Cover Image: The House with the Golden Door

The House with the Golden Door

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I haven't yet read any retellings or folklore about such an infamous event in history: Pompeii. This was such a crisp fresh look and I really enjoyed it.
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All the love and care that went into Amara's journey in The Wolf Den carried on into The House with the Golden Door and I...am usually bad at writing positive reviews, but even worse right now. I think not only does Amara's journey as a slave forced to work at one of the brothels of Pompeii prove a heartbreaking, enlightening and eye-opening journey in history, but something that can be understood amongst our populous now.

This was hard to read, but I'm such a big fan of Harper's narration style and the effortless manner of reality that befalls Amara. I also loved how this sequel focused so much on her character development, giving us a more culpable understanding of Amara herself. It also makes sense that there are so many moments of her taking ten or fifteen steps back as opposed to being the strong willed character we always expect to see. She is a woman turned slave struggling to retain her true nature, mostly because she doesn't know what that is.
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This was a fantastic read! I devoured it in one day. I am also impressed with the level of research and details about Pompeii Elodie Harper has done. Looking forward to the final installment!
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Power games that started in the first book now are on at full speed.

Scheming and manoeuvring in the highest and lowest levels of society in Pompeii, this is what Amara is getting better and better at in this book. Despite her fears, let down by her "friends", and against all odds, she finds a way to move forward, but pays a terrible price. Amara's love and dilemma will break your heart at the end, but you cannot wait to read the final book, now can you?

Many thanks to NetGalley and Sterling Publishing for an Advance Review Copy.
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Just when things were looking up for Amara, crap hits the fan…

I have to say, for such a smart rating woman, Amara messes up a whole lot. She makes the same mistakes over and over when it comes to Felix and the She Wolves. And when she’s backed up against the wall, she doesn’t go to the one person that would help her without expecting anything back. 

Having said that, I obviously enjoyed the story and had some strong reactions to the different situations. 

Guess we shall see how Amara’s journey ends…I truly hope that Pliny will help.
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The House with the Golden Door is a sequel in an expected trilogy.  The first book, The Wolf Den, should not be missed. The story returns to Pompeii in 75 AD, mere years before the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius.

Spoilers for the first book ahead!

Amara is no longer an enslaved woman.  She is struggling with relishing her own freedom, while feeling guilty to the people she left behind in the brothel.  This book follows her perspective only, which has its pros and cons.  While her story is certainly compelling, she is not why I so enjoy this trilogy. I love the way that Elodie Harper immerses readers in Ancient Pompeii.  I feel like I am standing in the forum, walking the streets, and entering the houses. It is amazing to consider this bustling time in history with the tension of knowing what is coming.  Like Amara's beauty, Pompeii's magnificence will be fleeting and we all must prepare ourselves.

While the story is long, it held my attention the whole time.  I adore female-driven historical fiction. This trilogy definitely fits the bill!

Thank you to the author and publisher for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.
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What I Liked:
Honestly everything! If you read my review for the first book in this trilogy, you know that I absolutely adored it. This book is no different. No scratch that. It elevated everything from book 1. I was in desperate NEED to know what happened with Amara, I gasped at a few reveals, and stared at my wall when I realized book 3 isn’t out for a year.

Harper did an amazing job with showing how the trauma each character experienced is trying to cope with what happened to them. And she does not shy away from the brutalities that come with just trying to survive. Not to mention her talent at writing about those we try to ignore. Harper quickly jumped to one of my favorite authors with this book.

What I Didn’t Like:
This is probably one of the few times there is not a single thing that I didn’t like. Every piece of this masterpiece was amazing and I can’t stop thinking about it!

Would I Recommend?
YES!! Everyone PLEASE read this series! I am obsessed with both Harper’s writing, and every character in this book. And with how close we’re getting to the big Pompeii event, I need someone else to read this with me so we can obsess over how great of a character Amara is and can be sad together (if it ends up coming to that)
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Amara has finally escaped the Wolf Den. Is she safe? Never.

I connected to her story a little more this time around. She eventually finds love, but not with the man that "freed" her. And then she doesn't even get the fullness of that happiness.

