REVIEW: The Roman’s Virgin Mistress by Michelle Styles
Thanks again for sending me an advanced copy of your newest Mills and Boon/Harlequin Historical release “The Roman’s Virgin Mistress.” As you hoped, I can honestly say that a) I enjoyed it and b) I think you’re still improving with each book release. The cover is lovely too. You certainly have been smiled upon by the art department because they’re showering you with coverluv. But where’s Silvana’s stolla? It kind of looks like she’s just got a palla over her tunica interior. Or is this what those naughty Baiae party hostesses wore? No wonder the town was known as more relaxed than stuffy old Rome. ;)
Silvana Junia knows what the gossips say about her–" and doesn’t care! Until a mysterious, dangerous stranger rescues her from the sea, and she’s instantly drawn to him.
Lucius Aurelius Fortis is rich and respected. But his playboy past could come back to haunt him if he cannot resist his attraction to beautiful Silvana. And in the hot sun of Baiae, their every move is watched– .
Tempted beyond endurance, Silvana will become his mistress. But she has one last shocking secret–"which will change everything between them!
I really admire how you focus on different locations instead of just Rome and pull interesting historical facts into the plot. While I’m reading and after I finish one of your books, I’m always heading back to my computer to Google things you’ve mentioned and used. From your descriptions, Baiae sounds like a wild resort town. Roman matrons must have worried when their sons headed down for a vacation. I think you’ve really done a good job working facts about Roman life into this book. The bits about the gaming, dancing (as viewed by Roman society) and inheritance were well done. I’m not so sure what Roman dancing actually looked like. Conga line? Free form? Are there any comparable modern games to twelve lines or latrunculi? Have you tried to make fish sauce? Dare I ask if you’re better at spinning than Sylvana? Does anyone still produce Falernian wine? And how exactly is Baiae pronounced?
Sylvana is a heroine who seems gounded in historical accuracy. For all the freedoms she has in Baiae as opposed to Rome, she’s still very much under the care of the men of her family. Even if she often turns out to be the most level headed and practical of them all. There were a few times when she skirted close to being the dreaded Martyr Romance heroine but I was glad to see by the end of the book that she looks like she’s taken off her rose colored glasses where her younger brother and flighty uncle are concerned. I’m not sure whether or not her brother has actually started to grow up or if he’ll stay a wastrel but perhaps Lucius will continue to kick him in the right direction.
Lucius has just the right amount of arrogance to convince me he’s a high ranking Roman. From all I’ve heard, none of them were cream puffs and with his slightly jaded background, I could see his suspicians of Sylvana.
But for all his hardness, he was still endearing in a kind of clueless and bumbling way in his relationship with Sylvana. I hate it when the hero and heroine are unequal in their personal relationship but you evened their playing field nicely.
As I infered, I wasn’t as happy with younger brother Crispus or spendthrift Uncle Aulus but as the story mainly focuses on Lucius and Sylvana, that’s okay. The villain is also fairly generic though his doxy was deliciously floozy and I picked up on the clues linking to his villainy. But as you don’t throw a host of red herrings at us, that wasn’t hard to do. The chariot race was fun to read about and proves once again that men have always wanted prove who’s got the fastest set of wheels. I do wonder why you haven’t written a novel set in Roman Britain since you live so close to Hadrian’s Wall.
There is good news for North American readers as this book will be released here as well as the UK (and in fact is already out as an ebook from eHarlequin), unlike your last release, “A Noble Captive.” Should they rush out and get it? I think so if they want to read something that’s not a Regency and explores an area of the Roman Republic outside of Rome itself. But oh the title! What’s next? “The Tribune’s Twins,” “Gladiator Daddy,” “The Patrician’s Hidden Heir,” “The Centurian’s Secret Baby”…oy. B for “The Roman’s Virgin Mistress.