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The Left Hand of Calvus (Warriors of Rome #1)

3.40  ·  Rating Details  ·  142 Ratings  ·  40 Reviews
Former gladiator Saevius is certain fortune’s smiling on him when a Pompeiian politician buys him to be his bodyguard. But then his new master, Laurea Calvus, orders Saevius to discover the gladiator with whom his wife is having an affair. In order to do that, Saevius must return to the arena, training alongside the very men on whom he’s spying. Worse, he’s now under the c ...more
ebook, 175 pages
Published November 5th 2012 by Riptide Publishing (first published November 3rd 2012)
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The Gladiator's Master by Fae SutherlandMark of the Gladiator by Heidi BelleauSovereign's Gladiator by Jez MorrowHouse of Simeon by D.J. ManlyThe Left Hand of Calvus by L.A. Witt
Gay Historical Fiction About Ancient Rome
5th out of 49 books — 58 voters
The Magpie Lord by K.J. CharlesWiddershins by Jordan L. HawkThe Gentleman and the Rogue by Bonnie DeeDowntime by Tamara AllenBound by Deception by Ava March
Best Gay Historical Romance
237th out of 555 books — 1,015 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 515)
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Dec 20, 2012 Sunne rated it liked it
I'm not sure what to say about this book. I was hesitant to start because the set-up didn't appeal much to me. On the other hand, L.A. Witt generally has the ability to draw me in, no matter what she is writing about.

So - I started reading and as anticipated, I liked it. Saevius is a good MC, a bit jaded, street smart in his surroundings and honorable. And soon enough I started to like Drusus who obviously was the "other man" in the hopefully soon to come couple. And the built up for the "romanc
Nov 13, 2012 Eed99 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this book for the story it told. It was unique I think to both M/M romance and general period story telling. I enjoy books set in ancient Rome-straight historical to erotic stories.

If a reader is looking for a book with lots of really hot sex scenes this book isn't going to ring that bell, but I am a reader far more interested in the story telling than hot sex (I like hot sex, but I want the hot sex to fit in the context of a good story).

This story also goes in an interesting di
Mar 16, 2013 Ann rated it it was amazing
Good God, this book. This book. I adore L.A. Witt for having written this book.

First off, this isn't an erotic romance, though the author does write erotic romances. This is historical fiction with light romantic elements and no sex. So set you expectations. If you're looking for bow-chicka bow wow, there isn't any. There's some kissing, but that's it.

What you get instead is a fantastic novel full of intrigue, action, and a darn fine fine tale.

The writing is gripping. I generally don't like book
Jul 07, 2014 Agnes rated it it was amazing
One of the best books I've read this year and definitely one of my favorite historical novels in general. I'm already tempted to re-read it. The book is very well written, and as someone who enjoys historical novels, I can see the author did a lot of research to realistically portray the period. The main character is relatable, and I was sucked into his world from the beginning. Trapped in an impossible situation, Saevius needs to maneuver the intrigues he's forced to participate in. The plot is ...more
Nerine Dorman
May 02, 2013 Nerine Dorman rated it it was amazing
Saevius is a veteran of the arena, but as a gladiator, he’s not master of his own fate. When he’s sold to a Pompeiian politician to work as a bodyguard, he’s cautiously optimistic about his future. But this good fortune doesn’t last, as he soon finds out that Calvus is playing a dangerous game, which might have fatal consequences for Saevius. Caught up in the sticky web of intrigue, Saevius is tasked to discover with which gladiator Calvus’s wife is having an affair.

Saevius now finds himself act
Vanessa theJeepDiva
Nov 23, 2012 Vanessa theJeepDiva rated it it was amazing
Shelves: romance, ebook, request, m-m
The Left Hand of Calvus is a wonderful masterpiece by L.A. Witt and the first book in the Warriors of Rome collection. I was intrigued and held captive from the first page. The story takes place in ancient Rome when Saevius, a gladiator, is exploited by his current master, Laurea Calvus to spy on his wife, the Lady Verina. Laurea believes that she is having an affair with someone under the house of Drusus, a powerful lanista, and Laurea want his name.

