With her standing in Roman society already on shaky ground, Fortunada must be careful with her reputation. After her faithless husband cast her aside and married another, the devoted mother of two wasn’t eager to let another man fill her bed—until she met Baro, Rome’s reigning gladiatorial champion. It’s in his strong arms that she finds true pleasure and, to her delight, love.
When her champion proposes marriage, pledging to make her family his own, it seems fate has finally smiled on Fortunada. But her fortune takes a turn when her former husband resurfaces, demanding to take their children as is his right.
With Baro having already sacrificed his career for their love, throwing away his title in a bid to break free of his contract, how can she tell him that the price of her sacrifice—her children—is too high? Will love triumph, allowing Fortunada both her champion and her family, or must she walk away from the man who’s given up all for her?
Loved it! (Ignore the cover models, though…totally wrong for the characters. Much too young, and Fortunada’s not blonde enough.)
Reading The Gladiator’s Temptation transported you back to Ancient Rome. The author did a great job of really making you feel like you were a part of that world, with just the right amount of detail and authenticity. At the same time, she didn’t hit you over the head with definitions and explanations–there were some things readers just had to figure out as they went along, which I appreciated.
Fortunada and Baro are fantastic characters–when the book begins, they’re already in a relationship and he’s ready to take it to the next level–he thinks. But is he really? We soon find that he hasn’t yet met her children from her first marriage, nor have they really spent much time together in the “real world” outside their morning trysts in a local inn.
When Fortunada’s ex-husband returns, wanting the children he left more than three years before, she has no choice but to go back with him…literally no choice, since her great uncle, the closest male relative she has until her parents return from an extended trip, actually gives her back to him. With a second dowry. (He was not my favorite character at that moment, to say the least. If I’d ever entertained thoughts that living in Ancient Rome might be fun, this book definitely cured me of that notion!) Baro and Fortunada do not part on good terms, since he is miffed that she’d choose her kids over him (uh, yeah, dude!) and upset that she doesn’t appreciate the sacrifice he made for her. (Because, her kids.)
All seems lost. They will be separated forever and have both lost the comfortable lives they enjoyed just a day or two before. And then they find themselves on the same (soon to be doomed) caravan, heading north, and things go downhill from there…
Ms. Bokal does a great job of keeping the angsty tension going between the two of them–even while I was crying inside that they just couldn’t talk it out, already! I completely got why they couldn’t. The world in which they lived was neither easy nor forgiving to the people who didn’t have the power. I found myself incapable of putting the book down until I’d finished–such a good read!
I’ve already picked up book one (The Gladiator’s Mistress) and can’t wait to see what’s up next in this series!
Rating: 4 stars / A-
I received a complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review.