by Shelley Monro
Ellora's Cave (Spectrum Imprint)
M/M Paranormal Elements/Erotic Romance
Life is a chariot race for Marc Angelo and Tarquin Navona. Friends, rivals and rock stars of Circus Maximus in ancient Rome, they wow the fans with their daring driving and take their choice of lovers. A fine life indeed—if Marc weren’t harboring feelings for Tarquin. It’s difficult to behave normally when he craves physical contact with his friend’s muscular body, but Marc resists, too afraid of losing Tarquin entirely.
He needn’t have worried. Fate has plans for them. Very long-term plans…
When a powerful sorcerer catches Marc and Tarquin with his wife, he curses them to imprisonment in stone. Centuries pass, and Marc’s love and lust for Tarquin only increases. His friend doesn’t have a clue, but that’s the least of their problems. They have no idea how to escape their predicament—and may be doomed to spend eternity Stoned.
Marc has been in love with his best friend Tarquin, who is also his main competitor on the chariot racing circuit. Tarquin has no qualms about bedding any conquests, male or female, it's all just sex to him.
Sometimes they share a woman, although that isn't really Marc's preference, but he does it as a way to get closer to Tarquin. One night they woman they've chosen is not one of the regular courtesans at the brothel, masked and hooded, they suspect she's a married woman.
She is indeed married, to a powerful sorcerer and when he catches Marc and Tarquin with her, he turns them both to stone statues and after centuries they end up in Las Vegas as a statue in one of the hotels, probably Ceasar's Palace :)
They return to their human form for a day on the anniversary of the curse and they've spent the intervening years researching the curse and how to lift it as well as amassing quite a bit of money over time.
They can still talk to each other through their minds while statues, but they can't move and Marc still hasn't got the courage to admit his love for Tarquin, afraid of losing the only friend he has.
It's quite a short story that fits a lot in and is easily read in one sitting. We get both points of view, which was good, but at times I felt like shaking them. Neither wanted to take the first step to progress from friendship to something more. They both evolved over the years they were trapped and probably learned a lot more about each other as they could only communicate with each other while in statue form. They took their time to figure out they really did want each other!
The love scenes between them are hot and sensual and contrasted well with the scenes in the brothel, where they were just there for sex. It's a sweet story overall, not too much angst, but enough to keep you wondering whether they will ever get the curse lifted and get their happily ever after. I would have liked a bit more of the setting to have been Ancient Rome, but that's probably just the history fan in me coming out.