As a fan of L.A. Witt and mystery and intrigu
Nov 27, 2012 Sineala rated it really liked it
This was surprisingly fun, and if all the rest of the books in the Warriors of Rome collection are as good, I will be pleased. Our hero Saevius is basically a spy-gladiator in Pompeii. How does that work? Well, he is bought by a man named Calvus and told to go undercover at the gladiator school of this famous trainer Drusus, because Calvus thinks one of Drusus' gladiators is sleeping with his wife. Because that would be far too simple as-is, Saevius ends up befriending Drusus and becoming a doub ...more
Feb 03, 2013 Ery rated it really liked it
4.4 stars. What a wonderful, enjoyable story! In a departure from the style or topics of her previous books LA Witt takes on historical Pompeii, gladiator style. Although there is romance, this book is much better classified as general (gay?) fiction.

Saevius is a veteran gladiator who has known nothing but slavery. A few fights from obtaining freedom, he is sold to a politician in another city as a bodyguard. Unfortunately, when he gets there, he finds that his true purpose is not to serve as a
Mar 28, 2016 Walford rated it liked it
Well written. Good period. Enjoyed.
Took off a star because of a plot twist I didn't believe in (and that wasn't satisfying to me personally: your mileage may vary).
May 10, 2015 Izzy rated it really liked it

I do not read many historicals, but if I did ancient Roman Empire would attract me. The author creates the feel of living in Pompeii, and the world of the gladiator very well. I could taste the sand and sweat, feel every bruise, of which there were many. The story is quite involved, an intelligent device to draw the reader even further into this world of ancient history. Having said this, I found the world building and historical detail overwhelmed the story a little.

The novel revolves arou
G.B. Gordon
Whoa. Brilliant.

Read a few reviews and am floored by how many reviewers don't consider this a 'true' romance. It's a quiet book, for sure, and it takes a while to build up steam (though the second half has very good pace and tension IMO), but if this isn't romance, then the romance genre has strayed from the original sense of the word beyond any recognition. For me this is a romance in the most classical sense of the word.
Nov 05, 2012 Aija rated it it was amazing
Bloody brilliant! Loved every single moment of it. *happy sigh*
Bark's Book Nonsense
3 1/2 Dominus Saevius is a gladiator just three fights away from freedom when he is sold as a bodyguard to Pompeian politician Junius Calvus Laurea. Saevius is not thrilled with this turn of events but is relieved he will no longer have to risk his life in the arena. Or so he thinks. He soon learns he was purchased under false pretenses when he is thrust into a far more dangerous situation.

Calvus thinks his wife is cheating on him with a gladiator and he won’t stand for it. He orders Saevius to
Apr 05, 2013 Anna added it
5/5 stars

This is a copy from my non pen-name Goodreads. The actual review is here:

(I don't double rate.)

Good God, this book. This book. I adore L.A. Witt for having written this book.

First off, this isn't an erotic romance, though the author does write erotic romances. This is historical fiction with light romantic elements and no sex. So set you expectations. If you're looking for bow-chicka bow wow, there isn't any. There's some kissing, but that's it.

Vanessa North
Jul 06, 2013 Vanessa North rated it it was amazing
I'm a huge fan of LA Witt, so the 5 star rating should come as no surprise, but the book itself is full of them.

While I felt the mystery/suspense aspect of the book was not executed with the same mastery as the romantic aspect of the plot, I did find it deftly done. I loved both the main characters and found Witt's portrayal of Pompeii very colorful and believable. (I couldn't say whether it was authentic, as I know very little of that period of history. It FELT authentic, however, which is good
Feb 13, 2013 C rated it really liked it
Shelves: gay, historical, suspense
I really enjoyed this one, but I would have wished for more on the romance front. While it had romantic elements, it really wasn't a "romance novel" so much. We see Savius and Drusus' attraction and growing trust, but while love must include respect, respect doesn't always lead to love. And the twist threw me quite a bit. It wouldn't have been as good of a story had I known what was coming, but on the other hand if I'd been expecting it I wouldn't have been thrown out of the story so much.

At any
Sep 23, 2014 Lee rated it liked it
I feel bad giving this book only 3 stars because right up to the "big reveal" I was totally invested in it. Up until that point I was completely absorbed in the very well written story, the authentic feel of the period and place, and the interesting, complex characters. Maybe my sense of let-down and disappointment at the denouement was all the keener because of that.
Dec 29, 2012 Sue rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this Roman romp.
L. A. Witt made me believe in her setting and characters, and I really enjoyed following the thread of Calvus' experience at the gladiator school.
I found Calvus' feelings about the gods, especially the fickle Fortuna, a nice touch.
Gripping historical action, well worth the money.
Nov 05, 2012 Kazza rated it really liked it
Shelves: bought-it, historical

Another good L A Witt book. A great start to the Warriors of Rome series. A very interesting, enjoyable read from start to end.

