Hello and welcome to the last week of Riptide Publishing’s Warriors of Rome month! We’re Heidi Belleau and Violetta Vane, and all week, we’ll be posting across the web chatting about our heartpounding new novel Mark of the Gladiator, Roman history in general, and dropping a few sexy gladiator-related surprises along the way! For a complete tour listing, please check out the Riptide website, but first, read on for today’s post, and don’t forget to leave us a comment for today’s chance at winning our week-long contest!
Thank you so much to our hosts for having us, and to all of you for reading along!
Marianus vs. Marianus
By Heidi Belleau and Violetta Vane
Mark of the Gladiator has a love-and-murder triangle at its centre. The main character, the gladiator Anazâr, is caught between two feuding brothers: Marianus Lucius, the elder brother, is the ideal Roman man with a lovely wife, a beautiful home, and a commanding presence that Anazâr respects and is immediately drawn to. Marianus Felix, the younger brother, is a poet and a trickster who openly flouts Roman standards of behaviour . . . and is all the more infuriatingly compelling for it.
Anazâr ultimately has his happy ending with one of the two. Oh, and one of them is trying to kill the other. But who?
Lucius was born into the plebeian class, but during the period of civil wars his father made several risky but successful alliances. By the time Lucius took over as paterfamilias when his father died, the family were nouveau riche equites class. Lucius consolidated the gains his father made and added to them. He’s married to Aelia, daughter of the powerful senator Aelius, and has a two-year-old son with her.
“I value you highly as my slave, but I think, perhaps, you would also serve me very well as a freedman.”
Lucius wasn’t born noble, but he definitely acts it. He’s won the respect of his house and his peers. He’s a shrewd businessman, but that doesn’t mean he’s incapable of loyalty and generosity. In fact, he’s built a reputation for rewarding those who stand by him. He’s in the prime of life and devastatingly handsome.
He’s also married, and appears to genuinely love and care for his wife. That’s touching and shows his softer side, although it would seem to disqualify him as a romantic interest for Anazâr, at least according to modern-day social standards. But remember the saying when in Rome—if his wife doesn’t mind, why should we? Lucius has the most to offer Anazâr. His brother, on the other hand, is mentally unstable and potentially murderous.
Felix is the younger Marianus brother and has settled solidly into the role of gadfly and black sheep. He looks enough like his older brother to be sometimes mistaken for him, but their personalities could not be more opposite. His hobbies include drinking, gambling, whoring, bathhouse hook-ups, drama, poetry, and hiding from enemies.
“You’ll be a bunch of sorry bastards when I start biting off chunks of my own arm and spitting them at you . . .”
Everyone loves a sense of humor, and Felix has that in spades. He’s popular with the men and the ladies… sure, he has a lot of enemies, but that’s only because not everyone gets his jokes. He’s got literary skills to pay the bills, although at the present he’s reduced to stealing his brother’s silver tableware and pawning it for drinking money. He’s simply more fun than his brother, and Anazâr appreciates that… even if he doesn’t let himself show it.
All week, leave comments on our blog tour stops for a chance to win all three books in our M/M urban fantasy series Layers of the Otherworld. All you have to do is leave a comment with your email whenever you see us touring. One comment = one entry, so be sure to check us out every day! The more you comment, the better your odds! On December 3rd (that’s one week after Mark of the Gladiator’s release!), we’ll draw one lucky winner to receive Cruce de Caminos, The Druid Stone, and Galway Bound in the ebook format of their choice. Bonne chance!
About Heidi and Violetta
Two unlikely friends and co-writers, Heidi Belleau is a wholesome small-town history nerd from Northern Canada and Violetta Vane is a former academic with a sketchy past from the American South. Together, they write sex-soaked multicultural M/M romance and urban fantasy. You can visit them online at HeidiBelleau.com and ViolettaVane.com, or reach them on twitter as @HeidiBelleau and @ViolettaVane.
About Mark of the Gladiator
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.
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