Published: April 1, 2011
Where I Got It: My shelf (Won in a giveaway)
A.D. 69. Nero is dead.
The Roman Empire is up for the taking. With bloodshed spilling out of the palace and into the streets of Rome, chaos has become the status quo. The Year of Four Emperors will change everything—especially the lives of two sisters with a very personal stake in the outcome….
Elegant and ambitious, Cornelia embodies the essence of the perfect Roman wife. She lives to one day see her loyal husband as Emperor. Her sister, Marcella, is more withdrawn, content to witness history rather than make it. Even so, Marcella has her share of distinguished suitors, from a cutthroat contender for the throne to a politician’s son who swears that someday he will be Emperor.
But when a bloody coup turns their world upside down, Cornelia and Marcella—along with their cousins, one a collector of husbands and lovers, the other a horse-mad beauty with no interest in romance—must maneuver carefully just to stay alive. As Cornelia tries to pick up the pieces of her shattered dreams, Marcella discovers a hidden talent for influencing the most powerful men in Rome. In the end, though, there can only be one Emperor … and one Empress.
First, read this in 2014. Different sources say this is book 1 but some others say it is book 2. I guess it depends on how you look at it. It technically takes place before book 2. However, the book was published second. I picked this for my re-read in Book Club (every three months we all pick a re-read to make the others read - keeps it fresh). I decided on this one first instead of 'Mistress of Rome' because there are some spoilers about people's fate in book 2. I want to pick 'Mistress of Rome' when it is re-read time again (if they all liked it - the jury is still out since we don't meet for a while).
So....Rome is falling apart from the inside out. We follow Marcella, Cornelia, and two of their cousins as they navigate this fragile world. Emperors are falling by the wayside. Even in peace...things are rocky and anyone can betray anyone. It is a cutthroat time.
So much chaos!!!! I forgot how crazy things get throughout this year! I can't imagine being in their shoes. Even the peaceful times are so tension-y.
Back when I first read this I liked Cornelia and Marcella more by the end (even though Marcella made some bad decisions but damn was she dynamic and so complex!!)...this time? I think I liked Lollia more! She was much more complex and layered than I gave her credit for like everyone else. Sure she is air-headed and whatnot but I truly appreciated her more.
This was good. Very good! I want to read book 2 again asap.
In the end, this was such a good book. Loved it then. Love it now. Chaotic and has a cast of interesting characters. It is a story you can't put down! 5 stars.