Friday, August 26

Enslaved by Cassandra Dean

This review was done on an ebook copy provided by the lovely ladies at Sirens Song Reviews. Check out my post on their website at: Enslaved by Cassandra Dean

Lucia’s father owns slaves, but most especially he owns gladiators. One named Marcus has shown particular promise, and Lucia’s father has great aspirations for him – but first he must learn of the Gods. Determined to have Marcus learn, Lucia’s father demands that she teach him all she knows about the Roman gods and the glory of Rome. However what starts as innocent teaching turns into love. But soon enough, life and society catch up with Lucia and her slave – can their love survive the distance thrust upon them?

This book sounded really interesting – mostly because of the unique time period. Historical romance is a genre dominated by one time period and place – Regency England. Other, much more minor, time periods and places include the Wild West/American Frontier, Medieval Europe, and the European Continent during the 1800s. Very few people write romances set in Rome, and for that reason I was definitely intrigued. And the novella was just as good as I hoped – in fact, I wish it had been a full-length novel.

The first thing I noted was that Dean is excellent at world-building. I am no particular expert on Ancient Rome, but to me it seemed like the story was historically accurate. I was immersed to the hilt in historical cities filled with gladiators, sinful excess, and coliseums. I found the time and place fascinating, and so well-written that for time and place alone I would’ve kept reading – simply because it was unique and different, daring and bold. I liked that Dean wrote in first person (from Lucia’s point of view) and I truly enjoyed seeing the world through her eyes. To be honest, I generally dislike first person so the fact that I was able to enjoy it here was another surprise. Dean clearly writes very well.
The book was too short for my tastes, especially for all that happened during it; it moved at an incredibly fast pace – so fast I almost felt rushed. I still enjoyed and savored every page, every moment, every word – and I desperately wanted to see more. Dean was very good about marking how much time had past – either using the age of characters or by actually stating it, which was important. The story takes place over the 15 or so years of Lucia’s life, and without the marking of time I could’ve been very lost. Dean seemed to be cognizant of her reader’s possible confusion while writing, and filled in any holes almost immediately – making it an easy, fast, and fun read.

Marcus is interesting, sexy, romantic, and surprisingly contemporary. I got a generally modern-esque feel from him, probably due to the fact that he’s a self-made man and a scholar. He was patient, sweet, and adorable with a certain little girl who served as a secondary character. I liked Lucia, and felt bad for all she suffered before her HEA, but it was Marcus who really caught my eye. Some people may be bothered by a few of his actions but I enjoyed how real he seemed – and how he was able to admit he had needs, and that one of those was for comfort.

What else is there to say? Good characters (Oh Marcus! *fans self*), a great location and time period, and a wonderful romance – put this book on your to-read list right away!

“Sexy”ness rating: Hot. Like, burning coals hot.

Overall Rating: A- (on the novella scale)

Bottom Line: A really interesting setting, well-developed characters, and a super-fast pace makes this novella a definite TO-READ.

Pages: 138
Published: July 15, 2011
Genre: Historical (set in Rome)

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