The Gladiator by Carla Capshaw
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This was a beautiful book. I have long been wishing to read a Christian romance that delivered such a rich story as this. I loved how the love story was full, and it was as much about the love between Pelonia and Caros, as it was also Pelonia’s love for Christ, and how she was able to come into Caros’ life and to help him to heal and to come to know Christ. Ms. Capshaw did such a great job of showing this without it being preachy. The message of God’s love and how it gave Pelonia strength and how it could heal Caros’ deep emotional wounds was rich. The narrative never came off as pedantic or filled with spiritual public service announcements. It truly was about people of faith living their lives. There weren’t any easy answers. Pelonia had a struggle sometimes to act true to her faith, putting her faith in God to help her and to be her strength, which is the experience of all Christians. She didn’t realize that her actions showed the truth of her message. Caros saw how her faith was her foundation, how it gave her peace, and he came to want to know her God, who had made her such a beautiful, peace-filled person.
Caros had the traits that I love in a good hero: he was strong, but gentle, loving, possessive. He was very masculine, and he was a good man, even if he had lived a rough life, and done things he couldn’t forgive himself for. I could easily see why Pelonia fell in love with him. I could also see how the Lord had brought those two together.
I also liked the developing secondary romance between Quintus, a slave who is being trained as a gladiator by Caros, and Adiona, Caros’ seemingly hardened widow friend. In a way, she is like a male version of Caros. She seems hard and cruel, but down deep, she hides wounds that keep her from living a full life. I have a feeling that Quintus will bring love into her life.
The setting of this book took me back to Rome in the period of the early Christian church. It was very disheartening to see how Christians were treated, murdered for their faith and called deviants. It called me to stand strong in my own faith, considering that people were martyred by the thousands back then (and still are in parts of the world). The least of my worries is facing humiliation or being scorned by people because I believe in Jesus.
I really want to thank Ms. Capshaw for writing this book. She ministered to me so fruitfully. I needed the lessons in this book, as they strengthened my faith, but also took my mind off my own troubles. It was a good lesson that you are never beyond God’s grace, and God has a plan that he will see through. It may not make sense, but His will can’t help but be done; and you are a part of His plan in whatever way that is unique to you, because you are precious to God. Ms. Capshaw did a better job of showing this message than I can in this review, and I’m glad of that. I am so happy I had the chance to read The Gladiator, and I look forward to reading more of her books. If someone asks for a recommendation for a good Christian romance to read, or a romance that is just plain fulfilling for any romance or historical fiction reader, I’d be happy to recommend this one.
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