Review of The Gladiator’s Master by Fae Sutherland and Margueritte Labbe

The Gladiator's Master The Gladiator’s Master by Fae Sutherland

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

3.5-4 stars

Caelius inherits his uncles villa and with it his gladiator stables. Even though Caelius is not a fan of blood sport himself, he sees the sport as a way to gain ground in his political career and decides to rebuild the stables. In the stables he finds a hidden gem, in the shape of a very proud slave. In spite of (or maybe because of) the fact, that the slave is filled with hatred towards his owner, Caelius still decides to take the man as his lover.

This is a wonderful story. The writing is lovely and flows nicely, the characters are well rounded, the sex is hot and the back drop of ancient roman society is detailed and richly described without a single info dump to be seen. Any necessary information is weaved beautifully into the story.

And yet, I did have some difficulty loosing myself completely in the story. This I believe was mainly to do with one of our MCs: Caelius. Caileus is surely one of the nicest, most considerate, noble and understanding men I have ever heard off. And that didn’t really ring true in my head.
I found it hard to accept this behaviour in a man of noble birth, in a highly hierarchical society, who believed that birth gave you the god given right to rule and own lesser men. In other words, I found the man I believed Caelius would have been – based on his culture, birth and the society he was a part of – hard to consolidate with the beautiful dreamer we are presented with.

I completely understand, and agree, with the authors, that Caelius needed these traits. He needed to be all that was kind and just in opposition to our stubborn, scarred, cynical and magnificent warrior MC Gaidres. But it still irked me.

The other reason, that kept pulling me out of the story, has nothing at all to do with the authors or the story, but is only to do with me. But I realised – whilst reading this book – that I mainly read contemporary MM romance for a reason. That reason being, that I understand the society, culture and time these characters live and love in – and therefore understand the societal stigma they are forced to navigate. In historical settings I loose that knowledge. Which means, that my stupid brain will spend a lot of time pondering if this is realistic? Would the society at the time accept this? Would they react to a same sex couple in this way etc.
Now, everyone knows, that same sex lovers were quite common – especially among the nobles – in ancient roman society. But how would the society and culture have viewed a pairing as is depicted in this story? Would an all male household (with children) have been effortlessly accepted? I kept being pulled out of the story to wonder (and google…). This however, as I already stated, is solely to do with my overactive brain and should really not reflect on this story.

Because all in all – this was a wonderful love story, with great characters and setting, which is worth a read and I would recommend to others without a doubt.

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Review of Coming Home by M.J. O’Shea

Coming Home (Rock Bay, #1)Coming Home by M.J. O’Shea

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

3-3,5 stars

Warning, there may be a few minor spoilers in this review!

Tallis Carrington was the king of his high school in small town Bay Rock. He ruled the school with his gang of jock friends and the streets of town based on his fathers position of mayor.

Lex Barry was at the bottom of the food chain. Pudgy, poor, gay and his father worked as the janitor of the town hall. Needless to say Tallis and his friends bullied him mercilessly. And made his life hell until scandal hit the Carrington family and they left town.

15 years later the roles have reversed. Lex is now a successful small business owner and Tallis an unemployed waiter down on his luck, broke and moving home to live with grandma.

Tallis does not recognise Lex – but thinks he is seriously hot – and Lex decides to employ him – even if he is not sure about the motivation behind it and besides the fact that he is very attracted to his former child hood bully.

Obviously sparks fly 😉 and the two end up together, but the road there is paved with their past, family, old friends and enemies and a town with a long memory.

There were a lot of things about this book that I really liked. I enjoy the theme of boyhood tormentor becomes adult love interest. And I enjoy small town settings where everybody knows everyone elses business. But there were aspects of it that didn’t ring completely true to me.

Now, I have never been bullied as a child – nor have I bullied others – but the bullying described as what happened to Lex seemed horrid and I would have liked more animosity from Lex and more grovelling from Tallis to have taken place for this relationship to happen.

I liked that down on his luck Tallis was ensnared briefly with the feeling of power of once again being “the king of Bay Rock”, it seemed realistic in the situation. But for it to be completely believable I would have required Brock to be less of an 100 percent ass. There was nothing redeeming about his character, so I find it hard to believe that anyone above the age of 18 could have handled hanging out with him for more than a few minutes at a time.

I would have liked a more thorough explanation for Tallis’ behaviour as a teenager. We get snippets of information about his childhood and home life, but nothing that really explains completely why he would have been such an ass…
And an ass he must have been, because when he returns to town he is met with hatred by the people who remember him. So obviously it was not only the kids who went to high school with him who had been bullied by the king of bay rock and his followers.

In spite of these things, it was however an enjoyable story and I think I might buy the other two in the series as I like the authors way of writing.

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