Friday, March 30, 2012

Welcome Guest Author - Linda McMaken

STEPH: I'd like to welcome fellow Desert Breeze Author, Linda McMaken to the blog today. She's penned an "ancient" historical with a Roman setting called "Granite Rose." I love historicals and Linda's story sounds very intriguing. Linda, What is "Granite Rose" about?

LINDA: The Granite Rose is about two people caught up the web of politics beyond their control. They are from two different cultures, two peoples that hate each other, and two countries that have been entangled for years, each striving to advance their own political agenda.

STEPH: How long did it take you to write?

LINDA: Gosh, I started years ago, put it on the back shelf as other projects needed to be finished. It is also set in ancient Rome, which is not exactly an era many publishers, particularly romance publishers are eager to publish.

STEPH: What was the inspiration behind the story?

LINDA: I am a book nerd and while reading a book on ancient Rome, I came across an interesting article about Dacia. I had never really heard of the country before except that it was defeated by Rome. Dacia is modern day Romania (hence the country being called Romania) and they were a very proud, advanced and cultured people. As I researched more on the Dacian people, I became more fascinated by the events that surrounded the war between them and Rome. Then one day Sianna strolled into the picture and the Granite Rose was born.

STEPH: Marcus is the hero. What are his strengths? Weaknesses?

LINDA: Marcus is an alpha male, a Roman general. He has been in battles, he has been at the right hand of the Emperor, and he has lost family. He cares deeply for his family, he is patriotic, he believes Rome is right and mighty, and all the is good in the world.

He is conflicted, however particularly after meeting Sianna. She changes his mind on many things. In Rome during this era, marriage for love was unheard of. Marriage was a legal contract with specific entitlements, nothing more. If you married for love you were considered a weakling. He had to overcome a lot of cultural indoctrination to finally go after Sianna for love.

He also discovered that Rome wasn't always right, and the emperor could be his worst enemy.

STEPH: What does Sianna find appealing about Marcus.

LINDA: Sianna finds that at his core, Marcus is a stand-up guy. He has taken in his niece and nephew to raise, and he loves his family. Even though in the beginning, she is his hostage, he doesn't abuse her, other than verbal threats, she understands he is a warrior, but would never injure an unarmed opponent.

STEPH: Did you have to do a lot of research regarding the setting?

LINDA: I did do quite a bit of research to get things just right. Still, it is a fiction novel, so there are some liberties I took. LOL

STEPH: What's the theme of the story?

LINDA: Sometimes your enemy can turn into your greatest ally, and that inside all of us, I think, lurks a soul of "granite".

STEPH: Are you a plotter or a panster?

LINDA: Oh, a panster!

STEPH: Do you have an ebook reader? If so, which one?

LINDA: No I don't.

STEPH: Fun question: Do you have any Easter customs/traditions you'd like to share?

LINDA: We always color Easter Eggs. My mom always made pickled eggs and even though they aren't my favorite thing, I make a few of them because it reminds me of her.

They entered the villa, finding Trajan and Hadrian engaged in a heated argument, ending with Trajan throwing a goblet across the room.

Marcus entered first, keeping Sianna behind him.

"You," Trajan yelled, pointing as he walked toward her. "Dacian, I want to talk to you now."

"What has happened Trajan?" Marcus asked, keeping himself between the raging emperor and Sianna.

"That barbarian Decebalus killed Longius." He grabbed her arm, jerking her out from behind Marcus. "Why Dacian?"

With Hadrian's help, Marcus wrenched Trajan's hand off her arm. The small struggle seemed to relax Trajan's temper. He stomped across the room. Sianna shuddered. Gods, could her father have betrayed her again? Could he have forfeited her life by killing the Roman?

"She was here, she had nothing to do with his murder," Hadrian pleaded.

"When did you receive word?" Marcus asked, helping Sianna to a chair. "Stay quiet, say nothing, understand?" he whispered to her.

