The house with the golden door by Elodie Harper

Amara is now a freed concubine of Rufus and bears the name of Pliny the Elder. But for this to achieve she had to leave her old friends from the Wolf’s Nest behind. At night she still has nightmares about her pimp Felix. During the day she tries to make sure that Rufus doesn’t get tired of her. Because if she loses her patron, the future may yet look very gloom.

This is the second book in a trilogy set in Pompeii and focusing on the hard lives of women. The house with the golden door is as strong as the first part The wolf den, which is not always easy for an author. I really recommend to read ‘The wolf den’ first as the plot builds on the events and relationships from that book.

Amara is a strong woman facing difficult choices. Her relationship with Felix is complex and at times I could not always understand it. But emotions are not always rational. You can see this in the character of Victoria. Britannica’s character development is great and I also liked Julia and Drusilla, who have become Amara’s new friends.

I’m very curious to see how this story will end. We are close to the known disaster so I suspect the third book will build to a climax. This is an interesting series that can attract a wide audience. And those covers are beautiful.

Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for a copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

This is book 2/20 for 20 books of summer.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Have you already started this series?

The wolf den by Elodie Harper

Amara was sold as a house slave by her mother after her father died and they could not make ends meet. After being mistreated as a concubine by her first owner, she ended up in the brothel ‘The Wolf Den’ of pimp Felix in Pompeii. Together with four other ‘lupines’, she tries to make the best of it, although they all yearn for freedom and love.

In ‘The Wolf Den‘, Harper takes you to ancient Rome, to the city of Pompeii, before the disaster. The story is told from Amara’s point of view. She was once the daughter of a Greek physician but now lives as a Roman slave in a brothel. She has known freedom and finds it hard to accept her fate.

We get a glimpse into the lives of Amara and four other women in the brothel, each with their own life story to tell. There are also many men in their lives. The book is full of characters and intrigue. None other than Plinius the Elder makes an appearance.

I flew straight through this novel. The pace is good and there are some different storylines that intertwine towards the end. This is the first part in a trilogy. I wonder how things will continue for Amara in the next book of this trilogy.

There are too few books about Ancient Rome that don’t focus on wars and battles, so this was one to savour. The harsh reality in which women and slaves in general had to live is not shunned. This makes for a compelling read. In the end, this was just the book that I needed after my reading slump caused by too many classics. It’s no literature, but it’s certainly entertaining.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Have you read this one?