Full review at On Top Down Under Book Reviews
Feb 06, 2016 Heather rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
First off I want to say, even though I have featured LA Witt's work on my blog before and even have a couple on my Kindle, this is the first time I've read her but it won't be the last. Her grasp of Ancient Rome is pretty spot on, the characters, the setting, the story all held my attention from the beginning. Those looking for erotica will be disappointed, in fact many would not label this as erotic romance, me on the other hand found it incredibly erotic, not because there is pages upon pages ...more
Dec 04, 2012 Alexandra rated it really liked it
Shelves: mm, historical
Witt's writing exceeded my expectations. Handclap to Witt and editor.
Heather K (dentist in my spare time)
57% price drop to $2.99 at both Amazon and Riptide! 10/24/13
Nov 05, 2012 Amara marked it as to-read
When Saevius learns he has been sold to a Pompeiian politician to serve as a bodyguard, he is thrilled to leave his life as a gladiator behind him. But as soon as he arrives at the home of his new master, Calvus, he learns that there is something else in mind for Saevius. Calvus wants him to infiltrate the ludus of a notorious lanista, Drusus, and discover the man with whom Calvus is certain his wife is having an affair. It's a dangerous endeavor on its own, but once the other men begin to suspe ...more
Dec 18, 2013 Adara rated it really liked it
This story is a game of cat and mouse, only it has a cat, a dog, several rats, a chameleon, and a couple of mice. And it is just as intriguing a read as that makes it sound.

Saevius is just 3 bouts in the Roman arena away from earning his freedom when he is purchased to be the bodyguard of Calvus Laurea, a politician in Pompeii, just his luck. Only instead of being a bodyguard, he is given falsified papers to join a ludus across town and discover the lover of Calvus's wife, Verina. Not exactly an
Sammy Goode
Aug 03, 2013 Sammy Goode rated it liked it
3.5 stars

Saevius cannot remember the taste of freedom. Instead he has spent his years as a gladiator, killing or being killed, always under the hand of a lanista—a trainer who told him when he ate, fought, and sometimes, he felt, even when he breathed. So imagine his delight—his gratitude—at being sold to a nobleman to serve him. No more arenas, endless preparation to fight, blood, and dust. Now Saevius would be a bodyguard and live out what he hoped were the rest of his days in an easier existe
Mar 27, 2013 Daisy rated it liked it
Shelves: m_m, m_m_historical, owned
Very slow build up with a surprise at the end - which I did see coming because there are clues scattered throughout the story. I won't spoil you by saying which. No smut in this at all, which is fine by me, as the plot was well crafted enough to not want any actually. It would have done something bad to the book I think. There is a lot of violence instead (hey, it's about GLADIATORS. Those weren't pussies.).
At first I didn't really like the main character Saevius much - but he started to grow on
Jan 09, 2016 Sherry rated it liked it
Shelves: m-m-romance
I liked it very much until the twist with (view spoiler) came up. Sorry, it would've been a solid four stars otherwise but this just threw me...
Oct 21, 2014 Danielle rated it it was ok
Shelves: mm, gladiators, 2014
Reading through comment it seems that the "big reveal" near the end is what's been turning people off. Have to admit that that played a role in my dislike for this one especially when Drusus came out with all that (view spoiler), but I'd pretty much checked out of the book long before then.

I'm not a fan of first person. I just have such a hard-time reading it. So yes granted I was grumbling from the very first word, but I also wasn't a fan of the plot. I did give t
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L.A. Witt is an abnormal M/M romance writer who has finally been released from the purgatorial corn maze of Omaha, Nebraska, and now spends her time on the southwestern coast of Spain. In between wondering how she didn't lose her mind in Omaha, she explores the country with her husband, several clairvoyant hamsters, and an ever-growing herd of rabid plot bunnies.

She also has substantially more ti
More about L.A. Witt...

Other Books in the Series

Warriors of Rome (4 books)
  • He Is Worthy (Warriors of Rome, #2)
  • The City War (Warriors of Rome, #3)
  • Mark of the Gladiator (Warriors of Rome, #4)

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