Mistress Of Rome

Mistress Of Rome by  Kate Quinn -466 pages
Book Blurb:
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.
My Review: 4.5 stars
Couldn’t be happier that when my daughter was just home from college for winter break, she picked this up at the library on a whim. Like me, she is drawn to historical fiction and OMG, this was a winner. This novel was a richly detailed account of the Emperor of Rome, lives of the gladiators, plebs, mistresses and slaves during the 1st century. An incredible love story and saucy storyline kept the pages turning. After just being in Rome this past summer, it was even more incredible to imagine the streets I was just on and the Colosseum I just visited filled with tunic wearing men and litters carrying the rich. Often graphically gory during the gladiator fights, it worth reading because it gave the reader a true insight into the terrors they faced.
The author does a fine job of using as much historical detail as necessary to make the story truly historical fiction and has a nice “historical notes” section to allow us to know what was made up and what was true. Also in the back, which I didn’t know until I finished, was a Characters appendix as there were many, many names and for some, it would help remembering who was who. I deducted ½ a star as I thought some of the language was to0 American as well as too modern for the times.

Quotes I liked:
- “Have you ever been - well, I mean, have you ever - really wanted someone ? Wanted them like water in the desert - even when you knew all their faults, every single one - and it didn’t matter ?”

-“I love you. I love the way you rub the scar on the back of your hand when you're nervous. I love the way you make a sword into a living part of your body. I love the way you burn your eyes into me, as if you're seeing me fresh every time. I love the black streak in you that wants to kill the world, and the soft streak that is sorry afterward. I love the way you laugh, as if you're surprised that you can laugh at all. I love the way you kiss my breath away. I love the way you breathe and speak and smile. I love the way you take the air out of my lungs when you hold me. I love the way you make a dance out of death. I love the confusion I see in your eyes when you realize you are happy. I love every muscle and bone in your body, every twist and bend in your soul.”

-“Paulinus, everyone knows. Say the word, and I'll run the bitch over with my chariot”

-“I am Athena. Before that I was Thea, singer and slave and lover of gladiators. Before that I was Leah, daughter of Benjamin and Rachael of Masada. I am as mortal as you, you common little man. And I fear no one!”

Tags: 2013, Historical Fiction, Romance

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