I really loved this story by Ms. Leon, it was a fantastic blend of spicy romance with a very interesting historical setting. She clearly did her research for the time period. There were even some very light elements of bondage and dominance in the story.
The main character of this story was Astellus Dolabella, a Roman citizen, who has been assigned the position of Magistrate for the area of Belgica in Gaul. He is a widower who is lonely and has been spending most of his adult life dreaming of his first love, Columba, whose hand in marriage he was denied. This story basically covers the events that take him to visit his cousin and the woman of his dreams and the realization that what he had dreamed of as a child is no longer relevant in his life and that he no longer feels any ties to his Roman heritage - his homeland has changed and not for the better. He is disillusioned with the Rome that he is being presented with and realizes that he has come to identify more with the people of his province than with the Roman nobility that he had been raised with.
The heroine of this story is Rutila, she is a Celt and a slave. Her life has been very hard for the last three years and has been filled with anger and hatred toward Rome and all of its citizens. She has rebelled against her slavery in so many ways that her owners, Astellus’ cousin Plutonius and his wife Columba, plan to offer her as a sexual sacrifice at a feast that they are throwing and at the end she will be killed for entertainment. Rutila is prepared for this event by other servants and it is while she is being taken to the feast that Astellus first sees her and is drawn to her beauty and her fierce spirit. It is love at first sight for him, however, Rutila is only looking for another avenue of possible escape. He is able to demand that she be given to him as a slave due to how much money his cousin owes him.
Astellus is determined to bring Rutila to his home and install her as his personal servant/concubine. Their journey to his home is a growing experience for both of them. Astellus realizes what he wants in a future mate and gives up on his childish ideals and looks forward to building a real relationship with a woman. Rutila realizes that she can’t judge a man based on what his national background is alone, that each person must be judged on their own merits. She is finally able to understand that to get forgiveness; one must also be able to extend forgiveness. She also realizes that she is capable of giving and receiving love.
I totally loved how this story ended and look forward to reading more work from Ms. Leon. I highly recommend this spicy historical.
On the edge of the Roman Empire, Queen Boudica’s rebellion has ended. A time of great tragedy has passed. Atellus, a Roman magistrate living in Gaul, discovers he’s no longer sympathetic to Rome and must now question every facet of his life.
A cunning Celtic woman with golden-red hair arrives in the slave markets, defiant and angry—a danger to anyone foolish enough to purchase her. As punishment for her willfulness, she is to be offered as a sexual favor to Roman guests at a lavish feast and put to death for their entertainment.
For Atellus, it’s love at first sight. He wants to own her. They embark on an erotically turbulent journey through a lonely Celtic forest. He suspects his beautiful slave is harboring a painful secret and must never again speak her true name. She is Celtic royalty—the last of her kind.
In the heart of the forest, strong-willed lovers clash, fall in love and catch a glimpse of what the future can be if both can learn to trust and forgive.