ARC Review: Brides of Rome by Debra May MacLeod

Posted October 26, 2020 by Stephanie in Reviews / 5 Comments

Title: Brides of Rome
Author: Debra May MacLeod
Series: The Vesta Shadows #1
Publication: October 27th 2020 by Blackstone Publishing
Genre: Historical Fiction
Find it on: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Google Books | Kobo
Rating: 4/5

It is a world of power and privilege, secrets and sacred duty. It is the world of ancient Rome. And it is the esteemed Vestal Virgins—priestesses of Vesta, goddess of the home and hearth—who protect the Eternal Flame that protects the Eternal City.

Dedicated to a thirty-year vow of chaste service, Priestess Pomponia finds herself swept up in the intrigue, violence, wars, and bedroom politics of Rome’s elite—Julius Caesar, Antony and Cleopatra, Octavian and his maneuvering wife, Livia—all the while guarding the secret affection she has in her heart.

But when a charge of incestum—a broken vow of chastity—is made against the Vestal order, the ultimate punishment looms: death by being buried alive in the “Evil Field.”

In Brides of Rome, Book One in the Vesta Shadows series, Debra May Macleod skillfully re-creates the world of ancient Rome with all its brutality and brilliance, all its rich history and even richer legend. A true page-turner that is as smart as it is compelling, this must-read novel brings the Vestal order to life like never before.

First of all, I’ve got to admit it took me a while to really get into this book. I soldiered on and before I knew it I was thorougly hooked. In fact, I had a hard time putting my Kindle down because I really did end up enjoying the story a lot.

I would also like to say that initially I had no idea what time exactly this book took place in, I just knew it was about the Vestal Virgins, which I’ve been fascinated with and haven’t had the opportunity to read about them but I was happily surprised that the story involved Julius Caesar, Cleopatra, Mark Antony, Octavian etc. But the most important character to me was Vestal Priestess Pomponia.

This book had many female characters in the lead and I was so thrilled at that because ancient Rome was mostly a man’s world but these ladies in the lead definitely stole the show and I can’t do anything but praise the author for that. With that said, I feel like I should also say that none of the characters are actually likeable. Life in ancient Rome, especially the capital, was a brutal place and it was hard for a woman to survive.

I don’t want to say too much but my favorite character was Pomponia’s slave Medousa (named after Medusa from mythology). I just loved her spark, the snarky comments she often made in spite of being beaten for it and her devotion to Pomponia.

Brides of Rome by Debra May MacLeod was a daring novel about the early days of the Roman Empire with women in the lead as main characters. It was a slow start for me but the author’s knowledge and passion for ancient Rome definitely showed through the story.

About the author:
Debra is an author of historical fiction focusing on the ancient Roman religion of Vesta and the Vestal Virgins. She is privileged to have been invited to participate in research excursions in the Forum Romanum, the Forum of Caesar and Imperial Fora, including places inaccessible to the general public, and informs her writing and work with this invaluable perspective.

Brides of Rome: A Novel of the Vestal Virgins is her first novel: it is the first book in the historical fiction trilogy, The Vesta Shadows, and has been optioned for film and television.
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5 responses to “ARC Review: Brides of Rome by Debra May MacLeod

  1. It’s really nice when a story can come from a different (female!) perspective, and the major historical figures are kind of in the background.

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