Proud maidens flicking their stolas to the side. Brooding gladiators with sculpted cheekbones and strong sword arms. All Romans have spirits as tough as a legionnaire’s sword, but they can also melt with a lover’s glance. Surprisingly, Romans do not appear among the more common heroes and heroines in romance novels. A few notable exceptions, however, prove that Italian inamoratas are worthy of any love story.
Lynn Bartlett’s Defy the Eagle features a star-crossed romance between Caddaric, a fierce Celtic warrior, and Jilana, the daughter of a Roman merchant, who meet one another in war-torn Roman Britain. When Boudicca, queen of the Iceni tribe, rises up against the Roman Empire in the first century C.E., Caddaric fights for his people. He and Jilana face innumerable tribulations that come up against their fated love.
Despite some historical inaccuracies—for example, “Jilana” is not a Roman name, nor is “Caddaric” a Celtic one—Defy the Eagle allows Jilana and Caddaric’s angsty amour to leap off the page. Raised in two disparate worlds and thrust together by the tides of war, the pair positively oozes sexual tension, both on and off the battlefield and in the bathhouse. Add in a rogue Druid or two, Jilana’s embittered Roman fiancé, Lucius, and the compelling story of Boudicca’s quest for independence, and you’ve got a recipe for romance.