The author Jane Finnis was born in Britain, in what she describes in her own words as "God's Own Country, Yorkshire." As I too am from Yorkshire it is not a statement I am about to argue with. She studied history at London University and then stayed on in the capital and worked for some years as a freelance broadcaster for the BBC. She is now settled back in Yorkshire, close to the coast. She has always had a love of the Roman era and when she finally found time to do some writing, it seemed to be the obvious period in which to set her books.
This the second book in the Aurelia Marcella mysteries follows the story of Aurelia an innkeeper in the north of Britain not far from York, or as the Roman's called the city Eboracum. The north has never taken to the Roman customs in the same way as southern Britain but as far as Aurelia is concerned that is not a reason to avoid celebrating Saturnalia. However Aurelia's plans for a quiet holiday are shattered by the midnight arrival of her brother.
His sudden arrival is to tell his sister that someone in Rome is spreading rumours that the family is plotting against Caesar himself. As if this is not enough trouble for the family, Aurelia's inn is being threatened by some sort of protection racket. Then to cap it all a party of demanding travelers related to the provincial governor turn up at the door.
There quarrels spill over into the household and then to heap more misery onto Aurelia's shoulders one of the group dies at the feast of Saturnalia and Aurelia's younger sister, Albia is the chief suspect. It would seem that Aurelia is going to need all the help she can get to clear the family name and prove her younger sister Albia's innocence . . .