Princess of Thermopylae By Belinda HarrisonAncient Greece fantasy with a definite Xena feel.

I can definitely say I’ve never read a lesbian romance set in Ancient Greece before, and I didn’t know quite what to expect, but this turned out to be a very pleasant surprise!

It’s 510BC, and our heroine, Skylar, has spent the past six years travelling with her father throughout Attica and the Peloponnese. They are mercenaries with a heart, helping out those who need their skills to overcome an unjust situation. They’re on their way to Trachis, where they are to meet with King Agrias. They come across a band of warriors attacking a man and his wife, able to save her but not her husband. She is Alexis, and she’s King Agrias’s daughter.

Skylar, who by now has figured out she prefers the company of women to men, is instantly attracted to Alexis. However, soon after recovering from her injuries in Trachis, Skylar discovers that Alexis is already promised to the brother of her husband. He’s violent and brutal, and Skylar fears for Alexis if she marries him. Alexis, however, feels she must do as her father wishes, to maintain an alliance between her tribe and that of her betrothed, for the sake of everyone in her father’s kingdom—despite what she might already be feeling for the tall, dark-haired, female warrior who saved her…

I have no idea if this was the author’s inspiration, but this book has a strong Xena feel running all the way through it. But make no mistake, Skylar is a great character in her own right, whatever her origins. She’s a fierce warrior, yes, and clearly coming into her own as a strategist who’s been taught well by her father in how to deal with tribal politics. But she also carries deep emotions about some incidents from her past, and one of the more delightful aspects of the book is seeing her come to terms with those, and gradually be able to open up to Alexis.

This is, first and foremost, a romance. But it’s also full of the history and mythology of Ancient Greece, so if you like that sort of thing you’re in for a treat. Having said that, there is a lot of historical information in here that I must admit I skimmed over a few times; it didn’t, however, detract from my enjoyment of the story, nor my understanding of the characters.

The writing style is excellent—great pacing, some good conflict running through it, and an interesting sub-plot about Skylar’s birth that wasn’t resolved by the end, but I’m sure will make a bigger appearance in the future books in this series. By the time I was two thirds of the way through, I literally couldn’t put it down and finished the last hundred pages in one sitting—always a sign of a good book.

I recommend this one to anyone who either likes the fantasy genre already, or wants a great introduction to it—especially if you already have a soft spot for Xena!