My final guest for day two is Mills and Boon Historical author, Michelle Styles We first met up on eHarlequin about seven or so years ago, both of us targeting the Romance line. Funny how things turn out!!! I was thrilled when Michelle sold her Roman story to M&B and trail-blazed an ancient historical trend for the line!
Here is Michelle's fascinating glimpse into Roman society...
I’m delighted to be here helping to celebrate Christina’s launch of Forbidden. I had the great pleasure of meeting Christina back 2004 when she and I both attended the RNA conference in Leicester. And I’m really looking forward to reading Forbidden as I have a great fondness for the era.
Christina asked the contributors to her blog write about something Forbidden in their books, and I think it is a great topic for writing about Roman society in general. Roman society was riddled with rules and what could happen or could not happen, despite televisions shows to the contrary! Because of its militaristic nature, Rome was a place where form was everything. The law and its interpretations were important.
It was why at the end of the Republic, there was a huge clash between the traditionalists like Cato and the new young guns like Julius Caesar who wanted to flaunt their wealth (and sexuality). Later when Augustus takes over as Emperor, he tries to re-establish the old values. One of the laws he implemented was that men had to either be married or betrothed. This had the untended consequence of men betrothing themselves to infants so that they could remain single. This led to another law forbidding betrothals until the woman was twelve. If you look at the graves of Roman women, you see that many died when they were about 17 or 18 and giving birth to their first child. This normally happened about a year after the women started to have sex or about a year after marriage.
So what did I write about that was forbidden? Or rather how did it complicate things? In my debut book The Gladiator’s Honour, a long term relationship between a Patrician woman and a salve was forbidden. Such things were looked on with disapproval. This is in part because a woman’s status did depend on the men in her life. In A Noble Captive, the heroine as a priestess of a cult and a enemy of Rome was forbidden from having a relationship with a Roman soldier. In The Roman’s Virgin Mistress, the hero and heroine are on opposite sides of the political spectrum but I also explored some of the ‘forbidden activities’ that were practiced in a town like Baiae where the Romans went to party, rather than Rome where Romans went to govern. Given Roman behaviour, I was surprised to learn that nice girls didn’t dance nor did they recline at the dinner table. One of the great reasons to read about the Roman era is because of what was forbidden during that era and the opportunity to immerse yourself in that era.
To help Christina celebrate, I’m offering one lucky commentator a copy of one my Roman set books.
Michelle Styles writes historical romance set in the Roman, Viking, Regency and early Victorian periods for Harlequin Historical. She has written 15 books for them and recently sold a Roman set Undone which will be coming out sometime next year.
Thank you for that thought provoking post, Michelle. I know I discovered a lot of unexpected things when I was researching the period. So, to be in with a chance of winning one of Michelle's wonderful Roman set books, leave a comment for Michelle or tell us what's the most unusual/weird/shocking/funniest (umm you get the picture?!) thing you've uncovered during the course of researching, for whatever reason that research might have been for?
Once again I have to extend my apologies for not being around due to living Down Under! But I'm sure there are a couple of Roman warriors lurking if you need any assistance for any reason!!