Tuesday, April 21, 2015

A Perfect 10:

LADY OF THE ETERNAL CITY – Kate Quinn 
An Empress of Rome Novel 
A Perfect 10 
Berkley 
ISBN: 978-0-425-25963-4 
March 2015 
Historical Fiction 

The Roman Empire during the Reign of Emperor Hadrian 

Vibia Sabina may be the Empress of Rome, wife of Hadrian, but she knows her husband too well to be comfortable in her position. Hadrian begins his reign by beheading men he considers enemies, including Sabina's brother-in-law Titus, although he relents at the last possible moment. It becomes Sabina's main objective to channel her husband's energy, good and bad, in the right direction. With Hadrian's plans to finish conquering Britannia, Sabina and his legions head to the north of Britain. 

One man who both despises and respects Hadrian is Vercingetorix the Red, a battle-scarred warrior whose job it is, at least for now, to supervise the building of a massive wall in Britain. With the empress nearby, Vix, who also has his wife and children with him, is careful to hide his feelings. Sabina was his first love, and neither she nor Vix dare let on to Hadrian of their friendship.  And then Hadrian meets Vix's adopted son, Antinous. Their first meeting doesn't go well, as Antinous, not knowing who the emperor is, punches him when he hears him insult Vix. But Hadrian only sees the handsome young man and pardons him. He won't forget that face, much to Vix's dismay. 

With the wall well under way, Vix and his family begin their travels back to Rome, following Hadrian. Vix is married to a Jew, in fact his own mother is Jewish, and Mirah, wants nothing more but to settle in Judea to raise their daughters. But Vix has been a warrior all of his life, and even though he and Hadrian are more enemies than friends, Vix wants to remain with the Roman legions. 

Hadrian's rule is a mixed bag of brutality, travel around the empire, and many positive issues. Sabina is the woman behind many of the good aspects, as she guides her husband with quiet, logical advice. Her feelings for Vix are difficult to hide, as are his for her, but they work as a team to make sure Hadrian stays on a straight course. Hadrian's glowing love for Antinous is difficult for Vix to deal with, but it has made Hadrian a different man, one more open to discussion, almost a kinder man. 

LADY OF THE ETERNAL CITY is the fourth book of Kate Quinn's excellent Empress of Rome novels. The impeccable research and details of Roman life made for a terrific read. Her characters are alive and real as is the life they share with slaves, soldiers, and enemies. Don't miss this amazing series. While this book can be read on its own, I highly recommend reading all four. Do check out Ms. Quinn's website for more information: http://www.katequinnauthor.com/ .  LADY OF THE ETERNAL CITY is indeed a Perfect 10 for its excellent writing and beautiful character development. 

Jani Brooks

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