First Lines Fridays | March 15


First Lines Fridays is a weekly feature for book lovers hosted by Wandering Words. What if instead of judging a book by its cover, its author or its prestige, we judged it by its opening lines?

  • Pick a book off your shelf (it could be your current read or on your TBR) and open to the first page
  • Copy the first few lines, but don’t give anything else about the book away just yet – you need to hook the reader first
  • Finally… reveal the book

My father, Caesar Augustus, celebrated his victory over Mark Antony and Cleopatra when I was nine years old. By defeating them in a great sea battle, he had become ruler of the Roman Empire. I watched the triumphal procession from a stand built for the occasion on the Sacred Way in Rome. My stepmother, Livia, sat beside me, wearing her red hair in a severe, old-fashioned style, a stola of plain yellow wool draping and obscuring her body. She did nothing that day to emphasize her beauty but exuded dignity and propriety.

I read this book back in 2016 and really enjoyed it. Historical fiction is one of my favorite genres and ancient Roman, Greek, and Egypt top the list. This book has political strategy, fiery female characters, a revenge plot, and the obligatory cravings of the flesh. It is certainly a slow burn, depending more on depth of story than flash bang action but it still one of my favorite of the genre.

Two years after Emperor Augustus’s bloody defeat of Mark Antony and Cleopatra, he triumphantly returns to Rome. To his only child, Julia, he brings an unlikely companion—Selene, the daughter of the conquered Egyptian queen and her lover.

Under the watchful eye of Augustus’s wife, Livia, Selene struggles to accept her new home among her parents’ enemies. Bound together by kinship and spilled blood, these three women—Livia, Selene, and Julia—navigate the dangerous world of Rome’s ruling elite, their every move a political strategy, their most intimate decisions in the emperor’s hands.

Always suppressing their own desires for the good of Rome, each must fulfill her role. For astute Livia, this means unwavering fidelity to her all-powerful husband; for sensual Julia, surrender to an arranged marriage and denial of her craving for love and the pleasures of the flesh; for orphaned Selene, choosing between loyalty to her family’s killers and her wish for revenge.

Can they survive Rome’s deadly intrigues, or will they be swept away by the perilous currents of the world’s most powerful empire? (from Goodreads)

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