Images of the ill-fated love between Cleopatra and Mark Antony immediately leap to mind when readers see this title, but Moran imagines what their daughter, Selene, experiences after her parents' suicides. The tale brims over with rich details of Roman life, historical personages and political turmoil. Add the coming-of-age aspect and you have a novel that will appeal to readers on many levels.
After Egypt's fall,10-year-old Selene and her twin, Alexander, are brought to Rome in chains and sent to the home of the emperor's kindly sister. They cling to one another to survive, hoping to return to Egypt.
Selene recounts the turbulent events and political ambitions that surround the empire. She is fortunate that Octavia treats her almost as a daughter, unlike Octavian's embittered wife and other rivals for the throne. Many live in fear of another slave uprising, as memories of Spartacus linger. Still, Selene is coming of age and has all the longings of a teenage girl -- will she find love, a basis in family and a future in Rome, or will she remain a prisoner? (CROWN, Sep., 430 pp., $25.00)