Okay, wow, Curses and Smoke put me through an emotional meat grinder. I was a bit hesitant to read a book based on the eruption of Mount Vesuvius, mainly because I had reservations about receiving a happy ever after. I mean, this story is framed around one of the greatest natural disasters of the ancient world. I can’t imagine how the people of Pompeii felt during the earthquake, and then when the mountain exploded with a deafening boom, vomiting a deadly mix of debris 20 miles into the air. I know how I would feel, and I at least understand some of the science behind the event. Not so for the citizens of Pompeii.Read more
[Manga Maniac Cafe] Describe yourself in five words or less.
[Caroline Storer] 50 going on 25.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about The Roman?Read more
Eva Scott dropped by to take over the virtual control panel here at the Café. Check out her guest post, learn about her latest release Barbarian Bride, and enjoy the excerpt she provided for your enjoyment!Read more
Title: The Last Gladiatrix
Author: Eva Scott
May Contain Spoilers
I enjoyed this novella a lot! I love stories set in Ancient Rome, and when I saw The Last Gladiatrix had gladiators, I was all about reading this book! Gladiators are even better than ninjas and pirates. They are better than ninjas and pirates put together! There’s something about that desperate struggle for survival and freedom that makes them so compelling. Knowing that a bad day in the Coliseum will more than likely equate to a violent and premature death makes reading them suspenseful and exciting. I’m always worried that the protagonist is going to die or be severely injured. It can be so stressful!
Xanthe is Sarmatian, and her people lived on the steppes with their horses, fiercely protecting their herds. After Xanthe is captured by Huns and given as tribute to a Roman general, her prospects for a long, happy life seem dim. When it’s decided that she’s earn the general a ton of money fighting in the games, her fate is sealed. The general doesn’t expect her to survive her first fight, and worse, he doesn’t care. Xanthe is nothing to him, worth even less than a his sandals. When Centurion Titus Valens convinces the general that she’ll bring him more coin if she survives to fight again, Titus is put in charge of her training. Xanthe and Titus soon find themselves surrendering to an attraction they can’t deny.
The only part of the story that didn’t really work for me was the instant, simmering lust that brewed between Xanthe and Titus. I didn’t care how handsome he was, she had just been taken prisoner, the Huns and the Romans treated her like a dog, and I expected her to be fierce and more independent that she was. After all of the intense training on the long, long march to Rome, I would have bought into raging attraction, but for it to happen so quickly after being captured, it felt like too much, too soon.
Despite that one quibble, I thought this was a great read. The pacing never lagers, the fighting is ferocious and intense, and both Titus and Xanthe are sympathetic characters. They have both been dealt the worst hand possible, yet they refuse to fold and give up. I kept wondering how they were going to survive and get their HEA. I liked them so much that I’d love to see what adventures they face next.
Review copy provided by publisher