Monday, September 22, 2014

The Knife of Narcissus Part 4 by Carolyne Chand ~ Guest Post, Release Day Review and Giveaway

The Knife of Narcissus 4

Lucius, oh Lucius, he is really beginning to grow on me now. For all his sexcapades he still seems so innocent when it comes to matters of the heart and learning to read people. So the story continues with Part 4.

Carolyne is here with us today talking about what Roman’s keep under their Togas – WEYHEY!! I wonder if it is the same as Scotsmen and their kilts? Only one way to find out, keep on reading…….

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Guest Post ~ Clothing, What Does a Roman Wear Under his Toga or How Do You Get Him Out of It?

After my adventures in cookery in the last guest post, I’m back to talk about another basic of life: clothing. But not just tunics and togas.

Part of the research for the series was figuring out where the many tentacles of the business run by Lucius’s father, Bassus, reach. He runs a brisk trade in luxury furnishings (acquired in shady ways); shifts scads of fine art (which Lucius appreciates when it's a display of fine male form); and dabbles in the liquidation of literary collections (“literary” as in “erotic”). He also gets heavily into cloth.

Rome traded with India and China, importing silk to supplement Egyptian linen and Rome’s many grades of wool in natural colours—exciting shades such as beige, beiger, brown, and grey (they had a lot of goats and sheep around the Empire). Conservative writers bemoaned men who made themselves fancy and feminine by filling their clothes-presses with jewel-tone tunics instead of bland hues. But for all the poetic complaints, Romans loved showing off rainbow shades, woven patterns, stamped patterns, and, for the conspicuously wealthy or decadently imperial, robes spun with gold and silver and dotted with jewels.

Saffron yellows and pinks and oranges, indigos and blues, crimson made from crushed bugs, vegetable greens and browns and double-dyed blacks...a lot of these were smelly to make, but they sold for a premium, and as a famous Roman quipped, “money doesn’t stink.” Finally, there were candida (white) togas worn by political candidates (word origin!). Shops set out troughs to collect urine from passersby; the ammonia in it was useful for detergent, leather tanning, and bleaching politicians’ formal wear. Emperor Vespasian, always desperate for income, taxed the shops that had been freely collecting this precious national resource, saying that he didn't mind raising funds that way, since...money doesn’t stink.

But you’re probably not here to hear about public urinals and squished bugs. The more important question is: what was under those tunics? Like any erotic-romantic writer, I must needs put a lot of energy into figuring out how to get characters out of their clothing. For a Roman gentleman, that was simple. Lift a tunic, and then—

But, ladies first: High-class women layered themselves with an under-slip, long tunic, another dress, possibly an over-dress, and a shawl. Beneath all these strata, they kept their breasts in firm control. A few garments that look like bikini bottoms with laces up the sides survive (sometimes called a subligar), though these might be swimwear, gym-wear, or meant for lady-times convenience. Since the ideal feminine form was small breasts and wide hips, a band (strophium or fascia or fascea) was used to flatten breasts and keep young women’s from growing (spoiler: not a good plan). Medical texts advised that infant girls be swaddled into shape, and the writer Pliny recommended herbs to stop breasts from developing too far (spoiler: not a good plan, either). Women in flagrante are depicted in Roman art with their breasts wrapped, and I have to wonder whether that’s because of how difficult their bras must have been to take off. A breast band was up to 5 meters long, wrapped around the chest a half dozen times.

On to the gents. Fortunately, for ease of research, there are plenty of movies showing loinclothed gladiators. I make sure to watch at least one per week to stay intellectually sharp. A man in the city of Rome did, probably, wear much the same thing you’ll see on Victor Mature or Russell Crowe (I’m pretty sure there's an underwear line-up in Gladiator. At least, that’s how I remember Gladiator). Your average gladiator paraded around in his loincloth in the arena—so the subligaculum (roughly, “thing tied underneath”) wasn’t a private garment. A gentleman’s loincloth might be made of fine Egyptian linen, wrapped around the waist then between the legs and tied or pulled into a flap; or laced on the sides; or made into little pantaloons. A man could work in just a loincloth without causing a ruckus. As long as he did it in a manly way, without fancy colours or soft silk, no one would bat an eye.

