Although ancient Roman society had evolved significantly by the late fourth century and Roman women owned property, businesses and enjoyed more civil freedoms than several hundred years previously, they were still, to our modern eyes, second or class citizens. It would have been unrealistic for a heroine like Carina to live and work as a Praetorian in ancient Rome.
Human beings of all ages and cultures have similar emotional needs, hurts and joys. Of course, they’re expressed differently, sometimes in an alienating or (to us) peculiar way. But a romantic relationship, for example, whether as instant as Colonel Brandon when he sees Marianne in Sense and Sensibility or the careful but intense relationship of Eve Dallas and Roarke in the Death series, binds us into their stories.