A copy of this book was provided by the publisher for an honest review at SMI Book Club.
Daughters of the Nile is the third and final book in Stephanie Dray’s trilogy about Cleopatra Selene, the daughter of Cleopatra (yes, *that* one), that continues to fill in the missing pieces of her life that could only be imagined based on the few major details available in historical texts. In this book, we see Selene sent back to the husband she didn’t ask for, to be queen of a country that isn’t her beloved Egypt, and trying to establish her own dynasty away from the man who continues to threaten her happiness with his own twisted desires.
I haven’t read the previous two books in the series, but I’m a big fan of the author’s romance books under her Stephanie Draven pen name, so I jumped at the opportunity to bury myself in a lovely long book of historical fiction by an author I already loved. Dray provided just enough recaps where needed so that I wasn’t lost as a new reader to the series, and I felt like I’d actually learned something about the actual history without forgetting that Daughters of the Nile, is still fiction, however laboriously researched for historical fact where possible.
Cleopatra Selene is a remarkable woman who managed to survive in a time where any day could bring exile or death from multiple directions, most notably from Caesar Augustus, who never stopped obsessing over her the way he had over her late mother. She has to temper her desire to make her mark in history with the knowledge of the incredible danger she faces whenever she fails to do whatever Caesar and her husband expect from her. And yet she does survive and even thrives in a climate that would crush a less determined man, let alone a mere woman with such infamous parents as Marc Antony and Cleopatra.
But what really made Daughters of the Nile such a wonderful read for me was the improbable romance between Selene and her husband. Juba had aided Caesar Augustus in hastening the death of Selene’s parents, so her distrust of him was certainly understandable. The marriage had been forced upon them both as a convenience for Augustus in his quest to make Selene his mistress, but they were never intended to be a couple in truth. Seeing Selene and her husband Juba slowly learn to trust and love each other over the years in spite of all the terrible past between them was what made me cry when Selene’s life and the book both came to their inevitable end. Daughters of the Nile isn’t a fast or easy read, but it’s a great one, and definitely worth your while if you love historical fiction with a touch of genuine romance.