Blog Tour Stop, Guest Post & Contest: Sam Starbuck’s The City War

Hello readers! I’m your guest blogger for today, being graciously hosted by Kathy for the fifth installment of my blog tour for The City War!

For my blog tour, I’ve been writing about the study of history and the use of it in romantic fiction, and I wanted to start writing about this story in specific. To thank you all for reading, I’m offering a chance to win $10 in credit with Riptide Publishing; every comment you leave on the post today enters you to win!

When I saw that Riptide Press had a call out for stories based in the military culture of ancient Rome, I jumped at the chance to submit a novella. As a student, I studied the Imperial era of Rome, the time of the Caesars, and it’s impossible to understand the Imperial era without understanding what came before. Julius Caesar, and his assassins, stand at the turning point where Republic becomes Empire, a fascinating moment in Western history. I wanted to tell the story of that tumultuous time.

Most people who haven’t made a particular study of Roman history only know the story of Caesar by hearsay; they know Julius Caesar was killed by Brutus, and of course the famous line: Et tu, Brute? Brutus literally became the origin for the word brutal in the English language.

But Brutus wasn’t a monster. As far as the ancient accounts go, his motivations were incredibly noble: he was afraid of the power Caesar held, and he wanted to re-establish the control of the Senate, the quasi-democratic governing body of Rome.

“But I care for Rome. I need you, but I also need your reputation. Before he’s beyond our grasp, before he declares himself emperor and names an heir and the Senate is disbanded.”

“The Senate would never be disbanded.”

“Oh? Does he listen the way a Princeps should? Does he even listen the way he used to when he was fresh from the war?”

We have no record that Brutus and Cassius were ever more than friends and brothers-in-law, but we also know that their friendship was deep and abiding, spanning both the political life of Rome and its military actions; they fought together in at least three wars, two of which were civil wars that divided Rome’s noble class and set it against itself. It seemed fitting that, in telling the story of an honest, moral man who lived his entire life making hard political decisions, I also told the story of a private life filled with equally hard decisions that offered no way to be entirely honest.

Cassius and Brutus have been vilified for thousands of years, but I wanted to show them as living, breathing, loving men who, in the moment, simply did what they thought was best. Right or wrong, it can be said of both the historical figures and my portrayal of them that their decisions were made not out of greed but out of a concern for the greater good.

I’ll be talking more about how it feels to now be sharing this story with all of you in tomorrow’s blog tour post, over at Joyfully Jay.


Sam Starbuck is a novelist and blogger living in Chicago because he enjoys trains, snow, and political scandals. By day, he manages operations for a research department at a large not-for-profit, and by night he is a pop-culture commentator, experimental cook, advocate for philanthropy, and writer of fiction. He holds two degrees in theatre, which haven’t done much for his career but were fun while they lasted. His love of ancient cultures and art crimes makes him a very strange conversationalist at parties. His novels include Nameless, Charitable Getting, and Trace, published independently, and The City War, published with Riptide Publishing. He blogs here, and you can check out his writerly accomplishments here.

Title: The City War by Sam Starbuck
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Genre: M/M, Historical, Romance
Length: 123 pages/Word Count: 32,100


Senator Marcus Brutus has spent his life serving Rome, but it’s difficult to be a patriot when the Republic, barely recovered from a civil war, is under threat by its own leader. Brutus’s one retreat is his country home, where he steals a few precious days now and then with Cassius, his brother-in-law and fellow soldier—and the one he loves above all others. But the sickness at the heart of Rome is spreading, and even Brutus’s nights with Cassius can’t erase the knowledge that Gaius Julius Caesar is slowly becoming a tyrant.

Cassius fears both Caesar’s intentions and Brutus’s interest in Tiresias, the villa’s newest servant. Tiresias claims to be the orphaned son of a minor noble, but his secrets run deeper, and only Brutus knows them all. Cassius, intent on protecting the Republic and his claim to Brutus, proposes a dangerous conspiracy to assassinate Caesar. After all, if Brutus—loved and respected by all—supports it, it’s not murder, just politics.

Now Brutus must return to Rome and choose: not only between Cassius and Tiresias, but between preserving the fragile status quo of Rome and killing a man who would be emperor.

You can buy The City War or read an excerpt here.

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Filed under Blog Tour, Contest, Guest Blog, Riptide Publishing, Sam Starbuck, The City War

10 Responses to Blog Tour Stop, Guest Post & Contest: Sam Starbuck’s The City War

  1. Sarah

    Thank you – that was really interesting 🙂 The City War is in my tbr pile – looking forward to reading it 🙂

  2. Trix

    It’ll be interesting to revisit and reconsider Brutus and Caesar’s relationship!


  3. Timitra

    I loved HBO’s mini series Rome so I’m definitely looking forward to reading your take on this bit of history especially as it’s from an m/m perspective!

    • Sam

      Oh man, how did I love Rome. What a great show. I hope you enjoy this story, and take a look at the other Warriors Of Rome stories in the collection!

  4. Urb

    Thanks for humanizing some of the iconic figures we know so little about in Ancient Rome. Accuracy is not as important as authenticity, and yours rings true!

  5. Jenny

    I get more excited to read this book at every stop on the tour. 🙂

    jyl22075 at gmail dot com

  6. Judi P

    Enjoyed the post! 😀

    • Judi P

      opps, pressed enter too soon. lol…
      But I was gonna say this whole series that centers around Rome truly is facinating. I can’t wait to read each and every one!


      • Sam

        I hope you enjoy them! I know my fellow authors had just as much fun writing theirs as I did mine, and I think that passion really shows through.