03 April, 2015

#BookReview :: The Wedding Shroud (Tales of Ancient Rome #1) by Elisabeth Storrs

In 406 BC, to seal a tenuous truce, the young Roman Caecilia is wedded to Vel Mastarna, an Etruscan nobleman from Veii. Leaving her militaristic homeland, Caecilia is determined to remain true to Roman virtues while living among the sinful Etruscans. But, despite her best intentions, she is seduced by a culture that offers women education, independence, sexual freedom, and an empowering religion.

Enchanted by Veii but terrified of losing ties to Rome, Caecilia performs rites to delay becoming a mother, thereby postponing true entanglement. Yet as she develops an unexpected love for Mastarna, she’s torn between her birthplace and the city in which she now lives. As war looms, Caecilia discovers Fate is not so easy to control, and she must choose where her allegiance lies.

I do love historical fiction and also a good romance. Club them together, add some political twists and some drama – I am sold! 

Cecelia has been brought up as a modest young woman – as expected from Roman women in those days. Growing up, she knew love in two forms. First from her loving father who died when she was still very young. Then she met Drusus, her cousin’s friend while living under the guardianship of her uncle. Drusus and Cecelia loved each other and wanted to get married, but her uncle had other plans for her. As a political movement, Cecelia was married off to Vel Mastarna, an Etruscan nobleman from Veii. Thrust into a whole new world, that was pole opposite to the world she was brought up in, Cecelia struggles between her disgust and her curiosity for this new culture and lifestyle. Caught up in her new life, she struggles and longs to return to Rome. Will she know love again? Will she choose her Roman background or her new family in Veii?

Cecelia is a warm and vibrant character and as a reader I got drawn to her immediately. I loved how real she felt. As she goes through various emotions of Love, disgust, curiosity, confusion, deceit and betrayal, I was right beside her for the rollercoaster journey.  I discovered the Entruscan world right alongside her and experienced her dilemmas and freedom. There were moments when Cecelia brooded so much that it almost started to irritate me, but then she had a right to sulking what with her beliefs and choices being challenged at every turn. Vel Mastarna on the other hand is a character I absolutely adored. For a change, the male protagonist is not straight out of a fashion magazine with his good looks sort. But he is a good man who understands, cares and loves with all his heart. His dark past and sufferings also make it easy to fall for him. He is always challenging and pushing Cecelia’s boundaries. Their relationship is another aspect of the book that I really liked. Instead of insta-love, their relationship grew and strengthened over a period of time. There are various other characters in the book who each contribute something to the storyline. Elisabeth Storrs has created a beautiful and enticing setting for her series. The Entruscan lifestyle and its contrast to the Roman society are beautifully captured. 

I particularly enjoyed reading this book and would recommend it to historical fiction/romance lovers.

Review Copy received via Netgalley

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