Novels

Glory of Rome: (Gaius Valerius Verrens 8)

by Douglas Jackson

77AD. Gaius Valerius Verrens is an honored member of Emperor Vespasian’s inner circle, but the enmity between him and Vespasian’s son Domitian means that, even in Rome, danger is never far away. Meanwhile, in the outer reaches of the Empire, in Britannia, trouble is brewing. The governor, Gnaeus Julius Agricola, is preparing to march his legions north and Valerius is Agricola’s chief legal adviser and deputy governor. It’s the opportunity he seeks to move his wife and son out of reach of Domitian’s wrath. But Britannia is where Valerius cut his military teeth and whetted his sword – and he will soon discover that the ghosts of his past are never far away and are more dangerous perhaps than Domitian. The massacre of a Roman garrison and suspicious death of the legate of the Ninth Legion throw Agricola’s preparations into confusion. Now his eyes turn west to Mona, the Druids Isle, where the Celtic priesthood still harbors hopes of ridding Britannia of Roman rule. But to deal with the Druids and their savage Ordovice protectors Agricola needs a soldier he can trust at the head of the ‘unlucky’ Ninth. Only one man in the province has the experience and the ability. So a reluctant Valerius must put aside his scrolls and pick up his sword once more and march beside the eagle of the Ninth. It’s only as he stands on the shoreline opposite Mona that he understands any glory his new legion wins is likely to be fleeting and tainted – and that he has placed his family in deadly peril.

Hammer of Rome: (Gaius Valerius Verrens 9)

by Douglas Jackson

AD 80. Gaius Valerius Verrens is back where he belongs, at the head of a legion. But this is no ordinary legion. His command is the ‘unlucky’ Ninth, tainted by four decades of ill fortune and poor leadership. A unit regarded as expendable by Valerius’s superior, Gnaeus Julius Agricola, governor of Britannia. Yet all that can be swept aside by a single moment of glory, and the long heralded invasion of the north of the province provides the perfect opportunity. Valerius leads his men to a devastating victory against the recalcitrant Brigantes, infuriating Agricola in the process. Soon, even greater honors beckon with the death of Emperor Vespasian and the succession of Valerius’s friend, Titus. But, back in Rome, the new emperor faces his own challenges, not least from his own brother, Domitian, a man with an insatiable ambition for power and a deadly hatred of Valerius. All Valerius can do is forget the great prizes on offer, concentrate on defeating the savage tribes who lie in the path of the Ninth, and ignore Agricola’s intrigues. But watching his every move is the most formidable enemy he has ever faced: mighty Calgacus, war chief of the Northern alliance.

The Miracles of Prato

by Laurie Albanese and Laura Morowitz

A vibrant and enthralling historical novel about art and passion, The Miracles of Prato by Laurie Albanese and Laura Morowitz brings Italy in the era of the Medici to glorious life—as it tells the story of an illicit love affair between the renowned painter Fra Filippo Lippi and his muse, a beautiful convent novitiate. A magnificent blend of fact, historical color, emotion, and invention, The Miracles of Prato is a novel that will delight the many fans of Tracy Chavalier’s Girl with a Pearl Earring and Susan Vreeland’s Girl in Hyacinth Blue.

Oil and Marble: A Novel of Leonardo and Michelangelo

by Stephanie Storey

From 1501 to 1505, Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo Buonarroti both lived and worked in Florence. Leonardo was a charming, handsome 50-year-old at the peak of his career. Michelangelo was a temperamental sculptor in his mid-twenties, desperate to make a name for himself.

Michelangelo is a virtual unknown when he returns to Florence and wins the commission to carve what will become one of the most famous sculptures of all time: David. Even though his impoverished family shuns him for being an artist, he is desperate to support them. Living at the foot of his misshapen block of marble, Michelangelo struggles until the stone finally begins to speak. Meanwhile, Leonardo’s life is falling apart: he loses the hoped-for David commission; he can’t seem to finish any project; he is obsessed with his ungainly flying machine; he almost dies in war; his engineering designs disastrously fail; and he is haunted by a woman he has seen in the market—a merchan’’s wife, whom he is finally commissioned to paint. Her name is Lisa, and she becomes his muse. Leonardo despises Michelangelo for his youth and lack of sophistication. Michelangelo both loathes and worships Leonardo’s genius. Oil and Marble is the story of their nearly forgotten rivalry. Storey brings early 16th-century Florence alive, and has entered with extraordinary empathy into the minds and souls of two Renaissance masters. The book is an art history thriller.

The Tuscan Child

by Rhys Bowen

From New York Times bestselling author Rhys Bowen comes a haunting novel about a woman who braves her father’s hidden past to discover his secrets…

In 1944, British bomber pilot Hugo Langley parachuted from his stricken plane into the verdant fields of German-occupied Tuscany. Badly wounded, he found refuge in a ruined monastery and in the arms of Sofia Bartoli. But the love that kindled between them was shaken by an irreversible betrayal. Nearly thirty years later, Hugo’s estranged daughter Joanna has returned home to the English countryside to arrange her father’s funeral. Among his personal effects is an unopened letter addressed to Sofia. In it is a startling revelation. Still dealing with the emotional wounds of her own personal trauma, Joanna embarks on a healing journey to Tuscany to understand her father’s history—and maybe come to understand herself as well. Joanna soon discovers that some would prefer the past be left undisturbed, but she has come too far to let go of her father’s secrets now…

The House at the Edge of Night

by Catherine Banner

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY NPR

A sweeping saga about four generations of a family who live and love on an enchanting island off the coast of Italy—combining the romance of Beautiful Ruins with the magical tapestry of works by Isabel Allende.

