“A riveting imagined world ripped right from the pages of history, this smart repartee captivates in every way. It’s atmospheric and tense, allowing the reader to easily conjure up what it must have been like to be a Roman vestal virgin. Well done.” —Steve Berry, New York Times bestselling author of The Warsaw Protocol
The Vesta Shadows Trilogy
It is a world of power and privilege, secrets and sacred duty. It is the world of ancient Rome. And it is the esteemed Vestal Virgins—priestesses of Vesta, goddess of the home and hearth—who protect the Eternal Flame that protects the Eternal City.
Dedicated to a thirty-year vow of chaste service, Priestess Pomponia finds herself swept up in the intrigue, violence, wars, and bedroom politics of Rome’s elite—Julius Caesar, Antony and Cleopatra, Octavian and his maneuvering wife, Livia—all the while guarding the secret affection she has in her heart.
But when a charge of incestum—a broken vow of chastity—is made against the Vestal order, the ultimate punishment looms: death by being buried alive in the “Evil Field.”
In Brides of Rome, Book One in the Vesta Shadows series, Debra May Macleod skillfully re-creates the world of ancient Rome with all its brutality and brilliance, all its rich history and even richer legend. A true page-turner that is as smart as it is compelling, this must-read novel brings the Vestal order to life like never before.
The Vesta Shadows trilogy spans decades, from 45 BCE to 14 CE. It follows the life of the Vestal priestess Pomponia Occia, who is inspired by the real Vestal Occia who lived during this time, serving in the Temple of Vesta for more than fifty years. Set during the tumultuous years that saw the fall of the Roman Republic and the rise of the Roman Empire under Augustus—and beyond—it dramatizes some of the major historical events that occurred during her lifetime while simultaneously bringing ancient Rome to life with fast-paced, engrossing, and visceral storylines played out by a striking cast of characters.
“A fascinating look inside the lives of the enigmatic Vestal Virgins of Rome, who tended the sacred flame of Vesta in her temple in the Forum. But they were at the heart of Roman politics as well, true ‘brides of Rome’ who had a ringside seat in events of Roman history, and had a hand in them as well. Macleod lets us enter their forbidden and mysterious lives in a page-turning story of the birth of the Roman empire, watching all the big names—Julius Caesar, Cleopatra, Livia, Augustus—from an angle never seen before.” —Margaret George, New York Times bestselling author of The Confessions of Young Nero
“Macleod gives readers a very rich picture of what the day-to-day life of the Vestal Virgins was like…as the book’s lean, fast-paced plot advances. This is very intelligent and well-researched Roman historical fiction, populated with very strong female lead characters (including a scene-stealing rendition of Livia). A fine start to a promising series.” —Historical Novel Society
“In an age of murderous warlords and ruthless politicians (often indistinguishable from one another) the seemingly benign Vestals could hold the balance of power. Debra May Macleod has written a fascinating mystery set within the relentlessly masculine world of Roman power politics, but seen through the lens of a unique, all-female institution. The Vestals did not just tend Rome’s sacred flame. They guarded Rome’s secrets.” —John Maddox Roberts, author of the Edgar-nominated SPQR Roman Mystery series
“A fantastic book with excellent research done into the history of Rome…Those famous figures really came to life, as does everyday life in ancient Rome. I highly recommend this book if you are interested in historical fiction, and I look forward to the next book in the Vesta Shadows Series.” —Portland Book Review
Debra May Macleod is an author of historical fiction focusing on the ancient Roman religion of Vesta and the Vestal Virgins. She is privileged to have been invited to participate in research excursions in the Forum Romanum, the Forum of Caesar and Imperial Fora, including places inaccessible to the general public, and informs her writing and work with this invaluable perspective. Debra has a bachelor of arts (English, classics) as well as a law degree. She lives in Canada with her husband and son, visiting Italy often for research (and sun).
Esther Wane is a British actor and voice-over artist. After a career in finance, she fulfilled a childhood dream of going to drama school in London, and her life as an actor began at age forty. She has a lifelong passion for literature and can often be found browsing bookshops during any spare moments. Wane enjoys taking her listeners on a journeys in time and space and bringing the characters on the page to life in their imagination. She lives with her family and collection of books in Hertfordshire, just outside London.