There’s nothing like the feeling of being a published author, and every time you release a new book, the excitement is just as breathtaking as the first time.
You had an idea, nurtured it for months (maybe years), grew it on your computer, and gave birth when you typed THE END. Then you send it out into the world, and hope for the best.
My new historical romance, Conqueror Vanquished, is a book like that. A book of my heart.
Here’s the blurb:
In 52 B.C., Rome has just conquered Gaul…
Leonidas Danae Vorenus, commander of Rome’s prestigious Sixth legion, is seriously wounded during an ambush in Gaul. Only one person can save his life, but she’s his sworn enemy.
Solange values every life, even if it’s a hated Roman one. Bound by her healer’s duty – and now by her new status as a subject of Rome – she is forced to tend Leonidas.
But the intimacy of physician and patient makes these two enemies reassess the reasons for their hatred, and discover an emotion just as strong….love.
Because love conquers all, right? That’s why a romance author writes!
I spent months researching the Roman army: how they fought, what they wore, what they ate, how they built their forts. That's because I think one of the most rewarding things about reading a historical romance is to actually learn something new or interesting.
And in Conqueror Vanquished, you will learn a lot. For instance, the Sixth Legion actually was in existence and fighting in Gaul in 52 B.C. Also, that its ‘standard’ really was a picture of a bull on a blood red flag. Fascinating stuff!
Here’s a short excerpt to set up the story:
Gaul 52 B.C.
The wound was deep.
Leonidas stared in momentary disbelief at the enemy spear lodged in his shoulder. The weapon had hit him with such force it had thrown him clear off his horse and buried itself deeply into his flesh.
And much too close to his heart.
Even now blood was pouring from the wound and seeping into the hard ground where he’d landed flat on his back with a bone-jarring crash. Gritting his teeth against the pain, he struggled to roll away from his frightened steed’s dangerous hooves and out of reach of the pounding feet of the men engaged in battle all around him.
He twisted to the left, but the long wooden shaft of the spear prevented him from rolling over far enough to be able to elbow himself up. He tried turning to the right but the battle raged mere inches away and he risked deeper injury if one of the men – either friend or foe – were to blindly trip over the spear’s shaft. Exhausted from just that small effort, he collapsed onto his back, put his right hand on the rough wood and tried desperately to pull the spear free. But he didn’t have enough strength – or leverage – and the resulting flood of pain made his vision swim and darken.
By all the gods, these Gauls were fierce fighters! Leonidas’ soldiers were well trained, more than able to hold a battle line, but they’d been ambushed while marching on the road to Gallia Lugdunensis. At the first sign of the enemy, his men had quickly closed ranks but these Gallic banshees fought ferociously, heedless of their own lives. They had overwhelmed Leonidas’ men with their wild strength. Now all around him was chaos.
Vercingetorix, the king of the Gauls, had surrendered to Julius Caesar a month ago, but still his defiant countrymen fought on. It was for that reason Leonidas was being sent to rout these final pockets of resistance and to hold and administer Gallia Lugdunensis for Caesar.
Instead, here he lay on the ground. Helpless. Defenseless. What an ignominious legacy to leave to the world. Leonidas Danae Vorenus, commander of Rome’s prestigious Legio VI Ferrata, most likely to be trampled to death.
No. I will not die like this.
Using his right hand, Leonidas yanked off his hammered metal helmet and scanned the battle scene. Despite the sweat that ran into his eyes, he could clearly see that the legion’s standard, the powerful bull on its proud red flag, was still flying.
So. The battle was not yet lost.
And – the gods be praised – his sword lay not more than a foot away on the ground.
He tried to reach for it, to inch his fingers along the hard earth, but realized he had lost all feeling in his left arm. Neither his fingers nor his hand would respond to his mental command. The sword was mere inches away, but the distance might as well have been a mile.
His wound was even graver than he’d thought.
Leonidas twisted his head to follow the sound of that familiar voice. It belonged to Marcus Arturus Valerian, his tribunus, his second-in-command. There was no other man Leonidas would rather have at his back during a battle, or at his side right now.
Valerian came at a run, parrying enemy swords along the way, followed closely by one of his centurions. He fell to his knees next to Leonidas and stared at the spear lodged in his shoulder.
“Jupiter help us,” the tribunus swore.
“Not Jupiter,” Leonidas said, knowing that death comes to every man. “It’s Mars, the god of war, we need today. Get me to my feet.”
The two soldiers hoisted Leonidas up as gently as they could, but the searing pain in his shoulder nearly buckled Leonidas’ legs. Only sheer willpower kept him on his feet. That, and the powerful will of Rome.
Today would not be the end of Caesar’s ironclad Sixth legion.
He threw back his head, roared his determination, and men literally stopped fighting to turn and look. Enemy mouths fell open in disbelief, and Leonidas could read their thoughts: Here stood a Roman commander, spit like a pig and yet somehow still standing, a man the gods surely must favor, presiding over a battle the gods must obviously support. He was a living, breathing omen.
The tide of battle turned in that moment and Leonidas was glad to see his men knew enough to take advantage of it. In the instant the Gauls hesitated, they were run through with Roman steel, scourged with Roman mace, spiked with Roman battle axes.
And if this is the last thing I see, I can die with honor.
Of course, this being a romance, Leo doesn’t die. My heroine, the conquered Gaul named Solange saves him. And their relationship is a love story for the ages.