CURSES AND SMOKE by Vicky Alvear Shecter


A Novel of Pompeii
Age Range: 12 - 18
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An impossible forbidden love in ancient Pompeii delivers history to romance fans.

Sixteen-year-old Lucia dreads her upcoming marriage to a rich old man chosen for her by her father, the owner of Pompeii’s least prestigious gladiator school. When she learns that Tag, one of her father’s slaves, has returned from Rome, she fondly recalls playing together as children. When the two meet, true love blossoms. Can they keep their romance a secret while Lucia tries to escape the awful marriage? Can they actually get away from Pompeii and have a real life together? The standard romance plot widens with Lucia’s passion for natural history and her hope to meet her hero, the naturalist Pliny. Tag hopes to become a gladiator and win his freedom, but he also finds himself drawn to continue in his ailing father’s profession as a medical slave. Meanwhile, Lucia notices abundant small earthquakes and strange natural disturbances….The eruption engenders considerable tension as the lovers try to escape. Although the romance seems highly improbable, Shecter tempers the implausibility by giving Tag’s enslaved family a noble Etruscan background. Aside from the romance, the book’s focus on daily life in ancient Pompeii rings true. Their firm belief in various gods and goddesses and other superstitions comes across strongly, as does the author’s examination of slavery in ancient times.

Romance with benefits. (Historical romance. 12-18)

Pub Date: May 27th, 2014
ISBN: 978-0-545-50993-0
Page count: 336pp
Publisher: Levine/Scholastic
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1st, 2014


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