, Harper Collins
Alba has spent her entire life pleasing others.
As an upper-class plebeian woman in Ancient Rome, that is her place in life. But when her husband Lucius, the owner of a prestigious gladiatorial school, uses her body as a bargaining tool to increase his fortunes, she is faced with doing as he demands, or finding herself on the street.
Forced to lay with masked gladiators chosen by Lucius, Alba is surprised to discover pleasure in being powerless. Only in the forbidden arms of Caius and Marcus does she find comfort, however temporary it may be.
But with Lucius’ demands looming and the threat of death for her gladiators ever-present, will Alba’s fleeting pleasures be enough? Or will Alba finally grab hold of her happily ever after, no matter the consequences?
Alba and her husband Lucius have been married for a number of years. Lucius’s family has run a ludus (a gladiator school) for generations and Lucius is determined to keep up the reputation his family has earned. With this in mind he seeks financial backing but the man will only give the back to Lucius if he produces a family. Alba, thought to be barren for years, is stunned as she thinks she cannot produce a child, but it is brought to her attention that Lucius may be the one at fault. With this in mind Lucius makes plans for Alba to lay with one of the gladiators one time a month until she conceives. Alba is shocked and wants nothing to do with the plan but goes along with it since she’s wanted a child for year.
Alba is secretly in lust with one of the gladiators, Marcus, and has lain with him before. When her masked…gosh what do you call him…provider of sperm? Yes, her provider of sperm shows up she thinks it might be Marcus but then believes that it might be Caius as well. She discovers that she has it bad for both men and not only wants to be with them but to get away from her husband who she has discovered cares not a whit for her or for the baby – only money and prestige. Alba wants to be with her gladiators but how is this possible when they are no more than slaves and owned by her husband no less.
I don’t know if you’ve ever seen the TV show Spartacus on STARZ but it’s a fabulous show. Being familiar with that show really made the imagery of this book come alive in my mind. I could see the practice ground that the gladiators practiced in, the house with all the fabrics, the slaves, the gladiators – it was brought to life in a wonderful, but not overly descriptive way. Even if I hadn’t seen the show I would have been thrust back in time to the roman household
The story is told from Alba’s point of view and really tells us of the depth of her loneliness and feelings of uselessness. Her husband is a right bastard who’s only worried about himself. The slaves of the house really don’t respect her and she’s treated like a whore for her husband’s greed. Even though she thoroughly enjoys being taken it’s told in such a way where we truly see Alba’s hopelessness and the fact that her life will be just this and nothing more for the rest of it. What a thought!
The relationship between Alba, Marcus and Caius is a strained one at first for so many different reasons. Alba can’t really sit and talk to the men as they are closely watched so while I could understand Alba’s feelings for the men it didn’t translate to love for me. Marcus and Caius were lovers before they became Alba’s lover so they knew each other and shared a strong relationship between them. Eventually though Alba and the men come to an understanding and things move quickly from there.
Now Alba does conceive and actually leaves her husband’s house for a while with her lovers where I assume they spend more time getting to know each other. Unfortunately this was an assumption on my part as we aren’t shown any of it.
The story overall was a good one. I really liked the setting for the book and the writing was easy to read. The sex scenes were very hot and sexy with a touch of illicitness which added a different level to the story. The ending was fulfilling but seemed a bit too easy for my liking but that’s me. In the future I’d love to see even a novella about the trio in their future lives – definitely something I would read.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5