Castellamare is an island far enough away from the mainland to be forgotten, but not far enough to escape from the world’s troubles. At the center of the island’s life is a café draped with bougainvillea called The House at the Edge of Night, where the community gathers to gossip and talk. Amedeo Esposito, a foundling from Florence, finds his destiny on the island with his beautiful wife, Pina, whose fierce intelligence, grace, and unwavering love guide her every move. An indiscretion tests their marriage, and their children—three sons and an inquisitive daughter—grow up and struggle with both humanity’s cruelty and its capacity for love and mercy. Spanning nearly a century, through secrets and mysteries, trials and sacrifice, this beautiful and haunting novel follows the lives of the Esposito family and the other islanders who live and love on Castellamare: a cruel count and his bewitching wife, a priest who loves scandal, a prisoner of war turned poet, an outcast girl who becomes a pillar of strength, a wounded English soldier who emerges from the sea. The people of Castellamare are transformed by two world wars and a great recession, by the threat of fascism and their deep bonds of passion and friendship, and by bitter rivalries and the power of forgiveness.

The Master of Verona

by David Blixt

Shakespeare and Dante collide in this sweeping novel of Renaissance Italy. The feud between the Capulets and Montagues starts here! Pietro Alighieri, son of the poet Dante, falls under the sway of Verona’s daring, charismatic, and warlike ruler, Cangrande della Scala. Risking battles, duels, and intrigue to impress his new lord, Pietro uncovers an infernal plot against Cangrande’s infant heir. Emerging from the shadow of his famous father, Pietro must protect the dangerous child while navigating a rivalry that severs a friendship, divides a city, and sparks a feud that will someday produce Shakespeare’s famous star-cross’d lovers, Romeo & Juliet. Based on the plays of William Shakespeare, the poetry of Dante, and the history of Italy, The Master of Verona is a novel of brutal warfare, lost friendship, and dire conspiracy. An epic journey into the birth of the Renaissance that recalls the best of Bernard Cornwell, Sharon Kay Penman, and Dorothy Dunnett.

Prince of Fire (Gabriel Allon Series Book 5)

by Daniel Silva

After an explosion in Rome destroys the Israeli embassy, Gabriel Allon makes a disturbing discovery: the existence of a dossier in terrorist hands that strips away his secrets, and lays bare his history. Drawn into the heart of a service he’d once forsaken, Allon finds himself stalking a master terrorist across a bloody landscape generations in the making. But soon, Allon will wonder who is stalking whom. When the final showdown comes, it won’t be Allon alone who is threatened with destruction. For it is not his history alone that has been exposed.

Books by Steven Saylor

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Steven Saylor is the author of the ROMA SUB ROSA series of historical mysteries featuring Gordianus the Finder, set in the ancient Rome of Cicero, Caesar, and Cleopatra. The latest book is Throne of Caesar, in which Gordianus confronts the Ides of March, 44 B.C., and the most famous murder case in history.

There have also been three prequels—The Seven Wonders, which follows the 18-year-old Gordianus on his journey to the Seven Wonders of the World; Raiders of the Nile, in which young Gordianus, living in Egypt, finds himself drawn into a plot to steal the golden sarcophagus of Alexander the Great; and Wrath of the Furies, in which young Gordianus finds himself in Ephesus on the eve of King Mithridates’ mass slaughter of every Roman man, woman, and child.

Steven is also the author of the international bestseller Roma: The Novel of Ancient Rome and its follow-up, Empire: The Novel of Imperial Rome. These two epic novels comprise a multi-generational saga that spans the first 1200 years of the city, from Iron Age trading post to the height of the empire under Hadrian. A third volume (making this series a trilogy) is on the way.

Click here to purchase books by Steven Saylor.

Books by Lindsey Davis

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Lindsey Davis’ Roman novels begin chronologically with The Course of Honour, the love story of the Emperor Vespasian and Antonia Caenis. Her bestselling mystery series features laid-back First Century detective Marcus Didius Falco and his partner Helena Justina, plus friends, relations, pets and bitter enemy the Chief Spy; there is a reader handboook, Falco: the Official Companion. A new series, featuring Flavia Albia, began in 2013. Master and God, set in the time of the Emperor Domitian, was published in 2012. She has also written an epic novel of the English Civil War and Commonwealth, Rebels and Traitors. She has won the CWA Ellis Peters Historical Dagger, the Dagger in the Library, and a Sherlock award for Falco as Best Comic Detective. She has also been awarded the Premio Colosseo for enhancing the image of Rome, and the CWA Cartier Diamond Dagger for lifetime achievement as a mystery writer.

Click here to purchase books by Lindsey Davis.