Favorite Quote: “I exist here in this moment. I exist for her.“
I love retellings of the classic fairy tale, Beauty and the Beast. Especially when we are presented with such a deliciously naughty beast and a curious heroine who is more than able to tame him.
Miss Calliope Worthington is travelling with her parents and brother when their carriage overturns during a rainstorm and they are all forced into an abandoned mansion. Calliope’s search for food and dry clothing takes her throughout the mansion until she finds a dusty trunk filled with jewels. When the master of the home catches her with a long string of pearls, he accuses her of being a thief and demands payment…with her body. For each pearl she has “stolen”, she owes him a night of passion and obedience. Before things can go too far, her brother finds them and demands satisfaction for Calliope’s supposed compromising. Calliope is shocked by the feelings the man has invoked in her and seeks to rework their bargain before her brother kills him. She will marry him and repay him for the necklace, as long as she is able to go home once the last pearl is ‘repaid”. They come to an agreement and Calliope finds herself married to the beast.
I love historical romances that make me laugh and this one definitely did that. Callie and Ren are so wonderfully different yet they are perfectly matched. Callie is a delightful heroine with a delicious snarky attitude and some extremely naughty thoughts.
“Heavens. How brazen of me. Oh, look, I’m doing it again.”
She is not a milksop though. She is very intelligent, astute, vivacious, and quite stubborn when she puts her mind to something. She absolutely drives Ren insane. She listens to him, nodding as if in agreement, and then goes off and does what she wants. There is one scene where she challenges him to a sword fight and he is pleasantly surprised to find she is not only good, but her playfulness calls to him as she begins to “strip him” one swipe at a time. She constantly keeps him on his toes.
Ren Porter (whom we see in Bradley’s The Liars Club and The Royal Four series) is quite the curmudgeon. A real beast. A former spy for the crown, he was double crossed on his last mission. Beaten and left for dead, he is scarred both on the inside and out. When his fiance abandons him, due to his injuries, He isolates himself in his mansion, slowly waiting to die.
Watching Ren fight his attraction for Callie is heartbreaking, especially when you realize the reasons he is doing it. His past has left him cold and unable to completely trust anyone and he honestly believes that should she ever see the real him she will run screaming. He also has a strong sense of honor that berates him for trapping Callie into marriage with him.
Their physical attraction is apparent from the beginning-lots of luscious sensual scenes that leaves no doubt these two are sexually attracted to one another. I loved that Callie got impatient and angry with Ren for sexually teasing her and not committing to the deed.
“He treated her like the untried virgin she was. Bastard.”
The story does touch on the erotic. Our hero blindfolds our heroine and demands obedience in making her kneel and giving her commands to not move. Their bartering games are both funny and sexy.
Interesting and intricate subplots makes the story much more than a simple romance. When I started reading this, I hadn’t read anything by Celeste Bradley. I have since learned that she has another series called The Liars Club to which this spins off of. Characters from that series do bleed over into this one but you are not required to read the other series in order to understand this one. Vivacious secondary characters keep the story fresh and moving along at a steady pace. Callie’s family are basically pains in the butt but Callie loves them, warts and all. They are narcissistic, self absorbed, and cause mayhem wherever they go. There is a small clue towards the end though that makes you think that maybe they aren’t are useless as you think. Our villain(s)who seeks to drive our couple apart isn’t so much evil as selfish though the lengths they will go to are pretty extreme. Various characters from The Liars Club appear, intent on helping Ren re enter the land of the living and showing him that his isolation is of his own making. Plenty of humor intertwines within the story, balancing nicely with the emotional journey of our couple. I especially liked that our hero isn’t a jerk. Not to say he isn’t an ass at times, because he is, and he jumps to conclusions a lot. But he soon learns his lesson when dealing with his bride and repents in a proper manner that leaves no doubts to his feelings for her.
As with most romances, our hero and heroine have to run a pretty rough gauntlet in order to overcome any objections to their being together. The uniqueness here is the obstacles are almost entirely of Ren’s making. Bradley uses an age old trope to make Ren admit his love and we are granted our happily ever after.
Ah l’amour. I adored this story and the wonderful hero and heroine who shed all their inhibitions and fears in order to go on the most powerful journey they ever embarked on…falling in love.
Favorite Quote: “You are always safe by my side, my lady.”
Lilia is a novelty. She is a female gladiator and her skill and prowess has made her one of the most feared woman in Rome. When a former champion is sold to her ludris, she fears not only for her status…but also her heart.
Christus’s owner has died and he is sold to a new ludris. When he first meets Lilia, he defends her honor, not knowing his interest will only make her life harder. Lilia fascinates him and brings forth his long buried protective and sexual interests. In his pursuit of Lilia, they capture the attention of a very important and dangerous man. A man who will do anything to process possess Lilia, even if it destroys them all.
Lilia and Christus find themselves forced to participate in a to the death match between all the strongest gladiators in Rome. Only one gladiator can walk out of the arena alive. They will have to use all their skills if they want win their freedom to live and love.
Seduced by the Gladiator is a dark historical erotic romance. Fast pacing with engaging characters and a seductive action packed storyline makes this short 100 page novella fly by. It takes place after the events in My Wicked Gladiators. It is not necessary to read My Wicked Gladiators to enjoy or understand this story, but there are some characters that bleed over.
Lilia and Christus are both damaged individuals. Lilia was sold as a young girl to a slaver by her father and has never known any other life. Christus was a freeman until a jealous man took it all from him and forced him into slavery. Hawkeye does a good job of painting us a desolate and somewhat heartbreaking picture of what life was like for those caught under the crush of Roman rule. Slaves had no rights and were often used with cruel apathy both physically and sexually. Gladiators only had it a little better because they were considered a valuable commodity.
Character definition is crisp and clear. For all of Lilia’s problems, she doesn’t give up. I enjoyed watching her skirt the edges of propriety with her owner and other’s who could kill her on a whim. Her inner dialogue goes far in explaining her thoughts, opinions, and actions. We don’t hear much from Christus’s POV as this is told from Lilia’s POV I would have liked to have seen what it was about her that made him risk everything now. I have my own opinions but they were neither confirmed nor denied in the story. I enjoyed that we see the main protagonists from My Wicked Gladiators and what happened to them.
The chemistry between Lilia and Christus is extremely hot and well written though a little emotionally bereft. Graphic scenes leave nothing to the imagination yet they aren’t gratuitous. This star crossed couple burns up the pages with each stolen encounter. My only contention was that I never quite bought into the love aspect. I’m not big on instant love and the author failed to adequately explain what catapulted their attraction to love, for me. Lilia especially all her sexual experiences, until Christus, had been forced. The only reason I can come up with is the seriousness and utter despair of their situation. They could die at anytime, be in the arena or at the whim of their owner. I think that facilitated the speed in which the relationship went from sexual to emotional. I think if we had heard some of Christus’s thoughts about Lilia, maybe I would have felt it more.
The plot was well defined in the steps that lead up to the famed games, but the actual games were only touched upon as all energies were expanded on Lilia and Christus. I would have enjoyed actually seeing Lilia in action. The ending is a climatic affair as we learn exactly why the games were held and the reasons for certain scenes that took place early. All in all a pleasing historical erotic with some steamy, hot gladiator loving. I do feel certain storylines could have fleshed out better, but enjoyable all the same.