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. Trusting no man and 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.
Liberty opens with the sorry plight of Celtic teen Rhyddes; a Celt in a land conquered by the Romans. Though her name meant freedom, she was little more than a slave: almost a slave to her own family.
Liberty immediately seizes the reader’s attention and sympathy. Rhyddes’ Father is tough and demanding- he is with all his children. Still Rhyddes demonstrates caring and courage right off the bat. She protects brother Owen to her own cost and, farmhand though she is, we also see she’s a good fighter when need arises. She establishes her value, and we readers assume that events will transpire that allow her family to see her value, as well. We can only hope…
She proves worth more to others. Suddenly, those hard days with a pitchfork in her hands will serve her well….
Meanwhile, another character is introduced, long before their actual meeting. Marcus, who one might well imagine fared better as one of the conquerors, also suffers from parental disapproval. He’s headstrong, proud and tough, but he too has to answer for every action.
Rhyddes’ survival has given her both strength and defiance. Unalike as the two might seem, they are both strong, in their own way, but when they meet, events seem to turn against them. Indeed, circumstances must keep them apart, although we cannot but keep hoping for different circumstances!
I was troubled throughout as to why our main character started off in such disfavor with her father. Although the author leaves no string untied by the end, it seemed like a long wait to get the answer. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this story. The setting, characters and action were all interesting and well-presented.
Ms. Headlee’s straightforward writing style is not intrusive but is descriptive. The overall plot seems distant and in truth, we see this history from just one little corner of it. This is very character-driven story with sweet moments and occasional humor. Rhyddes’ connection to and sympathy for her family members is a constant. I really liked the characters. I wouldn’t say every romance fan will love this, but if you are looking for a bit of unpredictable action with your romance, you might find Liberty just perfect.