Thursday 18 April 2024

Maia, Cletus and Emrick are now fugitives of the state and must escape the guarded city walls of Roma. Capture will mean death.

A word from Ellie

Today is an extraordinary day as author Heather Robinson grants us an exclusive glimpse inside her amazing book, Blood Moon. You definitely don't want to miss out on this book, so grab your copy today! 

Blood Moon
By Heather Robinson

Publication Date: 24th March 2024
Page Length: 221 Pages
Genre: Ancient World Historical Fiction


Blood Moon continues the story of Maia Secunda, a waif of Pompeii, an enigma.

Maia, Cletus and Emrick are now fugitives of the state and must escape the guarded city walls of Roma. Capture will mean death.

Cletus would give his life to protect Maia, and may need to, as a perilous journey to Britannia beckons; a place to be free of the stain of Maia's unjust slavery.
Can they run to this wild and remote island, far from the hypocrisy of the Imperial Palace, or will the power of Roma hunt them down to the very edge of the empire?

In ancient lore, a blood moon is a bad omen.


“I see you are no longer dressed as a bride,” Ezio said, his tone stern, his expression glum. The room was charged with a thick atmosphere. “The man who called you out, he Greek?” Maia nodded; her throat too tight to speak an answer. Ezio had been kind to her, respected her, and she'd enjoyed their time together scribing the gift-giving balls for the gladiatorial games. Thus, it hurt all the more that he'd discovered her deceit. The shame of slavery flared brightly in her cheeks. “Philo has people searching for a bride but I credited you with more intelligence, my hunch confirmed when I found these in the alley.” He opened his hand showing the distinctly decorated bridal hairpins Maia had dropped. Ezio looked to Cletus. “We ran down the same narrow alley when we were chasing your wedding procession. I thought you might use the same route, and the Porta Trigemina seemed the most likely escape route out of Roma from there.” Ezio looked back at Maia, his composure steady and asked, “How many lies did you tell me?”

“The Mouth of Truth would take each of my fingers and every toe as well,” she replied, splaying her hands before him and raising her chin in defiance as her temper was rising at the injustice meted to her. “My whole life has been a lie.”

They had been so close to escaping. Thwarted at the final corner just as her chance of citizenship had been taken by the appearance of Philo so close to her crossing the threshold of a new home and life. 

“The blood of Mendacius, the great god of deception, must pump through your heart, for you had me tricked entirely.”

“My blood is imperial.” The loose words fell out as if Mendacius had control of her tongue not her heart. Foolish girl. She bit hard on her lip to halt her tirade, fearful more secrets would tumble forth unbound. It was more than the shame of slavery that was burning her cheeks now. She had been exposed by her mother, rejected, cast aside, left to die on the harsh mountain slopes. They would all scorn her if they knew, Cletus included. She must raise her guard higher. It had slipped in the recent weeks.

Ezio raised his eyebrows at her small outburst and she felt Cletus must be doing the same, although he did not alter his stance or change his position of readiness to strike Ezio if it became necessary. Emrick remained steady behind her, unaffected by her utterance, his looming bulk blocking the doorway. Maia waited for Ezio's response. She could see his mind working round her odd comment, and like a fish beneath a poised spear, she waited for his move to discover if she would be trapped or released.

During an unexpected pause in the moving carts, all four of them in the anteroom heard a new voice at the gate asking the clerks if they'd seen a bride and two men, one big and bearded, whose Latin was accented, the other a Roman veteran. The man's voice was raised to cover the traffic noise and could clearly be heard when the din momentarily ceased. It was Philo.

The four in the anteroom became a living frieze, the hush as loud as any clamour. Maia stared at Ezio, imploring him with eyes as round as a torc and widening in alarm. There was no time to weigh up the matter further. A runaway slave was property to be returned. Maia must be returned to this Greek who claimed her. Yet, Ezio stalled, hearing the gods whisper in the echoes of the gate's walls.

In truth, it was a dislodged chain dragging across the cobblestones, its sound distorting in the enclosed space, but a man will hear what he wants the gods to say in such important moments and Ezio wanted Maia to be free.

“Leave,” he ordered, ushering them out of the anteroom. “Philo the Greek will not hear it from me that you have been here.” Maia could do nothing more than send a message of thanks with her eyes as Cletus seized the offered lifeline by grabbing her upper arm and propelling her after Emrick who was already ducking through the doorway. A soldier learns early in his career not to hesitate for an enemy's sword does not pause in its thrust.

The wide cattle cart had moved on and there was room for them to pass quickly alongside a narrower wain laden with baskets full of quince, figs and rosehips. Within moments, the fleeing trio reached the port side of the city walls, startling a guard who automatically presented his javelin and shield in response.

“Salve, Ludi felicitations,” uttered Clete, raising his open hands before his shoulders to show they were not hostile and slowing to a walk. Maia and Emrick followed his lead.

