Rubies of the Viper and its sequel, The Viper Amulet,

are the first two novels of


a sprawling and suspenseful first-century family saga.

The third book, The Ruby Ring, is in progress.

Scroll down to learn more about my books and me.

To fully enjoy my books, read them in order:
#1 Rubies of the Viper
#2 The Viper Amulet

To read or write reviews on Amazon and/or Goodreads, click the links provided below for each book.


BOOK #1: Rubies of the Viper

Amazon… 4 of 5 stars / 170+ reviews
Goodreads… 3.5 of 5 stars / 260+ ratings or reviews

“Powerful, evocative visit to ancient Rome. Martha Marks takes us there with this superb novel and leaves us eager for the next installment!” —Grady Harp, Top 100 Reviewer, Amazon Vine Voice

“If I were to select a book of the year to read, RUBIES OF THE VIPER would be in the running for top choice. Yes, it is that good.” —Rhonda Esakov for Story Circle Book Reviews

“I ordered this book after seeing all the five star reviews. Now I see they are well deserved. Impossible to put this book down. I HIGHLY recommend this book.” —Patricia Goodspeed, Amazon Vine Voice

“If you love historical fiction that will grab you by the jugular and not let go until you’ve devoured the last page, this novel is for you. A remarkable work!” —Cheri Lasota, author of Artemis Rising and Echoes in the Glass

“A fast-paced, suspenseful and romantic historical novel and a totally satisfying read.” —M. Louisa Locke, author of the Victorian San Francisco Mystery Series

“The characters in RUBIES OF THE VIPER achieve the rare status of being ‘real.’ Highly recommended.” —Rebecca Lochlann, author of The Year-God’s Daughter and The Thinara King.



AD 53 — Strong-willed, impetuous, and naive, Theodosia Varro inherits the family estate after her brother is murdered on the streets of Rome. With no preparation, she goes from poverty and isolation to great wealth and a prestigious position in society. Only by identifying her brother’s killer can she feel safe, yet her efforts take her in quite the opposite direction. After her own actions and the scheming of others lead to catastrophe, Theodosia struggles to survive and recover what matters most in her life.

RUBIES OF THE VIPER is a genuine gem of a mystery set in Rome during the reigns of the Emperors Claudius and Nero. It’s full of exciting suspense and beautifully developed characters. Marks’s rich portrayal of Roman life is delightful and gruesome in turns–just as a good Roman mystery ought to be. We get the grace, the violence and the perversion that was imperial society revealed through a spell-binding tale.” —Judith Starkston, author of Hand of Fire

“A real page turner—a book that stays in your thoughts the entire day until you can read again. Compelling characters, beautiful descriptions, plenty of conflict with unpredictable twists and turns, and an incredible storyline.” —Mirella Sichirollo Patzer, author of Orphan of the Olive Tree and The Prophetic Queen.”




BOOK #2: The Viper Amulet

Amazon… 4.6 of 5 stars / 7 reviews
Goodreads… 5 of 5 stars / 6 ratings or reviews

THE VIPER AMULET is an uplifting story of loyalty, perseverance, and love. Plus it entertains from the first page to the last. I’ve been waiting impatiently for this mesmerizing sequel to the wonderful RUBIES OF THE VIPER, and it definitely lived up to Book One. The historical details and smooth inclusion of real historical people was impressive and engaging.” —Rebecca Lochlann, author of The Year-God’s Daughter and The Thinara King



The sequel to RUBIES OF THE VIPER… AD 56 — Disgraced and impoverished, Theodosia Varro flees Italy with the man she loves. As Emperor Nero’s agents give chase, they escape to a place that should offer safety and peace, only to find an unexpected foe awaiting her. Conflicts mount as Theodosia battles known and unknown enemies who put her life and family at risk. Ultimately, she ventures into a foreign land whose culture she does not understand—and into a brutal war zone—to salvage what remains of her dreams.




Read two interviews with Martha Marks
Interview #1
Interview #2


I’m a retired college professor with a two-sided creative life.

On this side…with a passion for travel to ancient places that dates back to my childhood (see the photos below), it’s no wonder that I write historical novels like Rubies of the Viper and The Viper Amulet. My work-in-progress is The Ruby Ring, which will complete the sprawling and suspenseful first-century family saga that I call The Ruby-Viper Trilogy.

On the other side… as a lover of birds, other wildlife, and natural places, I’m also a nature photographer who travels the American West with my husband, fine-art painter Bernard Marks. For over thirty years, I’ve made and sold thousands of images, published hundreds, and printed, framed, and sold several dozen. My still images and videos sell around the world via commercial stock photography sites. Click here —  Adobe Stock  — to see my portfolio. Here’s my personal Best Nature Stock photography website. And here’s my Facebook photography page.

My first visit to Pompeii These photos, made by my mother, show me at age seven on my first visit to Pompeii. I told my parents that day that I had been there before. It was all very familiar. And that sense of déjà vu has never left me. I feel it whenever I go back to Pompeii, Herculaneum, and the Roman Forum. I don’t believe in reincarnation, but…

As an adult, I’ve returned to those places and visited others featured in my books, such as the Etruscan necropolis at Caere (now Cerveteri, Italy), which was already 1,000 years old at the time of my novels; Athens; and the ancient ports of Piraeus (Greece) and Itanos (Crete).

In my teens, I devoured classic fiction on Rome: The Last Days of Pompeii, Quo Vadis, Ben Hur, Blood of the Martyrs, The Robe. Since then, I’ve read newer novels set in the time period and places I write about (Italy, Sicily, Greece, Syria, Judea, Egypt) and studied their histories and cultures.

Rubies of the Viper, The Viper Amulet, and the third book in this series—my work-in- progress, The Ruby Ring—are direct results of the fascination that began on that long-ago visit to Pompeii with my parents.
(If you’d like to know when The Ruby Ring is published, send me an email.)