16 May 2010

Guest Author: Ali Katz

This week on Unusual Historicals we're happy to welcome Samhain author Ali Katz as she celebrates the release of her novella "Damon's Price," set in ancient Rome! Here's the blurb:

Widowhood agrees with thirty-eight-year-old Claudia Sabina. Her husband and father left her wealthy, but her most prized possession is their gift of independence. She enjoys a freedom few women in male-dominated Roman society will ever know.

One of her most valuable assets is Damon, a young Greek slave bequeathed to her by her father. Intelligent, resourceful and educated beyond the norm for even a freeborn Roman citizen, Damon is a man of many talents. It doesn't hurt that he is also a pleasure to look at.

For months, Damon hides the fact he's fallen in love with his new mistress. He convinces himself he can be satisfied with her nearness--until the night he walks in on her bath, and his rigid control deserts him. Consequences fail to matter as he offers her full use of talents that, until now, he's never revealed.

In a moment of weakness, Claudia crosses the line laid down by Roman law and custom, immersing herself in an illegal and dangerous love affair. A choice that threatens both their futures.

"Damon's Price is a sexy and emotional read. Ali Katz succeeds once more in immersing the reader in the story from the first page, and keeps the tension and interest going. The book's main strength is in its characters-both Claudia and Damon felt real, their emotions raw and believable. 5 Angels." ~ Maija, Fallen Angel Reviews

"Ms. Katz's writing pulled me in from the first page and I was never bored reading Claudia and Damon's story. 'Damon's Price' moved along quickly and I understood the hero and heroine's hopes, dreams, desires, and conflicts. I never thought of putting it down and finishing another day. I loved that the time period was unique...authentic and the plot extremely believable. I really felt for these characters and couldn't stop smiling when they achieved their happily ever after." ~ Lynette, CK2S Kwips and Kritiques


An independent Roman woman?

Unlikely you think? True, Rome was very much a man's world. Traditionally, a woman and all her property were under a man's authority--her father's until she married, then her husband's and, if she found herself orphaned and widowed, a guardian (tutela).

But by the first century AD, women had much more freedom. She could marry "sine manu" and remain under her father's authority. She could inherit and dispose of her own property. She could own and manage a business and handle her own financial affairs. After the reign of Octavian Augustus (31 BC – 14 AD), guardianship was no longer required if she had already borne three children. Her status became "sui iuris."

In 'DAMON'S PRICE,' Claudia's relationship with her slave, Damon is illegal. Wasn't sex with slaves common in Rome?

Sure it was. Sex with slaves wasn't even looked down upon or considered adultery--as long as you used your penis. Being on the receiving end, vaginally, anally or orally, not so good.

I thought Rome was a decadent society.

Recent depictions of life during the Republic (509 BC – 44 BC) would certainly back you up, Augustus, Rome's first emperor, made efforts to change the moral culture. How successful he was is debatable, but the laws he put into effect to regulate Rome's moral climate were on the books, and any man could call on them as he saw fit. Women were expected to be dignified wives and good mothers and, while the rules could be bent, they couldn't be broken. No woman was immune; status did not offer safety. Claudius had his wife, Messalina, and her lover executed. Augustus's own daughter, Julia, found herself exiled for her many affairs.

Augustus had little choice, really, considering her reputation and his Lex Julia which made adultery a crime. Being a parent and a bit of a prude myself, I almost understand why he stuck her on an island by herself.

Prude? Come on, Ali, you can't write sex like that and call yourself a prude.

True enough. I do think sex should be fun and enjoyed by all, LOL. We have to face the fact, though, that until the last few years, sex had consequences--especially for women. And, oh no, men were not going to let them get away with enjoying themselves, especially if that meant they could never be sure whose sons they were raising.

Do you have any new Roman hotties coming our way?

Yes, I do, as a matter of fact, and thank you for asking.

I'm currently working on a series of three novels staged in an alternate Rome during the first century--the same era as my novella, 'DAMON'S PRICE.' In this Rome, however, magic wins the empire and Roman wizards are a powerful and dreaded force.

The first book, GLADIATOR, is a M/M erotic romance. Here's a short blurb:
Power and respect--the two most valued commodities in Roman society.

Marcus has power. So much power, his mentor couldn't begin to touch his potential. He taught what he could. And then, taught him how to restrain the magic when it raced through his veins with the speed of a wild fire threatening to consume him and then saw him off to Damascus to learn the art of war with Rome's most powerful mages.

No one can teach Marcus how to win respect.

Marcus stands at the threshold of his future--and he's scared to death. He has the power, but can he overcome his peaceful nature and learn to use it in war? The question is moot if he can't overcome his other nature. The part of him which guarantees he'll never have respect from anyone who counts.

Gallus respects him, and fears him, and loves him. His job is to protect him. Little did he know when he took the job, the hardest part would be protecting Marcus from himself.
"Sometimes I wonder where, in the midst of all this abundance, Lies the essence of love..." The Art of Love, Ovid (43 BC – 18 AD)


Thanks so much for stopping by today, Ali. Readers, if you'd like to win a copy of 'DAMON'S PRICE,' please leave a comment or question for Ali. Maybe you'd like to know some of the interesting quirks or Roman society, or why Ali chose to write a Roman-set historical? Ask away! I'll draw the winner in one week. Void where prohibited. Best of luck!