Welcome to today’s stop on the blog tour for Aurelia (Roma Nova #4) by Alison Morton. The fourth in the ‘Roma Nova’ thriller series but the first book in the ‘Aurelia’ trilogy, Aurelia is the perfect place to start for readers (like me) who are new to the series. Thanks to Anne at Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part in the tour and to the author for my review copy.
About the Book
1960s Roma Nova. Retrained as an undercover agent, ex-Praetorian officer Aurelia Mitela is sent to Berlin to investigate silver smuggling, but barely escapes a near-lethal trap. Her lifelong nemesis, Caius Tellus, is determined to eliminate her. When Aurelia is closing in on him, he strikes at her most vulnerable point – her young daughter.
A former military commander, Aurelia is one of Roma Nova’s strong women, but she doubts in her heart and mind that she can overcome her implacable enemy. And what part does the mysterious and attractive Miklós play – a smuggler who knows too much?
Format: Paperback, ebook (286 pp.) Publisher: Pulcheria Press
Published: 22nd January 2019  Genre: Historical Fiction, Thriller
Find Aurelia (Roma Nova #4) on Goodreads
I was aware of Alison Morton’s ‘Roma Nova’ series and its premise piqued my interest but I’d never had the opportunity to read any of the books….up until now. As mentioned above, Aurelia is the fourth book in the ‘Roma Nova’ series but the first book of the ‘Aurelia’ trilogy and takes place before the events of the first three books. So it’s the perfect place for readers new to the ‘Roma Nova’ series to start.
I went into the book expecting the alternate history element to be a strong focus of the book – as indeed it is – but I was perhaps unprepared for how much the book has the pace and feel of a modern day thriller. The book pitches the reader right into the imagined world of Roma Nova the author has created. There is a helpful historical note for readers who want to learn more about the background to the alternate history of the Roman Empire imagined by the author.
I really enjoyed the mixture of ancient and modern. There are things readers may be familiar with from Roman history: imperial structures; military organisation and weaponry; celebration of festivals, such as Saturnalia; and customs, such as funeral rites and curse tablets. Alongside these though there is cutting edge technology in the fields of forensics, communications and surveillance.
Roma Nova is a female-dominated society where it’s the men who carry the bags. There are some nice touches of humour on that theme. For example, when Aurelia mentions the prospect of a new computer system to her boss, Plico, he responds, “The gods forbid! That’s what we have typists for. What in Hades would we do with all the spare young men who sit in the typing pool?”
Aurelia is one tough lady who, thanks to her military training, can look after herself when the need arises. She certainly does in this book because she’s up against a cunning, cruel and ruthless enemy in Caius Tellus, who will stop at nothing to get what he wants. Along the way, Aurelia faces attempted kidnap, false imprisonment, personal loss and is presented with difficult choices between following her heart, protecting her family and doing her duty. Luckily she has some capable female allies, including lawyer, Galba, and second-in-command, Fabia. And, as head of one of the Twelve Families of Roma Nova, Aurelia also has the ear of the Empress Justina. Useful.
The action moves from Roma Nova to Berlin and Vienna (with a pit-stop for some romance: cue hunky smuggler, Miklós) as Aurelia and Caius do battle – literal and intellectual. The author’s previous military career is evident in the dramatic action scenes whether on operational manoeuvres on a snowy mountainside, in dark side streets or closer to home. Building to a tense and gripping climax, it’s clear that even if you’ve won the battle, you’ve not necessarily won the war.
The author describes her books as being for readers who enjoy ‘mystery books for women with plenty of twists and a female protagonist driving the action’. I have to agree. I found the combination of alternate history, strong female characters and the pace of a thriller a compelling one. I shall look forward to reading more of Aurelia’s adventures in Insurrectio and Retalio.
I received a review copy courtesy of Random Things Tours and the author.
In three words: Action-packed, pacy, imaginative
Try something similar…False Lights by K. J. Whittaker (read my review here)
About the Author
Alison Morton writes the Roma Nova thriller series featuring modern Praetorian heroines. This springs from a deep love of Roman history, six years’ military service and a life of reading crime, adventure and thriller fiction.
All six full-length novels have received the BRAG Medallion. Successio, Aurelia and Insurrectio were selected as Historical Novel Society’s Indie Editor’s Choices. Aurelia was a finalist in the 2016 HNS Indie Award. Successio featured as Editor’s Choice in The Bookseller.
A ‘Roman nut’ since age 11, Alison has misspent decades clambering over Roman sites throughout Europe. She holds an MA History, blogs about Romans, social media and writing. Oh, and she gives talks. She continues writing, cultivates a Roman herb garden and drinks wine in France with her husband. To get the latest news, subscribe to her free newsletter.
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