It was supposed to be an exciting job on a space station, but instead, scientist Dr. Regan Forrest finds herself fighting for her life when she’s kidnapped by alien slavers. Far from Earth and forced into a violent gladiatorial arena on the outer rim, she finds herself swept into the brawny arms of a big, wild alien gladiator.
Weapon, brute, gladiator, warrior… Sirrush warrior Thorin has been called many things. As a warrior of his people, he was a dark, dangerous weapon until even his own family were too afraid of him. Sold into slavery in the Kor Magna Arena, he has long ago earned his freedom. Now he enjoys the violent but rewarding life he’s carved out for himself. Until he rescues one small, smart, and perplexing female from alien slavers.
Regan is determined to make a place for herself in her new home. She may not have the skills to fight in the arena, but she’s smart and knows she can help...even as she fights her attraction to the big, bold, and fascinating Thorin. She knows he’ll never be interested in her. But when Regan catches a glimpse of her cousin across a crowded market, she needs help to mount a rescue, and it comes in the form of the gladiator she desperately wants. A gladiator hiding a dark, uncontrollable secret with the power to destroy them both.
Determined to be useful Regan utilizes her botanist skills to find a way to be productive. When out in the market though Regan realises her cousin Rory is being held as a slave somewhere on the planet. Regan will do everything in her power to save Rory even if it means sacrificing herself. Although there's a big, bad gladiator who definitely isn't happy about that but then again Thorin hasn't exactly been honest with Regan!
I like the ideas in play here and it's a scenario that works surprisingly well. However, in this the follow up to Gladiator, we see far less of the arena and much more of the world surrounding it. I was over the moon that Ms Hackett gave us a heroine who uses her brains and not her brawn as the idea of a small human female besting giant aliens just didn't ring true. Regan plays to her strengths and although she is devastated at her abduction, she doesn't just sit in a corner and give up.
Thorin is a more complicated hero. As a reader, we know there's something unusual about him and it isn't something he wishes to share with Regan. This makes him unapproachable at times, almost quixotic as he obviously does want Regan and yet believes he isn't worthy. There's very strong chemistry between the couple but it's not as straightforward as some relationships.
The fact that slavery is rife on Kor Magna is used to good effect here as the author introduces even more vile aliens and Regan volunteers for something that gets very messy indeed. If brutally honest there's a scene that I felt went too far over the top as not only do we encounter bloodthirsty aliens, but also a myriad of creatures and even vicious flora and fauna! Less is more and unfortunately this part of the book felt too fanciful to me.
What I can say is I did prefer this story and Ms Hackett is fleshing out supporting characters which makes it very interesting indeed. If you enjoy stories that take you away from reality whilst allowing even the most mixed up, lonely characters to find love, then this series should definitely be on your book radar!
This voluntary review is of an Advance Reader Copy.