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Flavia's Secret Hardcover – Large Print, 1 Jan 2013
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Flavia’s Secret begins after the death of Flavias’s kind mistress, who has left all her property, including Flavia and her other slaves to her adopted son, Marcus Brutus. Flavia fears he will sell her and the rest of the slaves, and is also afraid that he will discover her secret.
With great skill Lindsay Townsend transported me to occupied Britain, the culture, clothes, food and much more.
Through Flavia, a Celt, I had a glimpse of Celtic beliefs. ‘Rivers and water were sacred to her (Flavia’s) people, but (at the baths) the Romans had enclosed the spring, perhaps not even knowing that all springs were a gateway to the world of the dead.’
Despite the differences in their beliefs and social standing, Flavia and Marcus Brutus are attracted to each other, but Flavia fears he will never recover from his wife and daughter’s deaths.
The novel, in which a criminal must receive justice, held my interest from the first page to the last.
This is no surface-level romance - there's a lot of depth to the book, which I found really interesting and compelling. I was especially intrigued by the mystery of Lady Valeria's death, and I loved the drama created by the villain of the piece.
The characters jumped right off the pages into my imagination. Flavia is easy to like and to root for, and I felt such sympathy for her for the lack of freedom she had to endure as a slave. I love how courageous she is, and principled. Marcus is a wonderful alpha male hero - I fell in love with him the moment he rescued a young slave boy and adopted him as a surrogate son. I really liked the development of Flavia and Marcus's relationship in the book, which felt mature and true-to-life while also remaining full of emotion and passion.
Overall, this is a book full of historical context, intelligent exploration of the time, drama, intrigue and romance - all conveyed through a well-crafted writing style that makes for enjoyable and easy reading. It is a book I would recommend to any reader who loves romantic historical fiction. Having read Flavia's Secret I'm delighted to have found a great new author whose books I can add to my `to read' list.
I was offered this book in exchange for a fair review.
I loved the little touches the author interweaves between the characters. For instance, Flavia and the other slaves loved their old mistress, Lady Valeria, and were extremely loyal, but a modern reader might interpret this as a very understandable form of Stockholm Syndrome. Yes, the old girl fed them, and even gave them little gifts during the festivals, but she also clothed them in rags, and there was no hypercaust to keep everyone warm.
Although Flavia, as the only person who could read and write, had attempted to save them, the older slaves, too, were busy with a secret cottage industry in the belief that if they could earn enough over the years they might be able to buy Flavia's freedom during the Saturnalia. Having just watched the series on BBC about the lives of ordinary Romans, I could see how these small acts could keep a spirit alive, and I can understand their mistrust when Marcus arrives.
The author brought to life the bustling city through smells and noises and the claustrophobia of the streets and alleys, and also the lot of slaves in a far worse position than those in Flavia's household. Life was cheap and it was hard, and the author does not ignore that. Nor did she ignore the natural world so close by. Scenes in the wood and forest were equally portrayed in rich, alluring prose.
And the romance? Who could not fall for blue-eyed Marcus Brucetus? The novel left me smiling for the rest of the day.
I love books that sweep me into another time and place. Ms. Townsend, with her lush prose and detailed knowledge of Roman Britain, does just that. I especially like her knack for creating strong non-traditional women in a time when women had few choices and slaves even fewer. Add in a complex plot (I LOVE complex plots), a wide range of compelling characters, a hero to die for and, of course, romance, and we have a winner. Welcome to FLAVIA'S SECRET.
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