I’m delighted to host today’s stop on the blog tour for The Quest for the Crown of Thorns by Cynthia Ripley Miller and to bring you my review of this lively historical mystery. Set in the 5th Century against the backdrop of the decline of the once mighty Roman Empire, The Quest for the Crown of Thorns is the second book in The Long-Hair Saga, a follow-up to the thrilling On the Edge of Sunrise which I shall be reviewing at a later date.
Plus, there’s a chance to win 1 paperback copy (US only) & 2 eBook copies (INTL) of The Quest for the Crown of Thorns. Click here to enter the giveaway via the tour page (scroll down to the bottom) and to view the terms & conditions. Entries must be received by 11:59pm EST on October 16th 2017.
About the Book
AD 454. Three years after the Roman victory over Attila the Hun at Catalaunum, Arria Felix and Garic the Frank are married and enjoying life on Garic’s farm in northern Gaul (France). Their happy life is interrupted, when a cryptic message arrives from Rome, calling Arria home to her father, the esteemed Senator Felix. At Arria’s insistence, but against Garic’s better judgment, they leave at once. Upon their arrival at Villa Solis, they are confronted with a brutal murder and the dangerous mission that awaits them. The fate of a profound and sacred object – Christ’s Crown of Thorns – rests in their hands. They must carry the holy relic to the safety of Constantinople, away from a corrupt emperor and old enemies determined to steal it for their own gain. But an even greater force arises to derail their quest – a secret cult willing to commit any atrocity to capture the Crown of Thorns. And all the while, the gruesome murder and the conspiracy behind it haunt Arria’s thoughts. Arria and Garic’s marital bonds are tested but forged as they partner together to fulfil one of history’s most challenging missions, The Quest for the Crown of Thorns.
Praise for The Quest for the Crown of Thorns:
“Ripley Miller astutely brings to life a Rome teetering precariously on the brink of collapse …the combination of political and romantic drama –spiritual as well –is rousing. The reader should be glad to have read this volume and eager for a third. Intelligent and artfully crafted historical fiction…” (Kirkus Reviews)
“From cover to cover a gripping read – in all senses of the word! Grips your interest and imagination, your held breath and your pounding heart! A thumping good novel!” (Helen Hollick, USA Today bestselling author of the Sea Witch Voyages)
“Forbidden love, a turbulent time period, and world-changing events combine to produce a real page-turner.” (India Edghill, author of Queenmaker, Wisdom’s Daughter, and Delilah)
“A passionate and intriguing take on the often overlooked clash of three brutal and powerful empires: the Romans, Franks, and Huns. A compelling read!” (Stephanie Thornton, author of The Secret History and The Tiger Queens)
“Readers will be absorbed by a setting of barbarian Gaul and the constancy of Arria’s and Garic’s destined love amid the strife of a dying Roman Empire.” (Albert Noyer, author of The Getorius and Arcadia Mysteries)
“The Quest for the Crown of Thorns is an elegant masterpiece of historical fiction. This book totally ensnared me in its clasps, and it did not release me until I had read it all. The attention to detail was exquisite The characterisation was sublime, and the romance was breathtakingly beautiful. I adored the world that Miller has created, as well as the characters in it. This is a sit-down and finish book and is one I would highly recommend.” (Mary Anne Yarde author of the Du Lac Chronicles)
Format: eBook, Paperback (308 pp.) Publisher: Knox Robinson Publishing Published: 12 June 2017 Genre: Historical Fiction/Mystery
Find The Quest for the Crown of Thorns on Goodreads
Having read and enjoyed the first book in The Long Hair Saga, I can reassure potential readers that The Quest for the Crown of Thorns can be read perfectly well as a standalone (although you’d miss a great story). In fact, it has a slightly different tone to On the Edge of Sunrise, with the mystery element much more prominent in this second book.
Readers of On the Edge of Sunrise will welcome the return of familiar characters whilst new readers will quickly make their acquaintance thanks to the author’s deft recaps of important events from the first book. There’s Arria – accomplished, resourceful, shrewd – determined to fulfil her mission and safeguard her future. There’s Garic – handsome, passionate, brave – devoted to Arria and to ensuring her safety. There’s Vodamir, Garic’s cousin – cocky, impetuous, loyal – whose daredevil instincts may just have been tamed by the love of a good woman. There’s Marcella – beautiful, seductive, manipulative – who is seeking a means to secure a wealthy and powerful patron and who will use all her charms (and we mean all) to get it.
However, there are also new characters to get to know as the focus shifts from the battlefields of Gaul in the previous book, to Rome and Constantinople. As the very existence of the Roman Empire is threatened, the struggle for power and influence reaches new heights and there are powerful individuals and groups who will stop at nothing to achieve their ambitions. As Arria and her companion set out to fulfil their mission, many dangers lie ahead on the road. Old rivalries are rekindled, plots are made, alliances are formed and broken and double crosses abound. Death and betrayal potentially wait around every corner.
As in the first book, passions run high, including in the bedroom. Readers who crave plenty of spice with their historical romance will be well served (forgive the pun). If anything, there’s more spicy bedroom action in this book than the last!
The author keeps the action moving along apace with plenty of twists and turns and ‘what just happened there?’ moments. Whilst many of the characters are imagined, the story makes reference to actual events and there is fascinating detail of daily Roman life – dining and bathing customs, clothing and travel – that give the story an air of authenticity and credibility. It all adds up to a very enjoyable read for lovers of historical mystery/romance.
I received a review copy courtesy of the author and HF Virtual Book Tours in return for an honest review.
In three words: Suspenseful, action-packed, passionate
Try something similar…Roman Blood by Steven Saylor
About the Author
Cynthia Ripley Miller is a first generation Italian-American writer with a love for history, languages and books. She has lived, worked, and travelled in Europe, Africa, North America and the Caribbean. As a girl, she often wondered what it would be like to journey through time (she still does), yet knew it could only be through the imagination and words of writers and their stories. Today, she writes to bring the past to life.
She holds two degrees and has taught history and teaches English. Her short fiction has appeared in the anthology Summer Tapestry, at Orchard Press Mysteries.com and The Scriptor. A Chanticleer International Chatelaine Award finalist for her novel, On the Edge of Sunrise, she has reviewed for UNRV Roman History, and blogs at Historical Happenings and Oddities: A Distant Focus.
Cynthia has four children and lives with her husband, twin cats, Romulus and Remus, and Jessie, a German Shepherd, in a suburb of Chicago.
Connect with Cynthia