Part of the series, The Empress of Rome. Book 2 in fact, although chronologically this one's first, and you don't have to read them in order. I'm tearing through - Empress of the Seven Hills is next.
The period in history here is the year of Four Emperors. Yet the novel starts with the four Cornelias - Cornelia, Lollia, Diana and Marcella. They're all so different, such distinct characters, with passions for everything from wealth to slaves, to horses and history.
It's a violent time, Emperors not being elected for their 'soft skills', but instead for being wily, on the right side and mostly, not getting killed in the fray.
Ms. Quinn brings the drama to the forefront. You'll find yourself tearing through Roman amphitheatres and fora, running like a slave girl to the next meeting place, stopping for a drink at the marble fountain, to find it's filled with wine for the evening festivities. It's that kind of book. History has never been more fun, nor more riveting. The purists may prefer a little more seriousness for their dip into the past, but this is my cup of tea. Tell me the gossip about who is likely to overthrow whom while I'm enjoying my visit to the baths, on my way to meet with some other conspirators - in secret, of course.
The pace is dramatic and there are almost too many events to fit into a single novel, never mind a single year.
A well-written, engaging story.