Title/Author: The Mistress of Rome
by Kate Quinn
Publisher/Year Published: 2010 by Berkley Trade
How I got this book: I purchased it at Borders when I was in Boston
Why I read this book: I think I put it on my To Read shelf after seeing it (or its sequel) in a Goodreads Giveaway.
Rating: 4 stars
Thea is a slave girl from Judaea, passionate, musical, and guarded. Purchased as a toy for the spiteful heiress Lepida Pollia, Thea will become her mistress's rival for the love of Arius the Barbarian, Rome's newest and most savage gladiator. His love brings Thea the first happiness of her life-that is quickly ended when a jealous Lepida tears them apart.
As Lepida goes on to wreak havoc in the life of a new husband and his family, Thea remakes herself as a polished singer for Rome's aristocrats. Unwittingly, she attracts another admirer in the charismatic Emperor of Rome. But Domitian's games have a darker side, and Thea finds herself fighting for both soul and sanity. Many have tried to destroy the Emperor: a vengeful gladiator, an upright senator, a tormented soldier, a Vestal Virgin. But in the end, the life of the brilliant and paranoid Domitian lies in the hands of one woman: the Emperor's mistress.
I have a deep love affair with ancient rome. Maybe it has something to do with my name, but ever since I had the chance to study Latin in high school, I have felt a connection to the long past civilization. So when I saw this book, I was intrigued. Mistress of Rome huh? And the cover? So appealing.
So I bought it. It sat in my TBR pile for awhile but I eventually picked it up. The didn't put it down for the next 48 hrs.
Thea is our main heroine. She is not a Jewish slave brought to cater to the whims of the patricians in Rome. We follow her story as she becomes involved with Arius, the reluctant but awesomely good gladiator.
And that is pretty much all I am going to tell you for a summary. Because I knew close to nothing about what was going to happen next and loved when I was hit over the head with a plot turn.
This book was really engaging. It took me back into a time where people watched people die for entertainment. Where there was barely a such thing as childhood, let alone "young adulthood". Quinn really weaves the details of everyday life together in such a way that it is easy to imagine. The characters are engaging and believable and she actually throws in some real historical figures into the mix.
While there are more to this Rome series, this book stands well on its own. In fact if I never picked up the next two (which I probably will eventually) I would be happy with the feeling that Mistress of Rome left with me.
So if you enjoy Rome and good historical fiction with a good balance of romance, adventure, drama and your healthy dose of crazy, give this book a try!
4.5 stars for me :)