When Earth space marine Harper Adams finds herself abducted by alien slavers off a space station, her life turns into a battle for survival. Dumped into an arena on a desert planet on the outer rim, she finds herself face to face with a big, tattooed alien gladiator…the champion of the Kor Magna Arena.
A former prince abandoned to the arena as a teen, Raiden Tiago has long ago earned his freedom. Now he rules the arena, but he doesn’t fight for the glory, but instead for his own dark purpose—revenge against the Thraxian aliens who destroyed his planet. Then his existence is rocked by one small, fierce female fighter from an unknown planet called Earth.
Harper is determined to find a way home, but when she spots her best friend in the arena—a slave of the evil Thraxian aliens—she’ll do anything to save her friend…even join forces with the tough, alpha male who sets her body on fire. But as Harper and Raiden step foot onto the blood-soaked sands of the arena, Harper worries that Raiden has his own dangerous agenda…
It starts with a space station being attacked and Harper finds herself at the not so tender mercies of brutal aliens. Arriving at Kor Magna she is thrown into the deadly world of fighting in the arena and she quickly stands out. She may be small in comparison to others but Harper doesn't quit. She can be as fierce as the other gladiators but her speed and quick thinking get her a place in the House of Galen. Harper doesn't trust anyone and it doesn't matter that the big butch Raiden is hotter than the noon day sun, he's still part of this heinous practice. It's a world with very few rules and cheating is often overlooked but Harper learns to survive until she can find a way home. Yet the more she sees of Raiden the more Harper starts to learn about his background and when she discovers she's not the only human captive there's only one man to turn to, Raiden!
The idea of this big tough gladiator being struck almost dumb by the much smaller Harper was an immensely appealing one as the bigger they are the harder they fall but if honest I struggled initially. Yes, Harper is a trained marine but I just couldn't believe in her prowess in the arena. She's almost like the energizer bunny but it just didn't convince me. The opponents they face are bigger and frequently actual beasts feeling nothing but bloodlust and yet they are set loose? I just wasn't convinced by it.
The second half of Gladiator actually did ramp up the story with both action and romance and Ms Hackett gradually opened up the world she's created. There's clearly more to come as Harper wasn't the only human taken captive but I'm hoping any future heroine gets to use her brains and not just her supposed brawn.
An interesting idea but at times I just wasn't as completely immersed as I'd hoped.
This is a voluntary review of an advance reader copy.