|By Carla Capshaw|
"You're in love with a Christian, but you've killed her kind. Now you're laboring with the question of how to win her affection without having to admit your guilt or share her faith."
First, let me say that at my job I sometimes do work for the Harlequin Reader Service. The company I work for is contracted through Harlequin. This is only the second Harlequin book I've read, usually I'm somewhat apprehensive about picking them up. I do fear they'll be cheesy, but I've been wanting to read more of the Harlequin books I have around, because I did enjoy the first one I read and second because I like to sound educated about the products I work with.
Judging from the two I've read, yes they can be sort of cheesy at times, but I think that's a trait found throughout Christian romances. Love Inspired is Harlequin's line of Christian romances. I did find The Gladiator to probably be one of the more unique titles. I heard great things about this one, so I found it on PaperBackSwap and now here I am writing a review of it.
The story starts off with the female lead, Pelonia, on her way to Rome for her cousin Tiberia's wedding. Things don't go as planned and she ends up captured and sold into slavery in the home and gladiatorial training school of Caros Viriathos. Pelonia is a Christian and at this point in history being Christian within the Roman Empire meant death. Many times Christians were executed in the arena with thousands of spectators cheering for their deaths. Caros, a former gladiator, finds himself drawn to the beautiful Pelonia's spirit. There's something different about her and he soon learns it's her faith. Pelonia and Caros share a mutual attraction, but Pelonia won't share her life with someone who doesn't share her faith.
I did enjoy this book, however I found it a bit boring at times. I really can't pinpoint what it was that was boring, but I'd find my mind wandering while reading it. That might say more about my own attention span rather than the actual story. Ancient Rome is not a point in history that particularly intrigues me, but I've only read a few books set during this time period and culture, so it was a unique setting to me personally. The closest I've probably read to this setting is Theodora: Actress, Emperess, Whore. At times while reading The Gladiator I was also reminded of the Starz show Spartacus. I felt the author really did a great job at portraying the grittiness of that empire and how twisted the lifestyles and dirty the society was, while still keeping the book clean and within Christian standards.
I personally, wouldn't have minded having an x-rated copy of this book. Maybe Harlequin has something similar in one of their more "adult" lines. Gladiator + slave = yes please. Slaves during these times were often used for more than just cleaning *ahem*. The only thing that would ruin it is that I wasn't a big fan of Caros. He is supposedly pretty hot, but his personality ruined it for me. He was sort of soft to me. Maybe because I did want to see a more rough and dominating male as the love interest. But then, I had to remind myself, "settle down this is a Christian romance..."
Anyhow, I'm giving The Gladiator 3 out of 5 stars. I think if you're new to Love Inspired Romances this would probably be a good place to start. From what I can tell on Goodreads it's probably one of the most popular in that entire line of romances.