Sabina is a young noblewoman who, based on her soothsayer aunt’s prediction, believes her words are dangerous and will hurt those she loves. Following the death of her beloved husband, she takes a vow of silence to protect others from suffering the same fate. Ignored and scorned by those around her, who believe her to be cursed by the gods who took her voice, she is content to live in the shadow of her former life, avoiding society as best she can and staying away from the politics and drama of Rome’s inner circles.
Lucius is an unwilling front-runner to inherit the title of Emperor from Rome’s childless leader, Trajan. Although the soothsayer warns him to steer clear of a pretty face that hides a cursed soul, Lucius cannot help but be drawn to the silent and beautiful Sabina. After learning her secret, he is as determined to help her shed her cloak of silence as she is to keep him at a safe distance. But when Lucius becomes the target of a political plot, Sabina must decide whether breaking her silence will save his life or merely seal his fate.
Admonition was winner of the Georgia Romance Writers’ 2020 Maggie Award for Excellence in the Unpublished Historical Romance category.
I received this book from the author for free and am leaving a voluntary review. All comments and opinions are entirely my own.
Well, Amurra has done it again. I devoured Admonition faster than I can suck down a bag of salt and vinegar chips (which is to say, embarrassingly fast). The sequel to Soothsayer, Admonition features Sabina, a young Roman widow who has remained silent since her husband’s death due to a curse placed on her voice by the Roman gods. Like the first novel, Admonition carefully weaves destiny with both romantic and familial love to create a fast-moving plot and well-rounded characters.
Sabina is such an engaging character because while I don’t find her situation particularly relatable, her feelings and her worldview are. I cannot relate to being a widow at 25, or even a wife, but her feelings of loss and regret punctuate the story at such key points and in such subtle ways that cause her feelings to flood my senses. What makes her relatable is her desire for control stemming from a particularly traumatic situation. Again, while being widowed at 25 and having your husband’s body placed at your feet is not relatable to many, seeing the way a young woman processes and rationalizes a stressful or traumatic situation makes me feel seen and understood. Sabina tries to protect those around her by not using her voice, but she has to fight against the fact that people and events in her life won’t always conform to her control. It may be hard to control your own destiny, but it’s even harder to control the destiny of others.
The supporting characters are also fully fleshed out without overpowering the plot or Sabina’s lead. Her teenage sister Priscilla is energetic and naive, and she exemplifies unconditional love in the best and worst ways. I’ll admit that I didn’t like Lucius, our silent heroine’s love interest, at first. From the get-go he seems bent on wooing Sabina with all his romantic little party tricks, but like so many of Amurra’s characters, it’s hard to not fall in love with someone who has a heart of gold, and he proves his worth based on his care of not just Sabina, but her family as well. Lastly, Cyprian is such an easy character to hate, but I’ll admit that his character surprised me the most. His true character doesn’t show until the very end, when it hits like a lightbulb and an “OHHH” moment.
I found myself very happy with the ending of the book — all the plotlines were well-polished and the endings all fit nicely and satisfyingly. However, like Soothsayer I was still disappointed with Admonition’s portrayal of slavery in Rome. While there were fewer mentions of it in this novel, it still seemed like they were portrayed as servants rather than slaves, which lessens the severity of the enslaved reality. As a content warning, there is one mildly sexual scene involving upper bodies only. Also, because the book is historically accurate to a pagan ancient Rome, the characters do believe in and worship multiple gods, and there is a mention of Christians causing trouble, but there is no real anti-Christian sentiment, just observation of the empire at that time.
I give this book five stars!
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