A man’s layers: tunic. Maybe a cloak. Leggings or puttees only if it was cold and the man wasn’t concerned about looking ruggedly virile and cold-resistant. (We won’t count the toga—which was so notoriously difficult to drape correctly that, in time, Romans stitched pre-fab versions they could slip on over their heads.) Daily male dress was so taken for granted by Roman writers, and by artists who were more concerned with showing sumptuous excess than idealised Greek-style nudes, that there's not enough evidence to give us an idea of how often male Romans went commando. Besides, without a loincloth to get out of the way, it would be that much easier to contribute to the local launderer’s collection trough.

Or, do anything else a Roman might want to get up to.

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Title: The Knife of Narcissus ~ Part 4

Author: Carolyne Chand

Publisher: Self-Published

Release: 22nd September 2014

Genre: M/M (Historical)

Rating:

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Synopsis

Lucius Sentius, son of a prominent merchant, ambitious young Roman himself, and exemplar of the new generation in a newly strengthened Empire, is building a reputation. Mostly a terrible one, and mostly thanks to a possibly insane poet who has taken an interest in elegizing his allegedly wild ways in graffiti on toilet-house walls.

Notoriety will only keep the man Lucius loves away from him. Trio has fled the city, leaving a tangle of half-truths between them, sending baffling missives. The answers the gods seem to be making to Lucius’s prayers are only more knots to unravel.

Lucius is determined to set at least one part of his life and reputation right—his marriage bed. A few rehearsals first with appropriate teachers seems to be the obvious solution to get past his hesitation. But life and love are never as simple as he would hope. And his wife, Velleia, has plans and secrets of her own.

Mark’s Review

So you gird your loins........one, two three, I'm coming ready or not. Lucius decides he needs to put things right domestically, or at least try. The more I read of this series the more innocent and naive in some ways Lucius seems to appear for me. Again he receives word from Trio, to warn him that his reputation is worsening and it has even reached his ears in Polontis and higher circles. But in Trio's words there is also I believe a shimmer of hope for his love for Lucius. I just believe he is too afraid to be associated with Lucius publicly and this maybe the root of the matter.

The other thing that has really endeared me to Lucius is his attitude to how he treats his slaves. Compared to his peers, he seems to have a compassion for them by not having them mistreated or defiled as would be normal for everyone else. He goes out on a limb more than once to protect the virtues and very basic human rights of his slaves. This came through very much when he goes to visit the slave trader Fabius The Mover and meets his cousins and Velleia's brothers there. It's as though even for a Roman, he is like The Good Roman and sees the human in them. Could this also be a problem later? Maybe, but I hope he stays strong on this point.

Talking about slaves his feelings deepen for Arpalycus. Arpalycus knows his station and Lucius will always be his master, but it's as if a kind of love is developing here for sure. I think they both adore each other quietly and if things were different would quite possibly be in a relationship. It's just agonising sometimes to read how devoted Arpalycus is and how Lucius totally confides him. They would make a perfect couple in my opinion were the circumstance different.

