Coming in August 2011
Love Inspired Historical line
A warrior without equal. A woman without options...
Triumphs in the Coliseum—and society bedchambers—made gladiator Alexius of Iolcos famous for his brutal skill and womanizing ways. Yet the only woman who intrigues him is Tiberia the Younger, who now needs his help. Protecting Tiberia places Alexius in the greatest danger he has ever known: from her vengeful father and his own heart…
Becoming a temple priestess may be an honor, but Tibi can’t bear to surrender her freedom or her newfound faith. Alexius’s solution stuns her. Marriage…to a gladiator! Scorned by her noble family, Tibi always felt unworthy. But with her champion by her side, can she accept—and give—a love strong enough to vanquish their enemies?
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5/5 Stories From My Bookshelf Blog reviewed by Alexandra George
"The historical detail is exquisite, of course, as in the previous books. This makes this little trilogy a treasure since there aren't many novels about the first christian years in Rome out there. And none as well written as these, except perhaps the classics (The Robe, Quo Vadis, etc). There was a lot of action in this book also, and for me the plot and the romance just took off as soon as the hero and heroine were in danger."
THE CHAMPION (4) by Carla Capshaw: Rome, 84 AD: Tiberia the Younger does not want to become a temple priestess as her noble family desires, as it goes against her newfound faith. Now she needs protection from her vengeful father, and asks Alexius of Iolcos for help. A famous gladiator well known for both his brutal fighting skills and his womanizing, Alexius is intrigued by Tiberia and proposes marriage as the best way to protect her. But Tiberia can’t wrap her head around the idea of marrying a gladiator. With a stirring account of the challenges of professing a new faith and exhilarating Coliseum fights, this book has all the right ingredients for fans of this time period. Reviewed By: Patsy Glans
Rome, AD 84
Alexius of Iolcos set down his chalice of wine, rattled the dice in his hand and cast the ivory pieces onto the scarred wooden table. Seeing the winning roll, the bevy of beauties surrounding him clapped and shrieked like inebriated water nymphs. His opponents’ agonized groans competed with the revelry of his many guests and the wandering musicians whose bawdy songs filled the public rooms of the domus.
Alexius laughed and taunted the other players good-naturedly, although he was less than satisfied with his win. Of late, boredom trailed him without mercy. The endless stream of wine, women and work no longer muted the monstrous rage he constantly fought to keep caged within him. Known for his congenial nature outside of the ring, he found it more and more difficult of late to smile and pretend that his meaningless existence was any more useful than a dry well in a desert.
As lanista of the Ludus Maximus and Rome’s current gladiator champion, he ruled over a kingdom of vice and violence. He had a comfortable life, a better life than a foreigner and once condemned man had a right to hope for, but he’d known for months he needed a change for his sanity’s sake.
“Master,” his steward, Velus, said over the music and grousing of the other players, “There’s a woman here to see you.”
“Who is it?” he tossed over his shoulder distractedly as he scooped up his winnings.
The steward’s fidgeting drew Alexius’s full attention. Velus didn’t usually hesitate when he announced the steady stream of female admirers who visited the gladiators on a regular basis. The older man, a dwarf Alexius had saved from certain death as lion fodder in the arena, motioned to come closer and whispered for only his master to hear, “Mistress Pelonia’s cousin, Tiberia the Younger.”
Tibi? Alexius tensed. His smile faltered. He forgot the remaining coins on the tabletop even as his heart began to echo the drums’ frenzied beat. Perhaps – hopefully -- he’d misheard.
“Who brought her here?”
He scowled. He usually admired the girl’s untamed spirit, but not when it led her to wander Rome’s dangerous streets at all hours of the night. There was no acceptable reason for a well-born woman to venture out alone a few hours after midnight unless...
“Has there been an accident?” he demanded. “Is she hurt?”
“Not that I know of, Master, but she’s adamant to speak with you.”
“Where is she?” Alexius’s gaze circled the smoky room on a quest to find Tibi’s splendid golden hair. He didn’t want her here. The evening may have started out as a coena libera, but the solemn last meal for the gladiators scheduled to fight the next afternoon, but had rapidly unraveled into a raucous affair of dancing, games of chance and other vice he didn’t want an innocent girl like Tibi witnessing.
“She’s waiting in your office,” Velus said.
Alexius sent the steward to fetch Tibi something to eat and drink from the banquet table overflowing with fresh fruit, breads, roasted fowl and a variety of fish.
Several of the men and women playing dice with him had wandered over to the food during his exchange with Velus, but a few vultures waited expectantly for any scrap of gossip. Gossip he wasn’t about to feed them. Tibi’s reputation was colorful enough as it was. If she were tattled on for venturing to the gladiator school at this hour, she was bound to suffer trouble with her overbearing father.
Confident Tibi would go unnoticed in his office, Alexius excused himself from the table as eager to find out the reason for her appearance as to send her safely on her way. As he cut through the maze of revelers, across the central garden and down the long, lantern-lit corridor that separated the house’s public rooms from his private sanctuary, he forced his feet to a slow pace, careful not to betray his interest in the night’s newest development. The girl’s arrival was the first thing to spark any excitement in him in... He couldn’t remember.
The thought of Tibi made him smile. Both beautiful, yet unaware of the fact, and classically feminine, but audacious, she was as unique as a sunrise – pleasantly different each time he saw her.
Unfortunately, as the cousin of his friends, Caros and Pelonia, Tibi was one of only a handful of females in Rome off limits to him. Caros had made certain of that when he made Alexius swear to keep away from the girl.
Still...something unfortunate must have happened for her to seek him out. If she needed him, it might prove entertaining for a while to offer his help.
Alexius entered his office to find Tibi pacing in front of the long row of arched windows overlooking the gladiators’ training field. Stars sparkled in the black sky behind her, a serene contrast to her obvious agitation.
He watched her for a long moment, suddenly unable to breathe. In the six months since he’d last seen her she’d grown even lovelier than he remembered. Candlelight caused her golden braid to shimmer as she walked from one side of the room to the other and her fair skin was as smooth and creamy as a perfect cameo. For a man who enjoyed women of all shapes, sizes and looks, it was a new experience for him to be knocked breathless by the sight of one.
Shaking off her spell, he leaned against the doorframe, crossed his arms over his chest and adopted a nonchalant tone. “Hello, Tibi.”
Tibi stilled, then spun to face him. “Hello...Alexius.”
“Why are you here?” he asked. “It’s a bit late – or early – in the day for you to drop by, no?”