I had high hopes for this book but unfortunately it fell a bit flat for me. I was excited to read a book set in ancient Roman times and while the characters and the imagery were well developed, the plot failed.
The first half of the book really caught my interest. We were introduced to Caelius, the master who inherits his uncle's villa and gladiators. Caelius is not the typical Roman. He is kind to his slaves and doesn't enjoy inflicting pain or humiliation. He treats his household with respect. Then we have Gaidres, the sexy gladiator who catches Caelius eye. Gaidres feels nothing but hatred toward the Romans, including Caelius. This sets up for an interesting dynamic and I was ready and waiting for this to develop into something dark and gritty, however nothing comes of it. All you get is the same internal struggles, throughout the book. Caelius trying to break down Gaidres' walls and Gaidres fighting with his feelings for Caelius. It was boring and mundane and I ended up getting annoyed with Gaidres. Sure, the sex is hot and steamy and we get the switch in the sexual roles, but I wanted more.
I mentioned I was annoyed with Gaidres, well by 85% he had my eyes-rolling. It got a little too sappy for my liking.
This had a lot of promise, political intrigue, hot gladiators but sadly it didn't reach it for me.
This around a 2.5 or so. I'm rounding it up for now.