Monday, August 31, 2015

Spotlight on Liberty by Kim Iverson Headlee

Kim will be awarding an autographed print copy of LIBERTY (US ONLY) to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour, and a set of 5 autographed LIBERTY note cards (US ONLY) to a randomly drawn host. Make sure you enter the drawing below.

Publisher & Release Date: Pendragon Cove Press, 2014

Time and setting: Ancient Times, Londinium, Rome

Genre: Historical Romance

Length: 494 pages

Heat Level: 1 Scorching Hot Flame

Rating: 4.25 Gold Crowns

Book Description:

Winner of the BooksGoSocial Best Book Award 2015. 

They hailed her "Liberty," but she was free only to obey—or die. 

Betrayed by her father and sold as payment of a Roman tax debt to fight in Londinium's arena, gladiatrix-slave Rhyddes feels like a wild beast in a gilded cage. Celtic warrior blood flows in her veins, but Roman masters own her body. She clings to her vow that no man shall claim her soul, though Marcus Calpurnius Aquila, son of the Roman governor, makes her yearn for a love she believes impossible. 

Groomed to follow in his father’s footsteps and trapped in a politically advantageous betrothal, Aquila prefers the purity of combat on the amphitheater sands to the sinister intrigues of imperial politics, and the raw power and athletic grace of the flame-haired Libertas to the adoring deference of Rome's noblewomen. 

When a plot to overthrow Caesar ensnares them as pawns in the dark design, Aquila must choose between the Celtic slave who has won his heart and the empire to which they both owe allegiance. Knowing the opposite of obedience is death, the only liberty offered to any slave, Rhyddes must embrace her arena name—and the love of a man willing to sacrifice everything to forge a future with her.

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Vikki’s Musings

I recently read Snow in July by Ms. Headlee and enjoyed it a great deal. When I was offered a chance to read and review Liberty in exchange for an honest review, I was intrigued by the book description. Since I was familiar with the author as well, I decided to give it a read.  I thoroughly enjoyed reading this well-researched book in an era that is different than many of the novels that are available today.

The first scene quickly heats up, showing Rhyddes doing chores with her family. Her father is very harsh toward her and the brother closest in age to her, when he catches them in a playful moment. Rhyddes takes the blame, and her father back hands her so hard it leaves her reeling. Before he can do further damage, Pict raiders attack them. The attack leaves two of her brothers dead and her father and Owen wounded, but it is nothing compared to the disaster three days later, when her father sells her into slavery to pay his debts.

Marcus Calpurnious Aquila, while part of Roman aristocracy, fights as a gladiator against his father’s wishes. On the eve of his betrothal to Lady Messiena, his father tells him he can no longer fight in the arena. However, his betrothed wishes to see him so his father agrees to allow him to fight one final battle.  When he proves victor of the match, while the crowd gives the thumbs up for his opponent, his father gives the thumbs down and Aquila has to kill the man.

When Rhyddes arrives in Londinium, she is purchased by Jamil, the owner of a Gladiator school. She will be trained to be a Gladiatrix. When she witnesses a brutal killing by Aquila, not understanding Latin, she assumes that he chose to kill his opponent, so does not want anything to do with him.
As Rhyddes learns the language, she finds out what truly happened and her heart softens toward the handsome Roman. Even though the attraction between the pair is fierce, there can never be together, since Aquila is betrothed and Rhyddes is a slave.

Although Rhyddes and Aquila try to deny their attraction, it is too strong. Is it possible that this ill-matched couple and their forbidden relationship manage to find a way against all odds?
I enjoyed being pulled into an era from so long ago. Ms. Headlee’s vivid descriptions of the times brought this book to life. I can only imagine the amount of research she did to write Liberty. I became so enmeshed at times that I felt as if I were in the arena fighting. The suspenseful scenes enhanced this story tremendously.    

The pacing is very good at the start of the story and also at the end. It slows a bit in the middle, especially when Rhyddes and Aquila are apart. I would have liked to see a bit more interaction between them. That would have helped the romance aspects of this book.

Overall, this is an enjoyable romance, and I’m glad I had a chance to read this entertaining story. If you want a great account of the life and times in ancient England and Rome, you will definitely enjoy Liberty. Happy reading!


The door shut with a terrifying clang.

“Sir!” She clutched the cold bars, failing to bleed the raw panic from her tone.

The guard paused with the key in the lock.

A hundred questions clamored for release. Every one started with, “Why?”

He frowned as if trying to discern what she’d asked. She wasn’t sure herself. “Why the lock?”

’Twould do, for a start. She nodded.

He scrunched one shoulder. “Lanista Jamil’s orders.” He twisted the key. The lock engaged with a loud click. “For all warriors—gladiators. And you, Gladiatrix.” He withdrew the key, hooked the ring on his belt, and stepped away.

“May I know your name, sir?” It felt ungodly strange asking that of a captor, but she hoped to reclaim a hint of humanity in this inhumane place into which the gods had thrust her.

“Vederi,” he said without breaking stride.

He had disappeared from sight before she realized he hadn’t bothered to ask her name.

So much for humanity.

She sank onto the cot, head in hands and heedless of the straw poking her thighs through the mattress’s canvas cover, and sobbed out all the rage, fear, despair, and grief that had harried her for the past fortnight, feelings pride had forbidden her to show the soldiers or the slaver or her new owner or his servants or even that pampered Roman—especially him—denying them all the chance to wield those emotions against her. Pain as visceral as a blade’s thrust sliced into her gut. She dropped to her knees and pressed her cheek to the wall, painting it with her tears and pounding the cool slate with the heel of her hand.

“Da, how could you!”

Author Bio:

Kim Headlee lives on a farm in southwestern Virginia with her family, cats, goats, Great Pyrenees goat guards, and assorted wildlife. People and creatures come and go, but the cave and the 250-year-old house ruins—the latter having been occupied as recently as the mid-twentieth century—seem to be sticking around for a while yet.

Kim is a Seattle native and a direct descendent of twentieth-century Russian nobility. Her grandmother was a childhood friend of the doomed Grand Duchess Anastasia, and the romantic yet tragic story of how Lydia escaped Communist Russia with the aid of her American husband will most certainly one day fuel one of Kim’s novels. Another novel in the queue will involve her husband’s ancestor, the seventh-century proto-Viking king of the Swedish colony in Russia.

For the time being, however, Kim has plenty of work to do in creating her projected 8-book Arthurian series, The Dragon’s Dove Chronicles, and other novels under her imprint, Pendragon Cove Press. She has been a published novelist since 1999, beginning with the original edition of Dawnflight (Sonnet Books, Simon & Schuster, ISBN 0671020412).

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  1. Thank you for your lovely review of LIBERTY and for sharing on Twitter too!
    All my warmest wishes,
    Kim Headlee
    Stories make us greater.