Feb 5, 2013

Book Review: Mark of the Gladiator

After an inconvenient display of mercy in the arena, the gladiator Anazâr is pulled from the sands and contracted to nobleman Lucius Marianus to train his new stable of female gladiators. His charges are demoralized and untested, and they bear the marks of abuse. Anazâr has a scant two months to prepare them for the arena, and his new master demands perfection.

Anazâr is surprised by how eager he is to achieve it—far more eager than a man motivated only by self-preservation. Perhaps it’s because Marianus is truly remarkable: handsome, dignified, honorable, and seemingly as attracted to Anazâr as Anazâr is to him.

But a rivalry between Marianus and his brother sparks a murder conspiracy, with Anazâr and his gladiatrices caught in the middle. One brother might offer salvation . . . but which? And in a world where life is worth less than the pleasures of the crowd or the whims of a master, can there be any room for love? As a gladiator, Anazâr's defenses are near impenetrable. But as a man, he learns to his cost that no armor or shield can truly protect his heart.

* * * * *

My experience with Rome consists of watching a few episodes of Rome and Spartcus so I assumed that I would be lost in that culture.  To my relief I found this not to be the case.  The authors, Ms. Belleau and Ms. Vane paint a vivid picture of just what it mean to live in those days especially as a slave though they also showed me the privileges that the Roman citizens could expect.  And I have to say that I regret the fact that bathhouses are just not found around the corner anymore.

I do have to say that as skilled as these ladies are in immersing their readers into the culture of the Rome, they do an even better job at bringing us into the hearts and mind of the characters. 
Anazâr's goal is to make enough money to win his freedom but along the way he discovers love and loyalty.  He becomes embroiled in the intrigue between two brothers, both masters and way above his station.

I fell in love with the characters in this book.  They are all so vivid and, for lack of a better word, real.  They are the product of their times yet I could easily see them fitting into this time especially
Anazâr and Felix.

I do want to warn my readers that there are some rather vivid scenes of sex between men so steer away from this book if that offends you.  Otherwise if you are looking for an unusual historical love story you really can't go wrong with this book.  It really has it all: mystery, intrigue, loyalty, both honor and dishonor, hot sex as well as love and friendship. Check it out!  I give this book a 4.5.

*** I received this book at no charge from NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.  All opinions expressed within are my own.
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