What a plight it is to be a woman of these times. What a plight it is to be a woman now.
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one of the best thing I can ever say about an ARC: i didn't know it was a sequel, loved it and now will go spend money on the first one.  It wasn't enough just to have this one! Loved it! Everything about it was just what I needed in my book slump and now I'm excited to have another to read.  Definitely will be looking for more from this author.
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After reading The Wolf Den by Elodie Harper, I was excited to see what happens to Amara after she is freed from her life in the Pompeii brothel in the second book in the trilogy, The House with the Golden Door. Although you don’t necessarily need to read the first book, this book does reference events from the first book, and it would really help the reader to better understand the Amara they greet in this book.

Although Amara has been freed by Pliny and signed over to her patron Rufus, she is now his concubine and with that comes certain privileges, but also limitations. This book explores the class system in roman society where people can be bought and sold, and used. Rufus is infatuated with Amara, and she must continue to please him, both in her new home with the Golden door, but also in the way she conducts herself in society.  She is always walking a fine line. Will she be able to express her true feelings and find love, or will she always have to please others at the expense of finding pleasure for herself?

Amara remains haunted by the death of Dido and genuinely misses the women from the brothel who clearly became more like family. She makes decisions in this book that are so incredibly frustrating at times, and put her in compromising situations, but add to the story. Throughout this book, Amara’s place in society is truly dependent on her patron, and as his attention and priorities start to move elsewhere, Amara is left with a heartbreaking decision to make at the end of this book.  

I really enjoyed learning more about Britannica, who provided many moments of comic relief along with a voice of reason. I would want her in my corner any day. The other women from the brothel who make an appearance demonstrate the lengths the women will go to so they can get ahead in society. I can’t wait to read more about Amara’s journey and what happens next.

Thank you to NetGalley and Union Square and Co. for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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“The things people do when they know you don’t matter. When they know you are nothing.”

After being freed from the Wolf Den, Amara's life as a freedwoman remains just as precarious, a slave to a lesser degree. With her position slightly elevated, Amara's past is still haunting her as she navigates life amongst Pompeii's upper class. Her sole purpose in life now is to please her patron, Rufus.

The story remained true to the plot and setting of the first book. The writing and characterizations were just as exquisite rendering the book to be utterly transporting. The theme of sisterhood is continued here. although not as one might expect it. It comes together and fractures and then new bonds are forged. The womanly face of a hard earned freedom is a new element that develops in this book in the form of a forbidden romance. The portrayal of a person's need for intimacy is so realistic, raw and gritty in both the physical and emotional sense. It added a new dimension for the series.  

But Amara's behaviour around Felix was the one thing that remained incomprehensible to me. I understand why she would want to take a huge risk to free Victoria, but involving herself elbow-deep with Felix seemed ill-thought and impulsive, Not to mention her feeble attempts to "fool" him were extremely see-through. Honestly, even I wasn't convinced. It was the only setback in the plot. The Wolf Den ended with a promise of taking  vengeance against Felix for Dido's life, and so far it did not deliver.

The book ends with another "new" beginning for Amara. It was  spot on realistic as Amara manages to, once more, escape by the skin of her teeth a difficult predicament. It was spot on realistic and I'm really curious how this will pan out. I admit I'm a bit afraid of seeing repeated themes from the House of the Golden Doors, given that the animosity with Felix is still at an ultimate high, but I have faith in Harper's ambition to give us something to look forward to.

Many thanks to Union Square & Co. and NetGalley for my eARC.
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I should start by saying that I didn't realize this was a sequel when I requested it, but that didn't make me love this story any less (maybe just a bit more confused haha) 

This story was written with so much love and care, you can feel it as you read each and every page. The story was beautiful and made you think more than you would even expect. My emotions were on the fritz the entire time I was reading through this book and I felt as though there were some moments that I really truly related to Amara as she wrestles through her life. The last few chapters - incredible. My already fritz-y emotions were pushed past the limit and I was totally enthralled. 

I will definitely be picking up a copy of her first book and then will be re-reading this for a deeper grasp of what this story looks like. I cannot wait for the third book! 



=
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I thought The Wolf Den would be hard to top, but my goodness, Elodie Harper has done it again! Earlier this year I was completely floored by the eloquence and profundity of the first book in the series, which led to its sequel The House with the Golden Door becoming one of my most anticipated releases this fall. And what can I say, but it was as utterly riveting and amazing as I’d hoped.

