Ex-Praetorian officer Aurelia Mitela regretted ever thinking she was bored. Following her mother’s death, she is forced to take care of matters. But such a life was not becoming of her. When the opportunity to be retrained as an undercover operative is placed before her it is a chance she could not resist. her familial ties put her in the unique position to be able to investigate a smuggling ring, an opportunity which allows her to realign with the person she wanted to be. Unaware of the dangers she would bring upon herself and her family she delves deeper into the investigation, determined to expose the guilty party, but when someone finds the means to exploit her, she has some difficult choices to make, country, duty, or family.
Aurelia is part of Alison Morton’s Nova Roma thriller series. Interesting twists will keep a reader engaged as they become invested in the well-developed characters, Aurelia the main protagonist is perfectly complemented by the challenging antagonist. Morton’s world-building shows insight into how times may have been different if history had moved in an alternative direction, and her descriptions suggest she has good knowledge and understanding of key areas, all which enhance the feeling of reality injected into the complex and thoughtful story arcs. Action, mystery, and adventure drive this steady paced plot forward as divided between duty, country, and family Aurelia is forced to make difficult, sometimes heart-wrenching, choices. I enjoyed watching her character change and alter as her investigation takes interesting and life-threatening twists. Those who enjoy strong female leads and in a 1960 alternative history setting are bound to enjoy every moment of this tale.