Suzanne Tyrpak's "Vestal Virgin" is Now Available for Kindle!

12/26/2010 Posted by Admin

Suzanne Tyrpak's suspense novel set in Rome, "Vestal Virgin," is just $.99 through January 1, 2011 and already, she has received rave reviews from two major writers.

First, the description and then brief reviews from Terry Brooks and Tess Gerritsen:

Vestal Virgin--suspense in ancient Rome
Elissa Rubria Honoria is a Vestal Virgin--priestess of the sacred flame, a visionary, and one of the most powerful women in Rome. Vestals are sacrosanct, sworn to chastity on penalty of death, but the emperor, Nero, holds himself above the law. He pursues Elissa, engaging her in a deadly game of wits and sexuality. Or is Elissa really the pursuer? She stumbles on dark secrets. No longer trusting Roman gods, she follows a new god, Jesus of Nazareth, jeopardizing her life and the future of The Roman Empire.

* New York Times bestselling author Terry Brooks says,
"...a writer of real talent...a promising new voice."

* New York Times bestselling author Tess Gerritsen says,
"Suzanne Tyrpak weaves a spell that utterly enchants and delights. Her writing is pure magic."

Please note: Due to the setting and the times, the book includes several scenes involving deviant sex--suggestive rather than graphic--and not more than a few paragraphs.

From the Author
About seven years ago (before my divorce, when I had some expendable income) I traveled to Rome with a group of writers. I fell in love with Italy, Rome in particular. A travel book I read contained a short blurb about vestal virgins; it mentioned they were sworn to thirty years of chastity and, if that vow were broken, they would be entombed alive. That got me going! Plus, on a tour of the Coliseum, a guide pointed out the seats designated to the vestal virgins--the six priestess of Vesta were educated, and therefore powerful, at a time when most women weren't even taught to read.

I traveled to Rome twice, and on my second trip I hired a scholar who specialized in the year I'm writing about, A.D. 63-64, to give me a tour of the Forum. One of the most useful books I found was History of the Vestal Virgins of Rome, published in 1934 by T. Cato Worsfold. I also wrote to Colleen McCullough, and she was kind enough to write back. She gave me the name of an out-of-print book that I've used a lot, Festivals and Ceremonies of the Roman Republic, by H.H. Scullard. I have shelves of books about Roman history and Paul of Tarsus. Very little has been written about vestal virgins--but that gave me quite a bit of leeway. After all, I'm writing fiction!

And here is the first chapter from "Vestal Virgin," straight from the author herself:

Chapter 1

The Kalends of October

Year IX, reign of Nero Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus

           …though they may condemn me, the words I write are heartfelt. I no longer trust Nero, no longer trust the gods. I don’t fear death, but life. This life devoid of passion. My fate has never been my own—my destiny decided ten years ago when I was pledged to thirty years of chastity. Keep this letter close, for I trust only you.

She set down the stylus and read what she’d written. Could a person be condemned merely for thinking?

Through the narrow window of her chamber, a breeze brought the scent of roses, the last of autumn. Soon it would be winter, but sequestered within the House of Vestals the world seemed seasonless.

“Elissa—” a voice called from beyond the doorway’s curtain.

She snatched the papyrus, thrust it into the bodice of her stola, and turned on her stool. Angerona, her fellow priestess, swept open the curtain. Unfettered by her veil, her auburn tresses fell over her shoulders in a wild cascade of curls. Beside her, Elissa felt small and dark. She ran her tongue over her teeth, the tip lingering on her deformity.

“I’ve been looking for you everywhere.” Angerona’s face was flushed, which only made her prettier. She sounded breathless, “I thought I’d find you working in the garden then I checked the library—”

“Why aren’t you at the agora?” Elissa wiped ink from the stylus, replaced it in the jar with others, hoping Angerona wouldn’t ask what she’d been writing. “All you’ve talked about for days is that gold bracelet. I thought you’d be haggling with the merchant. Did you finally get your price?”

“So you haven’t heard—” Angerona’s voice trailed off.

“Heard what?”

“All of Rome is whispering. I thought, by now, you would have known.” She touched Elissa’s shoulder, and something in her touch made Elissa shiver. “Your brother has been charged with treason.”

