“The author does not shy away from the cruel and perverse nature of the Romans, but she handles those characters and situations with tact and skill. The overall result is that you are enjoying the plot more than feeling like it is a history lesson, which is the mark of a good historical novel.” —Historical Novels Review
The Vesta Shadows Trilogy
For the heroes of Rome, and its enemies, it is a time of reckoning.
There is a saying in Rome: the Tarpeian Rock is near the Capitoline—meaning that even at the height of power, one is never far from a fall. As the Vestalis Maxima, Pomponia has guided her order through the collapse of Rome’s Republic and the rise of the Empire. Her wit and piety have elevated the Vestals to a position of unprecedented prestige—and her friendship with Caesar Augustus has personally afforded her a life of political influence and privilege. She has been adored and untouchable.
Yet that illusion of safety has been shattered by a ruthless enemy who continues to menace her from the shadows, his vengeful nature escalating to terrifying new heights that threaten not just Pomponia, but all those she cares for—including the emperor himself.
Worse, it seems that the gods are also turning against her when the Vestal order suffers an unparalleled crisis that Pomponia must answer for. Struggling to maintain her position, Pomponia looks to her slaves and a renegade charioteer for support as her complex relationship with her protégé, Quintina, brings painful secrets to light.
Faced with threats from all directions, Pomponia must be willing to sacrifice everything—even her own morality—to protect her status, the Vestal order, and the lives of those around her.
In Empire of Iron, the unflinching conclusion to the Vesta Shadows trilogy, Pomponia realizes that, like Rome itself, she must become even more ruthless than her enemies if she is to survive.
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.
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.