Review: Daughter of Rome, by Tessa Afshar

book coverSynopsis

A woman with a devastating secret. A man bent on proving his worth. A chance encounter that catapults them into the heart of history.

When the daughter of a prominent Roman general meets a disinherited Jewish immigrant, neither one can dream of God’s plan to transform them into the most influential couple of the early church. Nor can they anticipate the mountains that will threaten to bury them. Their courtship unwittingly shadowed by murder and betrayal, Priscilla and Aquila slowly work to build a community of believers, while their lives grow increasingly complicated thanks to a shaggy dog, a mysterious runaway, and a ruthless foe desperate for love. But when they’re banished from their home by a capricious emperor, they must join forces with an unusual rabbi named Paul and fight to turn treachery into redemption.

With impeccable research and vivid detail, Daughter of Rome is both an emotive love story and an immersive journey through first-century Rome and Corinth, reminding readers once again why Debbie Macomber has said that “no one brings the Bible to life like Tessa Afshar.”

My Review

Disclaimer: Although I received a copy of this book courtesy of the author and the publisher, the words and opinions below are my own.

In her eighth novel, Biblical fiction author Tessa Afshar gives us a fascinating look at two of the many new Christians Paul spoke of in his letters. Not much is known of Priscilla and Aquila: we know they were a couple, probably married; that Aquila was a Jewish man from a place called Pontus; that they were tentmakers who’d been forced to leave Rome due to an edict from Caesar; they saved Paul’s life at one point; and that they traveled with him from Corinth to Ephesus. It’s not much, but I’ve seen writers do a lot with far less. In Daughter of Rome, Afshar examines some possibilities, including the idea that Priscilla was possibly a Roman citizen, and takes us right to the heart of first century Rome.

But first, readers must get past the prologue. It isn’t a sweet entry into the story. I found it shocking, to be honest, but the realist in me supposes that the situation it contains probably did happen “in those days” as, to use another well-known phrase, there really is “nothing new under the sun.” All I can say is, read this scene and move on. It’s actually important to the story and Afshar refers to it at the end of the book.

Speaking of the end, I’m not a fan of including excerpts for previous novels at the end of new novels. It gives me a false sense of how long the main story is going to last. Thinking I still had a good number of pages to go, I was stunned to abruptly find myself at the end of Daughter of Rome. I felt that the story wasn’t complete, that there was so much more that could’ve been written. But we don’t know what really happened to Priscilla and Aquila. But maybe the ending is just perfect the way it is, and I just can’t immediately see it.

One thing I can see, however, is that Tessa Afshar has written a book that is subtly connected to her previous title but truly stands on its own merits. I read Thief of CorinthI reviewed it – but I don’t remember much about it. In the pages after the ending, the excerpt is from that very title and contains mention of a young man named Theo. And, as I read, I realized that it was the same Theo that’s in this book. Had I been confused about him while reading? Had I felt as though some of his story was missing? Not at all. There was absolutely nothing to say, “You must read and remember Thief of Corinth before you read Daughter of Rome.” I appreciate that, and it means that if you’ve never read a single Tessa Afshar book in your past you can come to her freely and become a new fan of her work.

Four point five stars – only because I was initially thrown by the ending.

Author Information

Tessa Afshar is the award-winning author of several works of historical fiction. Her most recent novel, Thief of Corinth, was an Inspy Award finalist in the historical romance category. Land of Silence won an Inspy Award in the general fiction category and was voted by Library Journal as one of the top five Christian fiction titles of 2016. Harvest of Gold won the prestigious Christy Award in the historical romance category, and Harvest of Rubies was a finalist for the 2013 ECPA Christian Book Award for fiction. In 2011, after publishing her first novel, Pearl in the Sand, Tessa was named New Author of the Year by the FamilyFiction-sponsored Reader’s Choice Awards.

Tessa was born in Iran and lived there for the first fourteen years of her life. She then moved to England, where she survived boarding school for girls and fell in love with Jane Austen and Charlotte Bronte, before moving to the United States permanently. Her conversion to Christianity in her twenties changed the course of her life forever. Tessa holds a Master of Divinity from Yale, where she was co-chair of the Evangelical Fellowship. She served in ministry for nearly twenty years before becoming a full-time writer and speaker.

Tessa Afshar’s Website

Product Information

Publisher: Tyndale

Publication Date: 04 February 2020

Book Information



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