Mistress of Rome by Kate Quinn
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Romance, betrayal, games (physical and emotional), war, deceit, just about a little of everything! Mistress of Rome follows the overlapping lives of several characters. Thea is a slave in love with a gladiator, Aruis. Lepida is her mistress who's determined to reach the top of Roman society. Paulinus is the senator's son, Lepida's stepson, and Thea's former lover. Julia, the emperor's ill niece. All of their lives entwine into one exciting story.
Oddly, my favorite character was Lady Lepida. She is nasty and selfish, and I loved to hate her. She manipulated everyone around her to get what she wanted, and even though I didn't want her to succeed, I couldn't wait to see what she would do next. Most readers will probably be cheering for Thea and Arius, and I was, but Lepida was just so intriguing.
Mistress of Rome covers several years in the lives of its characters, and at times it seemed to drone on. But then suddenly something would happen and grab my attention again. Eventually all of the seemingly unimportant events and details came together and formed an amazing story.