Rome 100 CE
Conquered, beaten, sentenced to die in the Colosseum, Ganius escapes his execution only to find himself enslaved as a gladiator. His rise to champion ensures his life, but does nothing to lessen his desire for vengeance against the Roman soldiers who destroyed all he knew.
Locked into a repugnant betrothal, the beautiful Roman Aurelia turns to her brother’s champion gladiator for help. Promising him his freedom if he helps her escape, Aurelia soon discovers she wants not only Ganius’s help, but to capture his heart as he’s captured hers.
In love with his sworn enemy, Ganius realizes Aurelia is the key to his freedom. But to take her with him would risk both their lives, yet leaving her behind to be a pawn in her brother’s machinations is a wretched alternative. Ganius must choose – love of a Roman or freedom to make the Romans pay. This is a fight the champion gladiator might lose…
Aurelia sat on the lounge cushions, immensely pleased with herself. Now, with that wild man a slave in her brother’s gladiatorial stable, she could see that mark on his shoulder close up. She halfway smiled as she bit her lower lip, remembering how he looked. Like a beast on the sands—or a god. His skin glowed with sweat, tinted with blood and dirt. How could she forget his chiseled chest and abdomen?
Lines defined muscles in his arms and legs. Oh, she heated with thoughts of him, down to her loins.
Even a sip of her wine didn’t cool her. One thought of those golden amber eyes…she licked her lips absently.
“For all of Juno, I believe you’ve met a man!”
She blinked, washing the vision of the Celt from her thoughts. Focusing, she saw her friend, Iana, standing before her, draped in sapphire and white silk, her blond hair dripping in ringlets down her back. Iana laughed.
“You are blushing.”
Even Aurelia knew her friend was right as her cheeks warmed. She sat up and motioned to her slave to bring another goblet of wine.
“I didn’t hear of your arrival,” she said as her friend sat next to her.
Iana took a sip of her wine. “I just got here. I didn’t think I needed to be announced.” She leaned back and smiled. “What had you so hot to occupy your thoughts so? Has your general returned perhaps?”
Aurelia tensed, her lips thinned to a straight line. “Hardly. Last I was told, he was battling some area to the north, or maybe he was in Britannia. I don’t recall.”
But her terse answer didn’t wipe the grin from Iana’s face.
“Some man still inspired you.” Her fingers caressed Aurelia’s cheek. “You blush too much, like you do with men.”
With eyes downcast, she bit to keep the smile back. “Iana.”
“Well, as deliciously handsome as Caius may be, I somehow doubt you’d think of him that way.” She giggled.
“No, no, of course not, he is my brother,” she replied, but she knew her friend thought admirably of Caius. She flirted with him much too outrageously not to be noticed.
“So it could be your general. He’ll return with all pomp and glory, Rome bending to her knee to welcome a hero.” She sighed, her eyes slanted, portraying the look of youth at first attraction. Years ago for them both…
Titus Livius Rullus, Legate of the IV Macedonia Legion, based somewhere north, if her memory had any thought on it, was her future husband. Threads of the past, when he was in Rome, painted an unattractive vision in her head. He was tall for a Roman, his service to the Emperor and Rome clearly defined him. His arms and calves were corded with years of hard physical labor, a history of his legionnaire work. As did the cropped hair, turning pepper-like with grizzled grey. His body bore the score of numerous years of battle. Not the type the new slave wore. What a disappointment…
“What new slave?”
About the Author
Born in St. Louis, Missouri, Gina Danna has spent the better part of her life reading. History has been her love and she spent numerous hours devouring historical romance stories, dreaming of writing one of her own. Years later, after receiving undergraduate and graduate degrees in History, writing academic research papers and writing for museum programs and events, she finally found the time to write her own stories of historical romantic fiction.
Now residing in Texas, under the supervision of her two dogs, she writes amid a library of research books, with her only true break away is to spend time with her other lifelong dream – her Arabian horse – with him, her muse can play.
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