by Vicky Alvear Shecter
When your world blows apart, what will you hold onto?
Tag is a medical slave, doomed to spend his life healing his master's injured gladiators. But his warrior's heart yearns to fight in the gladiator ring himself and earn enough money to win his freedom.
Lucia is the daughter of Tag's owner, doomed by her father's greed to marry a much older Roman man. But she loves studying the natural world around her home in Pompeii, and lately she's been noticing some odd occurrences in the landscape: small lakes disappearing; a sulfurous smell in the air. . . .
When the two childhood friends reconnect, each with their own longings, they fall passionately in love. But as they plot their escape from the city, a patrician fighter reveals his own plans for them -- to Lucia's father, who imprisons Tag as punishment. Then an earthquake shakes Pompeii, in the first sign of the chaos to come. Will they be able to find each other again before the volcano destroys their whole world?
Okay, you guys. Get ready for this one, because it's a doozy.
This is the second book I've read by Vicky Alvear Schecter, and it did not disappoint. I loved it even more than I loved Cleopatra's Moon (which, if you haven't read it, I highly recommend it...it's a bit of a more in-depth read, but definitely a good book). This book was a lot more fast-paced than her first, and I don't know if that was the fact that this book had to be, in order to lead up to the big event (hint: the volcano...I don't think that's a spoiler, right guys? You knew about the volcano, right?) or what, but I couldn't stop turning the pages.
Thing to know Number 1: This is a love story, first and foremost. And the love between Lucia and Tag is both organic and desperate. They grew up together, and their love stems from those early days, but they can't be together. Because Tag is a slave, and Lucia is his owner's daughter. Much of the story revolves around them and their relationship, but there is a sense of urgency as we as the readers know what's coming, even when they do not.
Thing to know Number 2: The stage is set for the eruption through the eyes of Lucia and Tag in the weeks and months beforehand. If you're looking for all-chaos-all-the-time, this isn't it. This is a beautiful, gradual story of forbidden love, that becomes even more desperate as the days begin to count down to the eruption.
I loved it. Such a good read, you guys. But then, I've always found that era of history incredibly interesting, and Vicky Alvear Schecter writes beautifully. I can't wait for more from her.
Thus ends my spoiler-free review. Except for the stuff about the volcano.
...You guys KNEW about the volcano, right?