Today I am so pleased to welcome Kayla Jameth to Joyfully Jay. Kayla has come to talk to us about her Apollo’s Men Series and the books A Spartan Love & A Tested Love. She has also brought along an exclusive excerpt and a great giveaway. Please join me in giving her a big welcome!
Thank you for hosting me today, Jay. I appreciate this chance to share a bit of ancient Greece with you.
The Apollo’s Men series features different story arcs centered on several different couples Apollo is recruiting to form an elite group of warriors to defend one of his descendants, a young prophet known as Apollo’s Voice.
Writing the series has been more of a challenge than I had originally anticipated. Sure I knew I was going to have to do a lot of world building because 5th century BC Greece is nothing like Hollywood portrays it. The Greeks weren’t running around in togas, speaking Victorian English with stuffy British accents.
For one, they wore chitons which are nothing like a toga. And that stuffy way of talking? Since most of the generally accessible Greek texts were translated in the 1800s, they are all very wordy and highfalutin, what Mark Twain referred to as using “…a five-dollar word when a fifty-cent word will do.”
Aside from the epic poets such as Homer or philosophers like Plato, ancient Greeks as a whole spoke more plainly. More vulgarly. The Victorians translating those texts were a bunch of prudes and used euphemisms like they were going out of style. And THAT is how modern readers expect ancient texts to read.
Not so! Aristophanes wrote some of the most vulgar plays you can image. No euphemisms there. Or the graffiti that is just now being translated for the world to see. But every time I use “fuck” or “come” in my manuscript, someone wants me to change it to “spend” (Ack! Way too Victorian), “release” (Ok, I can do that, but I need some variety), or “seed” (Nicely Biblical….). So you can see my dilemma: appropriate words are disallowed because some prudish translator purposefully mistranslated an ancient text over a century ago.
And if that wasn’t enough of a challenge, I chose Sparta as my setting for the current trilogy. The one city-state that all the other poleis thought was too weird for words. The Spartan’s aversion to using words—laconic by nature—means that I have very little source material available. Only one truly reputable source and several Sparta-haters.
Additionally, for the Spartan Love arc, I have chosen a helot and a kryptes. Two classes that mix about as well as oil and water. More like cobras and mongooses. So it seemed only right that Andreas’ sole companion should be Ictis the ferret. He supplies some much needed levity to a story that otherwise could be very grim indeed and is the most likely choice for a pet in that era and locale.
Andreas and Theron of A Spartan Love have a tumultuous relationship to say the least.
I am giving away two signed paperback copies of A Spartan Love, the first book in their trilogy. I just signed the contract with Dreamspinner Press to publish A Tested Love, the second book that continues their tale. A Tested Love should be out after the first of the year. I do hope you enjoy their story.
Still not sure ancient historicals are your thing? Try Body Language. It’s a free short story set my Apollo’s Men world.
Note: This is an unedited excerpt from A Tested Love, book 2 in the Spartan Love trilogy.
Andreas patted Pan and groaned as he shoved the brambles into the enclosure’s opening behind the goats. He ached all over from hand-tilling the barley field, prepping the ground for the winter planting. He could have had the use of Petros’ ox if he’d been willing to accept the man’s daughter as his wife, but even now he couldn’t quite bring himself to wed Charis. Even after Zenon’s urging nearly a month ago.
Stretching until his back popped, he shuffled toward the hut.
The soil where he’d extended the field was richer than he’d expected. That bit of land hadn’t been under cultivation since his father died. But now Andreas was reclaiming the birthright he’d been forced to relinquish.
Tired pride filled him at the realization the coming harvest would be better than this past year’s. He was slowly returning the kl?ros to its full potential. All the aches and blisters were more than worth that goal. Especially, as the back-breaking work fostered deep sleep and dreamless nights.
Dirt caked under Andreas’ nails, and was ground into every crease of his hands. Andreas picked at the black soil, digging out as much as he could. The dust had even made its way into his mouth, the grains gritty between his teeth. Andreas cleared his throat as best he could and spat the little bit of earth back out.
He should have rinsed off in the stream on his way home, but sunset was fast approaching and he dared not be outside after dark. Glancing around, Andreas sought any sign that he wasn’t alone. His skin prickled and the hairs on his body stood on end. Was the kryptes who slew Kyros even now waiting to fall upon him and slay him? He tried to laugh at his foolish, unfounded fears, but only a dry rattle emerged. Surely the young man had moved on by now.
Only one kryptes even knew he existed and that one didn’t care enough to stalk him.
In spite of everything, he couldn’t shake his growing dread as the light dimmed. He didn’t want to be afraid of the dark like some child, but he knew better than most what a kryptes was capable of.
Unbidden, the memory of finding his father’s lifeless body lying outside their door stole the breath from his lungs. Or the terror of the night when Theron had pursued him into his home as the sun sank. He still didn’t know why the kryptes hadn’t slain him when he had every right to. So, yes, Andreas had good reason to fear the dark and being caught out under the nighttime sky.
Andreas tried to swallow in vain, his saliva even thicker than the dust in his throat. He shook his waterskin, but the flattened skin didn’t so much as slosh.
What he wouldn’t do for a drink of water right now.
Hoping to be in his house before the sun set, Andreas lengthened his strides. These days he was very careful to return home early. Theron had warned him that some kryptes were more zealous and didn’t always wait for darkness to fall, deeming sunset the definition of “after dark”.
Ever since Kyros’ murder during the light of day, Andreas had felt even more exposed any time he was outside the shelter of his home. But if he had somehow found his way onto the ephors’ kill list, even his hut was no real protection for him. Any kryptes stalking him would know that he was alone inside his dwelling. They could enter and kill him at any time.