The main story line for me running through part four is how he intends to stamp his mark on Velleia' and put his marriage and domestic issue's straight. Have to tame the wild beast! So after having a bit of tutoring and a practice run on the prostitute Chiledon he makes his mind up he needs to prove to Velleia that he is the man of the house. I just admit I did have a silly grin on my face, he confides once again in Arpalycus that he has decided the deed will be done that night. It was a little like, "Tonight's the night Valleia, coming ready or not!" So after tanking up on a little Dutch courage he bursts into her room wearing nothing but a smile and Velleia looks at him with disdain and once again the wind goes totally out his sails and he deflates back down to half-mast once again - lol! What a bitch! I reckon only women have the ability to totally deflate a man sexually. Of course it wasn't like this at all really. It was of course beautifully written and we actually learn behind that hard exterior there is a Velleia that is emotionally hurting so much. That is probably why she is behaving the way she is as a matter of emotional defence. The walls break and she opens to Lucius about how she feels. Nothing like a gay man to be a woman’s best confidant – lol! Lucius still can't really fathom out how women think and behave, can't blame him there. However, it was actually a very poignant scene, and Lucius is so understanding and listens to Velleia, it was as if they have at last maybe found some common ground. Well, I hope so. But for some reason just still can't trust the woman 100% myself yet.

The more I read about Lucius the more I think I might be developing a little crush on the guy. He is definitely moving up fast on my list of best loved MCs for sure.

So another great episode in the Life and Loves of Lucius Sentius Camillus. Off to part V.............later guys! XX

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Series Reading Order and Release Dates

In keeping with the serial flavour of the story, I will be reading the series and reviewing the following books in the series on their respective release day. Also Carolyne will be accompanying each release with a guest post on some aspect of Roman life – can’t wait! I’m sure it’ll be absolutely fascinating.

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Release: 24th August

Guest Post: Why a Serial?

Mark’s Review

Synopsis

Lucius Sentius, along with most people in the city of Rome, assumes that the debauched and chaotic days of Nero are behind them now that Rome has settled down under a sober new ruler, Vespasian. Lucius may be only the son of a merchant, but his newly arranged marriage to an older widow will bring powerful connections and an enviable life. If he keeps himself on a respectable path.

That seems impossible when he discovers that his heart lies somewhere not at all respectable: his lifelong friend Trio, the reserved and serious son of one of the most reserved and pious families in the city.

As Lucius is pushed along the course of duty to family, to his promised spouse, and to Rome itself, he begins to see under the surface of his city, into a net of intrigues, manipulation, and corruption that can carry him upward in status and and bring him what he most wants...or destroy both him and the people he loves.

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Release: 8th September

Guest Post: Digging Out the Details ~ Delicious and Dangerous Roman Cookery (with a recipe for ancient cookies)

Mark’s Review

Synopsis

Lucius Sentius had always assumed the debauched and corrupt days of Nero were over. He was wrong. Being celibate and sober may be good for the reputation, but it’s a dead-end path for an ambitious Roman looking to rise to wealth and power in the city.

His friendship with the man he loves has been broken by the flare of passion between them, his wife has a better command of his household than he does, and gossip around the city about his hedonistic lifestyle is growing faster than any actual attempt to be wanton. When his new brother-in-law hires him to take on a mysterious task for a powerful, unidentified patron that requires someone willing to set aside all scruples, Lucius throws himself into a chance to prove his worth.

It’s enough to make a man turn to the gods for help. In Lucius’s case, the one goddess who seems to listen—to the right sort of worship—is Venus....

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Release: 22nd September

Guest Post: Digging Out the Details ~ Clothing, What Does a Roman Wear Under his Toga or How Do You Get Him Out of It?

Synopsis

Lucius Sentius, son of a prominent merchant, ambitious young Roman himself, and exemplar of the new generation in a newly strengthened Empire, is building a reputation. Mostly a terrible one, and mostly thanks to a possibly insane poet who has taken an interest in elegizing his allegedly wild ways in graffiti on toilet-house walls.

Notoriety will only keep the man Lucius loves away from him. Trio has fled the city, leaving a tangle of half-truths between them, sending baffling missives. The answers the gods seem to be making to Lucius’s prayers are only more knots to unravel.

Lucius is determined to set at least one part of his life and reputation right—his marriage bed. A few rehearsals first with appropriate teachers seems to be the obvious solution to get past his hesitation. But life and love are never as simple as he would hope. And his wife, Velleia, has plans and secrets of her own.

