Review: The Knife of Narcissus VI & VII by Carolyne Chand

The cargo Lucius has smuggled into Rome for his brother-in-law Aulus is enough wealth to power an army, bringing them both to the attention of the imperial family. Now Lucius stands in a precarious position between two dangerous princes, poised to be either a favored courtier or an inconvenience marked for disposal—and forced to navigate his way through the same sexual intrigues Aulus has hinted that Trio, the man Lucius loves, has joined.

Trio is still a Gordian Knot Lucius intends to cut open. Knowing now that Trio is caught in more than an unmanly, un-Roman love for a friend, Lucius sets out with him and their two attendants on the search to find Velleia’s missing slave.

In the remoteness of the Campanian countryside, under looming, smoke-shrouded Mount Vesuvius that commands the skyline, Lucius intends to devote himself to refueling the flame he knows still burns between him and Trio. Nothing will stand in the way...except perhaps Arpalycus, the handsome and tempting slave who has become for Lucius much more than servant, far more than confidante.

Lucius Sentius, along with most people in the city of Rome, assumed that the debauched days of Nero were long behind them. He was wrong.

Swept into the sexual games of powerful men, he has had to navigate intrigues, lies, and rumour on his path to status and respectability. Torn between reputation and love, ambition and obligation, his heart still lies somewhere not at all respectable: a very un-Roman love for his very Roman friend Trio, the sort of relationship that only the most powerful—or the most ignored—may have.

In the course of a summer Lucius has gone from curious innocent to devoted worshipper of Venus, following both his heart and other instincts. But his dedication to the goddess stands between him and what he truly hopes to win. In the remoteness of the Campanian countryside, Lucius tries to refuel the flame between Trio and himself.

He is no longer the person who fell in love. But neither is Trio...

Includes a preview of the sequel novella: Saturnalia.

What is it about human nature that inclines us to reflect back to the beginning when we reach the end? That's where I find myself at the end of this saga.

Did I enjoy it?

Overall, yes. I think Ms. Chand wove her story together well. I loved Lucius and that love only grew as the series progressed. He's randy as all get out, has a heart of gold and he's generous to a fault. He's also intelligent and shrewd. 

I also love Rome especially ancient Rome and Ms. Chand seems to have done her research. She paid attention to the details and I even learned a couple things along the way and I like Ms. Chand's writing style; it's descriptive and evocative.

Was there anything I didn't like?

The ending. Well… let me clarify. It's not that I "didn't like" it per se. I was disappointed by Lucius' decision. I don't think it was the right decision for him, but I will say it ends ambiguously. I'll let you translate that for yourself.

Also… *side mouths* it could've used more… 
I am just saying.

It's my understanding that the whole thing is to be released as one book which makes this seven part series thing an odd marketing strategy to my mind, but it also made the story a bit disjointed. Then again, the storyline that I'm interested in may not be the same for all. What I'm trying to say in a nutshell is, I think the story will flow better as a whole rather than seven pieces.

How was the sex?

Copious. Lucius is a devotee of Venus and he worships often with fervor and a fair number of partners to whom he's quite generous. He's also very enthusiastic which ratcheted up the heat level.

Would I read something else by this author?

Depends. I'd read other things in this theater particularly anything having to do with Lucius. I'm not certain I'd be interested in any of the other characters. Unless they were gladiators. That's a whole different ballgame there.

How would you rate it?

I'm in between 3 and 4 Hearts, so I'll settle for 3.5 Hearts for the entire experience.

I would like to thank the author for providing me with an ARC of the series in exchange for my honest opinion.

Read more on Goodreads.

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