Author: Diana Jean
Publisher: Less Than Three Press
Cover Artist: Aisha Akeju
Rating: 4.5 of 5 Stars
Life as a roman slave is never easy, but Aurelius is generally content with his mistress and friends. The highlight of his days is watching the gladiatorial matches whenever he gets the chance, especially Cabiros: undefeated, mysterious, and fascinating.
Everything changes when the master of the house returns from Rome, and even a chance encounter with Cabiros cannot diminish the fear and tension that the master’s presence always brings …
First things first, we have Aurelius, a slave to his master Cornelius who is rarely home at the villa, instead spending his time in Rome, engaging in its political machine. He’s a slave to his mistress, Marcia, who is a strong, unhappy and smart woman who tries to make things better for those that serve her but remains within the confines of what society has defined her to be, second best to her husband. But wait, back to Aurelius, who is kind, hard-working and has a great capacity for love that even he isn’t quite aware of yet.
Next, we have Cabiros the gladiator. He’s quiet, commanding, and old for one who makes his living sparring in the sands of the arena. It’s difficult to say much more about him without giving things away. He’s a mystery, the type that I enjoy: people, not places or crimes, but a mystery about people.
The writing style of this author is quite fluid and just as smoothly pulled me into the story.
There is a healthy amount of detail but not so much as to get in the way of the story itself. It’s used well in setting the atmosphere. All five senses are treated to how life was lived in ancient Rome. More ways in which the author pulled me into the story.
Note: be aware that some of the characters, including Aurelius, are young by today’s standards for the type of lives they lead. For ancient Rome, it was the norm.
I really enjoyed the way the story developed. The pace felt right, comfortable in that it fit the story. Sometimes there can be a mismatch between the story being told and the story it wants to be, but that’s not the case here.
The characters are an intriguing mix of personalities: Aurelius who is rather innocent yet knowledgeable about his tiny slice of this world in his master’s villa; Cabiros who is a man of few words, but when he speaks, it’s always meaningful; Claudia, very attuned to everything going on around her, with the mind of someone twice her young age of ten; Cornelia, a friend to Aurelius, the daughter of Aurelius’ master, kind and hopeful.
There are a couple of spots where things go on a bit longer than what may have served the story in the best ways. The pace lost a bit of its magic but was soon recovered in each instance.
So, is this a gladiator story? Yep. Is it what I was expecting? Nope, and I’m glad for that because of everything I’ve said here, because it’s better than I imagined. This isn’t a romance in the typical sense. Instead, this is about two people who are doing everything they can in order to survive, daring to hope that maybe it all will lead to a forever they can share. That’s something that takes time, isn’t at all easy and doesn’t always share its promises. Despite all of that, this story made me feel both hopeful and content.
I’m so glad I decided to give this story a try. I had such a wonderful reading experience with it, with Aurelius and Cabiros. I definitely recommend this and I would read more from this author. 🙂
I would like to thank the publisher for providing me with the eARC of this title in exchange for my honest opinion.
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.
Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,
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