Title: BEFORE THE ODYSSEY
Genre: YA Romance/Mythological
Word count: 75,000
When Princess Helen of Sparta, the world’s most beautiful maiden, enters the marriage market, everyone’s interested, including the tactician Odysseus. Wily and confident, he’s certain he’ll beat the competition – until he unwittingly insults Penelope, Helen’s unassuming cousin. A private feud ensues, and as Odysseus strives to keep Penelope’s grudge from undermining his standing as Helen’s suitor, he discovers something entirely unexpected: a girl with a mind and spirit to match his own. Told from Penelope's and Odysseus' perspectives, Before the Odyssey brings mythological Greece to life as it unveils the beginnings of the love immortalized in Homer’s epic.
Antilochus was driving at a brisk clip. Too brisk, if you asked me. Every time we hit a rut on the alpine trail, I thought the chariot would shatter beneath our feet. Still, I could understand my friend's impatience. After two months of travel over sea and bandit-ridden roads, we were nearing our destination at last, and my heart pounded with anticipation as I spotted the final landmark.
"Swing right at the herm!" At my shout, Antilochus veered at the blocky crossroads marker. The horses clattered to the top of a steep rise, and I yelled, “There it is! Sparta, dead ahead!”
The sweating team halted, and we took in the sweeping view. Below the piney heights, songbirds winged over rustling olive groves, and bleating flocks grazed upon grassy slopes. Lower down, a river meandered through fields rippling with wheat and clover. And shining in the center of that valley like a gem in a crown was the city of Sparta.
Antilochus held out a hand. "Odysseus, you're a good friend and navigator, but it's every man for himself now."
I shook his hand firmly. We’d first met on a campaign my father sent me on shortly after I turned fifteen. Two years and countless escapades later, Antilochus and I were as close as brothers, ever partnering on one adventure after another. But this time, we'd be rivals. "Likewise,” I said. “So don't hold it against me when I win."
Antilochus snorted. "That's my line —"
Shouting broke out, cutting off his words.