The ancient locale that is now modern Bath lends a vivid backdrop to a tender love story surrounded by mystery, danger and deceit. Readers will appreciate Townsend's thorough research and fluid style. Well-written secondary characters complement the action.

When Marcus Brucetus arrives in Aquae Sulis to claim his inheritance, he uncovers suspicions that his adoptive mother was murdered. He meets Flavia, and there's an instant attraction, but he suspects she's hiding something. Still, he doesn't treat the young scribe like a slave; instead, they join forces to investigate her mistress's death.

Their inquiries attract the attention of malevolent Lucius Maximus, who desires Flavia and will do anything to possess her. Flavia continues to keep her secret, and Marcus has one of his own. Will their lack of trust tear them apart? (BOOKSTRAND, 2008, 232 pp., $12.99)

Reviewed by: 
Donna M. Brown