“Treason?” The word passed Elissa’s lips, but didn’t register.

“They say, Marcus has been plotting Nero’s assassination. They say—”

“They say!” Elissa stood, toppling her stool. “You’ve been listening to idle gossip, and now you’re spreading rumors.”

“My source is reliable.”


Angerona shook her head.

Elissa seldom raised her voice, but now she did, “Gossip will be your ruin, Angerona. Vicious lies.”

Angerona looked close to tears. She reached into the folds of her stola and withdrew a scroll. “This came for you by messenger.”

Hands trembling, Elissa broke the imperial seal, read aloud:

                    PRINCEPS OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE,
                    BELOVED OF APOLLO,
                    SUMMON THE VESTAL VIRGIN,
                    TO WITNESS HER BROTHER’S DEATH—”

Her mouth went dry. The gods had acted swiftly, punishing her hubris. “There must be a mistake,” she said. “A Roman citizen, the son of a senator, can’t be treated like a common criminal.”

“I’m sorry,” Angerona said, tears spilling from her eyes.

“First your father, now my brother―Nero holds himself above the law.” Elissa took a breath and willed her heart to beat more slowly. “I’ve got to hurry.”

“You’re going to the circus?”

“The emperor requests my presence. Perhaps Nero’s forgotten how my family has supported him.”

“You can’t go unescorted—”


“Let’s speak to the Vestal Maxima,” Angerona said, “request she file a petition and ask your brother’s life be spared. Even Nero can’t refuse a vestal’s intervention on behalf of a prisoner—”

“There’s no time. Marcus fights at noon.”

“I’ll call for the coach—”

“I’ll walk. It’s faster.”

“At least, change your robe. Your hem is stained from pulling weeds.”

“I don’t want to be recognized.”

Angerona thrust white slippers at Elissa. “Your shoes.”

“Yes.” Elissa slid them on her feet, barely noticed. She had to get to Nero soon, and with no pompous retinue. Digging through her cedar chest, she found her oldest palla. She flung the shawl over her head and wrapped it around her shoulders.

“You look like a beggar,” Angerona said.

“Good. No one will notice me.”

Elissa ripped open the doorway’s curtain. The cubicles where the six virgins slept stood empty, the inhabitants occupied elsewhere with their work—invoking blessings for the sick, copying documents, tending the sacred fire. She glanced at the closed door of the Vestal Maxima’s private chambers. At this hour Mother Amelia would be busy contracting wills and legal documents, conferring with dignitaries from the farthest reaches of the empire, downstairs in the library.

Angerona followed at Elissa’s heels. “At least take a lictor.”

“No bodyguard. I don’t want to be recognized.”

“You must follow protocol—”

Lifting her soiled hem, Elissa hurried down the marble stairway. Sun poured through the open ceiling of the atrium, dancing on the central pool. Serving women, carrying baskets heaped with linen, made their way along the pillared hallway and out into the courtyard where vats of water boiled. Laundry day kept the household busy—and made it easy to escape.

She opened a side door, which lead out to the street.

Angerona stepped in front of her. “You can’t go to the Circus Maximus alone—”

“Come with me.”

Elissa and Angerona faced each other, their breath mingling, their thoughts transparent. Torn from their families at an early age, bound by vows, they were closer than blood sisters.

Angerona had lost her glow. Her tear-streaked face looked pale as leaden powder. Of course she wouldn’t come. For all her bluster and emotion, she possessed a strong instinct for self-preservation. And to confront Nero bordered on insanity.

Elissa brushed a damp curl away from Angerona’s forehead. “Don’t worry, sweet.  Nero loved my brother once. I’ll remind him, and you know I can be convincing.”

“What shall I tell the Vestal Maxima?”

“Tell her what you want.” Elissa’s laugh sounded hollow. “Tell her I’ve accepted Nero’s invitation.”

She left Angerona gaping and walked briskly toward the forum.

#  #  #

  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • Yahoo! Buzz
  • Technorati
  • Facebook
  • TwitThis
  • MySpace
  • LinkedIn
  • Live
  • Google
  • Reddit
  • Sphinn
  • Propeller
  • Slashdot
  • Netvibes