Liberty by Kim Iverson Headlee

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The way the author uses facts and fiction, woven together so seamlessly, makes you feel as though this story is truth, and it makes for an incredible experience. The pain and suffering of the heroine is so tangible, you can almost feel the heat and dust of the streets. I cannot say enough good things about this book.

Winner of the BooksGoSocial Best Book Award 2015.

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. 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.

Review by SaraC:

Kim Iverson Headlee
Kim Iverson Headlee

Liberty was a fantastic story. It was a very substantial novel and although it is a work of fiction, does have some historically accurate components, along with some notes at the end from author explaining what is fact and what she has adapted for the purposes of the story.

There were so many facets to the story, the romance, the gladiator world, the political world, there were so many elements that made the story complex. There was action, drama, romance and a depth to the characters that compelled me to keep reading. Rhyddes possessed a strength of character that was admirable, and it was very easy to feel for her as the story progressed. Marcus Aquila is a likable hero, with the few exceptions where he behaved poorly.

Overall, this was a great read, and I would recommend it to any historical romance lovers.

Review by Miss Heidi:

This book completely took me by surprise. I had read the synopsis, and was intrigued to check it out. I am very glad that I went ahead and read this book. It is epic. That is the only word for the journey that the main character goes on. The scope of her struggle is nothing short of amazing. I was so engrossed in the book, I read it in one sitting. It is an incredible story of one woman’s struggle under Roman rule. She is an incredible character.

Rhyddes ferch Rudd is a young woman about 18 years old. She is Celtic, part of the Votadini tribe. They had been conquered by the Romans. She has always felt like a slave, her father beats her, never showing an ounce of love for her. Her name means freedom, and this reason becomes clear in the story. When the Picts attack her village, she fights with her brothers- and finds herself fighting a female warrior. This became the beginning to her life as a warrior.

Marcus Calpernius Aquila is the son of the Governor of Britannia province, Sextus Calpernius Agricola. Marcus’ relationship with his father is strained at best. He likes to fight as a gladiator, whereas his father wants him to work toward politics, not associating with the lower class. He has his life decided for him when his father decides he is to marry Senator Falco’s daughter, Lady Messiena.

The story is set about 160 A.D. The Romans rule is far reaching, have conquered most everywhere in what is now Europe and Great Brittian. Rhyddes has no love loss for the Romans. They take and tax everyone to support Rome. Her father decides to sell her into slavery to get rid of her and pay his tax debt. Although her virginity had to be maintained, that did not keep the Roman guards from brutally assaulting her.

This was the pattern her life would seem to be taking, everyone hurting her. She was sold to a lanista, Jamil of Tanis, who out bid Marcus. Marcus fell in love at the sight of her, but let Jamil buy her. They were friends, so he was not completely out of luck. Rhyddes struggle with becoming a gladiatrix and her feelings for Marcus are the focus of the story. There is also a very sinister plot brewing against the Emperors, and she will become a huge part of it.

This book has so many things happening, and I do not want to spoil it. She must come to terms with her growing feelings for a roman when all the empire has done for her is cause her pain. And Marcus has his own journey while figuring out what is important to him and what he will do to achieve his goals. At every turn, their lives go in unexpected directions, pulling them apart because of chance or duty.

The way the author uses facts and fiction, woven together so seamlessly, makes you feel as though this story is truth, and it makes for an incredible experience. The pain and suffering of the heroine is so tangible, you can almost feel the heat and dust of the streets. I cannot say enough good things about this book.

The peril and the intrigue will keep you turning the pages, hoping against hope that things will get better for Rhyddes. One can hope that the fates might smile upon the feisty Celt who has done nothing to deserve her station in life. And from his own gilded cage, I was rooting for Marcus for the same reason. It is a fabulous read, and if you liked Spartacus, you may find this is a perfect next Roman tale to sink your teeth into.

  • Kim Headlee

    Thank you so much for featuring LIBERTY today!
    Kim Headlee
    Stories make us greater.