Adrenia’s life goes from bad to worse. Years after her brother and sister disappear, her abusive parents promise her as a bride to a mysterious brute of a man named Sulla. Women have a terrifying habit of vanishing without a trace after being seen in his presence. People whisper, but no one can prove anything.
Terentius is under orders to hunt down a vicious deserter named Sulla, who was last seen in the vicinity of Adrenia’s city. There he runs into a woman on the road. Sensing her weakness, her illness, he offers her his cloak and gives her a ride home. Unfortunately, her parents misconstrue the situation and accuse her of being a Roman’s whore. He senses all is not well with Adrenia and his sense of honor and chivalry won’t allow him to leave her unprotected.
And so an unlikely friendship begins between a Roman Centurion and a barbarian peasant woman. A friendship fraught with a sexual tension neither has experienced before with another. Yet it’s difficult to forge a relationship when everything in their world threatens to tear them apart. Her people and background. His orders and sense of duty.
This is a complex, multi-faceted book with fully realized characters and solid research and world-building. There’s a handy glossary for the unfamiliar Roman/Latin terminology which this reader greatly appreciated. The balance of military duty and personal relationship is something so many of us face every day. I loved both these characters. They were true products of their world & upbringing. Both are sympathetic and very human. The secondary characters were likeable as well, and even the villains were drawn with terrifying realism. Evil exists, and the only way for good to triumph is to face it. Parts of this book made me shiver. I also laughed, cried, and wanted to cheer. Definitely a worthy read!