Publisher: Avon Red
May 15, 2012
Erotic Historical Romance
Review Copy from Edelweiss
Alba has spent her entire life pleasing others.
As an upper-class woman in Ancient Rome, that is her place in life. But when her husband, Lucius, the owner of a prestigious gladiatorial school, uses her body as a bargaining tool to increase his fortunes, she is faced with doing as he demands-or finding herself on the street.
Forced to lie with masked gladiators chosen by Lucius, Alba is surprised to discover pleasure in being powerless. Only in the forbidden arms of Caius and Marcus does she find comfort, however temporary it may be.
But with Lucius' demands looming and the threat of death for her gladiators ever present, will Alba's fleeting pleasures be enough? Or will she finally grab hold of her own desires, no matter the consequences?
With the popularity of Gladiators taking over the small screen, I was hoping some of that would spill over into the romance genre. I enjoy my Regency Historical Romances immensely, but do like a change of era every now and again. Thank you Ms. Hawkeye, MY WICKED GLADIATORS fit the bill splendidly!
The story is told from Alba's point of view - fine with me, as I have no problem with that. She is the fine, upstanding wife of a prominent ludus owner, Lucius. (STOP - go to the end of the book and skim over the Glossary to acquaint yourself with the terms used.) Unfortunately, the ludus and Lucius are flat broke, and Lucius is doing his scheming best to make money to keep the ludus afloat. They include whoring his gladiators out to a high-paying widow, and forcing his wife to lie with a masked gladiator to satisfy the whims of a financial supporter.
Enmeshed in this deliciousness debauchery of sensuality, feasting, and violence is Alba's steadfastness in continuing to do what is expected of her. However, that soon begins to change when she realizes her husband isn't the man she always thought he was and it is high time she put herself first. One of the things that I liked most about this book was Alba's compassion. As she sprouts her wings, learns to love, takes charge of her life - she never loses the compassion for others. There is one point at the beginning of the novel where Alba takes her pleasure where she wants, but then feels guilty for it:
I felt an emotion that I could not quite define rising in my chest, and I stood, pushing Drusilla's hands away. "Do not judge me, Drusilla. Why are my actions so dreadful? Lucius fucks whomever he chooses, whenever he chooses. Why should I be miserable, simply because my husband has ceased to desire me?" I felt tears causing my throat to swell as I spoke, and to my mortification, I felt a hot trickle of tears spill down my cheeks.
Yes, Lucius is a snake is the grass and a leopard never changes his spots. He is the husband you love to hate.
Enter Caius and Marcus - the two champions of the ludus. Are they or aren't they lovers? Which one is the masked gladiator? Nope, not answering any of these questions for you. I'll just say that "the touch of this masked gladiator, this warrior, had wiped memory from mind, filling its empty spaces with ecstasy. . . " Yes, there is a bit of male romance. Just enough to wet your whistle and leave you aching for more.
In actuality, I didn't think Ms. Hawkeye would make this work: Slaves just don't get an HEA with their owners. But she did and very well. There's more here than just sex and gladiators fighting, but, hey, I didn't want to spoil the party. I'll leave that to the unstable widow, Hilaria!