Before I continue though, be aware that this review may contain possible spoilers for the first book if you are not yet caught up. The story picks up almost immediately following the events at the end The Wolf Den in which we saw Amara freed from her life of slavery working as a prostitute at one of Pompeii’s most notorious brothels. And yet, for all that she now dresses in silks, eats the finest foods, and lives in relative luxury, she is still not her own woman. Amara fears that it’s only a matter of time before Rufus, her lover and the patron who bought her, will lose interest and leave her with no possessions or protection. Almost every waking moment is thus spent trying to please him and keep him satisfied, and until she can earn her own living, Amara knows she can never be truly free of her painful, brutal past.

Of course, it also doesn’t help that she has landed herself deeply in debt with Felix, her former owner and proprietor of the Wolf Den, but Amara had been unable to leave her friends behind. After managing to rescue Victoria and Britannica, the three women work to save up the money to repay their old boss, Amara using her head for business and numbers to make clandestine deals. Our protagonist realizes that to be get ahead in this world, she must be ruthless and harden her heart. Yet, against her best judgment, Amara falls in love and becomes involved in a forbidden affair, putting her newfound status as a freedwoman in jeopardy.

Once more, Harper transports readers back to first century Pompeii, a few years before the eruption of Vesuvius. For the time being though, the visions of fire and ash are still far away, and Pompeiians are still living their busy lives blissfully unaware of the fate that will befall their vibrant, bustling city. In The Wolf Den, we saw what women like Amara had to do to survive—enslaved prostitutes who were at the mercy of their masters and clients, forced to live and work in appalling conditions. The House with the Golden Door, on the other hand, showed us another side of life in Pompeii as Amara was raised to her new station as courtesan to a powerful man. No more dank bathhouses or cramped rooms for our protagonist, as she now runs in social circles which include other rich denizens of Pompeii like politicians and wealthy merchants.

That said, I worried that we would lose the spirit of sisterhood that I loved so much in the first book, especially following the loss of Amara’s best friend and her freedom from the Wolf Den. Happily, some of that loss was reduced by the presence of Victoria and Britannica, both of whom played very important roles in the plot, adding much joy and even more heartbreak. Britannica especially became a new favorite, and I can’t wait to see what more she can bring to the series.

Then there was Amara herself. The House with the Golden Door focuses on a new chapter of her life, in which she must learn to navigate the world in her new role. She thought being with Rufus was what she wanted, but the saying “be careful what you wish for” comes to mind, as she realizes her patron isn’t the man she thought he was. Admittedly, a lot of the problems she faces in this book are of her own making, as it’s clear Amara knows her greatest weakness is her soft heart and yet is unable to make the hard decisions needed to protect herself and get ahead. At times I found myself frustrated with her, but also sympathetic. For all her impulsive choices and many missteps, you couldn’t help but understand why she made them. The author did a powerful and convincing job with Amara’s character development, making her extremely relatable.

I was also mesmerized and captivated by the plot. Amara might not be a slave anymore, but her troubles are far from over. The story never lets us forget the precarious situation she is in, and even without traditional action, I found this book very exciting and dramatic. There’s intrigue, romance, and threat of danger—everything I wanted and more. Understandably, I think most people are drawn to historical fiction about Pompeii because of the famous eruption of Vesuvius, but I’m here to say who needs all that when Elodie Harper gives us something so much better—a story portraying the lives of women like Amara who fight so hard for everything they hold dear in spite of the hardships and challenges they face every day.

In short, I can’t recommend this series enough. Both The Wolf Den and The House with the Golden Door are excellent books, not to be missed if you are a fan of historical fiction, and especially if you enjoy strong female leads and stories of strength and resilience. I can hardly wait for the final book of the trilogy.
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The House with the Golden Door is as riveting as the first book – The Wolf Den. It was written beautifully with words you never knew you needed to read. This sequel will take you to places you’ve never been and it will introduce you to characters you’ll never forget.

The sequel is about Amara’s life as a freedwoman… but is she really free? This book gave me a reading experience I will forever cherish. The writing is so captivating, my emotions were stretched to its extremities especially during the last few chapters.

If you’re looking for a novel that is well backed up by research and a story that will give you a whirlwind of emotions, I’d highly recommend the first two books from The Wolf Den trilogy.

