Narrator

Esther Wane

Esther Wane
  • For fans of Downton Abbey and The Crown … welcome to Hotel Portofino, where romance, revelry, and intrigue await.

    A heady historical drama about a British family who opens an upper-class hotel on the magical Italian Riviera during the Roaring Twenties

    Hotel Portofino has been open for only a few weeks, but already the problems are mounting for its owner Bella Ainsworth. Her high-class guests are demanding and hard to please. And she’s being targeted by a scheming and corrupt local politician, who threatens to drag her into the red-hot cauldron of Mussolini’s Italy. 

    To make matters worse, her marriage is in trouble, and her children are still struggling to recover from the repercussions of the Great War. All eyes are on the arrival of a potential love match for her son Lucian, but events don’t go to plan, which will have far-reaching consequences for the whole family. 

    Set in the breathtakingly beautiful Italian Riviera, Hotel Portofino is a story of personal awakening at a time of global upheaval and of the liberating influence of Italy’s enchanting culture, climate, and cuisine on British “innocents abroad.”

     

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  • 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.

     

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  • In the stratified world of ancient Rome, there are citizens and slaves, soldiers and senators, priests and priestesses—and Caesar Augustus rules them all. Yet his authority holds only as long as the people believe the gods of Rome support him, particularly the beloved goddess of the home and hearth, Vesta.

    As chief Vestal Virgin, Pomponia continues to devote her life to protecting her order and the eternal flame of Vesta. She has risen to a position of esteem in Rome and is a valued member of Caesar’s inner circle. But now a contagion ravages the city and tension rises among Rome’s inhabitants.

    While she struggles to manage the Vestal order and maintain the favor of the goddess, Pomponia must now face a malevolent nobleman, Soren, whose machinations against her threaten not just her friendship with Caesar, but everything she loves.

    In To Be Wolves, Book Two in the Vesta Shadows series, Debra May Macleod takes us back to her richly crafted and meticulously researched vision of ancient Rome, artfully re-created with both historical and all-new characters, from conniving elites to celebrity slaves. An even bolder offering than its predecessor, this gripping sequel to Brides of Rome explores an even darker side of Rome.

    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.

     

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  • 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.

     

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  • Set in eighteenth-century Spitalfields, London, Blackberry and Wild Rose is the rich and atmospheric tale of a household of Huguenot silk weavers as the pursuit of the perfect silk design leads them all into ambition, love, and betrayal.

    When Esther Thorel, wife of a master silk weaver, rescues Sara Kemp from a brothel, she thinks she is doing God’s will, but her good deed is not returned. Sara quickly realizes that the Thorel household is built on hypocrisy and lies and soon tires of the drudgery of life as Esther’s new lady’s maid. As the two women’s relationship becomes increasingly fractious, Sara resolves to find out what it is that so preoccupies her mistress …

    Esther has long yearned to be a silk designer. When her early watercolors are dismissed by her husband, Elias, as the daubs of a foolish girl, she continues her attempts in secret. It may have been that none of them would ever have become actual silks, were it not for the presence of the extraordinarily talented Bisby Lambert in the Thorel household. Brought in by Elias to weave his master piece on the Thorel’s loom in the attic of their house in Spitalfields, the strange cadence of the loom as Bisby works is like a siren call to Esther. The minute she first sets foot in the garret and sees Bisby Lambert at his loom marks the beginning of Blackberry and Wild Rose, the most exquisite silk design Spitalfields has ever seen, and the end of the Thorel household’s veneer of perfection.

    As unrest among the journeyman silk weavers boils over into riot and rebellion, it leads to a devastating day of reckoning between Esther and Sara.

     

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