Period Pearl: The Gladiator by Carla Capshaw


           He won his fame--and his freedom--in the gory pits of Rome's Colosseum. Yet the greatest challenge for once-legendary gladiator Caros Viriathos comes to him through a slave. His slave, the beautiful and mysterious Pelonia Valeria. Her secret brings danger to his household but offers Caros a love like he's never known....

            Should anyone learn she is a Christian, Pelonia will be executed. Her faith threatens not only herself, but her master. Can she convince a man who found fame through unforgiving brutality to show mercy? And when she's ultimately given the choice, will Pelonia choose freedom or the love of a gladiator?

             I absolutely loved this novel. It is a wonderful, warm, tender romance. This is one of the best books anyone has ever written about the first Christians.
             The  heroine is lovely and sweet. She is quite brave, too. What I especially liked was the way she wavered in her faith after all these calamities had befallen her, because it was realistic. Not that it wouldn't have been great to read about a heroine that remained a rock of faith amidst ever trial, but this heroine I could totally relate to. What's more, even though she had serious doubts about God, she still stood firm in her beliefs and did not bend when she was threatened. Even when she fell in love, which in some ways was even harder. I learned a lot from this girl's faith. I envied her.
            And she had the courage to love this violent man, who also was a heathen. She had the courage to see him through the eyes of God. You have to admire her for that.
            The hero was a classical tortured, hardened by circumstances and personal pain, gorgeous-looking hero. But he didn't hesitate to be different from all those around him, which is why he was drawn to Pelonia and her God. I loved how tender and protetive he was to her. Even though she was a slave he mostly treated her like his equal and more, sometimes without even realizing it. He actually wooed her. It was also very realistic how he struggled with Pelonia's different and dangerous beliefs and his growing attraction to a christian slave.
            And when the time was ripe for him to believe in God..... well, I won't tell you what happened, so that you will read it for yourselves. But the truth is I cried a little.
           This, as I said, is a perfect story about the first Christians, complete with romance, danger, witnessing about Christ and a vividly portrayed arena scene.

Rating 5/5
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