“I am here to give coin to the beggars,” said Maia, trying to raise a smile but failing. “Ludi felicitations to you.” She held a shaking hand out towards Emrick who dutifully filled it with copper asses. The guard returned to his position of sentry and like flies attracted to a dung heap, the beggars in their dirty tatters diverted from pestering the cart drivers to investigate this new opportunity.

A throng of beggars is rarely welcome, but this day was different. Despite the malodour, the unkempt faces and pitiful pleadings, the escaping trio let themselves be surrounded, welcoming the press of tattered-rag bodies.

“Just give one coin,” hissed Clete. “Let's see if we can get them to move further from the gate with us before you give another. We'll use them as a human shield to hide us.”

Inside the city walls, Ezio had walked out to speak to Philo, leading him aside to the archway on the right. They heard the beggars' excitement and the disturbance attracted the ears and eyes of the Greek. The shield of human rags would have been successful in hiding the trio except for Emrick's great height. Unwittingly, Ezio had led Philo to a spot that afforded them an angled view between the carts that aligned perfectly with Emrick just as Philo's gaze was lured by the fresh commotion.

“It is the Celt,” he said in surprise, pointing at the throng of beggars that was moving away from the gate down the left side of the train of carts, Emrick standing head and shoulders above the mass of human scraps. “Murderer,” he yelled, gathering his wits. “Guards!” Then he turned his accusations to Ezio. “You must have let them through. A murderer, an escaped slave and another bearing arms within the sacred line. You witnessed it all, and you let them through.” Philo was ugly with the asseveration.

Ezio was caught in a dilemma.

Their crime would be his crime. That was how it worked in Roma.

Could he save himself and his friends by arresting Philo? On what grounds? He could not think of a sound reason. Would his good standing in the basilica bring him through a hearing if he wrongly arrested Philo? He thought not and cold fear for himself clenched at his stomach, and so he ordered the guards to go after his friends, immediately regretting his decision as his heart plummeted to his bowels.

Ezio took the stairs three at a time with Philo in his wake. Both men leaned on the walls of the first-floor parapet to watch the chase unfurl. Ezio, sick at his own weakness, was willing Maia to freedom.

Emrick heard the shouting and saw the legionary guards mobilise. He cursed boorishly in his native tongue.

The beggars were surging as a mass, driven by a frenzied desperation at the possibility of receiving a coin, bundling the escaping trio alongside the queue of carts. Both Cletus and Emrick knew it would not protect them for long and their instincts aligned with a single look.

“Throw the coppers towards the gate,” urged Emrick. Maia did as he bid and the beggars surged towards the oncoming guards and would have sucked Maia along like a hapless pebble in the drag of a powerfully receding wave were it not for Cletus's strong arms holding her steady.

A mule began braying. Distressed by the clamour, it was stubbornly refusing to move despite its owner's encouragement. Cletus jumped at the opportunity to steer Maia past the stilled cart to the other side of the road, adding another barrier between them and the pursuing guards. Emrick followed, and with an uttered apology to the driver, the Celt crouched to take hold of the bed of the cart, and with a gargantuan effort, used his strength to upturn the vehicle. Apples, peaches and figs tumbled across the slabbed cobblestones with a low rumble, upsetting a pair of oxen that were pulling a load of live chickens.

Emrick added to the growing mayhem by slapping the rump of the closest ox. It bellowed in protest and Emrick mimicked the roar. Men were shouting, chickens were squawking. It was bedlam on the road and as the lingering dusky light slipped closer to darkness, those watching from the gate parapet could no longer see the trio, and Maia did not see the relief on Ezio's face as she and her two makeshift slaves took advantage of the darkening mayhem to leave the paved road and run for their lives once more.

Pick up your copy of
Blood Moon

Heather Robinson

Heather Robinson is a novelist and short story award winner from Wiltshire, UK. Her academic background includes a Bachelor of Science degree and having spent most of her life as an Administration Manager locally, she is now exploring new work opportunities in the countryside, whilst also writing and broadcasting on Community Radio.


  1. Congratulations on the release of your novel? What made you decide to write about this era?

    1. Hi Jamie, Heather here...thank you for your good wishes. I was researching a sequel to my first novel set in Britannia leading up to the building of Hadrian's Wall when I learned of the practice of child exposure, especially where the rejected child was left on the slopes of Mount Vesuvius. This was the seed for writing Juno's Peacock. Blood Moon is the sequel to that.

  2. I have added Blood Moon to my never-ending to-read list. Thank you for sharing.

    1. Thank you so much. I hope you fully enjoy it. Heather

    2. You are more than welcome. I hope you enjoy it.

  3. Your book sounds amazing, Heather.

    1. Thank you so much. Lots of research and a challenge to write but I enjoyed it!

  4. What a great cover, very atmospheric.

    1. Thank you, Maddie. I painted the cover design myself and have to pinch myself that I pulled it off as I only ever painted anything resembling what it should once before and that was a strawberry! :-) Heather.

    2. Oh wow! You are so talented.

  5. Congratulations on your new release.


See you on your next coffee break!
Take Care,
Mary Anne xxx