Now I can’t wait to find out how Amara’s life will unfold! I hope the third book in the trilogy is as enchanting as the first two.
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The House with the Golden Door was an incredible, intense follow up to The Wolf Den. I loved how the story picks up shortly after the events of the first novel, with Amara now having a higher status but still in a precarious position. Much like the first novel, Elodie Harper pulls no punches and explores all elements of life in ancient Pompeii especially for people of lesser means, with the lives of indentured slaves being highlighted specifically. I appreciated how Harper intertwines graffiti and other sources from ancient Pompeii in relation to the treatment of women and slaves and this adds another dimension to the story. 

The highlight of the novel for me was the friendship and romance which Amara develops with Philos, the slave who belongs to her unpredictable patron, Rufus. While their connection is definitely forbidden - with discovery of their relationship leading to potentially disastrous results for each of them - you can't help but root for them. Their connection is so earnest and beautiful amidst the brutality and dark nature of the majority of the novel. 

I really can't wait to read the final instalment in the trilogy to see where Amara's story goes next. (I'm rooting for Felix to finally get his comeuppance!)
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I’ve been meaning to start this series since the first book came out, so the release of the sequel seemed like a perfect time to pick them both up! I’m a sucker for anything that involves mythology (yes, even the cliché staples like Greek and Roman mythology), especially historical fiction. A book about enslaved women working in a brothel? That felt like a new one. A voice that isn’t often told and a perspective that fiction doesn’t explore as much. So obviously, count me in!

The Wolf Den Trilogy is a hard-hitting emotional exploration into life in Ancient Italy (specifically Pompeii) as a slave. It’s brutal, it’s difficult, but it’s not without its romances, found family, and one heck of a setting!

Harper is a very vivid writer, transporting readers back to the streets of Italy with her characters. The setting is rough and harsh, not for the faint of heart, but it’s an eye-opening look into parts of ancient society that are typically overlooked and undervalued. The books are very slice of life, which means they’re character driven and don’t have much of a plot to pull readers along. Still, I couldn’t put the first book down, I was so invested in Amara’s story!

My Thoughts

- Amara is finding out the hard way that freedom comes at a cost, and that nowhere is really safe for an ex-slave. While her situation has obviously improved from the brothel, being a freedwoman doesn’t really mean she’s free, after all. A girl’s still gotta eat, right? Amara’s struggle to survive is still far from over, as she tries to establish herself in a situation that will keep her comfortable and at least a little more secure should something happen. Which, of course, is easier said than done.

The House With the Golden Door introduces many new characters, but the one thing they all have in common, including Amara, is that they’re desperately trying to survive in a man’s world. Despite supposedly being free, these women have to continue to scheme and plan and strategize just to stay that way. It’s a whole eye-opening experience entirely separate from being enslaved but not entirely dissimilar to it.

- Some old characters return, and some new characters appear, but the thing they all have in common is the struggle to figure out who they are and what their role in life really is. Freedom sounds great when you’re enslaved, but knowing what to do with newfound freedom is something entirely different. It certainly doesn’t solve all the problems, as the women in this sequel find out. Most of the women are freed, but even as such, they walk a very thin line. One wrong step and they could be thrust back into poverty, losing the privilege they’ve worked so hard to gain. As much as the first book felt stacked against the slaves, The House With the Golden Door makes it clear that women have to scrape and fight for a place to exist in the man’s world of Pompeii.

I didn’t entirely love all the characters that come back, but I also didn’t particularly like them in the first book, either, so that’s no surprise. What was a surprise is that Brittanica makes a reappearance, and I absolutely fell in love with her character. In a world so far from her home (and so different), she’s a character who has always been fierce and strong and refusing to bow or give up. She continues to be such in this book, as readers learn more about her, but even as she discovers her own ambitions and goals in life, which are necessarily not the same as the other women. Her growth is so much fun to watch!

- There’s a slow burn forbidden/doomed romance in this book which will surely appeal to readers who enjoy that trope. I do love me a good slow burn romance, so on that front, I wasn’t disappointed. In a civilization such as this, though, it’s hard to imagine that any romance wouldn’t be doomed, which is something Amara definitely struggles to come to terms with. This relationship is romantic and healthy and serves as a stark contrast to Amara’s previously life in the brothel. It’s ill-advised, of course, but what isn’t in this world? Still, I feel safe wagering that it’s guaranteed to win hearts of readers who enjoy romance!

