From the first few pages this books screamed “SPARTACUS!!!!!” to me. I’m not talking Kirk Douglas in a 1960’s loin cloth. I’m talking the mcRaunch fest that is Starz Network’s Spartacus, the show that started out being campy and laughingly awful and somehow evolved into a gory and pornographic masterpiece. RIP Andy Whitfield. Though Spartacus himself doesn’t make an appearance, his activities in overthrowing his Dominus is mentioned and plays a part in Ms. Hawkeye’s book.
Alba is the wife of an upper class Roman Dominus, Lucius. When Lucius is presented with a business opportunity he can’t refuse, he approaches Alba with an arrangement to help make it happen. She has to get pregnant. Lucius is sterile, so he tells her that he will pick one of his gladiators to do the deed. She’s horrified. At first. You see, Alba has had a thing for their star gladiator, Marcus. When he returns her interest in the minimal way he can, she begins to obsess. She has no idea who her husband has chosen, as he comes to her wearing a mask. When her relationship with her husband begins to thaw (and really it had been for awhile), Alba fantasizes about a life with her gladiator, or at this point gladiators, plural. She’s figured out her stud-for-hire is either Marcus or their second best, Caius. When Alba realizes that Marcus & Caius are actually an item, she’s confused and fascinated. When word of a gladiator revolt reaches her estate, her husband forces her to their sea side home, and sends both Marcus and Caius with her for protection. I’m sure you can imagine where this is going.
To anyone that isn’t familiar with Spartacus, the blatant sexuality and gore of My Wicked Gladiators would have shocked you at first. The rest of us would have just shrugged and continued on, popcorn in hand. This is a super raunchy book. If you’re looking for vanilla, go elsewhere. This is some serious Rocky Road crazytrain. The only thing lacking here was BDSM, and given time it probably would have gone there eventually.
I enjoyed this book the way one enjoys a super sweet dessert wine – sparingly and slowly. Ms. Hawkeye takes the time to use the correct latin names for just about everything, and the historical aspect is a lot of fun. The raunch aspect can be a bit overwhelming if you let it, which is why I had to wade through slowly. The only thing that didn’t really work as well for me was the first person narrative. The story is told from Alba’s perspective, and though it works, I feel like we could’ve perhaps gotten more out of a a third person narrator.
If you’re looking for a guilty pleasure read that will sweep you to another time, this is the one for you.
My Wicked Gladiators by Lauren Hawkeye
Romance: 2/5 Raunch: 5/5