Title: The Champion
Author: Carla Capshaw
Series: Roman Series
Publisher: Love Inspired
Release Date: August 2, 2011
Alexius of Iolcos is famous for two things, an undefeated record in the Coliseum and his less than chaste relationships with scores of women. This fact made his friend, Caros, make him promise to stay away from his beautiful cousin Tiberia the Younger. A promise he’s regretted making from the time he swore them because Tibi is the only woman in all of Rome that intrigues him like she does.
Tibi is known for her terrible reputation with men. After four engagements have gone sour, the last being because he wanted to “sample” her before the wedding and her fighting back, Tibi’s father has had enough. He’s going to send her to the temple to become the priestess of fertility, something she refuses to comply with. So she runs away to the home of Alexius, Ludus Maximus, hoping to find her cousins to take her away from her father’s wrath and punishment.
After hearing that Tibi is unsafe at her father’s house he agrees to let her stay for a while, but soon finds that he wishes that she would never leave. They both soon find themselves hoping that their relationship will somehow grow, even with the odds and people’s opinions, against them. They know that if they decided to marry their marriage wouldn’t be legal without her father’s consent and there is no way he will allow a gladiator to marry his daughter. So the question is can they find a way to live happily ever after or will their love have to die?
It’s a very rare occasion for me to find a historical fiction book that is set in something other than the 19th century which, don’t get me wrong, are nice, but sometimes a girl needs a change. I found that in this book. Not only was the time change completely out of the norm, but the romance and whole plot was a refreshing difference. In fact, everything about this book is an about face from what the majority of books on the market are about. Just those facts, along with the fact that it was so well constructed, jump this book up into my favorites list.
Here’s another plus. Most of the time I find that the cover of the story either doesn’t properly convey the story and thus makes you pass up a extraordinary book because of a lackluster cover, or the book’s cover is the best part of the whole book leaving insurmountably disappointed at the end. this book, however, has a cover that is as equally good as the book and a book as great as the cover. Whoever decided that this cover was a keeper,whether the author or the publisher, deserves props for this fantastic cover. I’m so happy with it that I think I’ll start being less skeptical of the books with great covers and start giving them the benefit of the doubt.
Carla Capshaw not only chose to base her story in Rome but in AD 84 Rome, a time when being a Christian meant, if caught, you were thrown to the lions while everyone cheered- for the lion! A time when a father literally owned his daughters like a slavemaster owns slaves; he’s free to do as he pleases to them even if it means they end up dead. Hypocrisy abounds, gossip is the main conversational topic; this is the setting Ms. Capshaw chose for her book. As you can see, she definitely has a lot to work with, but that doesn’t mean that the book is written well or the items at the authors disposal are utilized; thankfully for the reader, this authorunderstood that and didn’t settle for a mediocre book. She utilized most, if not all, of the dangers and trials of living in ancient Rome.
Each character in this story has or had their own demons to face and conquer and each character begged to be noticed from one action to another, and boy were they noticed. Each character brings something unique to the table, even the extremely minor characters have different personalities and different outlooks at situations, though most feel the same about Alexius. characters whether loved or hated, are believable and their personalities are brought out at the time they are needed the most. Making them invaluable to those they support and to the reader as well.
The publisher of this book, Love Inspired, a division of Harlequin, leaves no question in the reader’s mind as to the main topic in their books, romance. The romance in this book is innocent despite Alexius’s rather womanizing reputation. The fact that Tibi is unspoiled and so innocent is a fantastic contrast to Alexius. Also, the fact that Alexius is determined to leave her that way makes you love him all the more. The romance basically consists of a few kisses, but mostly time spent alone getting to know each other instead of a lot of kissing that somehow develops into love.
In the end, this story captivated me,as you guys are able to tell as I finished it in around three days. It’s a light read with a hint of suspense that kept you turning the pages to the very end. It technically wasn’t enough to be classified as a suspense but it was just enough to put a monkey wrench in the perfectly fine love that was blooming. It was so much so that I literally couldn’t put it down and even when I did I thought about the plot long into the night. So unless you like sleep, I would recommend (okay tell you about till you read it) to you and hope you enjoy it as much as I have.
Overall, I have to say that this book is so nice that I don’t really have anything unkind to say about it. It’s perfect for a romance fanatic or someone who likes to read a book set in ancient times. That’s why I’m giving this book the highest rating since starting this blog. I give it a five out of five (shocking I know, but I enjoyed it that much).
I can honestly say that thanks is definitely in store for the lovely people at Netgalley and Harlequin/Love Inspired for this lovely book to read in exchange for this review.