THE DAUGHTERS OF PALATINE HILL is Phyllis T. Smith’s second book. Her first book “I Am Livia” is definitely at the top of my list now.

Two years after Emperor Augustus’s bloody defeat of Mark Antony and Cleopatra, he triumphantly returns to Rome. To his only child, Julia, he brings an unlikely companion—Selene, the daughter of the conquered Egyptian queen and her lover.

Under the watchful eye of Augustus’s wife, Livia, Selene struggles to accept her new home among her parents’ enemies. Bound together by kinship and spilled blood, these three women—Livia, Selene, and Julia—navigate the dangerous world of Rome’s ruling elite, their every move a political strategy, their most intimate decisions in the emperor’s hands.

Always suppressing their own desires for the good of Rome, each must fulfill her role. For astute Livia, this means unwavering fidelity to her all-powerful husband; for sensual Julia, surrender to an arranged marriage and denial of her craving for love and the pleasures of the flesh; for orphaned Selene, choosing between loyalty to her family’s killers and her wish for revenge.

Can they survive Rome’s deadly intrigues, or will they be swept away by the perilous currents of the world’s most powerful empire? (Synopsis from Amazon)

pullquote_right]If you’re looking for historical fiction that not only takes you “there”, but into the hearts, minds, and lives of the characters, your search is over.  [/pullquote_right]

Ancient Rome is one of my favorite historical eras so I was pretty excited to see THE DAUGHTERS OF PALATINE HILL. This is how I prefer my historical fiction when it involves actual historical figures. These are the qualities I look for:

-It should transport me to another time and place. The story should have an excellent grasp of the period and culture. I neither expect, nor want, characters from ancient Rome to have the same mores or feelings about issues, social or otherwise. I want them to be an honest reflection of their times. This is especially true when it involves actual historical figures.

-My preference is to become intimately involved with at least one of the characters. To be able to put myself in their shoes, see things from their perspective.

-Make me think, rethink, wonder, speculate…..

THE DAUGHTERS OF PALATINE HILL did all these things. Ms. Smith brought Livia, Julia, and Selene to life. Focus is on the characters and their motivations. Emphasis is placed on the political intricacies and aspects of their situations, rather than the decadence and lewdness that many stories highlight.

Livia was a far cry from the cruel, manipulative woman driven by greed and ambition for her son that I’d met before.

Julia was more than the selfish, spoiled, petulant woman who had everything, without it ever being enough, that I thought I knew. Though she certainly displayed those traits; she was rather sad, looking for love, recognition, and validation in all the wrong ways and places.

Selene, I confess to knowing almost nothing about her. However, the portrayal of the tightrope she navigated so brilliantly was fascinating. She’s definitely snagged my interest and I’ll be looking for more information about her.

If you’re looking for historical fiction that not only takes you “there”, but into the hearts, minds, and lives of the characters, your search is over. THE DAUGHTERS OF PALATINE HILL does all that and more.

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About the Reviewer

Ivy Truitt
Transplanted Southerner and avid reader. My tastes are eclectic. I discovered mysteries first then historicals in the era of Kathleen Woodiwiss & Rosemary Rogers. I was never able to finish Gone With the Wind, Scarlett got on my nerves too bad, but I loved Alaina in Ashes in the Wind. I also manage the guest author blog for Manic Readers. In addition to here you can find me on FB, Twitter, Goodreads, Librarything, & Riffle. Always up for talking about books, just gimme a holler!!