

Cover art by Anne Cain.  Just a gorgeous cover, I loved the model and thought him a perfect representation of Russ.

Book Details:

ebook, 2nd edition, 200 pages
Published March 29th 2013 by Dreamspinner Press (first published June 1st 2012)
ISBN 1623806070 (ISBN13: 9781623806071)
edition languageEnglish
urlhttp://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=3761

Guest Post by Sam Starbuck and Contest for The City War Blog Tour

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Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Sam Starbuck here to blog about his latest book, The City War, published by Riptide Publishing:

Hello everyone! I’m pleased to be hosted by Scattered Thoughts today as part of a blog tour for  The City War, my first novella to be released with Riptide Press.

This is the second part in a series of posts I’m doing about the process of writing historical romantic fiction, and how one gets from being a history nerd to a romance writer in a few easy steps; today’s entry is about the delicate dance of historical fiction. To thank you all for reading, I’m offering a chance to win $10 in credit with Riptide Publishing; every comment you leave on the post today and for the entire tour enters you to win!

Something that comes up frequently when people talk about writing historical fiction of any subset is the difficulty of Getting Everything Right. If you set a story in ancient Roman culture — as the Warriors of Rome series is — it’s easy to leave out things we’re aware don’t belong: microwaves, cellphones, pianos. It’s often harder to leave out things we don’t know don’t belong — did the ancient Romans have books, or only scrolls? Did they have plates and cups? Did they have toilet paper? (Yes, Yes, and No.)

It’s daunting, the idea of having to know a dead culture so well that you can create a whole world without screwing it up.

But it’s also fun.

One of the things I researched for The City War was the food served at feasts, particularly feasts for the nobility of the highly class-stratified culture of Rome. 

The servants brought in trays of apricots in sweet sauce and lentils imported from Egypt, roasted thrushes, goose livers in garum and oysters in cumin sauce.

“The servants brought in trays of apricots in sweet sauce and lentils imported from Egypt, roasted thrushes, goose livers in garum and oysters in cumin sauce. Cassius occasionally licked sweet apricot sauce off his thumb, glancing at Brutus with lowered eyelids to see if he noticed. Brutus saw that Aristus did, and the older man drank more wine than usual. Brutus just busied himself counteracting the heat of the cumin with bites of honey-soaked melon, and ignored them both as children. He was getting tired of Cassius’s air of mystery.

By the time the servants brought in the pig—small but well-cooked, and stuffed with tender laurices and fragrant spices—Brutus saw the horse-boy watching the dancers as well, crouched in a shadow behind a tall window that let the breeze pass from the outer yard into the triclinium.”

It sounds delicious and poetic, but sometimes that’s part of the trick of historical fiction; goose livers in garum seems luxurious, if slightly gross to our modern sensibilities, until you find out that garum is a sauce made from fish that’s been left to decay in the sun for days. “Stuffed with tender laurices” makes the mouth water — until you look it up, as one of my editors did, and realize that a laurice is the term for the unborn fetus of a rabbit, a delicacy in ancient Rome. But part of the joy of writing for this era in particular is the fierceness and the nearness to the food chain that even the upper classes were required by their limited technological means to engage in. It was an earthy time.

Historical fiction is about getting the world right, but also getting the sense of the world right. It’s important to understand the spirit of an era — and sometimes to temper it a little in places, particularly when writing romance, which I’m also addressing today over at  Well Read.

Bio: 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. He blogs here, and you can check out his writerly accomplishments here.

The City War 

Blurb: 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.

You can buy The City War or read an excerpt here at Riptide Publishing.

Thank was wonderful.  My review of The City War will be posted tomorrow and you won’t want to miss it. And don’t forget to enter your name in the contest.  Just leave a comment and you are entered into the contest to win $10 in credit at Riptide Publishing. The Winner of the contest will be announced at the end of the tour.

Good luck, everyone.  And my thanks to Sam Starbuck and Riptide Publishing for stopping by today.

It’s Thanksgiving and the Week Ahead!

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Hard to believe I will be cooking away starting Wednesday.  I have pies to bake, and a fresh turkey and stuffing that need my attention.  There are some last minute things to get like the pears and baby arugula for the salad.  I know it never gets eaten as the focus is on the bird so it will only be a small salad this year.  The mashed potatoes and fresh green beans are the domain of my mother and the mango cranberry relish is being supplied by my daughter and her husband.  Things are looking good and I can’t wait to start smelling those wonderful aromas that mean family, closeness, and Thanksgiving.

This is going to be a great week here at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words.  We have some terrific books and Riptide Publishing is visiting for a guest post on their Warriors of Rome blog tour,  Love Spartacus or strapping gladiators in leather?   Don’t miss this one.  On Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, I am blogging about novel playlists, authors and the importance of understanding the music central to a character.  Trust me, it’s not as dry as it sounds when we are talking about  bands like These Arms Are Snakes or The Flying Burrito Brothers!

So here we go, a little percussion please:

Monday, 19th:                            Knitter In His Natural Habitat (Knitting#4) by Amy Lane

Tuesday, 20th:                           Warriors of Rome Blog Tour, Guest post by Sam Starbuck

Wed, 21st:                                   Review of The City War by Sam Starbuck

Thursday, 22nd:                        Lesser Evils (Infected,  #6) by Andrea Speed

Friday, 23rd:                              When It Comes to Understanding People or Characters is Music the Key? Thoughts on Novels and Playlists

Saturday, 24th:                          The Legend of the Apache Kid by Sarah Black

For all the Americans, have a happy and safe Thanksgiving.  For everyone else, be happy and safe too!