Amber's Reviews > Mistress of Rome

Mistress of Rome by Kate Quinn
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May 04, 2010

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Read on May 06, 2010


I bought this on a whim. I didn't read the back, I didn't read any reviews, I certainly didn't read the page of critic's praise just inside the cover. Every time I've gone on these indicators lately, I've been incredibly disappointed. So, I bought this one based on--GASP!--the cover!

I was skeptical as the first several pages are describing a self-harming ritual of one of the main characters. I was even a little disgusted by such a transparent hook, but I found that I couldn't put the book down. In fact, I felt that way throughout the entire reading. Horrified, disgusted, and utterly unable to stop. In fact, I read the entire thing in one sitting.

Though I found some of the "shocking" plot twists a tad contrived and very, very predictable, it was sort of comforting to know that the author wasn't trying to make the book more than the plot could handle. It began, moved along, and ended exactly the way you would think a book about the Mistress(es) of a crazed Roman Emperor should.

The book basically follows the three mistresses of Emperor Domitian, a suspicious, violent man. The first of these women is the Emperor's own niece, Julia, who's tragic story begins when she's turned down by the Vestals and ends with her violent death. The second is Thea, a Jewish slave who iseventually trained as a musician. She is set up from the beginning as a direct rival to her owner, Lepida Pollia, a beautiful and spoiled heiress with a very dark side. Their rivalry begins when an up-and-coming gladiator known as Arius the Barbarian chooses Thea over Lepida, leading Lepida to sell Thea into prostitution. This sets off a series of events which fuel the hatred between the two women as Thea (now known as Athena) gains fame as a singer and Lepida becomes the wife of a well respected Senator. When Thea catches the eye of the Emperor, whom Lepida had hoped to call her own, it sparks a descent into violence and madness for both women.

I can't say, even now, that I liked it. The characters and subject matter were too dark to like, but I can say that it is compelling. I couldn't put it down and that's all I can really ask for.

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05/04/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-5 of 5) (5 new)

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message 1: by bookworm80 (new)

bookworm80 does it have a happy ending at all?


Amber bookworm80 wrote: "does it have a happy ending at all?"

I'm so sorry it took me so long to respond! Yes, I'd say it had a happy ending. Moreover, the ending was satisfying. If you read it, I hope you enjoy!


message 3: by bookworm80 (new)

bookworm80 Thank you, your answer is helpful!


Carol ♔Type, Oh Queen!♕ You caught a lot of why I liked rather than loved this book!


message 5: by Deyanne (new) - added it

Deyanne So grateful I read your review. I am choosing to pass on this one.


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