"Tonight." Hadrian handed a rolled parchment to him. "Decebalus states he had him executed seven days ago when negotiations broke down."

"May I read it?" Sianna meekly asked.

"You have no right to read it, Dacian," Trajan yelled across the room.

Sianna stood up, scared and angry. "If my father is being accused of murder, I have every right to find out why." Her temper soared. If her life was already forfeit, she had no reason to hold her tongue.

She took the parchment from Marcus and read it carefully. "This was written by a Roman," she quietly announced.

"It was written by your father," Hadrian corrected her.

"No, a Roman wrote this. The name of our capitol city, Sarmizegetusae, is spelled the way it would appear in Latin, not Dacian." She laid the parchment on a table, pointing out the Latin word to Trajan

"It excuses nothing. Your father is a murderer." Trajan pointed a finger at her, inches from her face. The man who had kissed her hand and thanked her for saving his wife only just weeks ago was gone. In his place was a Roman warrior, a general, an emperor that was about to decimate her country.

"Why would he tell you he killed him? Don't you think he would let you believe he was still alive to get me back? He had no reason to murder this man. Someone is trying to slander his name by falsely accusing him." She was not willing to believe her father would actually jeopardize her life, not this way, not this easily. "Someone with much to gain by a war between our nations is responsible for this." The Dacian traitor, she thought.

"No, Dacian, for this Decebalus and Dacia will pay and will pay dearly." Trajan slammed a fist against a table.

Sianna pulled the dagger from Hadrian's sheath and charged across the room. "Here," she stabbed it into the wooden table, almost piercing Trajan's hand. "If you need a Dacian life to make things equal, take mine." She fell to her knees offering her life.
In an instant, Trajan ripped the dagger from the table, grabbing her hair at the nape of the neck, bending her head backwards, and held the blade tight against her throat.

"Trajan, no." Marcus unsheathed his dagger. Hadrian grabbed his arm. Marcus slung him against the wall. "Trajan."

"Are you scared to die, Dacian?" Trajan was cold, cruel.

Sianna was more terrified than she'd ever been in her life. This was where she would die. Nineteen years was all the gods had given her. She was not meant to die in her beloved Dacian mountains. She prayed the emperor would be mercifully quick.
"Yes, very afraid," she whispered.

I became a fan of this author from her first book, "Baer Truth" which was a romantic comedy that was a good fun read. I saw that this book had been published and bought it based on the previous book. I'm glad to say that it didn't disappoint. It has non-stop action with many twists and turns, the characters are well developed and her history was well researched. From the ranches of Wyoming to the halls of Rome, I'm looking forward to where Ms. McMaken takes me next. - T. Walker - Amazon Reviewer

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My books can be found at:

Giveaway: I have a lovely Rose Pendant and a copy of the book that I am giving to one commentor.


  1. Hi Stephanie! Thank you so much for hosting me on your blog!

  2. Linda, thanks so much for visiting me today. I love historicals and Granite Rose is going on my TBR list!


  3. Ever since watching I, Claudius on PBS in HS and later reading it in collage, I have a soft spot for roman stories.

    Loved your excerpt.

  4. Ok wow...That excerpt sounded amazing! I'm a big historical fan and this book soundsright up my alley!! I became addicted to Rome when it was on HBO...I don't know if you ever saw it but I thought it was excellent. I actually went through withdrawls when it was over...LOL!!! Thank you so much for the giveaway!!!

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  6. @ Janice - thank you. I feel for the time period when my mom had me stay up late and watch Spartcus as a kid.

    @Nikki, I don't have cable, so, :( I missed it. But I am thinking of buying it on DVD! Thank you, it was a really fun book to write.

  7. Nikki, I loved Rome on HBO. My favorite is the episode where Atia curses her enemy and then her enemy, (I can remember her name!!) dies. I'm going to have to play that on DVD tonight. hehe. AFTER Game of Thrones.