Where did I get the book: Netgalley E-arc
Release Date: Out now
As the Romans storm the last stronghold of Dacia, Princess Ademeni awaits her fate. Taken as a slave, she is deposited into General Marcus Cordovis’s home as a gift.
Driven to avenge her family, Ademeni plots to kill her captor and escape. Though not the cruel victor she expects, Marcus keeps her too close to make escape easy-so close that Ademeni is soon tormented by an unbidden, traitorous attraction. In a moment of weakness, a passionate kiss almost undoes them both.
But the handsome, widowed general has another surprise for Ademeni: a young daughter. Marcus dares ask Ademeni to help him bridge the gap between him and his little girl. And now, Ademeni is growing too fond of those she is supposed to despise. As Marcus prepares for the triumphal march and the opening of the gladiatorial games-where captives of her homeland will be sacrificed-Ademeni readies for her own battle-between revenge and love.
*Blurb taken from Goodreads*
I love all things set during the Ancient Greek and the Roman age and I think it’s because of the time of epic empire building, brutal wars — and yes, those tunics. Heh! So I jumped at the chance when I caught sight of a romance set during this era on Netgalley by Carina. A young princess who is enslaved by a conquering general and despite their differences and backgrounds, they fall in love, which is a trope I really like.
Ademeni is captured along with her sister by Marcus soon after her kingdom has fallen to the Romans, and her father and brothers are killed by them. She then finds herself as a household slave in the house of the Roman general Marcus who has no idea that she was placed there by his ambitious second-in-command and brother in law, Tertullian, as part of the spoils of war. Marcus is uncomfortable with the idea of Ademeni as part of his household — and Ademeni sees this as a chance to gain her revenge on the deaths of her family members, and for the loss of her Kingdom by trying to kill him. When that fails, Marcus — despite being a General — understands her loss and is drawn to her. Ademeni realises that she is able to use this for her advantage, although she also finds herself being attracted to him despite her resolve to escape.
I had high hopes for this book with the setting, premise and the fact it had one of my favourite tropes. It all fell flat pretty much from the get go. I found the romantic tension between Marcus and Ademeni to be lukewarm, and it didn’t help that I found her really annoying because she had several too stupid to live moments throughout the story. I also couldn’t get past that despite Marcus being a figure of hate for Ademeni because of what he represented, he was very empathetic and understanding to her plight and treated her with respect. However, I could initially understand the fact she would feel antagonistic towards those who had enslaved and killed her family. But once she got settled in Marcus’ household, and her role and position wasn’t as harrowing as her sister’s who was placed in Tertullian’s house, I really then lost patience with her reasoning about trying to escape and attempting to kill Marcus or Tertullian. She was impulsive without any foresight on the repercussions on her actions and the way she acted out was not well thought out.
So when Ademeni realises her real feelings for Marcus are more than sexual attraction, it didn’t work for me. The transition from her being against him and what he stands for to wanting to help him didn’t feel realistic. Marcus also had the patience of a saint, and although I preferred his character compared to Ademeni’s, I didn’t get a real sense on what he was really like. I also wished more was spent on his feelings about his first wife as so much was spent being built up about this but the truth about the real reason behind his guilt and feelings left me feeling meh. I also felt it was glossed over and this was a major flaw in the story because a few plot threads were definitely delved very lightly, and there was no great depth throughout the book. And the ending with the betrayal by someone close to Marcus felt unrealistic, and I was quite surprised by that character especially since they were so aware of the mistakes and the repercussions by Ademeni made that affected their household.
I did like the character of Tertullian who shaped up to be a good villain with his cold ambition to gain Marcus’ position. However, I felt the ongoing plot didn’t really engage me enough because the story wasn’t as strong as I hoped. I did think the author realistically laid out the setting of ancient Rome and that was a real highlight of the book, although several times, the characters slipped up and mentioned modern terms which threw me off the story.
But overall I was pretty much underwhelmed by this book because the romance was lackluster for me and the rest of the book couldn’t carry that off due to that. The setting and concept was great, and I really enjoyed the historical descriptions which was rich and detailed. I wished the romance and characters were fleshed out and developed, but sadly for me, this wasn’t the case.
I give Surrender to the Roman a D+