This is NOT a historical romance. This is a historical fiction with romantic elements, so don’t go in with preconceived expectations. The author isn’t a formal historian, but like me an author who loves history & historical research – and it shows. The world-building and cultural references are solid and stellar. The characters were multi-dimensional and their interactions were lively and true. Whenever you have a diverse tapestry, and characters from two sides of a conflict – Romans and Britons – there’s lots of potential for headbutting and misunderstandings and tunnel vision. And it holds true here. Briton heroine and Roman hero, in post-Boudica Britain. The locals have no love for the occupation, and the Romans are far from their own homes and families. Nice to see both sides of that coin fleshed out – had sympathy for both parties.
That being said, I had some issues with parts of this book. I wasn’t sure of the heroine’s age. Sometimes she was babysitting her younger siblings, which indicated she was younger, since that was a task for older children, not a woman. Then she was off with the warriors and falling in love, which led me to believe she was grown – but then why was she stuck babysitting? The dating in the book’s opening and closing chapters conflicted – I couldn’t follow the timeline or keep track of her aging progression. There was a single scene with a mysterious villain that came late and seemed totally out of left field, since it was never fully developed. And the book could have used a good editor. There are grammar and punctuation issues, and some POV slips that could have been addressed prior to publication for a cleaner product.
Overall, I enjoyed the story. I love the time period and Celtic culture, and this book had vivid setting and characters. It’s nice to see an writer put her heart and soul into a project, and am curious the check out other works by this author.