Blood. Death. Destruction. Bran, son of Fynbar survived it all as a gladiator in the arenas of Rome’s blood sport. Earning his freedom did not earn him peace, and he finds his hell continues when he remains in the heart of the Empire to see his sister and her family secure. But now that all is settled, he is close to attaining the one shard of hope that saw him through his darkest days—he is finally returning home.
Adria has lived life in the streets of Rome since being orphaned as a young girl. Not an easy task considering the poverty that plagues the city. She uses the skills she’s learned to fill her belly and take care of those in desperate need. That she does so by stealing from only those who can afford the loss and never for her own personal gain is something she accepts. But when a notorious master thief pressures her to join his lethal ranks and her foster mother is faced with eviction, she breaks her most basic rule and steals for profit.
Forced to remain in the midst of Rome, Bran earns silver by crafting exquisite jewelry, a skill he was renowned for in his homeland. One last transaction will fill his coffers and he will at last be able to take his clansman and the children he is sworn to protect away from the filth that is the Empire. But his elation is short lived when a thief steals the valuable cache of precious jewels. Losing the deal and his chance to return home, he tracks down the culprit only to discover a mere slip of a girl whose amethyst eyes spark fire even as she fights his reclamation of his property. Bran’s pride demands he make her pay for his trouble, while his soul is drawn to her temper and spirit. Adria agrees to act as nursemaid to his three out of control wards, refusing to believe that the gruff, stoic, intimidating man, reviled as a barbarian just might be conquering her heart. Can the two survive the pain and resentments of an unfair world and the machinations of an old enemy, to gain what they both long for—a family?