Hello and welcome to the last week of Riptide Publishing’s Warriors of Rome month! We’re Heidi Belleau and Violetta Vane, and all week, we’ll be posting across the web chatting about our heartpounding new novel Mark of the Gladiator, Roman history in general, and dropping a few sexy gladiator-related surprises along the way! For a complete tour listing, please check out the Riptide website, but first, read on for today’s post, and don’t forget to leave us a comment for today’s chance at winning our week-long contest!
Thank you so much to our hosts for having us, and to all of you for reading along!
“His Master’s Pleasure”, Exclusive Excerpt from Mark of the Gladiator
By Heidi Belleau
To kick off our blog tour, we thought we’d share a tease of one of the book’s early sex scenes. Here, gladiator Anazâr (known to his Roman masters as Cyrenaicus), performs “extra duties” for his new master, Marianus Lucius. Slaves of all stripes were often used for sexual gratification by their masters in ancient Rome, whether the slave in question wanted to or not. For Anazâr, serving Marianus is both an honor and a pleasure, as you’ll see below…
“Cyrenaicus, then! He doesn’t have anything pressing to attend to.”
Marianus, who’d been preoccupied with his wife thus far, suddenly turned that cagey, hungry gaze on Anazâr, and the regard brought a mix of arousal and fear roiling in his stomach, then diffusing, sinking lower, transmuting into heat and hardness. Not bodily fear—Anazâr had been used for release by masters before, and ones much crueler and less physically appealing than Marianus—but fear of causing displeasure, of being valued lower, of having his place in this household irrevocably changed.
Anazâr thought his hesitance would earn him punishment, but Marianus’s face was sympathetic. “I’ll give you the choice of refusing, and Alexandros will bring me a kitchen slave instead. No?” Anazâr stood frozen, barely able to breathe. Marianus stepped closer. “On your knees, then. No, not the tile, you can move to the rug. Don’t look so surprised. I know some masters take pleasure in the pain of their slaves, but I’m not one of them. I’d have you comfortable.”
“Dominus,” Anazâr acknowledged, allowing himself to be led to the rug. Marianus didn’t grip him, just barely brushed his elegant fingertips across Anazâr’s skin with the faith that Anazâr would not let that touch be broken.
Marianus’s power: the ability to command without threat, to have his expectations fulfilled without voicing them.
That same touch guided Anazâr to his knees.
The fabric of Marianus’s tunic was eggshell white and smooth and fine, and the man himself smelled of expensive perfumed oil and faint musk. Anazâr carried the day’s sweat and exertion on his back, despite his efforts to sponge himself clean before he’d come to make his report.
He was fortunate to be so close to this man, this nobleman in his prime, everything a Roman man aspired to be. I will please him. He will lift me as he rises, at his side or at his feet, it matters not. His cock rose to strain against the rough fabric of his own tunic. He would not dare to touch himself, of course; this act was for his master’s pleasure, not his own.
“Cyrenaicus quite likes you,” said Aelia. “I can see clearly from here.”
Humiliating to have it pointed out. By Roman custom, it was one thing to serve another man as his station required. Quite another to visibly enjoy that servitude. To be so affected . . . it was one step away from presenting his ass and begging to be fucked like a woman.
“Interesting,” said Marianus, mercifully with no judgment, as he pulled up his tunic to reveal an impressive length of shaft. “I won’t hold that as a mark against his virility. He’s eager to please, after all. Begin.”
All week, leave comments on our blog tour stops for a chance to win all three books in our M/M urban fantasy series Layers of the Otherworld. All you have to do is leave a comment with your email whenever you see us touring. One comment = one entry, so be sure to check us out every day! The more you comment, the better your odds! On December 3rd (that’s one week after Mark of the Gladiator’s release!), we’ll draw one lucky winner to receive Cruce de Caminos, The Druid Stone, and Galway Bound in the ebook format of their choice. Bonne chance!
About Heidi and Violetta
Two unlikely friends and co-writers, Heidi Belleau is a wholesome small-town history nerd from Northern Canada and Violetta Vane is a former academic with a sketchy past from the American South. Together, they write sex-soaked multicultural M/M romance and urban fantasy. You can visit them online at HeidiBelleau.com and ViolettaVane.com, or reach them on twitter as @HeidiBelleau and @ViolettaVane.
About Mark of the Gladiator
After an inconvenient display of mercy in the arena, the gladiator Anazâr is pulled from the sands and contracted to nobleman Lucius Marianus to train his new stable of female gladiators. His charges are demoralized and untested, and they bear the marks of abuse. Anazâr has a scant two months to prepare them for the arena, and his new master demands perfection.
Anazâr is surprised by how eager he is to achieve it—far more eager than a man motivated only by self-preservation. Perhaps it’s because Marianus is truly remarkable: handsome, dignified, honorable, and seemingly as attracted to Anazâr as Anazâr is to him.
But a rivalry between Marianus and his brother sparks a murder conspiracy, with Anazâr and his gladiatrices caught in the middle. One brother might offer salvation . . . but which? And in a world where life is worth less than the pleasures of the crowd or the whims of a master, can there be any room for love? As a gladiator, Anazâr’s defenses are near impenetrable. But as a man, he learns to his cost that no armor or shield can truly protect his heart.
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