Title: Mistress of Rome
Author: Kate Quinn
Setting: Rome, 1st century
Rating: 4.3 pearls
Warnings: Graphic violence and abuse, numerous sexual situations; not recommended for readers under 18 (edited to add: at least three f-bombs present)
OK, so I cheated a little. I didn't finish my book for March because I received Kate Quinn's Mistress of Rome and read the first few pages. Then I couldn't stop. I decided it could be my historical read for April. March's post will come later. (I never did like to do things in order...)
Synopsis: Mistress of Rome chronicles the life of Thea, a Jewish slave girl in the 1st century, starting with her life as a young slave to the spiteful Lady Lepida, and ending with her interactions as mistress to Rome's Emperor Domitian.
What I liked: The attention to detail. Sure, the battle scenes were rather graphic but I appreciated Ms Quinn's desire to stay as true to the brutality of the time as possible. There was a lot of sex but it was, thankfully, glossed over for the most part. I appreciated the author's note explaining which parts of the story were fictionalized in order to expand her fictional telling of real events.
What I didn't like: The POV flip-flops. It wasn't even the fact that the story was written in 3rd and 1st. I had no problem with that and I think I was better able to relate to Thea's character by reading her in 1st person. My problem was with Lepida's POV being 1st person, too. The first few times in her POV I was confused and had to go back and remind myself that I wasn't reading Thea in that moment, I was reading Lepida. These 1st person sections are clearly marked with the character's name but I had a little trouble getting used to the switches. (I admit, part of me also did not want to read the vicious Lepida's character as if she was me.)
Who would like this: I don't think it qualifies as a "romance" and I don't believe it really qualifies as "clean." However, readers who, like me, enjoy an occasional tale that doesn't turn history into an unbelievable fantasy, would like this book.
Overall: I loved this book. I was crying by page 9 and cried off and on 'til the end. I'll probably reread it and I eagerly look forward to Ms Quinn's future works. Bottom line, I don't regret paying for this book.
*Disclaimer: I have not been paid in any way, shape or form for this review. I purchased this book and this review is my honest opinion of this work.