I loved the history weaved into the story. The author described everything about a first-century Roman town, from the raised stones for crossings streets, to the layout of the Forum and amphitheater. If you're a Roman history buff, you'll appreciate this one.
The story line was excellent, but a tad bit unbelievable. The author insinuated that Romans had never before seen a female gladiator. From my own research on the time period, I have learned that were female gladiators, and Emperor Nero especially liked them. A female gladiator was called a "gladiatrice" (plural being "gladiatrix"). They were "novelity" entertainment, and fought without armor, wearing only loincloths.
The narration by the Mountain Vesuvius was awesome! That was unique, and one of the book's winning qualities for me. It put me in mind of the narration in the "Lord of the Rings" movies.
The romance between the two main characters was very subtle, and even at the end, there wasn't much kissing. Personally, I like kissing scenes, but if you don't, then this might have just the right amount of chemistry for you.
I'm giving it four stars :-)
Back cover blurb: "Pompeii, a city that's many things to many people. For Cato, it's the perfect escape from a failed political career in Rome. A place to start again, become a winemaker. But when a corrupt politician wrongfully jails Cato's sister, he must oust the man from power to save her.
For Ariella, Pompeii is a means to an end. As a young Jew, she escaped the fall of Jerusalem only to endure slavery to a cruel Roman general. She ends up in Pompeii, disguised as a young man and sold into a gladiator troupe. Her anger fuels her to fight well, hoping to win the arena crowds and reveal her gender at the perfect time. Perhaps then she will win true freedom.
But evil creeps through the streets of Pompeii. Political corruption, religious persecution, and family peril threaten to destroy Ariella and Cato, who are thrown together in the battle to survive. As Vesuvius churns with deadly intent, the two must bridge their differences to save the lives of those they love, before the fiery ash buries Pompeii, leaving the city lost to the world."