Minnette Meador's Centurion and the Queen will transport you back to 60 AD Britain. It's not a time of comfort for either the Britons or the Romans. The Roman army has been an invader of the isle for quite some time. Through treaties with some of the kings and the strength of their army the Roman's have a lot of control over the Britons. The Romans have imposed laws on the natives and have take land for themselves. This story starts out with a bunch of Britons who are starving. They have gone back to the fields to try to find food for themselves and their families. The Roman's have made it against the law for the villagers to find food in the field. They take the Britons into custody. One of the villagers dies. At the same time a Briton Queen, Delia, is hiding in the forest. She starts tracking the Romans and along the way is captured herself. Delia is an unmarried woman and also a warrior. Soon she meets the terrifying centurion and a leader in the Roman army.
As she fights Marius the centurion she also builds an unbreakable bond of trust, love and devotion with him. Marius is within one month of his retirement from the army. After twenty-five years of service he can leave and take a wife. The life for a Briton and Roman living together will be a hard road, but both Marius and Delia have had hard lives. Will they be able to continue on with a relationship or will social pressures tear them apart?
This book was my first one by Minnette and I'm looking forward to reading more of her works. She brings you into a new time and very quickly has you integrated into the lives and settings of her characters. You feel for them like they are your friends and easily develop emotional bonds with them and their community. I encourage you to try out Minnette's work and see how enmeshed you will become in her wonderful settings. This book pulled me in and I read it in two sittings, just before bed and right when I awoke.
Marius has been stationed on the island of 60AD Britannia for sixteen years, his demotion from the famous Praetorian Guard to Centurion brought about when he was suspected of involvement in the assassination of Caligula. He is intimately aware of his duty, even when it clashes against the natural compassion he tries to subdue, and he secretly wants nothing more than to get off this accursed island so he can return to his home. Once a celebrated Roman hero, Marius still clings to the old traditions as a fair but tough leader to his men. When Delia enters his life, she challenges everything he believes, effortlessly strips away years of Roman conditioning, and angers him to the point of betraying his training--and his oaths. He simply cannot resist her.
Delia is sister to an indolent Celtic king, but that role has turned to nothing more than another surrender. All she can do now is help her people survive the gradual conquest by Rome and their suicidal pride as so many throw themselves against the unstoppable Roman machine. Fighting desperately to save as many as she can, Delia knows there is no hope for her future. Her training as a warrior and a queen means very little in the wake of a declining civilization, and this beautiful, proud woman has to struggle for every joy. The last thing she expected was to find herself craving the touch of an enemy.
They discover an impossible love, a surprising passion they both thought had died, and something they had never imagined, or thought they deserved. They are thrown into the clash between an Iceni queen with 50,000 angry Bretons and a clever Roman general with only 10,000 legionnaires. Marius and Delia have their lives, their beliefs, and their roles turned inside out as they find themselves fighting on opposing sides, in love, and unable to change the future. The revolution would spark their desire, but nearly destroy them both.