This is a rare bird among historical romances; one set in Roman-occupied Britain, and specifically in the forts along Hadrian’s Wall, the barrier built by the Romans to separate Scotland and England.
Ordered by her brother to marry a Roman commander of high rank, a man she’s never met, to settle a gambling debt, Livia travels north to the Wall and is met by a column of legionnaires and a man she assumes to be her betrothed - a very attractive, commanding soldier who looks at her as though he likes what he sees.
The only problem: Centurion Marius isn’t her betrothed. Instead, Livia finds she’s to marry the spoiled, bratty son of a Roman senator, a youth who looks at her with unconcealed distaste for her red hair, calling her a barbarian, and is even more horrified by the fact that she is a widow and accompanied by her four year old daughter, Julia.
Daughter of a former Caledonian slave, Livia knows her ancestry is considered a dirty secret, and she’s not really too sure that life under Roman rule is really what she wants. With no choices open to her, she’s bracing to make the best of a bad situation when Marius presents a surprising solution.
Set in the late second century AD at the time of the Caledonian rebellions and attacks against the Wall, this is superbly researched and never felt anachronistic in the slightest. Livia’s frustration with her powerlessness and her divided loyalties were very relatable, and her romance with Marius was beautifully done. From the beginning of the story, their connection was apparent, and Marius’ relationship with Livia’s daughter Julia only cemented my belief that they truly belonged together as a family.
I’d highly recommend this one to anyone who’s looking for a Roman historical romance. Five stars for a book I stayed up until almost midnight to finish because I had to know how it ended!
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Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book for review from the author.