It's 1821 in the city of Florence in Tuscany. Contessa Donnatella Margherita Luchella di Poliziano is standing on her balcony once again thinking of what could have been. After 1800 years, she still misses the love of her life, Jergan. Donnatella is a vampire and Jergan was a human. They had 50 years together but she should have changed him, even though it was against every rule. She knows with regret that she wishes she had had the courage to change him and would do it if given another chance. But there is no way to change the past, or is there?
While getting ready for a night out, Donnatella finds a 300-year-old note telling her of a surprise in the catacombs. Following the directions she finds a time machine that in theory should work. Thinking she has nothing to loose and eternal love to gain, Donnatella activates the machine and finds herself back in Rome prior to buying Jergan who had been her slave.
In this earlier time, Donnatella was known as Livia. When the two women see each other, Donnatella merges with Livia. Suddenly, Livia starts having dreams that are coming true and feels like she's already lived this already. Still, she can't figure out why and Donnatella can only be a whisper in her mind.
Livia was being urged to find a slave for a bodyguard. Several assassination attempts had been made and they were getting stronger and closer together. She agrees, as she wants to blend in with the local populace. Seeing Jergan, she buys him though he's a bit more than she was looking for.
What neither Jergan or Livia were expecting was the growing attraction that they felt for each other. Still, Livia will not take advantage of a slave, so she frees Jergan expecting him to immediately return home. Jergan surprises her by staying and continuing as her bodyguard. They become lovers and in the chaos of Rome and it's insane leader hope to remain alive and well while Livia pulls strings to overthrow the current government.
Donnatella has a short time to stay and if she wants Jergan's love forever, some how she must get Livia to turn him into a vampire. As time passes she makes her presents known more and more but will time run out?
I wasn't sure about this book. Neither times depicted are my favorites but I was pleasantly surprised.
Ms Squires makes Rome come alive without all the dullness and details that many authors use. She gives you a feel for how things were done or what they might have looked like with just enough details for you to visualize but not so many that you could count every piece of marble. Being told that a main government building had several doors that were open allowing light to fill it was better than being told that there were x number of doors. She also gives up a look at daily life with a description of how the Romans bathed and Jergan commenting on how the Britons bathed. It was woven into the story as natural and didn't bog the reader down.
The characters were real and you got a feel for them. You knew that Livia believed in fairness and saw the great things happening in Rome. Jergan held honor close and was able to keep secrets. Even secondary characters had some depth though not as much as the primary. The loyalty that each of the secondary characters had for Livia was explored as part of their personalities and their reactions to situations were always within what you knew of them.
Around this love story is a story of a quest for power and greed and corruption within the Roman Empire. Readers are brought to decadent banquets with an anything goes theme to the Senate floor where the Emperor makes a horse an advisor. You can imagine the terror of citizens that get the attention of the wrong people in power over everyday events and the hope that though they may loose everything that they aren't also killed. The question throughout the book is can Rome get rid of this Emperor and once again rise in glory or will it spiral down into nothi
Contessa Donnatella di Poliziano has power, beauty and - as a vampire - eternal life. But she also consumed by regret that centuries ago in ancient Rome, she failed to make her one true love, Jergan, a vampire too. But just as she despairs, the discovery of a 300-year-old note leads her to a gift left by her old friend, Leonardo da Vinci. He built her a machine to take her back in time to re-write the history of her heart.
Once back in time, Donnatella loses her memory of the intervening years. Yet when she sees the breathtaking barbarian slave from afar, she feels she has always known him. For Donnatella, their awakening passion feels both old and new. But as they fall in love again, the danger of the emperor Caligula's Rome threatens to tear them apart. The very act of going back in time has changed history and sends events spinning out of Donnatella's control. Now Jergan's love for Donnatella, and Jergan himself, must survive the most perilous test, and if he fails, the two lovers will be separated again. for eternity.
Stands Alone: yes