He shuddered and hurried his pace, glancing around searching for any sign that he wasn’t alone. But would he realize a kryptes stalked him before he was pouring out his lifeblood on the ground? Even if he weren’t taken by surprise, he had no defense against one of the trained killers.
No, his only hope lay in hiding in his hut, hoping no one noticed him.
Andreas was loping now. He didn’t care if someone saw his undignified flight. He needed to reach the relative safety of his home.
From his place by the door, Priapus guarded Andreas’ home. Andreas drew a few deep breaths. “Am I safe?” he asked the idol. Andreas stroked the god’s phallus for luck, not really expecting an answer.
Ahead, the sun taunted him amidst a crimson glow on the horizon. He’d won the race. But barely.
Now he’d have to settle for a damp cloth before a cold dinner. He was exhausted enough to consider going straight to bed. Alone. Not like anyone would complain about his less than pristine state.
Pausing to look back over his shoulder as he swung the door open, he briefly wondered how his life had come to be this barren cycle of wake, toil, and sleep to wake again. Would he still be doing the same in a year, a decade, his entire lifetime? Forgotten and alone.
Since Zenon’s visit, he’d been thinking about Theron again. No longer able to pretend he didn’t miss the man, he just wasn’t sure that he truly wanted him back in his life. Look at the mess they’d made of it the first time.
The stale odor of smoke, this morning’s breakfast, and ferret threatened to overwhelm even his own overheated scent. After several days of neglect, Andreas needed to open the door and window to air out his home. Probably needed to wash his bedding, and Andreas took a closer look at his chiton, his clothing as well.
Andreas leaned down and dropped his waterskin and sandals on the floor. Strange…. Ictis hadn’t danced out to greet him. Normally, the ferret met him as soon as he entered. What was keeping the curious creature?
Straightening, Andreas glanced around the room searching for the furry clown and froze. Theron slumped on Andreas’ bed, Ictis clutched against his chest.
Theron’s alive! fought a brief skirmish with Not again! and won. A smile touched his lips and Andreas flung himself across the room.
“Theron! You returned.”
He remembered at the last instant to move Ictis from Theron’s grasp.
Then nothing could hold him back as he wrapped Theron in his arms. Andreas inhaled Theron’s warm, earthy essence, a scent he’d never thought to savor again. Eyes closed, he burrowed under Theron’s ear and set his lips to the tender skin there. Theron’s lank hair tickled Andreas’ nose.
With a sigh, Andreas kissed Theron. Cool lips yielded under his.
But Andreas’ pleasure was short-lived, as Theron didn’t seem to share his relief, sitting stiff in his embrace.
Andreas released him and took a step back.
The kryptes’ face was ravaged by lack of sleep, wan with dark circles under his eyes, the scar on his cheek livid against his pale face. Strangely, where are the stitches? was the only thought in Andreas’ head.
The warrior hadn’t looked this bad while held in the grip of the fever. Then Andreas had feared for Theron’s life, now he feared for the warrior’s sanity.
“What…?” He’d never thought to see the kryptes again after the man had taken his pleasure and abandoned him months ago. Just because Andreas had hoped for more didn’t mean the warrior had felt the same.
Theron straightened and said, his voice empty, “They sent me to kill you.”
A Spartan Love: Alone, Andreas toils on a remote farmstead for a Spartan overlord. When a kryptes enters his world, Andreas fears for his life. The dread warriors stalk and kill helots—like Andreas’ father—as part of their training.
Andreas sees only one way to save himself: he must tame the fearsome warrior.
But what began as self-preservation develops into attraction. Yearning for the company of someone other than his ferret, Ictis, Andreas decides to trust the Spartan warrior and risk the fate that claimed his father.
Born to rule by the sword, Theron sees the world as his and acts accordingly, taking everything Andreas offers and reaching for more. However, love between men in Sparta is considered shameful and requires either exile or suicide to redeem Sparta’s honor. Now, only the gods can save them from the terrible price Sparta extracts from men who desire other men.
A Tested Love: Abandoned and once more alone on his homestead, Andreas goes about his life trying to forget the seductive promises Theron made.
Theron is given his first kill list for the annual Krypteia. Part way down the scroll, he finds Andreas’ name. Someone must have seen them together. Now that person wants to punish them both and test Theron’s loyalty to Sparta at the same time.
Sent to kill Andreas, Theron must find some way to come to terms with his former attraction to the man, before it destroys him as well as Andreas.
Kayla Jameth grew up on the family farm in Ohio. An unrepentant tomboy, she baled hay, raised cattle, and her father taught her to weld before she graduated from high school.
She attended Cleveland’s Case Western Reserve University and later, Texas A&M University in her pursuit of veterinary medicine, taking her far away from her rural roots.
But it wasn’t all hard work for her, her sojourn as the princess of the Celestial Kingdom left her with the title “Sir” and a costume closet the envy of many knights, lords, and ladies.
After declaring for years that she was not an author, Kayla now finds herself writing m/m erotic romance outside of Houston, Texas. While you can take the girl out of the country, you can’t turn her into a city slicker. Kayla would still rather be outside getting down and dirty with the boys.
She shares a full house with her favorite animals: a dog, two guinea pigs, a gerbil, three guppies, as well as her husband, son, and daughter.
Kayla has brought two signed paperback copies of A Spartan Love to give away to two lucky readers. Just leave a comment at the end of the post to enter. The contest ends on Tuesday, September 29th at 11:59 pm EST.
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