by Vicky Alvear Shecter
Set in Pompeii just before the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius, Lucia is about to be married off to a much older man so her father can get money for his gladiator school. Just weeks before the impending marriage, however, Tag, one of her father’s slaves, returns from Rome where he had been studying medicine so he could heal hurt gladiators, and an old friendship rekindles between them. The relationship blossoms into something more, but both Lucia and Tag know it wouldn’t be able to cross their class difference even if Lucia weren’t already engaged to someone else.
I liked the story and found that I was engaged in the characters and the story and wanted to know what would happen even without the element of Mt. Vesuvius adding the sense of impending doom. Although I’m not an expert in Ancient Rome, from what I’ve read of other reviews, the book is historically accurate and should appeal to those interested in historical fiction.
Tag was a good counter viewpoint to Lucia. Lucia was somewhat ignorant and probably would have come off as whiney if the reader were not also given the other side of the story to balance it out. Tag could point out her mistaken assumptions and he broke many of her beliefs about her father that were fairly clear to the reader as wrong.
This is a 3.8. I liked the story right up until the end. I won’t give details because it’s the end, but I felt cheated and it wasn’t what I wanted at all. But the writing and story were good and the setting was made well. It is whipped cream. It’s tastes good as you’re eating it, but when you’re done, it has dissolved away without leaving much