Mark of the Gladiatorby Heidi Belleau, Violetta Vane
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After an inconvenient display of mercy in the arena, the gladiator Anazâr is pulled from the sands and contracted to nobleman Lucius Marianus to train his new stable of female gladiators. His charges are demoralized and untested, and they bear the marks of abuse. Anazâr has a scant two months to prepare them for the arena, and his new master demands perfection.
Anazâr is surprised by how eager he is to achieve it--far more eager than a man motivated only by self-preservation. Perhaps it's because Marianus is truly remarkable: handsome, dignified, honorable, and seemingly as attracted to Anazâr as Anazâr is to him.
But a rivalry between Marianus and his brother sparks a murder conspiracy, with Anazâr and his gladiatrices caught in the middle. One brother might offer salvation . . . but which? And in a world where life is worth less than the pleasures of the crowd or the whims of a master, can there be any room for love? As a gladiator, Anazâr's defenses are near impenetrable. But as a man, he learns to his cost that no armor or shield can truly protect his heart.
- Riptide Publishing
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Meet the Author
Heidi Belleau was born and raised in small town New Brunswick, Canada. She now lives in the rugged oil-patch frontier of Northern BC with her husband, an Irish ex-pat whose long work hours in the trades leave her plenty of quiet time to write. She has a degree in history from Simon Fraser University with a concentration in British and Irish studies; much of her work centred on popular culture, oral folklore, and sexuality, but she was known to perplex her professors with unironic papers on the historical roots of modern romance novel tropes. (Ask her about Highlanders!) When not writing, you might catch her trying to explain British television to her newborn daughter or standing in line at the local coffee shop, waiting on her caramel macchiato.
You can find her tweeting as @HeidiBelleau, email her at heidi.below., or visit her blog:
Violetta Vane grew up a drifter and a third culture kid who eventually put down roots in the Southeast US, although her heart lives somewhere along the Pacific coast of Mexico. She's worked in restaurants, strip clubs, academia, and the corporate world and studied everything from the philosophy of science to queer theory to medieval Spanish literature. She homeschools her eldest son and has a passion for political activism. You can find her blogging at Violetta Vane's Imaginarium.
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An excellent book Historical romance, Ancient Rome 26 BCE m/m Anazar ends up being contracted to train female gladiators after showing mercy in the arena. Anazar has two months to take demoralized, untested and obviously abused women and get them prepared to fight in that same arena. And to make matters worse his new master, Lucius Marianus demands perfection. Anazar never expected to be eager to train the women but he is finding himself looking forward to the challenge more than a man whose sole motivation is self-preservation. Maybe it has something to do with his new master, Marianus, who is handsome, honorable, dignified and seems to be attracted to Anazar. Maybe as much as Anazar is attracted to Marianus. Now there seems to be a rivalry between Marianus and his brother that seems to have caused a murder conspiracy. Anazar and his gladiatrices are caught in the middle of what is happening between the brothers. One of the brothers offers salvation but which one is the right one? The wrong one could easily cause their deaths. In a world were a slave’s life is worth less than the whims of a master or even the pleasures of the crowd it leave very little room for anything other than survival but can room be made for love? As a gladiator Anazar is near undefeatable but as a man he is in a much more precarious position. He learns that even the best armor and shield can protect against most things but cannot protect his heart. This is a story that takes the reader back to ancient Rome and brings the period to life. It gives the reader a small window to view exactly how slaves lived and how at any time their lives could be over on just the word of their masters. With each word the world comes to vivid life and takes the reader on a fantastic trip that will have reader sad to leave at the very end. If readers enjoyed Spartacus they are sure to love this one if this is a genre they enjoy. The characters are well written and the reader is able to see why they act in certain situations. This is one story that will be sure to pull the reader in and not let them go until the very end.
Mark of the Gladiator by the talented writing duo of Heidi Belleau and Violetta Vane has a lot going for it! It's got great action sequences intermixed with clever political intrigue that keep you on the edge of your seat as well as a steamy but conflicted romance. The vivid scenery showing the differences between the have and have-nots along with its realistic language drew me even deeper into a storyline that kept me guessing and my heart pounding. Focusing on the rarely discussed in history female gladiators comes problematic gladiator/slave Anazar to the House of Marianus. He's to train a motley crew of women but soon becomes embroiled in the rivalry between brothers Lucius and Felix which is never as it appears. Anazar is noble and conflicted through much of the book wanting a real life but not willing to sell his soul for it. He's smarter than most of the upperclass give him credit for and good at seeing into the other character's souls. He's been beaten but not beaten down and I found his road to a HEA a hard fought yet fully satisfying one. Felix is the black sheep of the family going out of his way to embarrass them. Society considers him a wastrel but deep down is a man whose heart was ripped out who finally finds someone worth fighting for. He shows an ingenious deviousness and sharp wit that will keep him alive and help him achieve his HEA with Anazar. Their relationship starts out with them as enemies but they soon forge a deeper understanding of one another and realize they're more alike than they thought. These sexual interludes are extremely satisfying and allow each of them to have things they never had before: Anazar doesn't have to be at the mercy of another while Felix gets to be with someone he respects and who accepts him wholeheartedly. Even though society considers them unequal, they couldn't be more perfect for one another and these interludes were a bit of heaven amongst the deceit and bloodletting surrounding them. Lucius and his wife Aelia are truly devious but appear genteel to their slaves all the while making plots and using everyone for their gains. Their plotting constantly had me guessing and resulted in a few jaw dropping moments that made for some exhilarating storytelling. Many of the uppercrust were exactly the same though which showed the plight of the slave's lives to be especially precarious. From start to finish I found much to enjoy about this story. It's vividness on every level had me feeling as though I were watching The fight scenes were heartpoundingly fast-paced with memorable characters put into a game of cat and mouse that kept me constantly guessing. This was an extremely satisfying story and my favorite of all the Warriors of Rome series due to the exceptionally entertaining plot and writing style of this dynamic duo of authors.