ARC Review: THE HOUSE WITH THE GOLDEN DOOR by Elodie Harper

I received an eARC from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. It had not affected my opinions.

Genre: Historical
Age Range: Adult
Star Rating: 4 stars
Series: yes - second book in trilogy
CW: Abusive controlling relationships (including of food), sexual assault

*SPOILER ALERT: contains SPOILERS for THE WOLF DEN*

Synopsis:

Book cover for THE HOUSE WITH THE GOLDEN DOOR: title in white on blue door with two outlines of people and gold vines up

The life of a courtesan in Pompeii is glittering, yet precarious…
Amara has escaped her life as a slave in the town’s most notorious brothel, but now her existence depends on the affections of her patron: a man she might not know as well as she once thought.

At night she dreams of the wolf den, still haunted by her past. Amara longs for the women she was forced to leave behind and worse, finds herself pursued by the man who once owned her. In order to be free, she will need to be as ruthless as he is.

Amara knows her existence in Pompeii is subject to Venus, the goddess of love. Yet finding love may prove to be the most dangerous act of all.

Synopsis taken from Goodreads. Add to your shelves here.


Review:

THE HOUSE WITH THE GOLDEN DOOR is a triumphant second entry to this Roman series about prostitutes, courtesans, and the men making their lives awful. Amara seems to have succeeded in escaping, but danger is still very much all around her.

Rufus is controlling and possessive, and one of the ways he does that is through “oh so subtly” hinting about how much food she’s eating such that Amara reduces what she eats to very little. It’s a small detail (but one that people should be aware of going in) but it’s a detail that really drives home how controlling he is, that is certainly far from the “ideal” patron.

The book never leaves you in any doubt that Rufus is abusive and considers her nothing more than a slave for his amusement. It’s a lot more subtle than Felix (who I really hope gets destroyed in the final book as he’s horrendous) but he is certainly not a safe haven. He used his power over her to have her do what she wants.

THE HOUSE WITH THE GOLDEN DOOR focuses on different relationships – Victoria, Britannia, and the man Amara falls for. I loved spending more time with Britannia. She’s so different from the others because she displays more masculine strength, and it meant that she and Amara could help and comfort each other in ways the other women couldn’t. I liked having that variety of strength in there.

Harper also manages to really dig the knife in this book with the betrayals and twists. I thought she couldn’t top the ending of book 1 and Dido’s death, but she springs it much earlier this book to make the final act a nervous rope-walk as Amara tries to juggle all the threats hanging over her head, threatening to destroy the snatch of happiness she’s found.

It looks like we’ll be travelling somewhere new with the final instalment, which I shall be eagerly awaiting.


Read my reviews of other books by Elodie Harper:

The Wolf Den (this series):

2 thoughts on “ARC Review: THE HOUSE WITH THE GOLDEN DOOR by Elodie Harper

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