This book's "back cover" description is mine so that is half of my review. :-) This story is extremely well-written, making the story of Mara and Judah totally believable while interspersing their lives with the real lives of those mentioned in the Bible. I was just as fascinated with Bell's ability to do this as with the story itself.
Included are facts about life in Herod's household, not at all "romantic" considering these include torture and descriptions of the "games" in an ampitheatre in Tiberius. While not graphically described, they're clear enough for the imagination to understand. Also included are facts about Jewish worship, the temple in Jerusalem, and beliefs between Jews and Romans.
I highly recommend this book; I read it in one evening!