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Release: 6th October

Guest Post: Dub-con, Non-con, and Writing About Slaves in Historical Fiction

Synopsis

The quest to find his wife’s lover has embroiled Lucius Sentius in corruption and debauchery at a high level. The men he must confront are tied to the emperor, and the price of their help involves a strange game of humiliation. The corruption of a city that shrugged off mad emperor Nero, and replaced him with a new brand of decadence, fits Lucius like a well-draped toga. If he’s willing to wear his new guise.

Velleia has been carrying a secret not so different than Lucius’s own: love lost to distance and circumstance. To help the wife he now respects, he will have to take the risk of becoming the man his reputation claims him to be.
His brother-in-law Aulus’s secrets are just business: a shipment of smuggled goods that is drawing Lucius ever more deeply into dangerous intrigues. And looming over it all, Trio is due to return to the city of Rome.

Whatever secrets Trio is carrying have built a wall of thorns between him and Lucius, a wall Lucius is no long sure he has the means to tear down. Lucius may already be what Trio feared he would become. Revealing the truth of their lives could be too painful for both of them.

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Release: 20th October

Guest Post: Crazy Roman Emperors

Synopsis

The cargo Lucius has smuggled into Rome for his brother-in-law Aulus is enough wealth to power an army, bringing them both to the attention of the imperial family. Now Lucius stands in a precarious position between two dangerous princes, poised to be either a favored courtier or an inconvenience marked for disposal—and forced to navigate his way through the same sexual intrigues Aulus has hinted that Trio, the man Lucius loves, is also a part of.

Trio is still a Gordian Knot Lucius intends to cut open. Knowing now that Trio is caught in more than the guilt of unmanly, un-Roman love for a friend, Lucius sets out with him and their two attendants on the search to find Velleia’s missing slave. In the remoteness of the Campanian countryside, under the looming, smoke-shrouded mountain that commands the skyline, Lucius intends to devote himself to refueling the flame he knows still burns between him and Trio.

Nothing will stand in the way...except perhaps Arpalycus, the handsome and tempting slave who has become for Lucius much more than servant, far more than confidante.

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Release: 3rd November

Guest Post: Put on Your Party Toga ~ It’s Saturnalia Season and The End of the Serial.

Synopsis

Lucius Sentius, along with most people in the city of Rome, assumed that the debauched days of Nero were long behind them. He was wrong.

Swept into the sexual games of powerful men, he has had to navigate intrigues, lies, and rumour on his path to status and respectability. Torn between reputation and love, ambition and obligation, his heart still lies somewhere not at all respectable: a very un-Roman love for his very Roman friend Trio, the sort of relationship that only the most powerful—or the most ignored—may have.

In the course of a summer Lucius has gone from curious innocent to devoted worshipper of Venus, following both his heart and other instincts. But his dedication to the goddess stands between him and what he truly hopes to win. In the remoteness of the Campanian countryside, Lucius tries to refuel the flame between Trio and himself.
He is no longer the person who fell in love. But neither is Trio...

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About the Author

I write things. Strange things. A few short stories have been published under other names. I’m working on a choose-your-own-darned-path adventure set in ancient Rome, because I just can’t get enough of that setting for some reason. I’m tiptoeing around self-publishing a Rome-based naughty novel called Knife of Narcissus. Two other stories set in the same world, but with different characters and at different places on the timeline, are mostly written.

Against everyone’s better judgement, I spend a lot of time writing about swords and sandals. Sometimes I write about Revolutionary War vampires, cross-dressing girl pirates, and elves in spaceships, too.

Connect with the Author

FACEBOOK | WEBSITE | GOODREADS | TWITTER

 

Buy Links

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

Kobo

All Romance Ebooks

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Giveaway

Carolyne will be giving away one ebook copy of The Knife of Narcissus Part 4. Just enter the Rafflecopter draw below. Good luck X

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4 comments:

  1. It's a new-to-me series, but it looks very engaging!

    Trix, vitajex(at)Aol(Dot)com

    ReplyDelete