Dr. Who…where shall we go today?

So here we have a sculpture by a sculptor of a sculptor making a sculpture based on a painting....   Ever feel like you were born in the wrong time? If so, when in the fabric of history do you fit? Writers can “travel back in time” to weave a story in an era we like.

If you had the chance, where would you land?

As a historian, I have the luxury of loving different periods and the ability to research them, making my stories take the reader back to that era, to taste, smell and hear what it was like to be alive back then. Over the years, many romance novels I read were Regency – the period of dukes and their ladies with all the rituals of the ton. My debut release, Her Eternal Rogue, is a Regency. But today, I’d like to introduce you to another period I love – Ancient Rome.

The Starz series Spartacus and the movie The Gladiator helped fuel my fascination with the Roman Empire. The center of civilization for hundreds of years was Rome and her spreading empire that reached as far north as Great Britain as well as south to northern Africa, covering the bulk of Europe. One of the remaining relics still standing today of that period is the Colosseum in Rome, home of the gladiatorial games. Researching the over 500 years of Roman rule lead to the making of my release set for next April 2014 – Love & Vengeance,  the first in The Gladiatorial Series – a tale of a Roman, sentenced to die as a gladiator, who lives to become champion of the games, tormented by his past, and the woman who saves him.

So come into my world of gladiators and then tell me of which period you like and share a piece with me (500 words max).

Love & Vengeance (excerpt):                              

Rome 108 CE

A menacing growl followed by an earth-shattering scream bellowed above the rafters. The roar of the crowd snapped her back out of the numbness. The applause echoed through the chambers as particles of sand rained through the wood slats in the ceiling.

She was filthy, covered in sweat, blood and grime. What damage could more dirt do? Toes on the dirt floor wiggled as she stared at them. Her hair hung around her face like a curtain, matted with dried blood. Inadvertently, she lifted her hand to tuck one side behind her ear but jerked to a halt, restrained by the iron cuffs around her wrists, bound together with a chain. The same chain connected to the metal collar around her neck. How had she forgotten its weight resting so heavy on her shoulders?

Another scream and the sound of flesh ripping, laughter and clapping became louder above. Fear snaked down her spine and she shuddered.

Gustina sat on the stone ledge, chained with the other miscreants, waiting to be forced up the ramp to the carnage above. If she could just return to the numbness again, where nothing mattered any more. The place she’d escaped to before she’d heard the animals attacking the condemned out there. But she couldn’t silence the roar of the crowds, enjoying the executions as their noontime entertainment. Trembling, she pulled her sluggish legs up, wrapping her joined hands over them, to hold herself as she buried her face in her knees.

***

In the hallway outside the chamber, Marcus stood, flexing his muscles, his arm extended with the metal disk in his hand. It equaled the weight of his sword – a weapon he would not have until it was his turn in the arena. Besides, there was no room in the corridor to swing it, to loosen his arms in preparations for the next fight.

Christians and convicts. What a surly lot. But it was an easy way to feed the vast array of beasts the Empire kept to compete in the games. Did he ever feel sad for the poor souls about to perish by their claws? No. Nor did he mourn the loss of life at the end of his sword.

He was one of the rare attractions people paid to see. He was gladiator. And he soon would be victor of all he opposed on the sands. Marcus’ victories gave him the privileges and money he wanted – as long as it remained wine and women. But not his freedom. Not what he had lost to the Romans. No, the only way to gain that came by victory in the arena and in front of the Emperor. And to earn that opportunity, he’d kill whomever they placed before him.

He closed his eyes as the screams filtered downward. His soul heard them and his body tingled with the smell of blood and dirt. Breathing in the welcoming atmosphere, he exhaled and opened his lids to look straight into the captives’ chamber.

He found her. Sitting, hunched on the small ledge, draped in chain and metal bands, her head down. But when she looked up, through all the muck and grime, her pale blue eyes shined, sparkling and bright. Her unmarred face was a rarity amongst captives dragged to this place, usually after rough treatment prior. He noticed her high cheekbones, a small nose, narrow chin but ripe mouth. Her eyes locked on him and his mouth went dry. When her tongue licked her lips, his body tightened.

He had to have her. Period. Regardless if she was a convict, runaway or Christian, he wanted her.

A guard butted past him, into the room and yanked the chain, pulling all the captives up. Many moaned, some pleaded. She didn’t. She stood straight, pushing her shoulders back, waiting at the end of the line. Her eyes locked on his until the guard turned chain in hand to lead them out.

Marcus stepped back. Instantly, his hand went to his stomach guard and pulled the narrowed pick-knife out of its hidden sheath. As the captives stumbled past him, he extended his foot, causing her to trip. She fell into his grasp. His free hand placed the knife into the lock and with a twist, it opened. His hand covered it to deaden the noise as his other arm encircled her tiny waist and pulled her against him.

“Not a sound,” he whispered. He shoved her to the wall, his massive body hiding hers as he flexed his limbs. The guard stopped at the sound of the loose chain but didn’t look far when he saw the gladiator’s well-muscled body. Marcus glanced at him over his shoulder and gave the man a nod. His status as a victorious gladiator allowed some privilege. The guard shrugged and moved on. The frightened woman gasped for air and shook with fear.

Quickly he lifted her. She was light, lighter than his sword but he knew that couldn’t be. In a swift move, he turned. Next to the doorway sat a covered alcove. He dropped her in it.

