“You should have trusted me. You should have given me a choice.”
AD 370, Roman frontier province of Noricum. Neither wholly married nor wholly divorced, Julia Bacausa is trapped in the power struggle between the Christian church and her pagan ruler father.
Tribune Lucius Apulius’s career is blighted by his determination to stay faithful to the Roman gods in a Christian empire. Stripped of his command in Britannia, he’s demoted to the backwater of Noricum – and encounters Julia.
Unwittingly, he takes her for a whore. When confronted by who she is, he is overcome with remorse and fear. Despite this disaster, Julia and Lucius are drawn to one another by an irresistible attraction.
But their intensifying bond is broken when Lucius is banished to Rome. Distraught, Julia gambles everything to join him. Following her heart’s desire brings danger she could never have envisaged…
Alison Morton writes award-winning thrillers featuring tough but compassionate heroines. Her nine-book Roma Nova series is set in an imaginary European country where a remnant of the ancient Roman Empire has survived into the 21st century and is ruled by women who face conspiracy, revolution and heartache but with a sharp line in dialogue.
She blends her fascination for Ancient Rome with six years’ military service and a life of reading crime, historical and thriller fiction. On the way, she collected a BA in modern languages and an MA in history.
Alison now lives in Poitou in France, the home of Mélisende, the heroine of her two contemporary thrillers, Double Identity and Double Pursuit. Oh, and she’s writing the next Roma Nova story.
My thoughts: this was a really enjoyable, well written love story with a determined and intelligent protagonist in Julia – a princess from Noricum (now Austria and Northern Slovenia). She’s fallen in love with the son of a Roman senator and will stop at nothing to be reunited with him.
Accompanied by her body servant Asella and a centurion turned artist Aegius as their guide, she travels cross country, evading her father’s men and bandits, risking it all on reaching Rome. There’s another menace dogging her heels, one she’s not even aware of, that might prove truly dangerous.
I liked Julia, she was bright and engaged, her stubborn attitude keeps her going even when things get tough. I also liked Aegius and Asella – they were a great double act, keeping Julia from her more excessive ideas and guiding her in her decisions and journey.
I’ve read a couple of the later books in the series which feature Julia’s descendants so it was good to go back to where it all started with the first of the family.
*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.