Blurb: Aurelia has always valued love and happiness over titles and power. Though her kind-hearted father has allowed her to turn away suitor after suitor in pursuit of a love she cannot yet define, when he dies her choices die with him. Knowing that marrying the elderly governor of a neighboring province can secure her mentally challenged brother's safety, she gives up on her dream of finding love in return for his protection.
Cassius is the ill-fated captain of the governor's guard tasked with escorting the Lady Aurelia and her unpleasant aunt to the governor's estate. Since the soothsayer Tullia foretold an early death for him, Cassius wants nothing more than to keep his hands busy with labor and his heart free from any connections to the world he believes he will be leaving soon.
As they work through a series of misfortunes on the road to the governor's province, the words of the soothsayer start to make sense, and together they find the courage to allow their true destiny to unfold.
Review: This is not my normal read. I'm a raunchy romance novel reader through and through. Soothsayer hardly fits that bill, but I found it to be an enchanting read, nonetheless.
Soothsayer takes place in Rome in 115 CE which made it an utterly fascinating read. You can tell that Amurra did her research, although, to be honest, my lack of knowledge about 155 CE Rome would technically mean that I wouldn't know one way or the other. But the descriptions of the clothing, the settings, and the people were incredible. I found myself googling terminology on occasion to allow myself the full picture of the time period, which made my experience reading the book even better.
Soothsayer was a captivating story of the lengths one young woman goes to protect her special needs brother from a world, and time period, that doesn't understand him. I loved our heroine Aurelia. She was kind to everyone, even their servants and those beneath her station, as well as thoughtful and selfless. She was willing to marry a man forty years her senior if it meant protecting her only family, her brother. I didn't need any convincing to like Aurelia's character. She was a bold and beautiful young woman.
Cassius, our hero, was honorable, but his consistently poor attitude and quickness to jump to judgment made me frustrated at the start. I couldn't believe that he didn't like Aurelia as much as I did (the cad), but as his story develops I gained more sympathy for him and his views. It would be hard to have hope in your life when a future-teller tells you your life is going to be a short one. As the story moves forward I enjoyed watching their innocent fascination with one another turn to something more, even as the clock ticks every closer to Aurelia's impending marriage.
This book was a mega slowburn and what the romance community refers to as a "proper romance" meaning that it is a clean read in which the characters exchange nothing but a couple of kisses, however I knew this going in based on the time period alone. However, the innocent nature of the book only enhances the overall experience.
Not a book I'd recommend to every reader, but for those who love immersive experiences in new settings (and don't mind the lightest of petting between their MCs), this book will spark joy.