Vows of Revenge - J.F. Ridgley I loved the premise of this book and the story itself was really good, but I had a few problems with the execution that brought this down a star for me.

At times the writing was a bit unclear which pulled me out of the story. For example, at one point I literally though two chapters had gotten switched around because there was a jump in time and there was no explanation of what happened in between. One chapter ended with Lucianus arriving in Amalfi and reconnecting with an old friend of his father and then the next chapter he is back on the ship that brought him to Amalfi. I had no idea why he was suddenly on the ship again. I could have used a little more explanation as to what his plan was or there needed to be a bit of a buffer between where the chapter left of with him and where it picked back up again.

I also felt some of the initial character and plot development was lacking a bit. The second half of the book got better, but I felt there was so much potential for exploring the emotional transformation of Aelia as she goes from being an abused wife, to sold to a brothel and then rescued and healed by Lucianus. Her emotional turmoil after she was rescued particularly could have been a wonderful character study, but I felt the author didn't go deep enough into that, which would have helped me to connect with the character even more.

The last issue I had was with the cursing. Don't get me wrong, I like to throw around some good profanity as much as the next person, but it was anachronistic. I just couldn't imagine an Ancient Roman screaming c***-sucker. It took me out of the period each time and there was a fair amount of it so it happened quite a bit.

Lucianus was a pretty swoon-worthy hero the way he treated Aelia. He was incredibly understanding and gentle with her as she healed. It was very touching.

All in all this was a very good debut for this author. I would definitely give her next book a look to see how she matures as a writer.