My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Summary: Two years after Emperor Augustus’s bloody defeat of Mark Antony and Cleopatra, he triumphantly returns to Rome. To his only child, Julia, he brings an unlikely companion—Selene, the daughter of the conquered Egyptian queen and her lover.
Under the watchful eye of Augustus’s wife, Livia, Selene struggles to accept her new home among her parents’ enemies. Bound together by kinship and spilled blood, these three women—Livia, Selene, and Julia—navigate the dangerous world of Rome’s ruling elite, their every move a political strategy, their most intimate decisions in the emperor’s hands.
Always suppressing their own desires for the good of Rome, each must fulfill her role. For astute Livia, this means unwavering fidelity to her all-powerful husband; for sensual Julia, surrender to an arranged marriage and denial of her craving for love and the pleasures of the flesh; for orphaned Selene, choosing between loyalty to her family’s killers and her wish for revenge.
Can they survive Rome’s deadly intrigues, or will they be swept away by the perilous currents of the world’s most powerful empire?
I read and enjoyed I Am Livia so as soon as I saw this second offering by Phyllis T. Smith, I jumped at the chance to read it. I'm still a fan. I wanted more of Livia's voice when the last book ended and I got it here. What drew me in was the fact that Cleopatra Selene was featured. I so rarely run into books that feature her that I tore through the story and very much enjoyed her voice here. Julia was the third POV character and I felt she was rendered well and it shone through that she was captive to her fate. That Selene is ultimately the freer and successful one and Julia not is like Cleopatra reached out of her grave to curse her child's captor's child. Julia couldn't catch a break and so deeply & longing sought love it consumed her. It made for an engaging read. While I've no idea to the historical accuracy, I also very much enjoyed Livia relating that she saw herself in Selene and the similarities their young lives held.
I'd definitely recommend this one to fans of I Am Livia and also fans of historical fiction. It's a quick read that's time well spent.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for my honest review.