When Daedalus arrives at his new home he doesn't expect to love his Master's daughter like his own, but Marcia, who everyone thinks isn't right in the head, steals his heart from him. Encouraging her talent as an artist brings Daedalus happiness, and lets him see that Marcia is far from the simple minded little girl that everyone thinks she is. When a young boy, a year younger than Marcia arrives at the household, Daedalus encourages Marcia to become friends with the child. Marcia and Asterion become good friends, but growing up together can prove challenging, especially when the pair discover their attraction towards each other. Even knowing that a relationship between a slave and mistress was dangerous, the two can't help their love for each other, which have consequences neither of them could envisage.
I don't have words for the feelings that this book left me with, I couldn't put it down (to the point where my sleeping time paid the price) and I just had to know what happened to the characters. There were several parts of the book during which I felt my heart breaking for the characters, and revealed a lot about my love of HEAs when I realised I couldn't put the book down til I knew what happened (even if what happened was bad).
There were two central characters, and then two slightly less central characters that made up the story, Marcia and Asterion, and Sabrina and Daedalus (also known as Dath which was his free name). All four of the characters stories start when they were children, and it was explained how Dath became a slave and how Sabrina came to be little more than that. Though most of the childhood focus was on Marcia and Asterion, the childhoods of Sabrina and Dath felt right as they paved the way towards the relationship between the two main characters.
I found it a little strange at first how young Marcia and Asterion were when they 'got together', read here 'had sex' but as soon as I thought about it it made sense. They were 16 and 15 (respectively) which actually seems about right, particularly in the era and considering they'd grown together. After their separation there was definitely a theme coming from Daedalus that the two would have grown out of their love for one another anyway, though I think the pair of them proved him wrong. They did feel right together, mainly because of what they each looked past.
The ending was certainly interesting to say the least. I'd say it counted as a HEA but actually if you look at it objectively it kind of wasn't, more like the best ending that the characters could have hoped for, and I liked that. There wasn't any unbelievable events when you considered who was making the decisions and there was nothing that doesn't feel like it couldn't have happened.
I enjoyed everything about this book, even the heartbreaking bits, and I think that the characters stories were brilliantly woven together. I definitely hope to read more from Nhys Glover (even if that has just added more to my TBR list!)
Title: The Gladiator’s Bride
Author: Nhys Glover
Release Date: November 1st
Genre: Historical Romance
Crippled by shyness, shunned for being not-right-in-the-head, gifted artist and Roman noblewoman, Marcia Mica, has only two people in the world who truly love her – her teacher, Daedalus, and her childhood friend, Asterion, both slaves in her father’s household. But when forbidden love blooms between the unlikely friends, only disaster can come of it. That disaster leaves Marcia horribly scarred and Asterion sold into the arena as a gladiator.
Years later, Daedalus brings a broken Marcia to Britannia, and Sabrina, the healer who saved his life when he was a boy, works miracles on the scarred girl. However, not all scars are physical and those Sabrina has no ability to heal.
When Sabrina and Marcia are kidnapped by a Celtic leader bent on revenge, Asterion must depend on the dreams of a Celtic Seer to find the love of his life and help foil a revolt that threatens the fragile peace in Roman Britannia. But even if he and his friends succeed, can scars that are more than just physical ever really be healed and can those whose lives are owned by others ever truly be free to follow their hearts?
After a lifetime of teaching others to appreciate the written word, Aussie author Nhys Glover finally decided to make the most of the Indie Book Revolution to get her own written word out to the world. Now, with almost 100,000 of her ebooks downloaded internationally and a winner of 2013 SFR Galaxy Award for 'The Titan Drowns', Nhys finds her words, too, are being appreciated.
At home in the beautiful Yorkshire Dales of England, Nhys these days spends most of her time "living the dream" by looking out over the moors as she writes the kind of novels she loves to read: The ones that are a little bit steamy, a little bit different and wholly romantic.
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Excerpt: (1,000 words)
As he took the shortcut through the forest, heading for home, a shadow flitted through the trees and appeared at his side. He was so shocked by her sudden appearance that he dropped the sack of flour.
‘Marcie, what are you doing here?’ he demanded as he tried to get his heartbeat under control again. ‘You shouldn’t be out here alone.’
‘You were with her again, weren’t you?’ Her delicately beautiful face was twisted in fury, honey-brown eyes flashing fire at him.
