Selected Works

Historical Fiction
Six authors bring to life overlapping stories of patricians and slaves, warriors and politicians, villains and heroes who cross each others' path during Pompeii's fiery end.
Caught in the deadly world of the Renaissance's most notorious family, three outsiders must decide if they will flee the dangerous dream of power.
The Borgia family begins its legendary rise, chronicled by an innocent girl who finds herself drawn into their dangerous web.
The lives of an ambitious soldier, a patrician heiress and a future emperor fatefully intersect.
The Year of Four Emperors - and four very different women struggling to survive
A brilliant and paranoid Emperor, a wary and passionate slave girl – who will survive?

Ave Historia: An irreverent look at historical fiction today: books trends, historical tidbits, and random tangents

A Navy Wife's Look At Memorial Day

May 30, 2011

Tags: memorial day

Fire up the grill; it’s Memorial Day. Baseball games, beautiful weather, rippling flags, hot barbecue, and a three-day weekend; all good things. But few of us bother to think much anymore about why we get this day off.

Last year on this day, I posted my own tribute here about what Memorial Day really means and why it was created: in memory for those who have died in the nation’s wars. I’m putting that post back up today but with an addition. Memorial Day means more to me than it did even just last year. I have a husband in the Navy, and last year we got to spend Memorial Day together. We grilled steaks in the backyard, watched the Red Sox whomp the Royals, and drank a quiet toast in honor of the dead. This year, I celebrate Memorial Day alone, because my husband is very far away.

Memorial Day was originally created to honor the fallen servicemen and women of the United States, but I like to remember the fallen throughout history, whether they lived in the US or not. Greek soldiers sweating inside the wooden horse at Troy. Julius Caesar's legions facing off against a narrow-eyed Vercingetorix at Alesia. Britons lining up in shield-walls, trying to put a halt to the Saxon invasion. English archers halting the most renowned army in all chivalry with a few showers of arrows at Agincourt. Farmboy sharpshooters hunting British soldiers through the marshes in the American Revolution. Germans and British curling up in the mud of World War I's trenches, shielding their ears from the shells and their eyes from the mustard gas. The Jews of the Warsaw ghetto flinging themselves up against Nazi tanks. Warriors today, in deserts and in jungles, on the sea and in the air.

Even more than the fallen, I think of those the fallen have left behind through history. It's an iconic image, one that transcends time, place, or century: women waving their men off to war. Sometimes this was a chosen way of life: the Viking wives whose husbands went off cheerfully on seasonal raiding parties, and returned with longships filled with loot. Sometimes the fight in question was a desperate measure: Gauls forming last-ditch armies to keep the invading Roman legions from burning their homes and enslaving their families. And of course it isn't always men to do the fighting. Plenty of French mothers during World War II worried for daughters who went to blow up Gestapo officers in the French resistance, and plenty of husbands today sit at home praying for wives piloting helicopters over sand dunes. Regardless of whether the left-behind were Highland wives or the mothers of knights, children of legionaries or husbands of Navy Seals, they all have one thing in common: the same sickening disbelief when prayers go unanswered and no one comes home.

That too has changed through the centuries. A medieval wife might be separated from her crusading husband for years, never getting a single scrap of news until finally some shame-faced companion brings her husband's dried-up heart home in a box. So much easier to transport from the Holy Land, you see. Mothers of sons abroad fighting Napoleon got letters arriving weeks or months late. World War I widows sometimes didn't even get the certainty of death, just a mumbled “Missing Presumed Dead,” which translates to “Pieces Too Small For Identification.” And anyone with a spouse in today's military who opens the door to find two somber uniformed men on the doorstep knows that they're in for a very bad announcement.

I’ve had a chance to think about that knock on the door every day for the past six months, when my husband left on deployment for a very dangerous part of the world. After half a year apart, we had exactly fifteen days together before he left for another three months (thankfully to a place much less dangerous). We won’t be spending Memorial Day together this year. He’ll grill steaks on his end; I’ll grill steaks on mine. Maybe we’ll watch the ball game on our respective TVs, and yell in mutual excitement down the phone at each other when David Ortiz gets a home run. And we will definitely drink our standard Memorial Day toast, even though separated by a few thousand miles:

“To all the fallen – our honored dead.”

Official Cover for Mistress of Rome Sequel!

May 26, 2011

Tags: empress of the seven hills

I have the more-or-less-finalized cover for my third book, the sequel to Mistress of Rome which has been titled Empress of the Seven Hills. I couldn't be more thrilled with how it looks!

Empress of the Seven Hills begins about five years after the events of Mistress of Rome finish off, picking up with the adventures of Thea's brash son Vix and Lepida's adventurous daughter Sabina. Both will get caught up in the wars and politics of beloved soldier-emperor Trajan, along with one or two new players who might be enemies or might be allies.

Here's the official blurb:

Powerful, prosperous, and expanding ever farther into the untamed world, the Roman Empire has reached its zenith under the rule of the beloved Emperor Trajan. But neither Trajan nor his reign can last forever…

Brash and headstrong, Vix is a celebrated ex-gladiator returned to Rome to make his fortune. The sinuous, elusive Sabina is a senator’s daughter who craves adventure. Sometimes lovers, sometimes enemies, Vix and Sabina are united by their devotion to Trajan. But others are already maneuvering in the shadows. Trajan’s ambitious Empress has her own plans for Sabina. And the aristocratic Hadrian—the Empress’s ruthless protégé and Vix’s mortal enemy—has ambitions he confesses to no one, ambitions rooted in a secret prophecy.

When Trajan falls, the hardened soldier, the enigmatic empress, the adventurous girl, and the scheming politician will all be caught in a deadly whirlwind of desire and death that may seal their fates, and that of the entire Roman Empire.

See you in April 2012. If I finish the book on time . . .

And back to work I go.

5 Life Lessons from Historical Romance

May 24, 2011

Tags: daughters of rome, blog tour, romcon

I'm doing the guest blogger thing again today, and this time it's on RomCon - "Where Romance Rules." Today's topic of discussion: 5 lessons to be learned from historical romance novels, and how my heroines in "Daughters of Rome" use these rules to negotiate life:

Life Lesson #2: To facilitate your love life, acquire at least one unsympathetic relative. You’ll need someone who can be counted on to throw up roadblocks in your romantic road to bliss. Unsympathetic fathers are a classic; grasping uncles also good; meddling aunts or cousins who are after your inheritance can also work in a pinch.

For more, click here!

Some Love For "Mistress of Rome"

May 2, 2011

Tags: mistress of rome, author interview, Owl Bookmark Blog

My blog tour for "Daughters of Rome" is now pretty much done, but I couldn't resist jumping at the chance when Siobhan over at the Owl Bookmark Blog contacted me about doing a Q&A for my first book, "Mistress of Rome." Do books feel left out when a sibling gets all the attention, like kids who get hurt feelings when the new baby has all the love? Whatever; I was happy to let "Mistress of Rome" get the love for today.

A preview . . .

"If you could only describe a single scene to encourage someone to read your debut novel, which scene would you describe?"

The scene where Arius and Thea meet, fairly early in the book. He's a violent man forced into the gladiator business; she is a damaged slave girl with a black sense of humor, and they meet at a party where he's fleeing the curious guests and she's escaping her abusive mistress. They end up sitting in the shadows together, sharing a jug of wine and trading the secrets of their past, just like modern strangers who drink scotch in bars and end up telling all their problems to the person on the next stool.

To read the rest, and Siobhan's fantasic review, click here! And thanks for having me.