Empress of Rome series by Kate Quinn

Mistress of Rome
Empress of Rome series #1
by Kate Quinn (GoodReads Author)
ebook edition, 483 pages
Pub Apr 6, 2010, Berkley
Also available in paperback

GoodReads Summary:  
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.

Disclaimer: This book was acquired from Barnes and Noble for Nook at full price. This is an honest review for which I am receiving no compensation of any kind. All opinions are fully my own.

~ Judi E. Easley for Blue Cat Review

My Review:  
Sarah suggested I read this series, and as usual, she was right. This first book of the series starts out with a couple that you cheer for even when they do awful things to get by. They have been dealt such lousy hands in this game, it just doesn't seem fair that every time they get to a point where things might get better, things get much worse.

The author uses changing points of view throughout the series and this allows her to introduce you to her characters so much more intimately as the story goes on. You get to see what they think and feel from their point of view and peek inside their heads and hearts. So many times these characters think or feel one way, but do something very different for someone else's safety. Or in the case of certain characters, you get to listen to them plot someone else's downfall or death. This gives so much more depth to the book. Ms. Quinn certainly plots evil deeds well. Of course, this was a brutal and bloody period in history. It wasn't enough to ruin someone's reputation or embarrass them publicly. These people would ruin their whole family's name and fortune so that no one in the family could carry on their business and would possibly have to move away or go into seclusion or commit suicide. Ms. Quinn has picked a wonderful part of the world and history to place her characters in.

The characters are carefully intertwined with real historical characters and events. And the author has done her homework well enough that her fictitious characters blend in seamlessly. At the back of the book, there is a section that tells you which characters are real historical figures and which are her fictional characters.

With Sarah's full blessing, I strongly recommend this series, at least this first book in the series to anyone who likes a real feel of history in their historical novels. Mistress of Rome will give you a feel for the whole series of four books. So, give it a try and see if it's a good fit for your bookshelf!