‘What? Who? What are you talking about? Don’t come up on me like that. I might have hurt you.’
‘That widow. The one the boys all talk about. I heard them. They think I don’t understand, but I do. You go to her house and do things to her!’ Her accusations stung and he felt guilt morph instantly into fury.
‘Mind your own business. It’s nothing to do with you!’ He slung the flour-sack onto his back again and stomped off down the narrow trail.
‘Don’t you talk to me like that, Asterion! You’re my slave and I have the right to know what you’re doing with your time. You aren’t free to go where you like, see who you like!’ she snarled at him.
He stopped and looked down at her in shock. In the last year he’d grown taller by almost a head than she was. Now, the year’s difference in their age seemed insignificant. In fact, after spending time with the widow, he felt much older and more worldly-wise than she was. Marcie was still a child, even though her sixteen-year-old body said otherwise. This little display of temper only went to prove it.
‘Oh sorry, mistress, I forgot my place for a moment. Of course you have the right to know that I’ve been sharing the widow’s bed. Do you want the details? How I make her scream and pant? How she sucked my cock until I came in her mouth?’ He knew he was stepping over the line, but so had she.
Their relative stations in life had always been ignored by mutual, unspoken agreement. They’d always been equals. But now, by throwing his servitude in his face, she’d crossed the line. She’d showed him how she really saw him. How beneath her he really was.
Marcie’s mouth dropped open and he was immediately aware of the seductive draw of it. Those red lips were so full and sweet, covering perfect white teeth that looked just like rows of pearls. By brushing back a stray tendril of glossy brown hair, she drew his eye to the seductive softness of it, made him itch to bury his fingers in its lengths.
But honey-brown eyes that were usually filled with warmth when they gazed at him were now wide with astonishment and pain. And he suddenly realised what he’d done.
In that moment, he wanted to call back the words and go back in time to do this all again.
‘She sucked what?’ she gasped, her cheeks flaming red.
‘Nothing. Forget it. I shouldn’t have said anything. You just made me mad. Let’s get home. Daedalus will be wondering what happened to you.’
‘He’s gone to the coast to check on our cargo. Pater went with him,’ she said absently, clearly not focused on the information she was imparting.
‘Then it’s me who has to get back. I’ll be in trouble if I’m much later.’
‘You wouldn’t be, if you hadn’t gone to her. How could you? How…How could you?’ Her eyes filled with tears and his heart felt sick in his chest. In that moment, he wanted to cut off his cock for making him cause her this pain.
‘Marcie, don’t. You don’t understand. I’m a man now. I…I have needs I can’t control. The widow helps me. Haven’t you noticed the difference in me the last few months?’ He was almost pleading with her for forgiveness. And that was stupid. What had he done wrong except take an hour a week for himself? He deserved that, didn’t he?
‘Yes, I’ve noticed. You look so smug and cocky, swaggering around the place. The boys say you’ve got too big for your own sandals now. They say that the widow has played with more than your prick. She’s played with your head. Made you think you’re better than them.’
‘I am better than them. And it didn’t take the widow to make me know it. What do you want from me Marcie? Tell me – ’
She launched herself at him so fast that he again dropped the sack of flour. Her tightly closed lips butted against his in a fiercely innocent kiss. It smashed her teeth into his, cutting his lip, and it felt nothing like the soft, seductive caresses the widow gave him.
But it was like putting a naked flame to tinder. Like a lightning strike to a tree. The very fact that her lips were sealed to his blew every thought from his head and brought his cock to instant, painful attention. Blood pounded in his ears, his legs grew weak. Air evaporated from his lungs.
Fighting for control, he pushed her away. ‘What are you doing? Stop!’
‘You don’t have to go to her. If kissing is what you want, I can give you that. You don’t have to go to her!’
‘Yes I do!’
‘Why? Aren’t I good enough for you?’
He grabbed her by the shoulders and shook her in fury. His head felt ready to explode.
‘I need more than kisses! Don’t you get it? We aren’t children anymore. And I need more than friendship and kisses. And you can’t give me what I need. You’re the little mistress and I’m the slave. They’d cut off my balls if I so much as looked at you the wrong way!’
Her eyes filled with tears again and she sobbed so hard it felt like her searing pain came from his own chest. Looking at her hurt too much, so he dragged her into his arms and pressed her to his aching heart.