Monday, January 30, 2012

Mandy Reviews: Vanity and Valor by R. Lynn

File Size: 509 KB
Copyright: December 12, 2011
Publisher: Sui Generis Books

Book Summary:
(Taken from Amazon)

His father's dying wish was for him to give up racing chariots and focus on being the new Dominus. The problem with that was, all he ever wanted to do was race chariots. When his desires and duty clash he finds himself at the verge of losing everything.

She was sold into slavery by her father and purchased by Rome's champion charioteer. Forced to work in his trigarium with the horses, she learns that women hold little to no value and that a prized racehorse has more rights than she does. When faced with the choice to risk her life and deny her status ... will she? Doing so could get both her and her Dominus killed.

Mandy's Review:

I've had this book read for about a week, but I could never figure out where to start my review. Perhaps it was because every time I tried, the hubs would turn on The Big Bang Theory and I would get distracted ... Bazinga! =)

Anyhow, let's start with this ...

I'm not sure that I would consider this a romance. There is not a lot of wooing or sexual tension in this book.  I think it would be better to call this a historical fiction piece.

We start off with Sellah (one of the main characters) being bound with other women as slaves. She was sold into slavery by her father in order to pay off his drinking debt. They're on their way to Rome where they'll all be auctioned off to the highest bidder as prostitutes ... some to the lowly citizens of Rome, others to the privileged upper class.

Due to a slight altercation and the soft heart of one of the Dominus' employees, Sellah and her friend end up as part of the Dominus' slaves. The Dominus, Thaddius, was not in the market to buy new slaves. His intentions were to procure new charioteers since it was deemed that he should no longer race as it was unbecoming of a Dominus' station in life. However, wind up with slaves he does and heads home with no new charioteers to speak of. This, of course, does not make him happy.

Thaddius is struggling to take on the reins of being the Dominus. His heart is with chariot racing. Oh, sure, he knew one day his father would pass away and being Dominus would fall to him, but he just didn't expect it so soon. Now his heart is at war with his head, causing him to make some bad decisions in order to assert his authority with the slaves.

Sellah is now added to the war between Thaddius' heart and head. He starts to have feelings for her, even though she is below his station. Even jealousy rears its ugly head when he catches what he thinks is Sellah and another slave kissing ... which causes him to get angry and make even more bad decisions.

Thaddius needs a good swift kick in the butt. Sellah needs to figure out who and what she really wants.

Will Thaddius win the chariot races or will he lose his entire estate to a money-hungry, nasty Dominus looking for revenge against Sellah?

Will Thaddius ever admit his true feelings to Sellah? If so, how does he intend to overcome her position as his lesser?

Will Sellah ever calm the wild nature she has?

I enjoyed this story being set in Rome, however, the language of the book threw me a little. It didn't really sound how I thought Romans would speak. Yes, there were some words used that related to the times (i.e. chariots, Dominus, Coliseum, etc.), but the flow of the character's conversations just didn't feel authentic to me. I don't even know if I'm explaining this correctly ... I'm probably not, but I still hope you can understand what I'm trying to say ... I felt like, at times, they were Westerners (i.e. Americans, Canadians) rather than Romans.

Despite that, this was an interesting read with a unique storyline. I loved that it ended the way it did. I would recommend this to those who enjoy a historical fiction novel with nuances of romance.

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