I enjoyed this book very much. The characters are lively and engaging, the writing clear and simple without a lot of extraneous plot (no blackmail, betrayal, cheating, etc.), and the romance develops naturally and believably. From childhood best friends to political enemies to lovers, Kjeld and Dafried keep your attention and affection all the way through. The ending is unrealistically happy, but there’s nothing wrong with that. The world needs more happy endings.
Set against the background of Rome’s takeover of the surrounding Germanic tribes, there weren’t a lot of real life happy endings. But Ms. Noble obviously did her homework on the subject. There’s a great deal here that I didn’t know going in about Roman tactics and Gladiator culture, but it all checks out. That’s realism enough. Overlaying it with a lovely romance adds a bright spot to an otherwise dark and terrifying period of history (if you’re on the Germanic side).