“You’ll be safe here.” He looked her over. Her wide eyes, full of fear and mistrust, returned his gaze but she said nothing. He heard the gong of his master calling him – he fought next, after the final execution. “Remain here. I will be back for you.” He touched her cheek, his bulky hand swallowed half her face. Her skin was soft, like silk. Back in the days when he wore silk… He banked the anger. With a final nod to her, he left. He knew she’d be there when he returned.

To leave meant death.

 

To be released April 2014

 

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10 thoughts on “Dr. Who…where shall we go today?

  1. Thank you. Great topic.

    I love any part of history before the industrial revolution. However, to narrow it down and in honor of my husband and our anniversary a month away, I say the Vikings. I tell him all the time (and he agrees) that he would fit right in with their time period.
    Here’s an expert of my latest story, Viking Fire:

    Chapter One (condensed) Ireland 856 CE
    Kaireen has just found out she’s arranged to marry her enemy-a Viking.

    “I renounce Father for this.” Kaireen threw the elderberry gown. Dressed only in her leine, she glared at the new gown on the stone floor.

    “Shame on you and your children for speaking such.” Her handmaid, Elva, gathered the damask and then dusted off the rushes. “It’s a wonder one of the clim has not scolded you from your hearth for such talk.” She wore her white hair twisted in a chignon, underneath a linen head cloth. Strands of white hair poked out the sides of her covering.

    “No, curse Father for a fool.” She plopped on her bed and a goose feather floated away. With a huff, she leaned against the oak headboard. Red curtains puffed like a robin’s chest around oak poles supporting her wooden canopy.

    Her bare feet brushed against the stone floor. Why was she not born plain like her two older sisters? Already they had married and expected their second bairns by spring. Well, at least so far she had enjoyed twenty years of freedom. Neither of her sisters had had matrimonial dreams of love matches. Both were arranged marriages.

    “You know your da arranged a marriage within a season.” Elva smirked.

    Kaireen shook her head. “To another land holder,” and waved a hand in disgust, “not t-this heathen. Twice they raided our land in the last month alone. Many a raid has come from them. Now father wants me as wife to one of them?” She clenched her fists. “No, I will not marry this Viking.”

    Elva smiled, reminding Kaireen of the rumors of her handmaid’s uncanny foresight.
    Whispers of Elva making strange things happen and often blamed as the cause of
    Kaireen’s stubborn refusal to behave as a laird’s daughter should.

    “You’ve not seen him yet.” Elva wiggled her brows.

    “So?” Kaireen shrugged. “I would like to never see him.”

    “Well then, would you not like to know if you have a handsome husband or not?” She waited for her response, but Kaireen scowled at her. Elva chuckled. “I would rather get a good look at him now than the morning after.”

    Kaireen’s ears heated. “I am not marrying.” She shook her head for emphasis. “So there will be no morning, nor night, nor wedding.”

    “If he is handsome, I may fight you for him.” Elva smiled, deepening the wrinkles around her eyes.

    “Welcome to him either way.” Kaireen laughed.

  2. Great topic! I love the Civil War and post war years, spanning the Victorian era in America.

    All of my romance books, so far, are set in that period.

    But I enjoy reading other time periods and locations in history.

    • Yes, I also write about the Civil War – am I confused? No, just love that period as well. Such history in The War. Excellent :)

  3. We’d never get you out of the phone booth, Gina. Here is mine from the Seduction of Lady Phoebe which releases on September 19th, and is on pre-order.

    Last week in August, 1814, Cranbourne Place, England

    Phoebe walked briskly into the large, sunny breakfast room, the train of her pale green nankeen riding habit draped over one arm.
    She greeted her brother, Geoffrey, the sixth Earl of Cranbourne. “Good morning.”

    When he looked up from his news sheet and met her gaze, Phoebe saw the fatigue etched in his face.

    “Oh, you poor dear,” she said. “Is it the baby?” Miles was Geoffrey and his wife, Amabel’s six-month-old son.

    “Yes,” Geoffrey replied. “He’s getting his first tooth. I dare say, had I’d known he would be in this much pain, I would have recommended to him that he not bother.”

    Grinning, Phoebe said, “I am sure he would have appreciated the advice.”

    Geoffrey handed her a section of the news sheet, and they sat in companionable silence until her sister-in-law joined them.

    After pouring a cup of tea, Amabel asked Phoebe, “When do you leave for Town?”

    She swallowed a piece of toast. “Next week.”

    “I do wish I could go with you,” Amabel said.

    “What a whisker!” Phoebe smiled. “You have no desire at all to go to London and dance attendance on me, and, indeed, I have no wish for you to have to do so. I am quite content to stay with my Aunt St. Eth. I much prefer the political parties the St. Eths attend.”

    Her sister-in-law pulled a face. “But they are so dry.”

    Phoebe laughed when Amabel wrinkled her nose. “I know, for you the subject is a dead bore, but I enjoy it extremely.”

    Her sister-in-law frowned. “My dear, how will you ever find a husband if you are attending only political parties?”

    “It is not as if there are no unmarried gentlemen at the parties,” Phoebe retorted. “Besides, I daresay I have met every unmarried gentleman the length and breadth of England. Not one has given me the smallest desire to marry. Perhaps I shall set up a salon and become a famous bluestocking.”

    Her sister-in-law’s mouth dropped open in shock. “You cannot mean that!”

    Phoebe tried to hide her exasperation. “I know you’ve tried very hard to bring about a match for me. I wish you would not persist. I shall marry when I find a gentleman I can love and not before.”

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