Rome. The jewel of the civilized world is no longer what it was. Strength has failed the Senate. Her legions are in disarray, and the Empire has fallen into Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus Nero’s hands. His reign begins under a cloud of scrutiny, for he is the depraved Emperor Caligula’s nephew. Nero is determined to overcome that stigma and carve a name of his own. One worthy of Rome’s illustrious history.
Politics and treachery threaten to end Nero’s reign before it begins, forcing him to turn to unexpected sources for friendship and help. Many of the Praetorian Guard have watched over Nero since he was a small child, and it is in Traian that the young Emperor places his trust, despite the inherent threat of reducing his mother’s influence. Traian is the father he never had and the one man who does not judge him.
When Traian secretly marries the hostage Vena, it sets in motion a collision of values as Traian comes to odds with his former charge. The whirlwind that follows will shake the very foundations of the greatest Empire the world has ever known, and survival is far from guaranteed.
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The rhythmic noise of the turning wheels had Nero closing his eyes momentarily. His thoughts wandered, pleasant at the onset, recalling time spent with Acte at Misenum. He loved her with childish innocence, developing a friendship based on trust.
Lucius reflected on that precious time, pushing aside Nero’s persona. He envisioned the balmy days when they walked along the coastline, exploring sea caves, climbing the rock-strewn hills, and running through green meadows filled with wildflowers being blown by the wind.
As if in a trance, Lucius held out his hand, his fingers closing over hers. He felt her presence, breathing in her scent, her hair brushing against his face. Lucius heard her silent words, delighting in his poetry, verses written primarily for her and none other, pledging to take her for his wife.
A solitary tear escaped, staining the side of his face, as he wiped the liquid away with his cloak.
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This story demanded all of my attention from beginning to end. The narrative was utterly enthralling, and Bernal told Nero’s story with a keen understanding of what makes history worth reading. Bernal has brought Nero back to life, and she has explored that life with a profound sweep and brilliance.
Bernal writes with such elegance and authority, not to mention with a keen attention to the historical detail, that a reader can comfortably immerse themselves in this story. Forgiving Nero by Mary Ann Bernal is a must-read for anyone who enjoys quality Historical Fiction.
The Coffee Pot Book Club