The Gladiator’s Temptation by Jennifer D. Bokal
Publisher & Release Date: Montlake Romance, February 9, 2016
Time and setting: 100 B.C. Rome
Genre: Historical Romance/Historical Fiction
Length: 270 pages
Heat Level: 2 Flame
Rating: 4 Gold Crowns
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?
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I received an Advance Reader Copy of The Gladiator’s Temptation from the publisher via Net-Galley in exchange for an honest review. The book description sounded interesting, and I looked forward to reading it. I had read The Gladiator’s Mistress and while I enjoyed it, I liked this book a great deal more.
Fortunada is a divorced woman and takes the gladiator champion of Rome as her secret lover. She never expected to fall in love with Baro, but he steals her heart. When he offers marriage and promises to care for her children, she believes her life will, at last, be happy.
Baro is under contract to a Ludo, but he is a free man. He is captivated by Fortunada. When he sees Fortunada taking seeds to prevent pregnancy, he realizes her wants her to be his wife. While he has two years left on his contract, Paullus is a fair man. Surely he will release him if he stays on as an instructor.
When Fortunada’s ex-husbands returns for his children, Fortunada is placed in a terrible position. She must either remarry Albinius to keep her children, or follow her heart. Meanwhile, Baro is faced with losing to an opponent to gain his freedom.
Will Baro and Fortunada find a way to be together that allows her to keep her children, or will she succumb to duty to stay with her little ones?
The historical detail is fantastic, and I truly got the sense of this very long ago time. From the description of the costumes to the vivid description of the gladiator’s arena, I became enmeshed in that part of the story.
Baro is a great hero. He’s brave, determined and loyal. He truly tries to do the right thing, but his lanista refused to listen. He’s very protective of Fortunada, even though she has broken his heart.
Fortunada’s character is more complex. She’s torn between her love for Baro and her duty to her children. That’s a terrible place to be. My heart hurt for the decisions she has to make to be with her children. In her time, she has no rights. She has to be with her children even if it means having to marry her ex-husband.
There is a good bit of suspense in this story, and it had me clinging to the arms of my chair waiting to find out what would happen next. Ms. Bokal paints a great visual picture of the action scenes. I could feel the terror that Baro and Fortunada experienced.
The Gladiator’s Temptation is a great romance. Baro and Fortunada have fantastic chemistry from the first scene to the last. If you are looking for a story set in a period of history that is fascinating, then you will enjoy this book as much as I did. Happy reading!