Sticking Points

- The plot (and sometimes the characters) felt a little all over the place and a bit inconsistent, without the same purpose and direction the first book had. In The Wolf’s Den, there was, at the very least, a driving force for Amara: earning her freedom. That was the thread that pulled the reader through the plot. In The House With the Golden Door, the goal is a little less cut-and-dry, which made the story feel much more slice of life, especially with the lack of tension and threat that was ever present in the first book. There were definitely times the story seemed to drag and the pace slowed to a crawl.

The characters, too, were a bit all over the place. I loved Amara’s shrewdness and wit in the first book and all the necessary scheming she undertakes. In the second book, though, she basically makes no good decisions, even when the outcome should be obvious. Amara isn’t the only character to suffer from this, though. Despite the implication of character growth in this story, most of the characters actually have none, hinting at change but then reverting back in ways that don’t always make sense.
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A great follow up to the Wolf Den, the second installment of this trilogy finds Amara established with her patron Rufus but still not safe or secure in her new status as a freedwoman.

I loved the continuation of this story so much — a harsh reminder that even freedwomen cannot enjoy freedom without societal restraints. Amara’a character definitely grows throughout this book and I really want her to lean into her power in book three. I need it now!
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First off I would like to say that I was given a copy of this book for a book tour for my honest review and all opinions are my own.

Ok, let me be completely honest. Going into this book, I didn't know it was a sequel. There, I said it. Now that we aired out my dirty laundry. We now know that I had to back track because, ya girl was lost. Like dropped in the middle of the forest and told to find your way home with a needle and a bottle of water lost, ok. However, after I bought and devoured Wolf Den, then turned around and devoured The House with the Golden Door, lemme tell you. I need book three immediately!

*SPOILER ALERT* - Please stop reading here if you haven't read this book yet!

This is Amara's Story. In this story, she finds herself. She's not the scared, timid, shy little thing she was in the first installment. Here she is a free woman ready to spread her wings, or is she? She is only as free as she lets herself be, be her decision making skills keeps her trapped in Felixes clutches when she returns for her best friends. Now, that dark shadow that she thought she has rid herself of follows her every step around the streets of Pompeii. 

Amara finds a love interest in her new patron's slave Philos, and I smelled trouble from the moment it happened. They were just too cozy. New love, Victoria, Britanica, life is a little too comfortable. Smells like trouble to me. Add Rufus (the new patron) being occupied by a new girl, yeah something is up. And what do you know, the two tramps are back-stabbers. They are feeding Felix all of Amara's secrets, he knows what makes her tick, knows all her weaknessess. And just to add insult to injury, Rufus decides to take an interest in Amara again. Guess what she just did? She just had Philo's baby. Guess what Rufus is doing? Taking Amara to freaking Rome... without the baby... I just can't.

Where the hell is book three? Because I'm gonna have an aneurysm.
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3.5 stars
The second book in the Wolf Den series, the novel picks up right where the Wolf Den left off. Dido is dead, Amara is free and living with her patron Rufus. It seems like all the heartache and struggle of the last book is gone and while Amara mourns Dido she seems content with her new life as a concubine. Of course the peacefulness can't last and Amara finds herself in trouble once again. Familiar characters like Brittanica, Beronice and Victoria make appearances but the novel mostly focuses on Amara and her struggles as freedwoman and concubine.

I won't spoil anything but the choices Amara made in this book had me questioning her judgement and even her likeability as a character. She made the wrong choices constantly and kept getting herself into trouble. I still think she's an interesting character but she is frustrating sometimes. The best character in the book for me was Brittanica and I wanted to know more about her life and her past. Brittanica is a fighter and Amara could learn a thing or two from her. I will definitely read the next book in the series because I'm hooked now but this was only okay for me.

Thank you to NetGalley for giving me a free arc. All opinions are my own.
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I think the problem with series in general is there is often a lag book. The lag book has a lot of filler and does not really tie up anything as it is setting up for the next or final book to do that. The House with the Golden Door felt very much like a lag book for me. While it was good and held my attention, it was not the engagement of the first book. I did like that this book solely follows Amara’s perspective and draws the reader into a bustling Pompeii. The downfall was the substance did not hold throughout the story like the first book.
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